Red Sox

A Preemptive Farewell to Dice-K

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A Preemptive Farewell to Dice-K

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Our long international nightmare is over.

After four-plus agonizing seasons, Daisuke Matsuzakas thrown his final pitch for the Sox.

Fittingly enough, it was a ball four walk to Baltimores Matt Wieters on May 16. It was Dice-Ks 105th pitch of the night. It was also the fifth inning.

Matsuzaka finishes his underwhelming career in Boston with a 49-30 record, a 4.25 ERA, 568 Ks, 301 walks, hours upon hours wasted fiddling on the mound, a boatload of unfulfilled expectations and even more questions as to how it all went so wrong. Hes survived by a Nation of relieved fans. Hell be missed by no one. Now everyone please remove their hats, and join me in a moment of heartfelt celebration.

The Dice-K era is over!

OK, wait. Im jumping the gun just a little. Right now, all we know is that Dice-Ks headed for Tommy John surgery sometime in the very near future, and will miss the next 12-18 months. So in reality, theres a small window for him to rejoin the rotation before his contract expires in 2012.

But come on you really think hell be back? First of all, a comebacks predicated on a speedy recovery, which would be the first speedy thing Dice-Ks done since joining the team. (Unless you count the time he gave up five runs in the first in Oakland, but even that one inning took two and a half hours.) Second, even if hes healthy, with the way he and the Sox do business, itll be a shock if the two sides are even speaking by next summer. Can you imagine Theos reaction when Dice-K calls from post-op demanding to throw a side-session?

This is a divorce thats been brewing since the honeymoon, and the waters only getting murkier. Theres no way theyll see eye-to-eye over the next year, and at that point, whats the point in trying? Why not just cut your losses, save yourself some headaches and move on?

So, while the off-field soap opera might have a few more episodes left, you have to believe that the on-field horror movies finally been canceled.

Brothers and Sisters, Rejoice!

But lets also take a quick second to reflect on Matsuzakas shockingly disappointing career, with this question: Was it all his fault?

Thats a definite no. Dice-K was at least somewhat a victim of unrealistic expectations. When the Sox began their pursuit, he was barely even human. He was a mythical creature from the Far East, with a cool name, a rubber arm, a magical pitch, and the potential to take over Major League Baseball. He was Japans answer to Bill Bratsky.

Dice-K was so great that the Sox were willing to pay 50M just to talk to him. In 2011, that 50M could be used to pay the combined salaries of Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. Thats how much they thought of him, so thats how much we expected. That probably wasnt fair.

And for as stubborn as Dice-Ks been, it also wasnt fair for the Sox to expect that hed be so willing to customize his approach to the game.

Think of it this way: What if the same year Dice-K came to Boston, the Japanese Golf Tour signed an exclusive megadeal with Tiger Woods. This was back when both Dice-K and Woods were still the best player in their respective countries.

Anyway, so Tiger gets over to Japan and they tell him: Tiger, you train too hard. At the rate youre going now, your body wont hold up, and we have way too much money invested in you for that to happen. So, were going to scale back the workouts. You know, that whole obsessive-compulsive routine that youve operated under your entire life? The one thats resulted in you becoming the athletic freak of nature that you are today? Yeah, were going to change that. Youre in our world now.

You think Tiger would have listened to them?

Or what if he did, and then struggled to regain his dominant form. Whos he going to blame: himself or the tour?

Is he going to build up some resentment? Maybe even act out?

Of course. And thats what Dice-K did.

I dont condone it, but I understand it.

From the very beginning, Ive understood where both sides were coming from in this drawn out drama. I get why the Sox pushed him to change, and I get why Dice-K resisted. And when the bottom fell out after the Winter Classic in 2009, I get why the relationship never recovered, and why this experiment was ultimately doomed. You had two very different groups of people set in two very different ways of life. Neither was very willing to compromise, and that never ends well.

And I'm sure this won't.

But, hey, what can you do?

Im just happy to never watch him pitch again.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

UPDATE: The deal is for three years, per Ken Rosenthal.

BOSTON — We’re just waiting on an announcement now.

A pair of national reports on Saturday afternoon, one from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal... 

...And another from MLB Network and FanRagSports.com's Jon Heyman...

have firmed up Alex Cora’s expected hiring as Red Sox manager. Both reported that Cora, the Astros bench coach, is expected to take the job once Houston's season ends, which could come as soon as Saturday night after Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. 

Heyman reported a contract offer has already been made to Cora. 

A baseball source said this week that there was “not a doubt” Cora, the Astros bench coach, would wind up with the Red Sox gig. It’s unclear when exactly the offer was made to him, but one had not been made as of midday Wednesday, the source said. 

Cora, 41, a former Red Sox infielder (2005-08) who's also worked in the media and is the most sought-after managerial candidate at the moment, appeared the front-runner since the outset of what proved a small search for the Red Sox.

Earlier, Boston Globe reported that the Washington Nationals were interested in Cora after they fired Dusty Baker on Friday. 

 

Could Nationals' interest in Cora mess with Red Sox' plans?

Could Nationals' interest in Cora mess with Red Sox' plans?

The Washington Nationals will ask to speak to Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora after the ALCS, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported, which could throw a wrench into the Red Sox' plans to name Cora their manager.

The Sox appeared close to naming Cora to replace John Farrell after the Astros season is finished, NBC Sports Boston Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich reported earlier this week. Then the Nats decided to part ways with manager Dusty Baker after consecutive N.L. East titles but Division Series flameouts.

Cora, 41, as Cafardo points out, was once offered a player development job with the Nats, who were the last team he played for (2011) in his 14-plus years as a major league infielder, including 2005-08 with the Red Sox. 

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo obviously has a fondness for Cora, telling MLB.com in 2011:

"I think it comes natural to him to be a teacher. Alex still has a lot left in his tank as a player. But he has my number, and when he’s done playing, he can make a call. It will be well-received."

After interviewing Cora, ex-Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Ron Gardenhire, who took the Tigers job this week, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told WEEI.com that he was still "undecided" if he'll interview anyone else.