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Monday, December 17, 2012

Slusser: A’s signing two-year, $6.5 million deal with Hiroyuki Nakajima

With Pennington shipped out and Drew signed with Boston, who’s playing SS for the A’s?

The deal is for $6.5 million in guaranteed money but is also loaded with incentives and escalators. There is also an option for a third year at $5.5 million. Last year the Yankees won bidding rights on the Seibu Lions shortstop but were unable to reach a deal with him.

That didn’t take long.

Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: December 17, 2012 at 08:11 PM | 50 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, japan

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Willie Mayspedes Posted: December 17, 2012 at 08:27 PM (#4327263)
Hope he is good in the field. Seems like he should hit better than Pennington did last year.
   2. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 17, 2012 at 08:35 PM (#4327266)
Well, why not. The money isn't huge, he has a good, consistent track record in Japan and there aren't any good options on this continent. I fully welcome my new Nakajima Overlord.
   3. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: December 17, 2012 at 08:39 PM (#4327269)
this is fun! I have no idea what to expect
   4. smileyy Posted: December 17, 2012 at 08:41 PM (#4327271)
The front page headline was cut off to be "Slusser: A’s signing two-year, $6.5 million deal with Hiroyuki..."

I was really hoping I would click through to find "...Sakai"
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 17, 2012 at 08:46 PM (#4327274)
NPB introduced a new baseball two years ago and immediately created a dead ball era. Nakajima's 833 OPS was second in the Pacific League, his rough OPS+ (no park adjustment) was a little over 150.

Of course, it seems evident that there are humongous error bars on NPB translations, and different players react very differently to the league switch. And now the Japanese dead ball era adds further complications. But Nakajima is an elite hitter in NPB to a degree that is not obvious from his raw stats.
   6. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: December 17, 2012 at 08:57 PM (#4327284)
The front page headline was cut off to be "Slusser: A’s signing two-year, $6.5 million deal with Hiroyuki..."

I was really hoping I would click through to find "...Sakai"


Make the Colliseum a destination stop just for the concessions? I'd give it a shot.
   7. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: December 17, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4327289)
In conjunction with the above points, here's Davenport's MLEs for him going into the year. That he can hack it defensively at short is questionable, but this is a good risk to take.
   8. shoewizard Posted: December 17, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4327331)
The D Backs couldn't make this deal and get something more substantial in return for Bauer ?????
   9. UCCF Posted: December 17, 2012 at 10:25 PM (#4327335)
The front page headline was cut off to be "Slusser: A’s signing two-year, $6.5 million deal with Hiroyuki..."

I was really hoping I would click through to find "...Sakai"


I had the same thought. I figure $3.25M/yr for postgame spreads by the Delacroix could only be good for team morale.
   10. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 17, 2012 at 10:31 PM (#4327340)
The D Backs couldn't make this deal and get something more substantial in return for Bauer ?????


For a white guy maybe. How can an Asian have the necessary fire and gumption to play Gibson-ball?
   11. DL from MN Posted: December 17, 2012 at 10:44 PM (#4327350)
Well, why not. The money isn't huge, he has a good, consistent track record in Japan


Japanese gold glove infielder and batting champion Tsuyoshi Nishioka is why not.
   12. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 17, 2012 at 11:25 PM (#4327380)
And Iguchi and Iwamura were quite good for a couple years.

The sample of NPB->MLB movement is still small, and there's huge variance in MLB performance among former NPB players. The fact that Nishioka failed is no more determinative than the fact that Iguchi succeeded.

It comes down more to the evaluation of the individual rather than of the population. I'd start with the overall translations (which are quite good for Nakajima), but those are only a very broad, initial indicator.
   13. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 17, 2012 at 11:34 PM (#4327383)
Heck, it's worth a try.
   14. tshipman Posted: December 18, 2012 at 12:00 AM (#4327398)
So with this and Cespedes, does this indicate that international players not subject to open free agency are the new market inefficiency?
   15. Willie Mayspedes Posted: December 18, 2012 at 01:23 AM (#4327433)
Beane is filling the holes without trading any prospects and already had a 94 win season in the process. Not as exciting as the jays method but should be competitive.
   16. PreservedFish Posted: December 18, 2012 at 02:04 AM (#4327450)
I haven't watched that Mishima Beef episode in years. So awesome.
   17. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: December 18, 2012 at 02:15 AM (#4327455)
Really liking this deal. Limited downside and could be a huge huge steal.
   18. shoewizard Posted: December 18, 2012 at 03:23 AM (#4327471)


For a white guy maybe. How can an Asian have the necessary fire and gumption to play Gibson-ball?


