Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A modest proposal

We all know the Free Agent class is weak, particularly in terms of the thing the Jays need most - on base percentage. It is true that Alex has indicated he thinks the trade market might be more inviting but, alas, we can't begin to presume what he might pull out of his hat in that regard.

So let me suggest something that is a bit outside that box - Go after Tsuyoshi Nishioka. According to Tim Kurkjian, the 26 year old middle infielder from Japan will be posted this week.

Nishioka won the Pacific League batting title this year with a .346 average. He scored 121 runs, stole 22 bases and had 206 hits, the most by a player in that league since Ichiro Suzuki in 1994. Nishioka, a switch-hitter, batted leadoff for the Marines and his team recently won the Japan Series.

"He is a good player, he is a talented kid," said ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, who managed Nishioka in Japan. "If he had been a college kid four or five years ago, he would have been a first-round pick. He runs faster than a lot of people. He can get a hit. He can steal a base. He can bunt. He is still developing physically and mentally. And this year, he stayed healthy all year. He has style issues, positive and negative: he likes to be noticed. How he develops will depend on what team signs him."

Now, I'll go ahead and acknowledge that Fangraphs is only mildly impressed, but i think this might be a good place for AA to throw Rogers' financial muscle around and address a need. There's not a history of Japanese imports losing their batting eye in the U.S., just of seeing their power moderate. But we don't need power, we need a lead off hitter. Here we have a guy who's an excellent defender, with tremendous range (and a 2B arm) who gets on base at a high rate (.366 career, .423 in 2010) and has good speed and a taste for the spotlight. Sounds like an ideal top-of-the-order spark to me.

Newman (at Fangraphs) says he might be a "Ryan Theriot/Chine Figgins" type which is weird since Figgins is a wildly better player. But if you could get a 26 year old Figgins at a reasonable price, that's a fine acquisition.

Do this, and move Aaron Hill to 3B which in turn allows you to go Snider/Wells/Bautista in the OF and you have a better lineup and a noticeably better defense as well.

What's not to like?


On an unrelated note, I want to take advantage of the chance to nod in the direction of the coaching hires. I have to say that the announcment brought a big smile to my face - the only thing I can think of that would be better is word that Rick Langford will stay in the organization, either at Vegas or roving. Having Pat Hentgen on the major league staff is very happy-making. Wakamatsu bringing experience to the bench, and a great reputation to his special assignment as a coach to JPA is very good news, and Tory Louvello brings a great reputation as well. I venture to say we may now have the finest collection of coaches in the majors.


Also there was chatter today that a Boston writer includes the Blue Jays on a list of teams looking at Victor Martinez. My thoughts? First, not gonna happen - there's no way the jays pay what it will take to sign him AND give up a first round draft pick, the report is either wrong or AA is just doing due diligence. Second, I agree with that outcome. Martinez is a player primed to decline in value, IMO, and he's hoping to get a contract for 4 or more years. While it is true that he fits into an open spot on our roster (1B) and brings some value (the ability to catch if JPA flops horribly) that's a short term situat8ion and doesn't warrant a long term deal. Pass.


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

About Nishioka: Sold.

Mylegacy said...

Good idea - bad timing.

While AA and his elves are scouring Latin America, the US and TGFN (The Great Frozen North) in search of anything that moves and can play ball - unfortunately, the team has yet to get any serious scouting over in the land of the rising yen - er - rising sun.

However, I wouldn't be too surprised to see AA having sushi eating scouts scouring Asia soon(ish).

Anonymous said...

Why not...
You gotta try and get that top end talent and his bat at the top of the order sounds pretty good to me.

However I think you have to look at that medical record of his with a fine tooth comb, if it all clears and the price is right...why not?

JK said...

I'm not convinced that move significantly improves the Jays' lineup. Maybe the defense gets better -- Hill is great at 2B, so if we consider him and Nishioka equivalent, then all we get defensively is the upgrade of E5 to Hill, the size of which is inconclusive at present.

As far as offense goes, the move you described means replacing E5 in the lineup with Nishioka. Nishioka had a career year this year in NPB, and paying for a career year isn't generally a good idea. His previous best slash line in Japan was 300/366/463 --> 830 OPS. If we assume that to be his true talent level and that he is able to reproduce those numberes after coming over to MLB, he isn't actually a whole lot better than E5's 780 OPS from last year. E5 even had an uncharacteristically bad OBA last year, so that could easily come up somewhat.

Basically, I'm not sure that paying a posting fee plus relatively high salary to Nishioka for what amounts to an uncertain defensive upgrade and maybe 50 points of OPS is worth the expense.

John_Northey said...

It all depends... isn't our new bench coach known for being good with Japanese players (thus why he managed the Mariners)? I was wondering when he signed if it might indicate the Jays are looking into that.

The Southpaw said...

Of course the proposal is not without a cost ceiling. I do not know the price but assume, for the sake of discussion, let us say that the posting fee is $6 mil and the contract ends up being 3/18

That's a total pro-rated cost of $8 mil per year. last year we paid almost $5 for EE.

So the question then would be - if we are trying to find a lead off hitter (and we are, else this idea doesn't fly) then, as a #1 hitter, is the marginal increase in cost (+$3 million annually) worth the improvement from what EE could do in that role, as opposed to what Mishi would do + at least somewhat better defense?

I would be pretty confident in saying "yes" to that question.

That said, there is OF COURSE a price point ant which one would have to answer "no"

But for the record, I'm perfectly content to bargain for 300/366/463/830 for a lead-off hitter. I don't see anyone but Crawford on the market who's a better bet - even a reasonable bet - to do that.

Anonymous said...

spstrammuI read Gordon can be had for a couple of decent not premium prospects. Roll the dice, take him north, tell him the job at first is his to lose. Just in case he blows up, we can move Lind, pick up a bat for DH. I doubt we will need to as per your citing of the Morrow scenerio.

Lastly the Jays now have only the LH bats of Snider and Lind.Both Rasmus and Gordon bat left. I like the balance that would give us.