- Which one?
As talented and charismatic as some of the Japanese imports are when they first reach North America, baseball is littered with more failures than successes.
Then there are the two New York acquisitions----Hideki Matsui and Kaz Matsui.
Hideki joined the Yankees, was perceived to be little more than a solid player with a cool nickname (Godzilla) and major marketing possibilities.
Kaz joined the Mets and forced the shifting of Jose Reyes from shortstop to second base.
While Hideki was quiet cool, Kaz was personality and flair. But they each went in opposite directions. Hideki proved himself to be an all-around player; he could hit, hit for power and while he wasn't a great fielder, it wasn't due to lack of effort. He was durable, tough and hit in the clutch.
Kaz, on the other hand, was a disaster. He couldn't field; he didn't hit well enough to justify the contract and shifting of Reyes; and he was injury-prone. It was only when the Mets dumped him on the Colorado Rockies that he played somewhere close to expectations as he was an important contributor for the 2007 NL pennant winners. Kaz left the Rockies for the Astros as a free agent after the 2007 season and was again disappointing.
It's a risk to expect major production from these newcomers regardless of scouting and prior performance.
The Twins are in need of a shortstop after the trade of J.J. Hardy; as I discussed two days ago, they're in flux with their bullpen after the losses of Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier; and now they've signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka to a 3-year contract to take over at shortstop----ESPN Story.
Nishioka batted .346 in 2010 for the Chiba Lotte Marines; he hit 11 homers and had 206 hits and stole 22 bases. But that essentially means nothing in coming to the big leagues. The power players---and not all of them are Japanese----have shown in Japan has not translated to the majors. Hideki Matsui hit 50 one year in Japan; his career high in North America was 31.
How Nishioka's game will translate remains to be seen, but judging from history and the Twins needs, they should probably not expect much in terms of similar production. Given the players they've lost so far, they're going to need him to produce as well.
- New site design:
My personal site---PaulLebowitz.com----has been redesigned. It's still being tweaked, but it looks more professional and there's a preferable commenting section that was lacking in my prior design. Once everything is organized, my postings will be there alone. I'll continue posting here until it's complete.
I was on last Wednesday with Sal at Sportsfanbuzz talking about the winter thus far. Click here to go to his site and get it from I-Tunes and here----The SportsFan Buzz: December 15, 2010---to get it directly.