|It hasn't always been pretty, but Tsuyoshi|
Nishioka has played a better shortstop than
Plouffe is hitting well at Rochester. Fine. Maybe the Twins will find some sucker to take him off their hands.
The truffe about Plouffe is that, hot streak aside, he's not a good enough hitter to play any position other than shortstop, and he can't play short worth a summary sentence to Hades.
I'm not declaring Nishioka to be the answer at shortstop. I am declaring that Plouffe has, in roughly 700 professional games at the position, conclusively proven that he's not the answer.
The assertion, made in two of the above links, that Nishioka is at least as poor defensively as Plouffe is simply preposterous. Yes, Nishioka has made errors. My eyes tell me Nishi's range is visibly superior to Plouffe's. I believe that two of Nishka's boots came on balls up the middle that Plouffe would simply never have touched.
More objectively — and this is a very slender reed to put any weight on — the metrics agree with me. The Bill James Match-ups widget on my iPad says that in his 15 games at short, Plouffe was -5 in plus-minus (meaning he was giving away a play as compared to the average shortstop every three games), -4 in runs saved. Nishioka, in his first eight games at the position (for some reason the stats haven't been updated this week) is 0 in plus-minus, -1 in runs saved.
Again: These numbers don't mean much. It's 15 games for Plouffe, eight for Nishioka, and even the most devoted adherent of defensive metrics will say you need three years of them to draw conclusions.
But the Twins have seen Plouffe for more than those 15 games. Remember: He's been in their farm system since he turned pro in 2004. They know what he is better than the rest of us do. And they know what he isn't.
They don't have that history with Nishioka, which is reason to remain patient with him.