What have Matsuzaka, Okajima, Saito & Tazawa all in common? Not a difficult question, they are all Japanese and they play for the Red Sox (organization). But what are the differences? Matsuzaka is the biggest star of the four, he’s the only lifelong starter and has won the WBC MVP award twice. Okajima is the only lefty of the four. Saito has been the only closer (he will be set-up man now). And Tazawa is the youngest and has never played in the Nippon Professional League (Japanese Major League).
I think they all will have nice years. Pros and Cons:
* Going in his third year for the Red Sox, Matsuzaka is used to the clubhouse and the organization, he’s matured and will be a nice leader.
* Winning the WBC MVP award will give him a boost to perform even better.
* With Saito in town, he has it’s easier for him to make friends and be happy.
* He hasn’t lived up to the hype just yet, the pressure will be big.
* Same as Matsuzaka, third year for him so is more used to the environment.
* With Saito and Ramirez with the Sox, he isn’t the only set-up man. The pressure will be less and so is the work load.
* Because he gets older, he may burn down easier or will get injured easier.
* He’s experienced and the players in the American League East don’t know him well. So he could make an impact there.
* He isn’t the only bullpen guy on who the club has to rely on, less pressure.
* With two other Japanese players and Brad Penny around him, the comfort level will be high.
* Coming off a serious arm injury, which required TJ surgery if he was younger, time will tell if he can stay healthy down the stretch.
* The young player will start at Portland probably. After his strong spring performance, I see him dominating the AA players. He will be promoted to Pawtucket and he may get a call down the stretch to relieve for the big league club.
* He hasn’t played in the regular season against professional players yet, so he may get confidence problems
* He needs to get used to the bigger ball.