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Hideki Matsui in Anaheim: "Man, I feel comfortable here"

Mar 3, 2010, 3:15 PM EDT

Hideki Matsui Angels.jpgGood story in today’s New York Times about Hideki Matsui’s transition to life with the Angels.  There’s one rather shocking fact — About 50 Japanese reporters are following the Angels this spring,
compared with three daily beat writers from American news organizations — and a whole lot of interesting happy-to-be-here stuff:

“He’s got a really good sense of humor,” Hunter said. “It’s
unbelievable. I’ve been bringing him up in our meetings at 9:30 every
morning. It’s like a comedy show. He gets us warmed up, laughing,
cracking up, sweating, and we go out on the field happy. He fits right
in. He told me, ‘Man, I feel comfortable here.’ “

Also note the strikingly relaxed and realistic attitude he had when it came to leaving New York:

Matsui took less [than Johnny Damon] but signed earlier, accepting his standing in the market. “At
least for me, personally, it doesn’t really bother me,” Matsui said.
“You have to take into consideration what the current market is and
also your worth as a player, how teams assess you. My market price four
or five years ago was different because my age was different.”

Matsui’s agent is Arn Tellem.  Tellem may not get the same volume of press (at least in baseball) as Scott Boras gets, but he’s negotiated an insane number of very player-friendly contracts in recent years.  Despite this, he does not create the sort of acrimony Boras does and does not have a reputation for blowing smoke like Boras does about what his players are worth. According to people I know who know him, Tellem is a hell of a guy, actually, who is realistic about things and has a sensible temperament, which is not the sort of thing you hear said about sports agents all that often.

I’m sure Matsui’s stable offseason and easy transition to his new team has a lot to do with his own personality, but I don’t think I can ever recall a Boras clients talking in realistic terms about their age, their market and how teams might assess them as players.

  1. Scott - Mar 3, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Also, he had an outstanding performance in the playoffs, and I’d love to have a player like that on my team

  2. Old Gator - Mar 3, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    Aside from which, none of Boras’ clients bobbleheads are being sold as votive offerings at the Shoji Temple bazaar in Asakusa. Matsui smiles upon us because the Tathagata smiles upon him.

  3. JB - Mar 3, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    “negotiated an insane number of very player-friendly contracts in recent years.”
    care to mention a few? Not disputing, just curious.

  4. Craig Calcaterra - Mar 3, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    Two deals for Albert Belle, Mike Mussina’s big deal with the Yankees, Jason Giambi’s big deal with the Yankees, Matsui’s last deal, Chase Utley’s deal. There are others, but those are the ones that stick out.

  5. Charles Gates - Mar 3, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Yankees president Randy Levine calls Tellem “a problem-solver rather than a problem-creator. He gives you his word and keeps it.”
    Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane gushes, “With Arn, there’s a friendly casualness, a high degree of trust and a great amount of absurdity. In the middle of an intense deal, he’ll blurt out, ‘My baseball fantasy league draft is coming up. Got any suggestions?’ He combines the intelligence and steadfastness of Alan Dershowitz with the neurotic behavior of Woody Allen.”

    Machiavelli describes to ways to lead. As this pertains to negotiating and representation, Boras picked ‘to be feared’ while Tellem picked ‘to be loved.’ While their methods differ, it appears as if each has been successful.

  6. SouthofHeaven - Mar 3, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Good for him. Matsui was the guy I was by far happiest for when the Yanks won last year, cause it was really looking like it was his last chance to win a ring as a Bomber. I hope he has a really great career in Anaheim.

  7. Jonny5 - Mar 3, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    Basically Matsui has a good attitude, and it helps to not have an agent who blows smoke up your rear about how great/ underpaid you are. I’m still shocked that NY let this guy go. All that foriegn money now goes to the Angels….. In reality Matsui pays for himself when it’s all said and done. I don’t know of any one player who will draw as much money to a club by himself. He’s a legend in Japan, and we’re soon to see many Japanese advertisements on the Angels walls. And Jerseys? Well half of Japan will be buying one. It just doesn’t make sense to let him go imo.

  8. YX - Mar 3, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    LA is also an excellent place for him to expand his collection.

  9. Pauliecanes - Mar 3, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Have fun with this guy Angels fans. He is a real baseball guy. We will miss him in NY, but it was time to go! His knees will land him on the DL at least twice this year. He cannot be relied upon in the field. At DH, he will be an asset to a team I truly hate almost as much as the Red Sox. It was fun beating the Angels last year. I just hope the Angels look over their shoulders b/c the A’s are the Cinderella team this year. They have the pitching and nice offense to surprise many people this year, but again the Yankees win it all!!

  10. John - Mar 3, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    The A’s a sleeper team? No way. What pitching do they have? What offense do they have? Are you saying that their signings of Ben Sheets and Coco Crisp are going to get the job done? Not a chance…Angels repeat as division champs. Your Yankees will repeat another World Series though. I knew they were going to win last year with that loaded rooster.

  11. gfd - Mar 6, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    As a Yankees fan, Matsui is going to be missed. He was always a great person first and great player too. Godzilla best to you, woo them in LA LA LAND!!

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