Shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka Posted

Jay Yencich · November 9, 2010 at 7:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

A new name has surfaced out of left field in the conversation of potential middle infielders. Far left field. Dave talked earlier in the offseason about Hiroyuki Nakajima as a second base candidate, but it looks like Seibu won’t be posting him this year, and instead, the Japanese infielder hitting the market is Tsuyoshi Nishioka of the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Nishioka is another leadoff-type hitter, a switch-hitter who led the Pacific League last season with 206 hits, which is the most since Ichiro’s 210 back in 1994. He also topped the leaderboards in games played (144), batting average (.346), and runs (121), along with topping the league in stolen bases in the past due to his smart baserunning. On top of all that, he’s regarded as one of the top defensive infielders in the league and has played shortstop exclusively the past five years. Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker named him his Pacific League MVP for the 2010 season and posted a full article at Fangraphs earlier in the day as the story was going around. Nishioka is also just 26, compared to Nakajima, who is 28 already.

The knock on him? He’s injury prone for one thing, having an assortment of wrist, knee, neck, and hamstring injuries throughout his career. Since he won the full-time job, he’s never played fewer than 115 games, but the risk is there that either he’ll get hurt or be playing through something that hampers him in some way. The other thing is that this season represented a bit of a breakout for him, one that he’s likely to make a fair chunk of money for. We’d certainly be happy to take a straight translation of his .346/.423/.482 line this season, but his career numbers are .293/.364/.426, and he runs the risk of coming back to earth a bit next season.

As we’re competing with everyone else who’s in the market for a shortstop this season (and there are many out there), there’s no guarantee that we’ll get him through the posting process, but file the name away anyway.

Comments

44 Responses to “Shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka Posted”

  1. jld on November 9th, 2010 7:35 pm

    He’s 26 years old, for anyone else who might be interested in that fact.

  2. Jay Yencich on November 9th, 2010 7:46 pm

    Noted. I thought I had that in there but it must have gotten lost as I was editing.

  3. Breadbaker on November 9th, 2010 7:50 pm

    I’d be quite happy with that slash line at shortstop. I just looked at what the Wilsons’ line was and it’s not worth printing.

  4. samregens on November 9th, 2010 7:52 pm

    Thank you very much for the write-up.
    I really wish we would get this guy, but the A’s bidding $16M? $18M? for that pitcher has got me scared.

    We need to fill a lot of needs (painful suckholes) but the other teams seem flush with cash.

    On the other hand, I just read that the M’s might not actually have made a bid for Iwakuma in the first place, so it could be they’re focused on Nishioka (or Nakajima who probably won’t be posted).

  5. Jay Yencich on November 9th, 2010 8:01 pm

    I really wish we would get this guy, but the A’s bidding $16M? $18M? for that pitcher has got me scared.

    That might have been a unique case. For one, the Athletics have a relationship with Rakuten and may have been familiar enough with Iwakuma’s talents to put in what they knew would be a high-end bid. But this isn’t like Matsuzaka, with the Red Sox blowing everyone away by $11 million.

    The other thing is that Iwakuma was widely regarded as being the second-best pitcher in the league behind Darvish. Nishioka doesn’t have that kind of a reputation as a hitter. The price could still go up though seeing as how he’s younger than a lot of guys who are posted and entering his physical prime.

  6. torjazz on November 9th, 2010 8:12 pm

    As a fan, when you tell me that posting fee bids are off the books for payroll, I immediately think that the Ms should do whatever it takes to win this one. Our shortstop prospects between now and Franklin’s arrival (if he justifies my optimism) beg for a solution like this. One that comes out of…left field?

  7. lalo on November 9th, 2010 8:13 pm

    I really wish that we would get this guy, first because appears that he is a hit machine, with very good plate discipline, with very good speed, average power, great defense, and second and the most important thing, our regular second base (Figgins) can go back to third base, Nishioka in second base while Ackley is ready, and then move Nishioka to the shortstop, Ackley in second and Jack and Josh in the bench.

  8. lalo on November 9th, 2010 8:19 pm

    Jay, you think that next year if Darvish is posted, the Mariners will pursue him aggressively?, looks like it could be a lethal combo with Felix

  9. Jay Yencich on November 9th, 2010 8:26 pm

    Jay, you think that next year if Darvish is posted, the Mariners will pursue him aggressively?, looks like it could be a lethal combo with Felix

    That’s a decision that will come down to the scouting department, and they were the ones that apparently vetoed an Iwakuma bid. Darvish is one of the top pitchers in the world right now, but between the bid and the contract, he’s going to be very expensive.

  10. mln on November 9th, 2010 9:24 pm

    Wait. The Mariners didn’t even bid for Iwakuma?!

    Does anybody have a link for this news.

