As you know, the Yankees brought the World Series trophy to Asia – thanks to Yankees PR for the photo of it alongside the Yomiuri Giants’ 2009 championship hardware – and during a recent media session Brian Cashman said this about the signing of Hideki Matsui back in 2003:
“I’ve had some successful signings in Japan, I’ve had some unsuccessful signings in Japan. Hideki Matsui will be one of the best deals I ever made.”
Cashman added, “We will have future players from Japan on our roster. They will do everything in their power to try to help us win, but I doubt we’ll find another Hideki Matsui.”
Three things about this:
1. Assistant GM Jean Afterman deserves a ton of credit for helping to bring Matsui to the Bronx in the first place. Her experience and knowledge of the international baseball scene was critical in making the deal happen.
2. The Yankees are, obviously, a business and one that has plenty of international interests. It’s good to see them doing what they can to smooth things over with Japanese fans who may be upset that Matsui wasn’t re-signed. “We know the great allegiance to Hideki Matsui – he deserves it. He was a great Yankee,” said team president Randy Levine, who is also on the trip. “Hopefully, people will still root for the New York Yankees.”
3. I tend to agree with Cashman – the deal for Matsui worked out tremendously well for both sides. The interest in Matsui – especially in his first few years – was incredible and the scrutiny from the Japanese media was unparalleled. All the same, Matsui was the essence of class throughout his time with the Yankees. He’s among the most professional people I’ve ever covered.