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  • Nishioka Gets Another Shot

    Sending Tsuyoshi Nishioka to the minors at the outset of this season was a fairly obvious decision, given his immense struggles as a rookie last year. Leaving him there for the majority of the summer has also been an easy choice, as his play in Triple-A has offered no indication that he belongs in the big leagues.

    That remains true now, after a "hot" month of July in which Nishioka batted .298 but posted a meager .702 OPS, but nevertheless the Twins elected to bring him back to the majors when Sunday's Danny Valencia trade opened up a roster spot.

    And you know what? I believe the club made the right choice in recalling the embattled infielder, and I'll take it a step further: I think Nishioka should be starting regularly for Minnesota from here on out.

    Why? For the same reason that Nick Blackburn should keep taking the hill every fifth day, regardless of his performance. Right now, the Twins need to be completely focused on 2013 and beyond, and like it or not, the organization will be paying those two players who happen to slot in at positions of great need many millions of dollars next season.

    There's an inclination to label both Nishioka and Blackburn sunk costs, and ultimately that's what they may amount to next year: $8 million in wasted payroll with virtually no return. But that's an ugly scenario and the Twins have plenty of incentive to avoid it. In a late-season situation such as this, where wins and losses don't matter, there's an opportunity to take a long look at both players and try figuring out a way to get some value from them going forward.

    Believe me, I have close to zero faith in that happening, especially in the case of Nishioka. He just doesn't seem to have the tools to succeed as a major-league player. But a lengthy audition in a low-pressure environment with daily access to Joe Vavra and other coaches strikes me as a worthwhile last-ditch effort. Presuming Brian Dozier continues to start on the other side, Nishi won't be stealing playing time from anyone of import.

    When a 28-year-old hits .298/.336/.365 over a month in Triple-A, it's generally not something worth getting excited about. In the case of Nishioka, it is sadly the most positive thing he's done since coming over from Japan. That's the splinter of hope Twins fans must cling to with the failed import, so it's not hard to see why most have summarily dismissed the idea of his playing any role in the club's future, despite his contract.

    How nice it would be if he showed us something over the next two months to make us believe otherwise.
    This article was originally published in blog: Nishioka Gets Another Shot started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 102 Comments
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I'm somewhat surprised we got anything at all of value for Danny. His "attitude issues" whatever those are, were well documented before he even made the bigs, and they have to make room on the 40 man roster somewhere, so you know that no one was going to offer much. He's not exactly playing lights out baseball either. I had hoped he could be a league average 3B for a while, but for the moment that ship has sailed. Perhaps Boston can right his ship a bit, but given all the club house problems out there, I'm not sure that Danny was the best pickup.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      And he's in the lineup tonight no less. Hope he surprises the living daylights out of us.

      Nothing to be lost by seeing what he can do, even if the answer to that is "not much", might as well give it a shot.

      I wonder if things might have played out a little differently with him had he played in Rochester last year. I don't know that I've ever seen someone look so completely uncomfortable on a baseball field.

      This has turned out to be a bad move on so many levels. Not only was he a mess on the field, but last year I made the mistake of reading the Strib and PiPress comments with some regularity, and they were often a cess pool of racially-charged hate directed at Nishioka that almost made me throw in my mouth. I know the guy played some bad baseball and the internet brings out the worst in people, but the fact that so many people went there was really disappointing. I'd like to think our state and our fan base is better than that.
    1. Snortwood's Avatar
      Snortwood -
      First post on this subject since the game. In the way of awards, Nishi deserves something like Worst Performance Ever by a Second Baseman on a Winning Team in an Absolute Blowout. Two errors, and really he should have received a 3rd even though the throw from Carroll was high he has to at least catch the ball. He can't pickup toward the hole, he can't catch a ball that isn't thrown right to him, and the sun must have gotten in his eyes on that first grounder of the game somehow.

      Oh - and he went 0 for 5, though he did advance a runner one base one time and even hit the ball foul with some authority one time. But that's it for the positive spin. A nice foul ball and a well placed grounder when the game was in doubt.

      I"m done with him. I'm done with expecting anything better than what we saw from him tonight. If I were the GM he'd be back in the minors or DFA tonight. If I were the manager I would vow (internally, not for public consumption, but to the team that expects a player to contribute at something remotely resembling major league caliber play and to management no matter what the cost, even my job) that I would NEVER write his name down in the lineup card again. Ever. No way is the team worse with Casilla at 2B and Carroll or Casilla there once Plouffe gets back in the everyday. This team can only improve by playing anyone other than that overmatched bumbler out there.