  11. Jay Yencich on November 9th, 2010 9:32 pm
  12. Chris_From_Bothell on November 9th, 2010 11:34 pm

    He’s injury prone for one thing

    All I needed to see.

    So, with that glove, but that injury history, and a decent chance of his MLB numbers not matching his NPB numbers, he’s essentially a younger Japanese Jack Wilson. Meh. Pass.

  13. joethewest on November 9th, 2010 11:35 pm

    Could this finally be the one guy that Ichiro could actually mentor? I’m thinking that Nintendo would LOVE to have someone in the wings for when Ichi retires. Although he may not (let’s be honest, he will never) match Ichiro in ability, the Japanese market could still be maintained with the M’s.

  14. Leroy Stanton on November 10th, 2010 8:50 am

    Kaz Matsui is a minor league FA. No posting fee required.

  15. Gump on November 10th, 2010 9:01 am

    So if the team has an international budget that is seperate then thier normal payroll figure can it ever be used on someone that isn’t international if they have to? Also is it known how much that international budget is?

  16. Jay Yencich on November 10th, 2010 9:44 am

    Word out of Dodgertown this morning is that LA is Nishioka’s preferred landing spot. Of course, since he’s subject to the posting process and will have to deal with whoever wins his rights, it’s not like he has a choice if he wants to come over next year.

  17. Leroy Stanton on November 10th, 2010 9:57 am

    Jay,

    Kaz Matsui, from Wikipedia:

    Prior to joining MLB, Matsui would only play for the Seibu Lions, playing there from 1995 to 2003. He enjoyed success as a seven-time Best Nine award winner (1997–2003). One of his best years was 2002, when he had a .332 batting average with 36 home runs, 87 RBI, 193 hits, 119 runs, 46 doubles, 6 triples and 33 stolen bases. He received four Gold Glove awards while in Japan (equivalent of Rawlings Gold Glove Award in MLB) during the 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2003 seasons. He also won a Nippon Professional Baseball MVP award in Japan during the 1998 season.

    Aren’t the numbers eerily similiar to Nishioka’s? Do you think this gives us some idea of how they’d transition?

  18. Jay Yencich on November 10th, 2010 10:10 am

    They’re superficially comparable, sure. The difference is that Matsui was billed as a home run hitter in Japan and people came over thinking that he’d be able to do the same here. That never happened, obviously. As Matsui stated to think of himself as more of a power hitter, he also started to strike out a lot more. Thus, there’s an argument in there that Matsui might’ve had more success in the big leagues, but his approach was tailored so much to his environment that he had difficulty transitioning. The other thing is that, looking at their numbers, I’d say I expect Nishioka to walk a bit more. His numbers on a per season basis are right there with Matsui’s, but Matsui was playing full seasons and Nishioka in a lot of cases wasn’t. So add ten walks or so to the totals.

    Otherwise, they might be pretty comparable. Again, I think Matsui was after the longball a bit much in the latter part of his Japanese career and that probably got him away from what would have made him successful here. Suffice to say, it’s a risk bringing Nishioka over here anyway for the reasons outlines here and in the main post. I’m not advocating it so much as presenting a possibility.

  19. Leroy Stanton on November 10th, 2010 10:20 am

    Okay, Jay, thanks for the perspective.

    On another note, Baseball America released their minor league free agents list today. Any interesting names on there? Maybe a future post? I could see the Mariners being quite active with those kinds of player signings this year.

  20. joser on November 10th, 2010 11:07 am

    Kaz Matsui is a minor league FA. No posting fee required.

    The other Matsui is also an available (major league) FA.

    And I don’t want him either. At least, not at the price he’d command.

  21. joser on November 10th, 2010 11:15 am

    So if the team has an international budget that is seperate then thier normal payroll figure can it ever be used on someone that isn’t international if they have to? Also is it known how much that international budget is?

    This is a really murky area — even murkier than team “budgets” and “profits” are in general — and it’s likely that different teams have somewhat different policies (it’s not like this is dictated by MLB or the labor agreement with the MLBPA). But it would seem that most teams have a slush fund for one-off payments, separate from the money that constitutes their annual payroll. This is probably necessary for accounting purposes anyway, because annual salaries are one kind of thing for the purposes of taxes (both the “luxury tax” amongst the teams and the corporate taxes that the team pays, etc) and these sorts of payments are something else entirely. Especially when the money is being spent overseas. But beyond that I’m not sure that anyone who actually knows the details is willing to say anything, and the folks who talk about it probably don’t actually know all that much. Hence the murkiness.

  22. Leroy Stanton on November 10th, 2010 11:36 am

    But it would seem that most teams have a slush fund for one-off payments, separate from the money that constitutes their annual payroll. This is probably necessary for accounting purposes anyway, because annual salaries are one kind of thing for the purposes of taxes (both the “luxury tax” amongst the teams and the corporate taxes that the team pays, etc) and these sorts of payments are something else entirely.

