Hideki Matsui, the star centerfielder for the Japanese champion Yomiuri Giants, has announced his decision to test the free agent waters in the U.S. Some sources already have him headed to the Yankees. There is further speculation that the Yomiuri media conglomerate, the owners of the Giants, will buy the Japanese rights to broadcast Yankee games in order to air his games in Japan.
Matsui would be unlike any Japanese player to come to America. He hits for power and average. He came close to a triple crown this year. He is left-handed and would fit in nicely with Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch. Bernie Williams and his aching arms would move to left, with some sort of combination of Juan Rivera, Raul Mondesi, Rondell White, and Shane Spencer (all right-handed batters) handling the right field and DH duties. He could fail like no other Japanese player before, too.
However, with the Yankees suddenly fiscally austere--trade talks of Posada, rumors that Pettite's $11.5 M option will not be picked up, and Roger Clemens declining his option for 2003--is this the time to mention a Japanese player with the first name Hideki to The Boss?