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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Reusse: It’s time for Twins to end their sad glove affair with Nishioka

Reusseable goods, disposable products…

Before Wednesday’s first pitch, I sent an e-mail to General Manager Terry Ryan asking for the official version of why Gardenhire had said of Nishioka, “He’s here to play.’‘

Ryan’s response was: “I am not sure what you are looking for. It is up to Gardy to make out the lineup with the 25 players available.’‘

Gardenhire’s public comments Wednesday did not sound like those of a manager who was playing Nishioka because he wanted to. He harrumphed his way through a Nishioka question from reporters and said he was done talking about the second baseman.

It seems clear that Gardenhire was playing Nishioka in Cleveland at the behest of the front office. The Twins still owe him $4 million and, best guess, Ryan didn’t want to write it off without taking another look.

Three games—and it’s been as hard to look at as Medusa’s head.

Forget the $4 million. Forget the morning flight to the Twin Cities. Put Nishi on that 3:49 to Tokyo. It will be better for all parties than to require him to break out his game for the Target Field faithful this weekend.

Repoz Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:59 AM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: twins

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   1. DL from MN Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4204311)
Plouffe returns soon. I can't imagine they'll keep Nishioka around much longer. Alexi Casilla is a streaky hitter at best but he can catch the ball. Nishioka doesn't field well enough to keep a job and he can't hit either. I still don't understand how he won three Japanese gold gloves.
   2. andrewberg Posted: August 09, 2012 at 12:42 PM (#4204361)
He made me so mad yesterday. He completely lost a routine popup despite his huge, gift wrap around shades. the runner advanced to third and the next batter hit a slow grounder to second. Instead of getting the out (down 4-2 at the time) he threw home about three steps behind the runner and above the catcher's head. It would have been a dumb play for advanced little league.
   3. DL from MN Posted: August 09, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4204389)
At worst I was hoping for Kaz Matsui when they signed Nishioka. No great shakes but not a total drain. Instead he's been one of the worst players in baseball.
   4. MM1f Posted: August 09, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4204403)
Star-Tribune's headline reads "Nishioka awful again in Twins loss." It isn't awful you see a mainstream newspaper headline straight up call a guy "awful," usually you see it say that someone "struggles" or something a little gentler. Nishioka must be pretty freakin bad
   5. DL from MN Posted: August 09, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4204418)
Nishioka must be pretty freakin bad


He's managed to screw up in the field in pretty much every way. Bad decisions throwing, missed grounders, missed popup, forgetting to cover the bag, wrong position for the cutoff. No baserunning errors that I'm aware of but he's only been on base once.
   6. MM1f Posted: August 09, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4204430)
It isn't awful you see a mainstream newspaper


Er, "It isn't OFTEN" I mean....
   7. andrewberg Posted: August 09, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4204450)
Er, "It isn't OFTEN" I mean....


In this case, it isn't awful either. It's perfectly reasonable.
   8. Esoteric Posted: August 09, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4204459)
Star-Tribune's headline reads "Nishioka awful again in Twins loss." It isn't awful you see a mainstream newspaper headline straight up call a guy "awful," usually you see it say that someone "struggles" or something a little gentler. Nishioka must be pretty freakin bad
It actually makes him intriguing. As in, I would really love to see a highlight (erm..."lowlight"?) reel of this guy's Greatest Hits in the field, given what I've read.

What I find impossible to understand is how he was able to make it to the Major Leagues, or the Japanese professional league for that matter, if he's really and truly this bad. I mean, some of this stuff seems like Little League clownshoes stuff. How is it possible?
   9. andrewberg Posted: August 09, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4204468)
What I find impossible to understand is how he was able to make it to the Major Leagues, or the Japanese professional league for that matter, if he's really and truly this bad. I mean, some of this stuff seems like Little League clownshoes stuff. How is it possible?


My best guess at this point is that he has become psychologically overwhelmed. Dealing with pressure is obviously part of the job for a big leaguer, and it's not like he has even played in any big games since he came over. Still, he started with a ton of Japanese media attention in spring training last year, and really high hopes from the franchise, then immediately broke his leg on a boneheaded double play turn where he stood like a statue while the runner slid through him. At that point, the media started to trickle away, and he probably felt like he was letting his fans down. It wouldn't surprise me if he started putting more pressure on himself at that time. When your baseline talent is already marginal, expecting yourself to play like a star will get you into a failure spiral pretty quickly. Since then, it has just been disappointment after disappointment, and it may be one of the rare cases where a guy is permanently screwed by losing confidence.