    Sure, a posting fee is different than salary for the purposes of luxury taxes, but it’s no different than salary for tax purposes (other than payroll tax). And even if you account for expenses differently, there’s no requirement or practical advantage to segregating the money (i.e., no “slush” fund).

  23. Kazinski on November 10th, 2010 2:18 pm

    That .346/.423/.482 was achieved with a .389 BABIP. So I would pencil him in for a healthy regression to the mean. Plus the Fangraphs writeup says he has more of a second baseman’s arm to go with that great range. So while I think he’d be a good pickup as a placeholder for Ackley and infield utility guy after Ackley comes up, I don’t think he is worth paying a lot for.

  24. opiate82 on November 10th, 2010 2:19 pm

    How long is the posting/bidding process?

  25. joser on November 10th, 2010 3:06 pm

    Sure, a posting fee is different than salary for the purposes of luxury taxes, but it’s no different than salary for tax purposes (other than payroll tax).

    Actually it probably is, but I’m not a tax expert.

    And even if you account for expenses differently, there’s no requirement or practical advantage to segregating the money (i.e., no “slush” fund).

    Presumably there is an advantage, because the teams seem to do it. There apparently are different pots of money used for various things that are separate from the normal team payroll (whether it’s running the “academies” in Latin America or signing talent from elsewhere in the world or whatever) and evidentially it’s not all fungible. I can’t entirely explain it, but we’ve heard about it more than once, from more than one M’s GM (and other teams as well, though I haven’t been keeping track so I don’t know if it’s universal or not) and I can think of a few reasons why this might be true. So while we should always cast a skeptical eye towards anything the teams say about money, I’m willing to call this (as the Mythbusters say) “plausible.”

  26. Jay Yencich on November 10th, 2010 3:12 pm

    How long is the posting/bidding process?

    Four days. We should know around the weekend.

  27. spankystout on November 10th, 2010 3:15 pm

    The infallible Wikipedia says Nishioka threw 88 mph in 2006. If it is true?, Nishioka should have enough arm to play SS.

  28. Jay Yencich on November 10th, 2010 3:18 pm

    The infallible Wikipedia says Nishioka threw 88 mph in 2006. If it is true?, Nishioka should have enough arm to play SS.

    I’ve heard sources in Japan corroborating that. They seem to think that he can handle short and that of the star shortstops in the league, he’s probably most likely to stay.

  29. gwangung on November 10th, 2010 3:43 pm

    Presumably there is an advantage, because the teams seem to do it. There apparently are different pots of money used for various things that are separate from the normal team payroll (whether it’s running the “academies” in Latin America or signing talent from elsewhere in the world or whatever) and evidentially it’s not all fungible.

    You would think these are different areas of operations, taking different types of expertise, which means different people administering them. And that it would make good sense to keep them separate so you can keep track of results and spending that way. Not sure why people have trouble with that…

  30. Leroy Stanton on November 10th, 2010 4:02 pm

    Actually it probably is, but I’m not a tax expert.

    The government doesn’t tax expenses, it taxes profits. That’s why there is no difference between a posting fee and salary (again, with the exception of payroll taxes).

    Presumably there is an advantage, because the teams seem to do it. There apparently are different pots of money used for various things that are separate from the normal team payroll (whether it’s running the “academies” in Latin America or signing talent from elsewhere in the world or whatever) and evidentially it’s not all fungible.

    And I guess this is why people get confused. They mistake a budget for a “pot of money”. Budgets exist so that managers can make wise decisions when allocating finite resources. They are not (ordinarily) discrete stashes of cash.

    In the case of a posting fee, it would naturally come out of the payroll budget, albeit indirectly. If JackZ wants a Japanese player and needs money for a posting fee, they would simply adjust the budget over the number of years of that player’s contract to cover the posting fee. They might not do it evenly or even explicitly, but they will factor it in when they determine the budgets. Is there any reason for a business to make it any more complicated than that?

  31. henryv on November 10th, 2010 4:05 pm

    I hate Jack Wilson. I’d personally rather see Harold Renolds playing short stop then Jack Wilson. He makes me want to smash my TV. And not because he’s that bad at baseball. Sure, he can’t hit a ball of a tee, but because he’s so ugly he frightens children that haven’t even been conceived yet.

    Seriously, though, I would love a new shortstop. I don’t care where he comes from. I’d take a Norwegian midget if he’s able to get Jack Wilson off my TV, and back on the “DL” (aka “You suck” list)

  32. Deanna on November 10th, 2010 4:14 pm

    Hold your horses. Nishioka has NOT been posted, he’s just going to go meet with the team to find out if they’re willing to post him. I find it highly unlikely that they will, just like Seibu would have been beyond retarded to post Nakajima. Lotte simply doesn’t have anyone on deck to replace him right now, and does it make any sense to post your star shortstop and team captain right after winning the Japan Series?

