Monday, August 6, 2012

Danny departs, Nishi returns

Danny Valencia:
Major league averages
went from .311 to
.246 to .198.
Just before game time Sunday Minnesota traded Danny Valencia to Boston for minor league outfielder Jeremias Pineda. During the game the Twins announced that Tsuyoshi Nishioka was being recalled from Triple A to fill Valencia's spot on the 25-man roster.

Start with the new guy. Pineda, a switch-hitter, has a .421 batting average in the Gulf Coast League this year. That's good. The bad news is, he's old for the entry-level league at 21. I'll regard him as a marginal prospect until he does something at higher levels. Hitting .400 gives him the opportunity to move up.

It's not a shocker that the Twins moved Valencia. After an impressive rookie season in 2010, he regressed in 2011 and was awful this season. Trevor Plouffe has clearly moved ahead of him at third base, and Miguel Sano is on his way sooner or later. Valencia doesn't figure in the Twins' long-term or short-term plans, so they used him to buy a Pineda lottery ticket.

I'm not sure why Boston put in a claim on Valencia. He doesn't figure be a threat to Will Middlebrooks' job, and he lacks the kind of statistical markers that appeal to the usually stat-savvy Red Sox. Perhaps they just felt the need to plug a hole at their Triple-A affiliate, to which they immediately assigned Valencia.

Tsuyoshi Nishoka
hit .245/.309/.301
in Rochester this year,
Valencia was back in the majors for the past week-plus filling in for the injured Plouffe, even though he hadn't done much in Triple A to warrant his return. There's not much in his minor league stats to suggest Nishioka has merited a return either.

Which makes me wonder if this is a one-last-look thing. The Twins having been paying Nishioka $3 million to play in Rochester, and they are on the hook for another year of that salary. If Nishioka doesn't give Ron Gardenhire reason to want to keep him around (or another team reason to want to assume his contract), the logical options are to either release him or work out some sort of buyout to send him back to Japan.

The Twins aren't going to cost themselves a playoff berth by taking a fresh look at Nishioka now. As a prelude to eating the rest of his contract and moving on, it makes sense.

Trading Valencia opened a spot on the 40-man roster. We'll see what if anything the Twins do with that vacancy. They do have two starting pitchers, Carl Pavano and P.J. Walters, currently on the 60-day DL and thus not on the 40, beginning rehab assignments. Reactiving either will require spots on the 40.

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