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Considering Kazuo
2003-11-18 08:09
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

I've made the rounds at the usual Internet honkytonks to see what expectations are for Kazuo Matsui, the Japanese shortstop who has announced he is coming to the United States next season.

Several forecasts projected Matsui to post an OPS in the neighborhood of .800 - not accounting for the park factor of the major league park he ends up in. That would be a significant but not catastropic drop from the .917 OPS he posted in Japan at age 27 in 2003.

Shortstops with OPS at .800 or above in 2003: Alex Rodriguez (.995), Edgar Renteria (.874), Nomar Garciaparra (.870), Derek Jeter (.844), Orlando Cabrera (.807), Miguel Tejada (.807).

The Raindrops concludes that based on the contracts given to Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, Kaz Matsui will command something in the three-year, $5 million per year range. Apparently, teams do not need to additionally factor in the fee a major league team must pay for the right to negotiate with a Japanese player in Matsui's class, because Matsui is a true free agent. This last part was news to me.

I think Matsui is worth $5 million per year, but I'm going to stick to my overriding approach to the 2003 offseason. All other transactions must fall in line behind the importance of finding a quality power-hitting outfielder. If money spent on Matsui hinders the Dodgers in that quest, then it is money dubiously spent.

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