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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. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      I absolutely agree. He can play C level defense and sometimes hit the ball hard (mostly at people.) He's a useful platoon player or fill-in. That isn't very hard to replace.
      I'm just disappointed that his loss means we have to watch Nishioka play. No amount of money left on a contract will make Nishioka a competent MLB player. This is the "Scholarship Program" that was supposed to be removed. You don't have to find out what you have with Nishi. The results have been consistently bad for 2 years.
      Valencia=moderate value, little cost. Nishioka=negative value, core player cost.
      I don't think this is a scholarship thing at all. Nishioka is a sunk cost. Alexi Casilla is going to arbitration. Valencia has little value or use to the organization, which will be looking to add a lot of players to the 40 man in the coming year.

      Get rid of Valencia for a marginal prospect, call up Nishioka and see if he can replace Casilla in 2013. If it works out, the Twins can decline arb on Alexi, possibly trade Carroll in the offseason, and use Nishi/Escobar in the futility/2B role. That's several million saved for 2013 and a few slots cleared off the 40 man. All in all, it could make the team both cheaper and better going forward.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by cr9617 View Post
      Let's just hurry up and close the Nishi chapter. Obviously, this guy has no future in the Majors or with the Twins.

      On another note, hindsight being 20/20, the Valencia trade is just one more example of the Twins selling a guy when his value is at it's lowest point.
      These guys haven't been on the forward thinking end of trade in who knows how long.
      Valencia did that to himself. If he wasn't so awful that the Twins were forced to send him down, his value would be higher. The Twins needed a third baseman so it's not as if they were holding him back... The only thing doing that was his level of play. He even had a shot at redemption in Rochester and continued to play like crap, putting up a .680 OPS as a 27 year old. It's not as if the Twins had much of a choice. He wasn't going to get playing time, he's not getting any younger, and the Twins need to clear some junk off the 40 man roster.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by rocketpig View Post
      ............ the Twins need to clear some junk off the 40 man roster.
      The "heavy-lifting" phase of this junk-clearing can't begin soon enough, so that, on a more positive note, it will then be worth culling the roster in September in an attempt to unearth the next Diamond/Plouffe/Deduno/Parmelee in-the-rough.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      The "heavy-lifting" phase of this junk-clearing can't begin soon enough, so that, on a more positive note, it will then be worth culling the roster in September in an attempt to unearth the next Diamond/Plouffe/Deduno/Parmelee in-the-rough.
      Yep, there's more than one reliever on that 40 man roster who could use the boot.
    1. J-Dog Dungan's Avatar
      J-Dog Dungan -
      Quote Originally Posted by cr9617 View Post
      Let's just hurry up and close the Nishi chapter. Obviously, this guy has no future in the Majors or with the Twins.

      On another note, hindsight being 20/20, the Valencia trade is just one more example of the Twins selling a guy when his value is at it's lowest point.
      These guys haven't been on the forward thinking end of trade in who knows how long.
      Yes, they sold, but they got a kid who appears to have some promise down in the GCL.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by J-Dog Dungan View Post
      Yes, they sold, but they got a kid who appears to have some promise down in the GCL.
      I'll take my chances with Valenica over a kid who can legally buy beer still in the GCL and thinks walks are the devil.
    1. BrentMpls's Avatar
      BrentMpls -
      I don't know if its another shot... Plouffe is supposed to be back Friday. They just need a hole plugged for a couple of games.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      I'll take my chances with Valenica over a kid who can legally buy beer still in the GCL and thinks walks are the devil.
      Of course you would!
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Of course you would!
      Yeah I don't like the fact that the Twins just up and gave up a guy that I still think has a roll on this team. Not an everyday roll but a roll non-the less.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Twins got a possible long range prospect, Valencia had worked his way out of town, bad attitude and lack of ability. Terry Ryan has a big job ahead of him and this is a start. Do not be fooled, Red Sox are in the same boat as us. Anything is better than nothing. Casilla is probably next unless they trade Jamie Carroll.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Yeah I don't like the fact that the Twins just up and gave up a guy that I still think has a roll on this team. Not an everyday roll but a roll non-the less.
      Keep going, you're on a role.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by beckmt View Post
      Terry Ryan has a big job ahead of him and this is a start. .
      Yes and No.

