Minnesota Twins: Should They Keep Tsuyoshi Nishioka or Not?
"To be or not to be, that is the question."
-William Shakespeare's Hamlet
"To keep or not to keep" is the question the Twins organization needs to be asking themselves.
When the Twins acquired Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the winter of 2010, the word was that they were gaining a batting champion with a slick glove to fill the hole at either shortstop or second base. He was supposed to sure up our infield and provide a reliable bat in the lineup. As any Twins fan knows, that hasn't happened yet for the Japanese star at the major-league level here in the United States.
After a disastrous start to his major-league career and another subpar performance in his second season, the question is already surfacing in Twins Territory: keep Nishioka or not?
Here are the facts of his brief tenure with the Twins, laid out for all to see. I know what I think, but I want to know how other Twins fans feel about Nishioka and his future with the Minnesota Twins.
Does he stay or does he go?
Style of Play
As every Twins fan knows, Nishioka broke his leg early in the 2011 season when he failed to get out of the way of a sliding Nick Swisher. It was a standard baseball play, nothing dirty about it, but Nishioka didn't know to get out of the way.
Japanese baseball is not played the same way as here in the US. It is a much more physical game here, and either no one told the infielder to get out of the way or he ignored the warnings. Either way, Nishioka lost a lot of playing time for failing to make the adjustment.
It comes down to a few things: first, can Nishioka make the adjustments needed to play the American way? Second, are the Twins willing to take the time to teach him? Third, how long will it take?
A new style can be learned, but both parties have to be willing to teach and listen.
When the Twins signed Nishioka, he was coming off a career year in Japan that saw him bat .346 with 206 hits. Since joining the Twins, the former Japanese batting champion is hitting .215 in 71 games. This year, Nishioka has yet to record a hit in 14 plate appearances. He did record a game winning RBI in his three-game stint, but it was on a sacrificial fly.
While coaches at the AAA level insist his .245 batting average is misleading and that he is doing very well, I have a hard time believing it. He has been a shadow of his supposed talent ceiling in the batter's box, and hasn't shown any improvement yet after being called up along with Danny Valencia.
As with playing style, hitting can be worked on. But how long should the Twins be willing to do so? Not everyone is made to hit a major-league pitcher. Not everyone is going to be an Ichiro Suzuki.
In three games with the Twins this season, Nishioka has three errors. Not exactly how you'd like your late season audition to go.
Nishioka committed 12 errors in 66 games in his injury-shortened 2011 season. For his brief career with the Twins, Nishioka has amassed a dismal average of -32 runs saved per 1,200 innings (average of 135 game season). Click here to see the entire set of Nishioka's defensive stats.
Between the runs he is giving up over the course of a year and the errors he has been committing, it is hard to see how Nishioka would fit into an infield that prides itself on its defense.
Once again, defense can be worked on, but time is the factor for the Twins. Should they take the time or not? What do you think?
In 2010, the Twins had to pay $5 million to even be able to negotiate a contract with Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The team ended up signing him to a 3 year, $9 million contract with a club option for 2014.
By the end of his contract, the Twins will have sunk $14 million into Nishioka. So far they do not have much to show for it. The question is simple: is Nishioka playing like he should be for receiving $3 million a year?
Well, if you use other measuring sticks on our team such as Nick Blackburn, then he is. I believe it was too much money to lay down for a player that is coming from an entirely different setting than our American major leagues.
Should He Stay or Should He Go?
Minnesota Twins fans, I want to hear from you. The facts are simple: Nishioka hasn't performed up to what he was said to be able to do. Defensively and offensively, the infielder has been hard to watch. His style of play landed him on the disabled list. What to do?
Many of the shortcomings Nishioka has experienced can be worked on and fixed, but should the Twins bother?
Do you think the Twins should keep the Japanese star or should they part ways?
I know what I think. What does the rest of Twins Territory say?
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