In the summer leading up to the 2007 Major League Baseball season, the Boston Red Sox put 50 million dollars on the table just to speak to a pitcher from Japan. Reports of a pitch known as the "gyro" ball infatuated every baseball fan from coast to coast.
The deal was completed and Daisuke "Dice-K" Matsuzaka was brought to the Red Sox with open arms from The Nation.
His first season went by looking very average and not close to worth the money. He went 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA.
Luckily, the Red Sox won the World Series that year, so the season that Matsuzaka produced was overlooked.
His second season was a very different story.
Matsuzaka produced an 18-3 record with a 2.90 ERA. This record looked great to fans and analysts.
The thought that the Sox had another ace to go along with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester had become a possibility. The idea of multiple championships was on everyone's minds.
This season though, the sun has seemed to set on Matsuzaka. He has a disgraceful 1-5 record with an ERA over eight.
How could this be?
If we go back and look at last seasons games that Matsuzaka won, you will see that on average the Red Sox had to score six runs to give him the win. The bats were carrying Matsuzaka to baseball prominence.
So, has it all just been a dream?
It has begun to look that without the run support, Matsuzaka can't win with his style of baseball; filled with walks and wild curve balls that hit the dirt.
This year, the Sox have only given him on average 4.5 runs per game.
Could run support really be the only answer though?
Many people through the industry have been saying that Matsuzaka has been dealing with shoulder fatigue due to the work done in the World Baseball Classic. But the problem that I see in this is that he only pitched a little over 13 innings with a lot of rest in between.
So maybe a lack of practice is the reason for his failures this season.
It is to my belief that we will never see the the 2008 Matsuzaka again. His style of play will not last in a hitter dominant league such as the American League East.
So what do the Sox do with Matsuzaka? They will never be able to trade for last years value. Also, they can't move him to the bullpen because of the amount of walks he gives up. He never seems to settle into a game until two or three innings in.
If this season comes to an end with Matsuzaka under .500 for wins, what will Theo Epstein (the GM of the Red Sox) do with him? Bundle him up with a prospect for a new pitcher? Send him to the minor leagues and have him train his way back to the top?
With John Smoltz coming back to the rotation, and Brad Penny looking good at 6-2, why should they keep Matsuzaka in the rotation and burden themselves with this?
Less we forget, the Sox still have Clay Buchholz. The no hitter wonder is still brewing in AA Portland.
There is no doubting that Matsuzaka was part of a second championship after an 86 year drought, and fans say the team owes it to him, but the Red Sox are in the business of winning, and no one will be upset for long if the front office can produce another pitcher that can win consistently.
So if there is no turn around by the end of the season for a postseason run, maybe it is time to cut their losses and move on.
Maybe the next import, Japanese Iranian sensation Yu Darvish, will be on the Red Sox radar after Matsuzaka.
If the presumed 100 million dollar meeting fee doesn't scare them away.