      Terry Ryan (or whomever the Twins GM will be) has a big job ahead of them and it has to do with getting the rotation fixed. The Valencia traded (and everything that Ryan did last off-season) has nothing to do with priority number one.

      Trading a guy who for whatever reason had no future in this organization for a Rk level OF does nothing to fix the rotation (which should be Ryan's big job.) So it is not a start for anything. Trading (for example) Morneau for an MLB-ready SP would have been a start...

      And, to be clear, I am not saying that the Valencia trade is "good" or "bad"... All I am saying is that it is a side move that does not address the major priorities with this team.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      Minor subject change and I apologize if this is a horribly old and over-done topic. I want to know who lost their job over Nishi. Who went to Japan and/or saw him in the US and said, "oh yeah, this guys is the real deal."? Somebody will say Bill Smith. There had to be other people involved in that evaluation. If I understand the story correctly, Gardy saw him for one day in Spring Training '11 and knew immediately that he did not have the ability to play the MLB shortstop position. MLB channel does a lot of shows that profile top-ten lists. How about a show for most horrific scouting reports?
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      Keep going, you're on a role.
      Ahh...I see what you did there.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      The Twins don't have what it takes to get major league ready pitching. They might have been able to trade Span for J.C. Sulbaran (and other minor pieces) who was moved in the Broxton deal. Sulbaran is a C+ prospect in AA.

      It is possible the Braves would have taken a combination of Liriano and Span for the injured Arodys Vizcaino and a C prospect.

      Other than those two, I didn't see any starting pitching prospects where the Twins could reasonably match the deal.

      Teams don't give up major league ready starting pitching without great return. Morneau is not going to be enough.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      Yeah I don't like the fact that the Twins just up and gave up a guy that I still think has a roll on this team. Not an everyday roll but a roll non-the less.
      What role would that be?
      5 more days on the roster, then sent back down to AAA for the rest of the season where he can continue to post a sub .700 OPS while having little value defensively? Then Cut in the off-season?

      I have a feeling if this happened you would be leading the "we should have traded Valencia when we had a chance" group.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Nishioka was just a blown scouting report. Anybody looks good in their own highlight reel.

      Look, he got a hit! Let's run that again... Wow, now he's two for two!
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      Rocketpig, I appreciate your reasoning on the utility role. It does make sense that the team might be looking to to salvage a little of a sunk cost the way you describe, but Nishioka hasn't earned the right to replace Alexi Casilla for any reason other than having the contract he does. Nishioka's whole value is based on a plus glove, a high OBP and speed. The glove he brought to the US has been poor, his OBP is .309 (at AAA,) and he's gone 6 for 12 in steal attempts. No matter how they try to whitewash it, any chances he's getting are being offered due to the fact that he's owed a lot of money. To me, that is what is meant by the "Scholarship Program." I.E. Just because we gave our scholarship to a guy doesn't mean he should get the chance over someone with a more deserving performance. Casilla is proving he's not worth arbitration, but he leaves a hole that can be filled cheaply with or without putting Nishioka in a Twins uni. I would like to see Mastroianni at 2nd for a couple weeks to learn whether that's an option.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      What role would that be?
      5 more days on the roster, then sent back down to AAA for the rest of the season where he can continue to post a sub .700 OPS while having little value defensively? Then Cut in the off-season?

      I have a feeling if this happened you would be leading the "we should have traded Valencia when we had a chance" group.
      He's a nice bench player to have, I think we all know the days of Matt Tolbert pitch hitting late in games. Danny isn't gonna set the world on fire, but he can play some 1B and 3B, I bet with some work he could fake a corner OF spot and he's a decent righty bat to have on the bench with a team loaded with lefties.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      He's a nice bench player to have, I think we all know the days of Matt Tolbert pitch hitting late in games. Danny isn't gonna set the world on fire, but he can play some 1B and 3B, I bet with some work he could fake a corner OF spot and he's a decent righty bat to have on the bench with a team loaded with lefties.
      But Gardy doesn't like him.

      I get the feeling that the trade wasn't about getting something in return, it was about getting rid of Danny. Like the Kyle Lohse trade.

      If I was TR, and Boston claimed Valencia, I'd ask for a pitcher. And if I couldn't get a pitcher, I'd just keep Valencia for now.
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