Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 3/20/12

In a move that was somehow simultaneously surprising and not, Tsuyoshi Nishioka was sent down to Triple-A Rochester Monday, and to say it’s been a tumultuous year for the man would be an understatement. No, this isn’t to evoke images of sympathy for a man who made $3 million for especially bad baseball last year, and is due a minimum of $6.25 million more.

But let’s consider some facts.

For one, Nishioka’s debut season was rudely interrupted by a takeout slide by Nick Swisher (seen below), which came in the second series of the ‘11 season, and shelved the Japanese import for 68 days a mere week into his rookie campaign.

Ironically enough, with a tip of the cap to colleague Jeff Zimmerman on the research, the only other player to have sustained a fibula fracture over the past 10 seasons is teammate Jason Marquis, who may be on equally shaky ground entering this season. Marquis suffered the break late last season with the Diamondbacks, coming out of the game an inning after the initial contact ostensibly fractured his fibula, before it completely gave way as he was facing Mets catcher Josh Thole — who was also a bit worse for the wear by getting plunked on the pitch that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

Nonetheless, It’s clearly a chicken-and-egg scenario when trying to determine if the Swisher play really derailed any chance Nishioka had of adapting to the American game. Here we are a year later, and all the Twins have to show for the investment — let’s call it $9.25 million + $5.33 million posting fee — is 240 plate appearances of .234 wOBA, -1.4 WAR, and to be matter of fact, just downright ugly baseball. It isn’t that Nishioka hasn’t been able to hit, it’s that at times he’s looked completely unable to make solid contact, to make routine plays and covering his bases, and all-in-all carrying himself like a big league player. This spring has been more of the same, as though Nishioka has been at least somewhat passable with the stick — .240/.269/.320 seems almost Ruthian compared to his .527 OPS last season — he’s still appeared completely flustered in the field.

It sort of seems unlikely that a Swisher takeout slide would cause this many dominos to fall, don’t you think?

To be short, like many big league talent evaluators have recently noted, Nishioka looks lost. He looks like a young man who can’t find his way, in a strange country, playing a game that’s completely foreign to him. To top it off, Nishioka’s wife, Naoku Tokuzawa, filed for divorce in the offseason, more or less minting the notion that this was among the worst year’s in Nishioka’s life.

But it’s also important to consider what it has cost the Twins. A 99-loss season aside, the Twins dealt J.J. Hardy and signed Nishioka as the ‘answer’ at shortstop. Predictably, as a number of recent Twins moves have panned out, this fell flat, as Hardy regained his sapped wrist strength to the tune of a .343 wOBA with 30 long balls and his usual brand of stellar defense. In fact, take a peek at the Hardy-Nishioka discrepancy:

Stat Hardy Nishioka Difference wOBA 0.343 0.234 0.109 UZR/150 11.7 -14.2 25.9 ISO 0.222 0.023 0.199 wRC+ 113 42 71 Raw OPS 0.801 0.527 0.274 WAR 4.8 -1.4 6.2

To take it a step further, here’s what Twins shortstops did as a unit last season: .234/.295/.329 triple-slash, -23.2 UZR, -1.1 WAR, .095 ISO, and a .278 wOBA. And that’s just players who played shortstop, including the likes of Trevor Plouffe, who also saw time in the outfield. A furtive glance at the BRef splits — presumably just of those who were starting at shortstop each particular day — is no prettier: .238/.292/.320. Guess that sort of leaves little doubt why GM Terry Ryan addressed shortstop right out of the gate when free agency opened last autumn.

I mean, there’s “Yeah, we goofed up,” and “What are you paying these guys for?” And obviously heads had to roll, and the head of said heads, Bill Smith, was re-purposed for less stressful duties, but it can’t be emphasized enough just how badly this was flubbed. As Eno Sarris noted, Smith was the first GM since 1950 to be canned in November. Ouch.

And the worst part? The Twins were forced to make a move this season to fill that gaping hole at short, inking diminutive but dependable Jamey Carroll to a two-year deal worth $6.5 million to ostensibly keep the spot warm for Brian Dozier and/or Levi Michael. Add that $6.5 million to the $14.58 of sunk cost — the definition of sunk cost, really — on Nishioka, and that gets us to $21.08 million.

The cost of Hardy’s freshly minted extension in baseball purgatory? $22.25 million over three years. It’s not an exact science, but I do know this: this season, the Twins have $5.75 million committed to the two players tasked with replacing Hardy — deemed too expensive, among other things, for the Twins to keep — while the O’s will pay him exactly $7 million.

Ain’t that a kick in the pants?

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Bennett: QBs make too much money, not enough left for OL

Frank Gore must step up vs. Texans with Andrew Luck out

Sean Rodriguez apologizes about outburst, including to water cooler

"Friday Night Lights" writer calls Chip Kelly a fraud

Gregg Popovich now resting himself by sitting out games

Knicks' sellout streak at Madison Square Garden halted at 201


Rex Ryan: Probably ‘a reach’ for Karlos Williams to play Sunday

Lions OC explains Golden Tate's limited role on offense

Dez Bryant doing light running as rehab from surgery continues

Report: Barnes punched Fisher, was begged by child to stop

Former NFL head coach Lindy Infante passes away at 75

Dion Lewis signs two-year contract extension with Patriots

Brady or Rodgers? Sampling of NFL execs split on debate

Real reason for Sam Bradford's struggles is...his glutes?

Messi charged with tax fraud, could face prison time if convicted

Lamar Miller: Fantasy owners ‘stay tuned' for more carries

Examining the delicious unfairness of the wild card

Five questions about the Astros-Royals ALDS

Ahmad Brooks out against Giants after death of sister

Jessica Mendoza responds to sexist rant from Mike Bell

Gronk: Have to be ‘super smart’ to play Tight End for Patriots

Cruz ‘thoroughly convinced’ he’ll be making big plays in 2015

Roger Goodell taking a guarded approach on daily fantasy sites

Three reasons each AL team can win the pennant

Stallone on Kelly: ‘I don’t think it’s time for Chip’s ahoy yet’

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

"Friday Night Lights" writer calls Chip Kelly a fraud

Women in sports this week: Is this 2015 or 1965?

Three reasons each AL team can win the pennant

Garrett addresses Hardy's comments about Gisele

Five outrageous predictions for NFL Week 5

Rex makes players do push-ups in practice after penalty calls

Weeden compares QB situation to 'backing up Derek Jeter'

Pirates fan dresses as Steve Bartman, fails to curse Cubs

LeBron takes in-game selfie with fans in Cincinnati

MLB postseason power rankings

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker