Found March 24, 2012 on BigAppleMetsTalk:

The Deal: In 2003 the New York Mets signed Japanese SS Kazuo Matsui to a 3 year deal worth $20 million. Kaz Matsui was a star shortstop in Japan. In his last season in Japan, Matsui hit .305 with 33 home runs and 84 RBI. The numbers were impressive, but as soon as Matsui arrived in Flushing something seemed to be missing. Somewhere during the trip to New York, it seemed as though Kaz had lost his ability to play the game of baseball in every way.

The Story: Although Matsui hit a home run in his first at bat as a Met in 2004, the signing of the 28 year old was a disaster from the beginning. To make room for Mastsui, a then young and up and coming star SS named Jose Reyes was asked to move over to second Base. The experiment did not last long, as Kaz made 23 errors, mostly due to poor throws.

By the end of Matsui’s first season he was moved to second base and Reyes shifted back over to shortstop. Not only did he perform poorly in the field, he did not hit either. He battled nagging injuries and played in only 114 games, hitting just .272 with 7 homers, just 44 RBI and 14 steals. This was a far cry from what the Mets expected, but the hope was that it was his first year in New York and he would adjust. That was not to be, as his second season was even worse. While he cut down on the errors after moving over to second, his bat suffered even more. He again battled injuries and played in only 87 games, hitting .255 with 3 home runs and 24 RBI. In 2006 he lost his starting job to Jose Valentin and was eventually shipped off to Colorado.

The Burn: Kaz Matsui was brought over to replace another New York bust in future Hall of Famer, Roberto Alomar. What they got was a player who’s game did not transfer from japan to the Major Leagues. He signed a big contract and did not produce anywhere near to his capabilities. What’s more, was that he would not sign with the Mets unless he played shortstop, and his signing forced the franchise SS Reyes to move second base. In two and a half seasons with the Mets he hit .256 with just 11 home runs and 75 RBI total. Worst yet, his on base percentage hovered around .300 and he only stole 22 bases.

In 2006 the when the Mets realized their mistake and decided to cut their losses. They traded Matsui to the Colorado Rockies, and all they got back for their $20 Million they spent was Eli Marrero.


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