In fairness, I was kinda whining. They probably scouted him and determined that his defense wasn't good enough for MLB Shortstop. Then again they also scouted Gregorious and KT came away comparing him to Jeter. So Who TF knows.
   19. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 18, 2012 at 03:34 AM (#4327472)
Really liking this deal. Limited downside and could be a huge huge steal.

I see lots of downside in the form of horrible play and losses. I always say, I'd play for free, but that doesn't mean there's no downside to playing me.
   20. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: December 18, 2012 at 03:35 AM (#4327473)
Sure, he could suck, but the in-house options were really bad anyway.
   21. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 18, 2012 at 04:33 AM (#4327481)
OK, I guess in the sense that Nakajima plus the in-house options are no worse than the in-house options, it's a low-risk signing. That's not how I would look at it though.
   22. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 18, 2012 at 08:24 AM (#4327495)
Japanese gold glove infielder and batting champion Tsuyoshi Nishioka is why not.

Nakajima is no sure thing, but he has a better offensive track record than Nishioka. Nishioka's batting title was pretty flukish while Nakajima has solid secondary skills. We'll see. I think Sogard isn't a bad fallback option if he flops, actually. I know my fellow A's fans don't rate him, but I think that's because he looks like the graduate assistant to a classics professor in a small New England liberal arts college.
   23. DL from MN Posted: December 18, 2012 at 08:43 AM (#4327501)
I agree that Nakajima has a better offensive profile than slap-hitter Nishioka but supposedly Nishioka had a great glove and he was one of the worst infielders I've seen play for the Twins. You'd think defense would translate to the US but there are some distinct differences in infield play that make things more difficult. Nishioka was taught to never backhand a ball. He was also not used to takeout slides on the double play which led to his leg injury. The Japanese ballparks are artificial turf and playing on grass is different.
   24. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 18, 2012 at 08:53 AM (#4327507)
I agree that Nakajima has a better offensive profile than slap-hitter Nishioka but supposedly Nishioka had a great glove and he was one of the worst infielders I've seen play for the Twins. You'd think defense would translate to the US but there are some distinct differences in infield play that make things more difficult. Nishioka was taught to never backhand a ball. He was also not used to takeout slides on the double play which led to his leg injury. The Japanese ballparks are artificial turf and playing on grass is different.

Nishioka was terrible, I'm not disagreeing with that, but he's also not the only Japanese infielder to come to MLB. Nakajima may prove to be as terrible as Nishioka but I'll judge that when I see him play. Worse case scenario is the A's flush 6 million of the Yankees' money down the toilet. That's ashtray money for an MLB team, even for the A's.
   25. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 18, 2012 at 09:15 AM (#4327514)
Nakajima highlights.

I think there are a couple of at bats against Darvish in there.
   26. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 18, 2012 at 09:24 AM (#4327517)
One last thing and then I'll shut up...my scouring of the internet makes me wonder if the A's don't see Nakajima as more of a utility player and that they may still go after Aledmyz Diaz when he's eligible to sign. That would be an interesting and bold plan of action.
   27. Blubaldo Jimenez (OMJ) Posted: December 18, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4327547)
The leg kick is a little different but I see a lot of Manny in that swing.
   28. Chokeland Bill Posted: December 18, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4327563)
The A's got absolutely putrid production out of their infield last year. Nakajima just needs to not be terrible in order to be a big step up.
   29. DL from MN Posted: December 18, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4327591)
There are scouts that doubt Nakajima can play SS in the majors. After suffering through Nishioka defensively that's a giant red flag for me.
   30. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM (#4327601)
There are scouts that doubt Nakajima can play SS in the majors. After suffering through Nishioka defensively that's a giant red flag for me.

I think it's clear that you're suffering from some post-Nishioka stress disorder. I recommend beer.
   31. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: December 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4327638)
anything will be an improvement to what they had last year up the middle. They also need a catcher that can hit above .220
   32. Ryan Lind Posted: December 18, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4327656)
They also need a catcher


Catcher you say?! Alex Anthopolous has catchers!

that can hit above .220


Oh.
   33. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 18, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4327657)
that can hit above .220
Could I interest you in a Jarrod Saltalamacchia? BA the past two years of .235 and .222. It's a perfect fit.
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 18, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4327666)
There are scouts that doubt Nakajima can play SS in the majors. After suffering through Nishioka defensively that's a giant red flag for me.
There are hundreds of professional Japanese ballplayers, and Nishioka and Nakajima are nothing alike either physically or statistically. Using Nishioka to project Nakajima would be like using Jamey Carroll to project Trevor Plouffe.

