Matsuzaka is signed

So at the last minute, the Red Sox reached a deal with Seibu Lions pitcher Matsuzaka Daisuke (or rather, Scott Boras, his agent).

Total price tag, including the posting fee? $103.11 million.

There’s no question that Matsuzaka is a phenomenal pitcher, but then you read an article such as this from the IHT, which includes the following insight from Marty Kuehnert, general manager of the Rakuten Golden Eagles:

“It’s like a time bomb. When is it going to go off?” said Marty Kuehnert, an American-born resident of Japan and the first foreign general manager of a Japanese pro team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. “Any Japanese pitcher, these guys included, has thrown too much. The Japanese mentality is that it will make them stronger. But if I was trying to sign these guys, I’d take a good look at them.”

Foreign players in Japan often joke that Japanese are “all thrown out at age 30” because of rigorous training from the age of 12, Kuehnert said by phone from Sendai, Japan.

“They throw easily two to three times more pitches in their career than Americans,” he said.

“They play 360 days out of the year. It’s taken to an extreme that you don’t see in America. So the level is very high, but they break down sooner.”

So after all this, the Red Sox are taking a tremendous risk on a pitcher who could potentially have a shelf life well under the six years for which he has been signed.

It may well reap tremendous dividends for the Red Sox, but I wonder how patient the Fenway faithful will be if “Dice-K” starts slowly.

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