World Series MVP Hideki Matsui’s move from the New York Yankees to the Los Angeles Angels sheds light on the harsh realities Major League Baseball players face as they pursue their career. Competition is tough and team front offices coolly calculate what kinds of players they need and how much money they should invest in each player.
Mr. Matsui had more than 100 RBIs four times in seven seasons with the Yankees. In the latest World Series, the designated hitter helped the Yankees win the championship by going 8 for 13 (.615) with three home runs and eight RBIs. But the 35-year old left-handed hitter has been plagued by injuries. In 2006, he broke his left wrist, and after suffering other injuries he has been unable to play in the outfield since July 2008. Despite his strong batting skills, proven ability to win and desire to stay with the Yankees, the team decided that it does not need Mr. Matsui — who had just completed a $52 million, four-year contract.
Mr. Matsui decided to move to the American League’s Los Angeles Angels because the team had, in his words,”welcomed me with open arms and understood my goals and desires.” Angels manager Mike Scioscia has hinted at the possibility of Mr. Matsui playing in the outfield, but as far as the contract itself is concerned Mr. Matsui might be a bit disappointed. The team offered him a $6 million one-year contract — less than half of the $13 million that he earned last season in New York. In comparison, on the same day Mr. Matsui joined the Angels, John Lackey, a 31-year-old right-handed pitcher who had earned more than 10 wins for seven straight years and posted a 3.81 earned run average in eight years with the Angels, signed an $82.5 million five-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, also in the American League.
At a news conference, Mr. Matsui expressed his determination to do his best and lead the Angels to its first world championship since its victory in 2002. His path may not be smooth, but we wish him the best.
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