Yesterday was actually a good example of that. After he made the stupid (and pretty unlucky) play of losing the popup in the sun, he compounded the mistake by throwing home when he had NO CHANCE of getting the runner. Routine mistake -> pressing -> bigger mistake -> failure spiral. It's a microcosm of his time with the Twins.
   10. Esoteric Posted: August 09, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4204473)
Yesterday was actually a good example of that. After he made the stupid (and pretty unlucky) play of losing the popup in the sun, he compounded the mistake by throwing home when he had NO CHANCE of getting the runner. Routine mistake -> pressing -> bigger mistake -> failure spiral. It's a microcosm of his time with the Twins.
Your entire post was a great answer, so thanks. I had completely forgotten that Nishioka was the guy whose leg was broken in that double-play slide last year...your shoestring psychoanalysis seems pretty darn plausible.
   11. asinwreck Posted: August 09, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4204498)
Ain't talkin' 'bout glove.
His glove is rotten to the core.
   12. Craig in MN Posted: August 09, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4204506)
If you are searching for psychoanalysis, he also went through a high profile divorce from his super model wife.

The reason for the breakup, according to the Doshin Sports Daily, was Nishioka’s fooling around. The news of his affair was made public in March of last year, at the same moment he was at spring training. Tokuzawa was five months pregnant at the time, and gave birth to a baby girl in September. (You can also check out this site as well)

I still need to confirm the above, but it can help explain a lot about Nishioka’s poor performance. The broken leg incident (see here) was just bad karma.

   13. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: August 09, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4204510)
I liked this signing - thought there was some risk, but for the price...
Hasn't really worked out, huh?
   14. andrewberg Posted: August 09, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4204515)
I liked this signing - thought there was some risk, but for the price...
Hasn't really worked out, huh?


Right, the price tag isn't crippling. It seemed like there was good potential at the time. He has just been so mind-bogglingly, maddeningly awful. It is one thing to play like your 10th percentile stat projections (hey, it happens), but another to suddenly not understand fundamental baseball concepts and strategy. That's the part that has made me start guessing about his mindset.
   15. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 03:12 PM (#4204540)
No baserunning errors that I'm aware of but he's only been on base once.
I chuckled, thinking this was an amusing hyperbole meant to take a swipe at a guy who's an out factory.

But no, he literally has only been on base once.
   16. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: August 09, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4204552)
but another to suddenly not understand fundamental baseball concepts and strategy. That's the part that has made me start guessing about his mindset.

Me too; he's completely imploded.
   17. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 09, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4204562)
He's just been unlucky, as his .000 BABIP attests.
   18. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 09, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4204566)
This may be prejudice on my part but Nishioka reminds me of Akinori Iwamura after he came to the Pirates. He'd been good for three seasons with the Rays, interrupted in May 2009 by what looked like a serious knee injury from which he returned faster than expected (August) and seemingly as good as new. The Pirates added him as part of the extremely low-key "We are done trading everyone away, and we may even add some veterans" movement, along with Bobby Crosby and Ryan Church.

All three were incredibly bad, but Crosby and Church at least looked like washed-up versions of their former selves. Iwamura was more likely to make people say "What is that guy doing out there? Is he even trying? Should they substitute him in the middle of an inning?"

   19. Esoteric Posted: August 09, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4204583)
This may be prejudice on my part but Nishioka reminds me of Akinori Iwamura after he came to the Pirates.
Hatemonger.

(Nah, it's a good analogy.)
   20. Select Storage Device Posted: August 09, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4204718)
Wasn't Bobby Crosby always a washed-up version of his former self?
   21. zonk Posted: August 09, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4204734)
If you are searching for psychoanalysis, he also went through a high profile divorce from his super model wife.


You know, I've often wondered -- what's the line for getting the "super"? Are there any famous people just married to "models"? How does a "model" become a "super model". Is there an induction ceremony? A certain earnings threshold?

I'm always curious about things that will never have any bearing on my life...
   22. Walt Davis Posted: August 09, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4204744)
what's the line for getting the "super"?

A cover for something in the range of SI swimsuit to Vogue.

EDIT: Or their Japanese equivalents I suppose.
   23. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 09, 2012 at 06:12 PM (#4204750)
This February article turns out to have been wrong in its claim that Nishioka had hit rock bottom. Also they only got married on July 27, 2010. What a disaster.

I can't tell if Nishioka's wife (Naoko Tokuzawa) is really a SUPERmodel. She doesn't seem to have crossed over from the Japanese market in any way and since I don't know Japanese her Wikipedia page is of limited use. In fact I can't even link to it.

