Matsui candidacy raising questions

The only way Rocco Baldelli will trump Hideki Matsui is if the Japanese import's candidacy is nullified.

Updated: September 25, 2003, 5:04 PM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
George Steinbrenner is known for outbursts that reek of a lack of forethought. His leaps of logic and lack of objectivity are well-known, but in his latest hyperbolic communiqué, he might actually have stumbled onto a good point. George King of the New York Post writes that Steinbrenner is angry at his old friend Lou Piniella because the Rays manager suggested that Hideki Matsui doesn't deserve the AL Rookie of the Year Award on account of his lengthy service in the Japanese major leagues. If this were a deeply held belief on Piniella's part, then Steinbrenner's anger would be assailable. The trouble is, Piniella campaigned for Matsui's fellow-countrymen Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Suzuki when they were rookies under his command in Seattle.

"When he managed in Seattle he praised Ichiro and Kazuhiro, his own Rookies of the Year who played in Japan," Steinbrenner told King. "Now that he's in Tampa and in danger of losing 100 games, he says Matsui shouldn't be in the running because he played previously in Japan. Lou is talking out of both sides of his mouth, grasping for any straw, for any excuse."

Rocco Baldelli
Rocco Baldelli's numbers simply don't equal Hideki Matsui's.
Clearly, there's a good reason Presidents don't send Steinbrenner on diplomatic missions. This is his way of saying that he thinks Piniella is a hypocrite because he wants his player, Rocco Baldelli, to win the award. Steinbrenner is convinced that his charge, the man he paid $21 million for three years, should be the hardware boy. "Matsui is the best rookie in the game," he insisted.
Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at