Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Looking for a Japanese import

Joe Christensen reports today that the Twins expect to be among the bidders for negotiation rights to Tsuyoshi Nishioka, a switch-hitting middle infielder from Japan who won a batting title in 2010 (age 25) with a season out of line with his past stats.

This is a complicated process in which interested MLB teams submit bids to the Japanese team that holds the player's rights, with the high bidder getting a window in which to reach a contract agreement with the player. It's a combination of a purchase and free agency. Further muddying the waters here: It's been reported that Nishioka wants to wind up on the West Coast.

The immediate takeaways from this:

  • This process is a long way from delivering Nishioka to Minnesota;
  • The Twins' decades-long inability to develop their own middle infielders continues to force them to look elsewhere for such players.

Chuck Knoblauch was the last quality middle infielder the Twins signed as an amateur and developed intheir system, and that was almost 20 year ago. Luis Rivas wasn't a quality middle infielder, but he plugged the second base hole for a few years.

 Other than that, the void. The Twins have gotten their regulars by trade (Jason Bartlett, Luis Castillo, Nick Punto, J.J. Hardy) or free agency (Orlando Hudson), but their otherwise productive player development operation doesn't do so well in the middle infield.


  1. So how much does talent have to do with that? If a guy doesn't have the innate talent to play the position, he's not going to be as good as someone who does have it.

    OTOH, does the Twins organization lack the talented coaches for those positions? You need coaches very knowledgeable and experienced to help these young players develop into true major league infielders.

  2. I'd love to see Nishioka play for the Twins, if for the purely selfish reason that I might be able to see a few more Twin games on NHK here in Japan.