While the Yankees were signing Japanese home run slugger Hideki Matsui, the New York Mets figured to make a splash when they signed the “other” Matsui, 28-year-old shortstop Kaz Matsui prior to the 2004 season.
Both were very popular players in Japan and both enjoyed great success. It would have seemed like the Mets may have gotten the better bargain with this one. Hideki was a one-dimensional player, a left handed slugging outfielder, suited perfectly for Yankee Stadium.
On the other hand, Kaz was a switch-hitting shortstop that displayed both speed and power. His Japanese career numbers included a .291 average with 201 home runs and 363 stolen bases. He had home run totals of 36 and 33 in the two seasons just prior to the Mets signing him.
One Matsui would become a shining star and the other would just fizzle out. Unfortunately for Mets fans, it would be Hideki who would win the hearts of Yankees fans while Kaz incurred the wrath of Mets fans, the media, and anyone else who would chime in.
The only reason it wasn’t worse than it was for him, was because David Wright had already arrived and Jose Reyes burst onto the scene. Even moving to second base couldn’t save Kaz Matsui and he would soon be banished to Colorado midway through the 2006 season. In two plus seasons with the Mets, he would hit .256 with 11 homers and 22 stolen bases in 239 games.
Unfortunately something apparently must have gotten lost in the translation.