Twins Must Erase Memories of Nishioka
by, 08-13-2012 at 04:13 PM (918 Views)
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was optioned to the minors today to make room for Trevor Plouffe, has probably played his last game in a Twins uniform. His memory will endure, however – probably for longer than the team would like.
In a sense, you can't help but feel bad for the guy. He worked hard and tried his best, but in the end he couldn't cut it, and his demotion in the wake of an audition so horrendous it needed to be cut short after three games serves as a reminder of the most misguided decision in a blunder-filled Bill Smith era.
The signing of Nishioka and the corresponding roster maneuvering – namely, trading J.J. Hardy for what amounted to nothing – were puzzling at the time and far worse in hindsight.
It's not that the moves themselves have set the organization back irreversibly, as Nishioka's $3 million salary is hardly a massive burden and Hardy has come hurdling back to earth in year one of his new contract (though I'd argue he's still a decent value at $7 million). It's more that the thought process behind the decisions – the misplaced priorities, the awful player evaluation, the lack of long-term foresight – represented everything wrong with the front office under Smith. These weaknesses were also on display in moves like the Nick Blackburn extension, the Carl Pavano re-signing and the Matt Capps trade.
Mixed in with a good hint of bad luck, this shaky leadership sent a thriving and annually competitive franchise to the very bottom. The Twins lost 99 games last year and they're on pace to lose 92 this year. If it pans out that way, it will be the worst two-year stretch for the club since the early '80s.
The middle infield positions, which have been constant problem spots over the past decade, continue to be filled by stopgaps and marginal big-leaguers. And as long as that continues to be the case, people will remember Nishioka.
Terry Ryan's job is to make them forget.