      He's an embarrassment to the organization and to anyone taking money for admission to games. Thanks for raising him up for scrutiny one last time here. No further time or energy will be expended on him by me.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      The Twins have tried to be supportive and it hasn't worked. If they haven't done it yet, I think the Twins should confront Nishi. Something along the lines of "we paid a lot of money for your services, and we haven't received much of anything. Do you have something to offer or is this the best you can do?" We plan to DFA you if you don't perform and wouldn't expect any team to claim you. Do you want to go out like that?"
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      The Twins have tried to be supportive and it hasn't worked. If they haven't done it yet, I think the Twins should confront Nishi. Something along the lines of "we paid a lot of money for your services, and we haven't received much of anything. Do you have something to offer or is this the best you can do?" We plan to DFA you if you don't perform and wouldn't expect any team to claim you. Do you want to go out like that?"
      Don't you think this is something they have tried this in the past and something has gotten "lost in the translation" with Ryo as the middleman? I'll go on record admitting I was completely wrong yesterday when I said he couldn't be worse than last year.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Snortwood View Post
      First post on this subject since the game. In the way of awards, Nishi deserves something like Worst Performance Ever by a Second Baseman on a Winning Team in an Absolute Blowout. Two errors, and really he should have received a 3rd even though the throw from Carroll was high he has to at least catch the ball. He can't pickup toward the hole, he can't catch a ball that isn't thrown right to him, and the sun must have gotten in his eyes on that first grounder of the game somehow....
      You left out the juggling act and the full frontal face-plant.
    1. Reginald Maudling's Shin's Avatar
      Reginald Maudling's Shin -
      I think this is hilarious. We haven't had a player this legendarily horse-sh!t since Houston Jiminez.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      It is kind of hilarious, actually. I like to hum the Benny Hill theme song whenever a ball gets hit his way...
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Based on these quotes from Gardy, it sounds like the Twins are on board with my plan: http://www.startribune.com/sports/tw...6.html?refer=y.

      Gardenhire said the plan is to give Nishioka regular playing time at second.

      "We're just going to let him play," Gardenhire said.

      ...

      "It's not just three days for Nishi," Gardenhire said. "Nishi is here to play."
      Missed the game tonight but it sounds like a comically bad performance. On the bright side, if he keeps this up, the Twins can move forward with him firmly out of the picture for next year.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      Yeah, give him the same week or so Valencia received. If there's improvement, great. If not, get him out of here. At least off the 40 man.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Same a bit of the game and Nishi still looked like **** from here, bad at-bats and crap-tastic defense.
    1. Mauerzy4Prez's Avatar
      Mauerzy4Prez -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Based on these quotes from Gardy, it sounds like the Twins are on board with my plan: http://www.startribune.com/sports/tw...6.html?refer=y.



      Missed the game tonight but it sounds like a comically bad performance. On the bright side, if he keeps this up, the Twins can move forward with him firmly out of the picture for next year.
      I also heard that Gardy said Nishi will likely stay around after Plouffe comes back from the DL. Last night was downright terrible, and honestly I was mad at first but eventually you just feel bad for the guy. He clearly has some major confidence issues and they are impacting his ability to play sound baseball. When you are booting easy ground balls and throws off the heal of your glove and flat out falling down as you throw a ten footer to first base, the issue comes back to what is going on in his own head. I say give him the rest of the series at second base, let him go back out tonight and make up for yesterday, and hopefully he can get more comfortable. He'll either sink or swim, but at least then we will know if he's a useful utility, or a complete head case that just needs to go away.
    1. SBG's Avatar
      SBG -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Based on these quotes from Gardy, it sounds like the Twins are on board with my plan: http://www.startribune.com/sports/tw...6.html?refer=y.



      Missed the game tonight but it sounds like a comically bad performance. On the bright side, if he keeps this up, the Twins can move forward with him firmly out of the picture for next year.
      If Nishi was a vaudeville act, the hook would have come out about halfway through last night's game.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Sending Dozier back down wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, Gardy is right, he hasn't preformed offensively. I find it interesting that he wants Dozier to focus more on taking walks, that is a good thing IMO.