    (Though he’s kind of a jerk so it wouldn’t be a bad way to get rid of him and get something in return, heh.)

  33. The Ancient Mariner on November 10th, 2010 4:18 pm

    The government doesn’t tax expenses, it taxes profits. That’s why there is no difference between a posting fee and salary (again, with the exception of payroll taxes).

    In other words, there’s no difference except for the difference. And since you acknowledge that there’s a difference, there goes your argument.

  34. Chris_From_Bothell on November 10th, 2010 4:21 pm

    I’d take a Norwegian midget if he’s able to get Jack Wilson off my TV, and back on the “DL” (aka “You suck” list)

    Even if his injury history suggests he’d just be another Jack Wilson?

  35. Leroy Stanton on November 10th, 2010 4:30 pm

    In other words, there’s no difference except for the difference. And since you acknowledge that there’s a difference, there goes your argument.

    Not sure if you’re just being difficult or not, but a $100 posting fee has the same effect on corporate income tax as $100 of salary + payroll tax. So, to the guy writing the check, it’s still $100. No difference.

  36. henryv on November 10th, 2010 4:42 pm

    Even if his injury history suggests he’d just be another Jack Wilson?

    I’d take a possibly-Jack-Wilson over a definitely-Jack-Wilson every day.

  37. gwangung on November 10th, 2010 5:06 pm

    In the case of a posting fee, it would naturally come out of the payroll budget,

    Or possibly player acquisition costs. Or international spending. While they’ve said they don’t roll over payroll, that might not hold true for international money.

    From an administrative point of view, it might make more sense to budget this out separately from payroll, given the unpredictable nature of posting.

  38. Leroy Stanton on November 10th, 2010 5:24 pm

    “Player acquisition costs” is what their payroll budget is for. They don’t care how they acquire (major league) players. Why would they?

    And the full quote should’ve been:

    In the case of a posting fee, it would naturally come out of the payroll budget, albeit indirectly

    If they took the “money” from the international budget, all they’d be doing is reducing that budget and increasing the “player acquisition” (payroll) budget. And they can do that whenever they want.

    You also don’t budget things that you rarely do, such as posting. This is not some huge multi-national conglomerate. It’s a bunch of rich guys playing poker.

  39. henryv on November 10th, 2010 6:24 pm

    Two of my parents are accountants. My specialty during my graduate degree was statistics. My wife is a statistician.

    I have stopped believing in numbers as any sort of reflection or representation of reality, especially when it comes to budgets.

    “Three statisticians go hunting. They see a deer. The first one shoots, and misses 50 feet in front. The second one shoots, and misses 50 feet behind. The third one jumps up and down, and says, ‘We hit it! We hit it!’”

    What Nintendo does with their own money is 1) never going to have anything to do with anything other than what they want to do and 2) not going to be able to be figured out by anyone besides a lesser deity of bistronomics or improbability.

  40. Steve Nelson on November 11th, 2010 11:59 am

    Not sure if you’re just being difficult or not, but a $100 posting fee has the same effect on corporate income tax as $100 of salary + payroll tax. So, to the guy writing the check, it’s still $100. No difference.

    Unless tax laws allow the posting fee to be amortized over the life of the contract.

    And then we get into the issue that the accounts kept for tax purposes are often not the same as the accounts kept for profit and loss accounting purposes.

  41. ck on November 11th, 2010 6:57 pm

    If Nakajima becomes available, he would be a safer investment than Nishioka. Because of the posting fee expense added to projected salaries, any Japanese player must be someone you are certain will produce for the team for four years. Jojima left early, because he couldn’t live in a bizarro world where people thought Rob Johnson was a better catcher than he was.

  42. Leroy Stanton on November 11th, 2010 10:01 pm

    Unless tax laws allow the posting fee to be amortized over the life of the contract.

    And then we get into the issue that the accounts kept for tax purposes are often not the same as the accounts kept for profit and loss accounting purposes.

    Try as you might to complicate things, it’s really pretty simple.

    Tax laws might force you to amortize the posting fee, but could allow you expense it the first year. Regardless, the expense will be the same over the length of the contract.

    Accounts? What accounts? General ledger accounts? Bank accounts? One of them is, in essence, a column in a spreadsheet and the other is a place to keep cash. Either way, it’s irrelevant to the discussion.

  43. Jay Yencich on November 13th, 2010 4:07 pm

    On further review, it looks like he hasn’t been posted yet. But when/if he is, four days afterward is when we should know.

  44. Jay Yencich on November 15th, 2010 7:40 pm

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