Kazuo Matsui brought me headaches.

Infielder Kazuo Matsui was a star in Japan, finishing with over 2,000 hits and a .291 batting average. He was signed by the Mets at a time when Japanese ballplayers were novel and new and making waves—it was the era of Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui (no relation) and Kaz Sasaki. New York tried their hand at a few, inking the likes of Masato Yoshii, Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Satoru Komiyama. But those were half steps; the Mets hadn’t yet dipped into the pool of Japanese superstars. Until Matsui.

He ended up hitting .256 in 239 games with New York.

I found this little blurb hiding in one of my folders. I wrote it when I was 15 or so.


Kaz Matsui: Was he a waste, or is it just me?

Kaz Matsui finished with nearly 2,900 professional hits and more than 1,500 runs scored. (Wikipedia).

Mets fans, you may like this article. Any others … well … you may not really care.  

Now, as many of you know (or not), I’m a big Mets fan. They are the team I follow the most. I watch their games. I read up on their statistics. And when I see a Met not living up to our expectations, it hurts. It really does.

And, Kaz Matsui is really not living up to our expectations. He was supposed to be an Ichiro-esque player, and he has—it’s a struggle for me to say this—not.

Now, I know it takes some people a few years to become acclimated to the Major League Baseball style, but you don’t have those few years when you’re a 27-year-old rookie! You should be in, or at least entering, your prime by now. And now, Kaz is hitting .230 on the season.

And it’s not just the fact that his average is low, either. Matsui has not shown the power or speed abilities that he showed over in Japan. What happened to 36 home run Kaz Matsui? Where did 62 stolen base Kaz go? My bet is they went with his health, which has not been very good these past two years.

I know he’s been hurt, but that really can’t be an excuse, because when he’s healthy, he not showing anything either.

Well, I’ve ranted long enough. Kaz just isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing. That’s all right.

 Jeff Keppinger will be ready to take over his spot any year now.


Coincidentally, Keppinger never had much of an impact with the Mets, spending only 33 games with the club in 2004.

Worst trades in Mets history, #2: Kazuo Matsui for Eli Marrero

Kaz Matsui hit well after joining the Rockies. (Wikipedia)

This one is not so bad because of what the Mets lost, but because of what they received in return. Addition by subtraction only works when what is gained isn’t, itself, a subtraction.

Joining the Mets in 2004, Kazuo “Kaz” Matsui was nothing less than a disappointment in his two-plus years in New York. He was a star in Japan, batting as high as .322 and stealing as many as 62 bases in a season, but that success didn’t translate to the major league stage.

The middle infielder spent time at second base and shortstop and found little success at either position, struggling offensively and defensively. In his first campaign, he hit .272 with 32 doubles and 14 stolen bases in 114 games — which earned him some support in Rookie of the Year voting. In the field, however, he finished second in the league in errors committed.

Any promise his 2004 season held was dashed in 2005, as his batting average fell to .255 and his on-base percentage slumped to a meager .300 in just 87 games. By 2006, he was slashing .200/.235/.269 and the Mets decided the Matsui experiment had to come to an end.

Having all but lost his starting job to Jose Valentin, Matsui was shipped off to the Rockies for Cuban catcher/outfielder Eli Marrero on June 9.

Matsui went on to hit .345 for Colorado that year, then hammered out two decent campaigns in 2007 and 2008, averaging 26 stolen bases and 25 doubles per season, while hitting .290.

Marrero — who was batting just .217 at the time of the trade and was a .245 career hitter prior to 2006 — lasted 25 games with New York. He hit .182 in 33 at-bats and was released on August 9, ending his Mets, and major league, career.

Escaping the Big Apple helped Matsui turn a corner in his career. Adding Marrero helped nothing. Though Matsui was struggling, trading him, it seems, was a worse deal than doing nothing at all.