With one click of the "send" button, which transmitted their astonishing offer for the negotiating rights to Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka -- $51.1 million, or slightly more than 6 billion yen -- the Boston Red Sox turned their rivalry with the New York Yankees into a trans-Pacific phenomenon, signaled the dawn of a new financial paradigm for the game and left everyone waiting breathlessly to see what happens next, when the Red Sox actually start exchanging contract figures with Matsuzaka.Jim Allen of the Daily Yomiuri gives a short history of Matsuzaka's past few seasons:
With Tuesday's news that the Seibu Lions had accepted the Red Sox' aggressive bid for Matsuzaka's rights -- a bid that was believed to have exceeded by some 20 percent that of any other team, and perhaps doubled the consensus pre-bid prediction -- the clock began ticking on the 30-day window the Red Sox have in which to sign Matsuzaka. To repeat: The $51.1 million was merely for the right to negotiate with agent Scott Boras on a contract for Matsuzaka.
At the time, however, the most serious question about Matsuzaka's future was not his overreliance on his heater, but whether his arm and shoulder would survive years of abuse.
After throwing astronomical numbers of pitches as a high schooler, Matsuzaka routinely threw 160 or more pitches in games under intellectually-challenged Lions manager Osamu Higashio.
Although a leg injury ruined Matsuzaka's 2002 season, a new manager meant lower pitch counts. The following year, Matsuzaka emerged as a complete pitcher.