      Of course if Dozier is sent down and Nishi is kept up people will go bonkers, but in a lost season we might as well see if Nishioka has ANY sort of a future in the big leagues. I'm guessing he gets 20-25 games to prove himself, and if he doesn't do a complete 180 he will be cut at the end of the year. At the very least we should be able to get some laughs.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Of course if Dozier is sent down and Nishi is kept up people will go bonkers, but in a lost season we might as well see if Nishioka has ANY sort of a future in the big leagues. I'm guessing he gets 20-25 games to prove himself, and if he doesn't do a complete 180 he will be cut at the end of the year. At the very least we should be able to get some laughs.
      Nishi has no future with this team, Dozier does. In a lost season you play young guys who actually have a future with your club, not overpaid mistake signings who's only up cause he's making 3 million.

      20-25 games doesn't change anything, he can't hit and he can't field worth a damn.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Nishi has no future with this team, Dozier does. In a lost season you play young guys who actually have a future with your club, not overpaid mistake signings who's only up cause he's making 3 million.

      20-25 games doesn't change anything, he can't hit and he can't field worth a damn.
      Did you read the article? They want to send Dozier down to help his development. The kid has potential, but let's not sugarcoat it, he has been pretty bad offensively. Hopefully he can go down to AAA, work on his swing/approach and come back up soon and hit for a .700+ OPS.

      I agree, Nishi sucks but he is owed good money next year, Gardy might as well throw him out there and say "See, we can't count on him in any way shape or form next year" Sort of like what they are potentially doing with Blackburn if he continues to struggle.
    1. Mauerzy4Prez's Avatar
      Mauerzy4Prez -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Sending Dozier back down wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, Gardy is right, he hasn't preformed offensively. I find it interesting that he wants Dozier to focus more on taking walks, that is a good thing IMO.

      Of course if Dozier is sent down and Nishi is kept up people will go bonkers, but in a lost season we might as well see if Nishioka has ANY sort of a future in the big leagues. I'm guessing he gets 20-25 games to prove himself, and if he doesn't do a complete 180 he will be cut at the end of the year. At the very least we should be able to get some laughs.
      I understand what you're thought process is here, but I don't think this is a good idea because it is not keeping in mind the big picture. What type of message does that send to Dozier if we send him down to AAA and give his spot to Nishioka? Dozier is a long term prospect for us that needs to stay up and continue to build up his ability at this level. Nishi is an after thought and a mistake, that we are never going to pursue long term and will likely be gone by next year. Sending Dozier down right now, with September right around the corner makes no sense at all... ESPECIALLY if we are going to fill his spot with this dud of a player. Not to mention that one of the main reasons we called up Nishi in the first place is to give Escobar full time play at AAA for the rest of the season.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Did you read the article? They want to send Dozier down to help his development. The kid has potential, but let's not sugarcoat it, he has been pretty bad offensively. Hopefully he can go down to AAA, work on his swing/approach and come back up soon and hit for a .700+ OPS.

      I agree, Nishi sucks but he is owed good money next year, Gardy might as well throw him out there and say "See, we can't count on him in any way shape or form next year" Sort of like what they are potentially doing with Blackburn if he continues to struggle.
      I've never been high on Doz, IMO he's a Carrol-like utility player. But what's the point of sending him down, let the kid work through his lumps and either get going or crap the bed. In lost seasons you ride out the kids and figure out if it's one less hole you have to fill in 2013.

      Blackburn and Nishi are in the majors for the same reason, they're both owed money going into 2013. If neither of these guys weren't on the books for 2013, they would have been shipped out months ago.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I don't think there's enough time in the MiLB season to send down Dozier and expect any kind of results... unless they do it right now.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      While feeling a little guilty laughing at another's foibles, I confess I was humored by the thought of Nishi adding to my already rich history of individual player ineptitude dating back to 1961 for me. Hosken Powell came to mind for me. At least Houston Jiminez had a reason to take a glove out to his position.


      But I gotta say, if they trot Nishi out there for the next 25 games, I will become more and more humorless I'm afraid. Maybe the brain trust has seen something we haven't, but I just can't imagine Nishi turning things around. Give me Casilla and Carroll any day of the week over Nishi! Prove us wrong, boys. This'll add a nice little side interest to a lost season I guess.
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