Matsui’s impressive career across the Pacific has people comparing him to Barry Larkin in his prime, and there is no doubt that he had a phenomenal season in 2002, and a pretty good one in 2003. According to Clay Davenport’s translations Matsui posted a line equivalent to a .291 EqA in 2002, putting him near Derek Jeter offensively among shortstops, clearly among the best in the game. He slipped to .267 last year, approximately the same production Angel Berroa gave the Royals in his debut season. PECOTA pegs Matsui as a rebound candidate in 2004, projecting a weighted-mean EqA of .279 with a VORP of 39.0, again putting him in the upper tier of major league shortstops. However, a significantly large portion of his value is tied directly to his power, and the translation of power numbers from Japan to MLB may be the area we know the least about.
Here’s the bigger issue, which I’ve saved for the second half of the article: Every other major league team takes it on the chin because of the relocation committee’s failures. The Expos make almost nothing revenue-wise. Since baseball bought them, they’ve run Opening Day payrolls of around $40 million for two straight seasons. Plus $35 million a year to keep the lights on in the offices…work out their share of MLB media deals, divide by pi, and…the Expos probably cost Major League Baseball $40 million more than if they were a team that could manage to break even. Consider revenue sharing, that’s easily going to be another $50 million, and now we’re talking about serious money. Unless you’re an Expos fan, the team you root for paid about $2.75 million a year under the old labor agreement and will pay more than $3 million this year. If this drags on for the entire season, 29 teams will have paid out a little shy of $10 million each for another team to compete against them. If it wasn’t so stupid and contrived, and if you didn’t know the history of how things got to be this bad, it’d be enough to make you sympathetic to contraction.
Ozzie Guillen loves his closers. The Cardinals look like they have their rotation set, after all. And the Rangers still have a few positional battles to evaluate on the field. All this and much more news from Chicago, St. Louis, and Texas in your Tuesday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Last week, the A’s made their first major contract commitment since the ill-fated Jermaine Dye signing, agreeing to a six-year, $66 million extension with Eric Chavez. The deal is the biggest in franchise history, and coming on the heels of the departures of Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada, is being hailed as a sign that Steve Schott is intent on keeping the core of his team.
While conceding that the commitment to Chavez is probably a necessary one for a franchise whose on-field success has translated to higher, but not still not impressive, attendance, I just don’t think it’s a great baseball deal. The obvious comparison is to the Cardinals’ Scott Rolen, the National League’s best third baseman and a player who also signed with his current team without testing the free-agent market.
Bobby Jenks: The next Goose Gossage? Bobby Estalella finds a job. Tony La Russa finds a new broken toy in Tony Womack. Syracuse could give the Devil Rays a good battle. These and other pontifications in today’s jam-packed Transaction Analysis.