Naoko in action in a car commercial

Naoko in a gum commercial
   24. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 06:30 PM (#4204758)
You know, I've often wondered -- what's the line for getting the "super"? Are there any famous people just married to "models"? How does a "model" become a "super model". Is there an induction ceremony? A certain earnings threshold?
This reminds me of one of the more memorable incidents in Stern show history - Fred Norris freaking out on Carol Alt, emphatically denying that she's a "super" model.
   25. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: August 09, 2012 at 07:20 PM (#4204800)
#23 - She looks pretty super to me.

If you make a couple of SI swimsuit issues or a couple of those Victoria Secret TV fashion shows, you've probably got a good case for the Hall of Supermodels. Having a few threads on who deserves induction there would should be a lot more fun than doing Ichiro or Jack Morris again.
   26. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 09, 2012 at 07:40 PM (#4204817)
Moving him from shortstop to second when he came to the US may not have been a good idea...
   27. alkeiper Posted: August 09, 2012 at 09:03 PM (#4204872)
Moving to the US may not have been a good idea.
   28. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 09:30 PM (#4204892)
I saw a Rochester Red Wings game earlier this year and poor Nishioka wasn't even playing, they had him coaching first base. In the rain. He was just standing there, and it was not hard to imagine he was thinking "I can't believe I left Japan for this." I guess there have been some Japanese players (Shinjo, Fukudome, etc.) who had careers of acceptable, but not remarkable, performance but it sure seems like there are a lot of boom (Matsui, Ichiro, Nomo) or bust (Kaz Matsui, Nishioka, Irabu, Igawa) types.
   29. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 09:47 PM (#4204905)
a lot more fun than doing Ichiro or Jack Morris again.


Doing those guys for even the first time is by no means my idea of fun.

But hey, whatever floats your boat.
   30. Kurt Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:01 PM (#4204913)
I would put both Irabu and Kaz in the acceptable/unremarkable pile - back-page headlines aside, they're both a lot closer to Shinjo and Fukudome than they are to Igawa or (apparently) Nishioka.
   31. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:13 PM (#4204920)
Japanese players with acceptable but unremarkable careers:

Tad Iguchi
Kenji Johjima
So Taguchi
Any number of relief pitchers

Taguchi's career is quite odd. Basically it looks like the decline phase (ages 32 to 39) of a really really really good player. I think H. Matsui and Ichiro! are the only other Japanese players to stay in MLB for their whole decline phase, instead of returning home at the first sign of decrepitude.
   32. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:17 PM (#4204922)
Still, he started with a ton of Japanese media attention in spring training last year,


Does that crap still happen whenever a player from over there comes to the U.S. Just how insanely empty are people's lives in Japan, anyway? My god.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:34 PM (#4204944)
If you make a couple of SI swimsuit issues or a couple of those Victoria Secret TV fashion shows,

Now this depends on whether you're using "fashion" criteria or not. Fashion/runway modelling is all about the face and height/anorexia; swimsuit/lingerie modelling is much more about the body. Kate Moss was unquestionably a supermodel but they wouldn't have let her near an SI cover while Paris fashion shows aren't rushing to book SI cover models (most of the time).

Or ... fashionistas adore the cheekbones but dudes dig the boobies.
   34. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4204968)
I once had a girlfriend where, the first time I saw her in a bra and panties, I audibly gasped and thought "OMG, I'm about to (expletive deleted) a super model!". I had the good sense to marry her.
   35. DL from MN Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4204969)
Moving him from shortstop to second when he came to the US may not have been a good idea


He doesn't have the arm or range for SS. It's 2B or bust in the majors. We're looking at bust right now.
   36. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:33 PM (#4204984)
#34 - what's her BBTF handle? Because the only reason you'd write that post is to impress her and/or suck-up.
   37. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 10, 2012 at 12:07 AM (#4204994)
She knows it's true, because she heard the gasp. But I did show it to her before I posted. I ain't no fool!
   38. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 10, 2012 at 09:13 AM (#4205093)
Does that crap still happen whenever a player from over there comes to the U.S. Just how insanely empty are people's lives in Japan, anyway? My god.

Yeah, how dare they pay a disproportionate amount of attention on baseball?! My god.
   39. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 10, 2012 at 09:45 AM (#4205112)
Hiroki Kuroda is a Japanese player who's had a pretty good MLB decline phase.
   40. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 10, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4205134)
Japanese players with acceptable but unremarkable careers:

Tad Iguchi
Kenji Johjima
So Taguchi
Any number of relief pitchers


Masato Yoshii
   41. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 10, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4205206)
Yeah, how dare they pay a disproportionate amount of attention on baseball?! My god.


Baseball on the other side of the world? I don't. Do you?
   42. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: August 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4205215)
Baseball on the other side of the world? I don't. Do you?

To some degree. If the best quality of play was on the other side of the world, I'd certainly pay more attention.

Calling their lives "insanely empty" was a cheap shot, imo.

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