WEEIDaisuke Matsuzaka is likely headed for Tommy John surgery. While the decision is not final it appears that the right-hander will indeed have season-ending surgery to repair the injury to his ulnar collateral (Tommy John) ligament and common flexor mass of his right elbow. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated on Thursday afternoon reported (via Twitter) that Matsuzaka will have the surgery, “probably” next week, with Dr. Lewis Yocum performing the surgery. The right-hander — who is 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA in eight games (seven starts) this year — is under contract in 2012, the final year of his six-year, $52 million deal.

Relying on the vast wealth of knowledge I possess about ulnar collateral ligament and common flexor mass physiology, the best case scenario on Tommy John surgery is a year, minimum.  Which means the best we could hope for is that sometime around the All Star break of 2012 Dice-K will be back on the mound walking the bases loaded and getting pulled in the 4th inning (and 3rd hour) of another one of his unwatchable starts while I sit there with a gun barrel in my mouth.  In other words, this is it.  We might as well make it official.  The Dice-K Era is over.

I was probably the last holdout.  Like one of those Japanese soldiers they kept finding in the Pacific in the ’50s who thought WWII was still on, I kept trying to believe in Matsuzaka.  I tried… God knows I honestly tried… to embrace his methods.  The full counts on every batter.  The relentless nibbling.  The circumnavigation of the mound while he rubbed up the ball between every pitch.  I’ve coached enough 10 year old baseball to think I could take all the bases on balls and interminable innings.  I just figured it was a cultural thing.  If “Karate Kid” (the original, good one) taught me anything, it’s that the Japanese do things differently.  One minute you’re waxing a car and the next minute you’re a champion and Elisabeth Shue is riding you like a wild stallion.  I tried to rationalize Dice-K’s as part of a master plan to wear teams out or lull them to sleep.  But by his 3rd or 4th start this year, I realized there was no method there.  Only madness.

So after 4+ years, here’s what we got:

49-30, including an incomprehensible 18-3 in 2008

A playoff record of 3-1, including a 5.1 INN win in Game 3 of the World Series in ’07

An insane WHIP of almost 1.4

An average of less than 6 INN per start

$100 million of Henrybucks

5.5 years taken off Terry Francona’s life expectancy from all the stress and aggravation

So after all the hype and the excitement of him coming here, I guess we have to declare the whole thing a failure, don’t we?  Even when you factor in a championship? Not a complete Vin Baker-sized disaster, but a bust for sure.  Because Theo could’ve bought an awful lot of bullpen/shortstop help with what they spent on this train wreck. How big a bust would you rate the Dice-K fiasco?  I give it a solid 7 on the Bust Scale.

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PS.  I’m convinced he will end up somewhere else next year.  And then we’ll finally get to see the Gyroball.  He’s just been saving it for when he really needs it. @jerrythornton1