Not too long ago, we asked the question, “Was Matsuzaka worth it?” And we concluded that he wasn’t. At least, not last season. But we remained optimistic that, in coming seasons, Matsuzaka would yet live up to his expensive contract.
Of course, that was taking for granted that Matsuzaka was as valuable a marketing tool as he was a strikeout machine. Scott Boras sold the Red Sox on Matsuzaka’s ability to bring in big bucks from Japan. And the Sox sold us on that theory.
But now comes word from the Boston Herald’s Rob Bradford that Matsuzaka wasn’t the marketing dynamo that we were led to believe.
Sam Kennedy, the Red Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing, told Bradford that the Matsuzaka signing wasn’t as profitable as the Sox imagined it would be:
“The Japanese advertising market has been softer than we thought, especially considering we have two Japanese pitchers.”
Softer? How soft?
While most estimates have Seattle and the Yankees garnering between $3-6 million annually because of the presence of Japanese outfielders Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, respectively, the Red Sox’ final tally came up well short.
Funai Electronics proved to be the sole sponsorship gained because of Dice-K, netting the Red Sox an annual contract of approximately $900,000.
How come so soft?
“There was absolutely not this windfall of corporate advertising dollars we thought there may be, or that (Matsuzaka’s) representative might have led you to believe during the negotiations,” Kennedy said.
Wait? Scott Boras lied? Impossible!
But I don’t get it? Why weren’t the Japanese as excited about Matsuzaka playing in the US as they were about Ichiro, or Matsui?
Part of that was due to the advertisements in Fenway Park [map] not being as relevant in Matsuzaka’s case as they might be for an outfielder. Matsui, for instance, can potentially stand in front of a Japanese advertisement in the outfield for 162 games while the Sox pitcher is limited to one appearance every five days.
“We can’t put a sign on the pitcher’s mound,” Kennedy said.
Or could we? Mwa ha ha!