Nakajima could bust, and the error bars on NPB translations are well known. That doesn't mean that Nishioka is a particularly useful data point.
   35. Poster Nutbag Posted: December 18, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4327710)
#32 - Spit-take. Well done, sir.
   36. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: December 18, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4327711)
Facebook tells me A's have sent colin cowgill to the mets forJeffrey Marte, whom Ihave never heard of.
   37. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 18, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4327715)
Facebook tells me A's have sent colin cowgill to the mets forJeffrey Marte, whom Ihave never heard of.

I guess he might be one of the Mets top 30 prospects or so. Plays 3rd base. Kind of a lottery ticket, I guess.
   38. DL from MN Posted: December 18, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4327746)
I guess I've just seen a much better success rate among Japanese pitchers and outfielders than I have for infielders. I don't think I'd recommend acquiring a Japanese infielder without a backup plan.
   39. JJ1986 Posted: December 18, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4327749)
Marte was a top 10 prospect in 2009. He has not been good.
   40. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 18, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4327756)
The Cowgill trade is a nice piece of business for the Mets. The A's needed to clear room on the 40-man for Nakajima and Billy did a solid for his old boss and colleagues.
   41. JJ1986 Posted: December 18, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4327768)
Right now the Mets starting outfield is three guys who need platoon partners so Cowgill fits well. They just need two more of him.
   42. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 18, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4327792)
I guess I've just seen a much better success rate among Japanese pitchers and outfielders than I have for infielders. I don't think I'd recommend acquiring a Japanese infielder without a backup plan.

There's no need to generalize, particularly about hitters, since there have been so few.

Infielders
Iguchi - good
Iwamura - good, then fell off a cliff
K.Matsui - OK but not worth the money
Kawasaki - bad
Nishioka - unbelievably horrible

Outfielders
Matsui - very good
Ichiro! - very good
Aoki - seems good so far
So Taguchi - good, especially considering how old he was
Fukudome - good but not worth the money
Shinjo! - bad

Outfielders seem like a better bet, but I would really not consider pitchers a better bet, considering the flop of Kei Igawa, the flameout of Hideki Irabu, the overpaying of Kenshin Kawakami and Hisashi Iwakuma, the incredible overpaying of Matsuzaka, the unimpressive performances of Ryota Igarashi, Masao Kida, Satoru Komiyama, Tateyama, Yabuta, Keiichi Yabu, etc.
   43. DL from MN Posted: December 18, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4327835)
It may help that Iguchi was always a second baseman. It also helps that he was in the prime of his career when he came over. Kaz Matsui was supposed to be a great fielder but was moved to 2B. Iwamura played 2B and 3B. We have yet to see a Japanese infielder stick at SS.

Japanese pitchers seem to be nearly as good a bet as other free agent pitchers. I can name just as many flameouts from MLB free agents. They do seem more overpaid but all pitching seems overpaid.
   44. DL from MN Posted: December 18, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4327855)
Reasonable worst case - he's a better version of Brandon Inge.
   45. SoSH U at work Posted: December 18, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4327925)
Reasonable worst case - he's a better version of Brandon Inge.


That seems like an awfully high-level worst case, unless you specifically mean the Brandon Inge of 2012.
   46. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: December 18, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4327930)
That seems like an awfully high-level worst case, unless you specifically mean the Brandon Inge of 2012.

He doesn't really seem like a Brandon Inge kind of player to me. Inge is a great fielder with HR power who cannot get on base. Nakajima seems like he may struggle with the glove but could be ok, too, won't have much pop, but has good on base skills. I'll be happy with the Japanese Marco Scutaro.
   47. DL from MN Posted: December 18, 2012 at 05:35 PM (#4327976)
Yes 2012 Brandon Inge.
   48. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: December 19, 2012 at 02:20 AM (#4328276)
Nakajima joked about Beane, calling him "sexy and cool" and a reason he wanted to come to Oakland. He also made a reference to the lack of bathtubs in America.

"That is a challenge I will have to face," Nakajima said.


Source. He sounds like an entertaining guy.
   49. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: December 19, 2012 at 04:02 AM (#4328300)
On the fielding translation, many/most Japanese teams play on turf right? Might have something to do with it if true.
   50. vortex of dissipation Posted: December 19, 2012 at 04:56 AM (#4328311)
On the fielding translation, many/most Japanese teams play on turf right? Might have something to do with it if true.


Five of the six teams in the Pacific League, including the Seibu Lions, his ex-team, play on turf.

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