Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hot Stove Notes: Benoit, Nishioka, Red Sox

As we showed during last week's unveiling of our Top 100 Free Agents post, we thought very highly of the Tigers' new relief pitcher extraordinaire Joaquin Benoit.

$16.5 M buys a lot in Detroit
We listed him at #12, probably could have gone even higher, and even included a photo with a caption reading that Benoit was ready to get paid.  Good for the Tigers.

Benoit had a remarkable season, showing outstanding numbers in traditional statistics, as well as peripheral indicators and newfangled stats.  He throws strikes and will be aptly managed by Jim Leyland.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is a 26-year old middle infielder and the 2010 Japanese league batting champion.  According to this ESPN news release yesterday, Nishioka's team announced that he is free to enter Major League Baseball via the posting system.

As far as the top 100 MLB free agents list is concerned, exit Joaquin Benoit, enter Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

This Japanese import probably fits somewhere in the 7 to 14 range with players like Jorge de la Rosa, Rafael Soriano, Andy Pettitte, Jake Westbrook, Orlando Hudson, Aubrey Huff, and Hisashi Iwakuma.

From the quick look ups I did on Nishioka, he has question marks with defense and durability.  However, he has shown good plate discipline, doubles power, stolen base ability, and a small sample sized portion of excelling under the bright lights of International Competition.

You'll like Boston, Tsuyoshi.
The people are nice.
Click on Tsuyoshi Nishioka's Baseball Cube page to see his stats with the Chiba Lotte Marines and Japanese National Team at the World Baseball Classics and 2008 Olympics.

The middle infield crop of free agents is so thin that he probably slips right on to the top of the list.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Orlando Hudson
Juan Uribe
Bill Hall
Miguel Tejada
Cesar Izturis, will work for UZR
Nick Punto
Orlando Cabrera
Jerry Hairston, Jr
Edgar Renteria
Cesar Izturis
Adam Everett
Omar Vizquel
Craig Counsell
Bobby Crosby
Christian Guzman

Jeeze, that list is just terrible.

Everyone on the list is either a player you know cannot do it all, or he has some serious question marks regarding age, hitting, range, and durability.  There are fifteen players listed there, and it's possible 7 or 8 of them could be without a job on Opening Day.

The Twins and Red Sox reportedly are interested in Nishioka, and I am guessing there will be other suitors including the Mariners, Giants, and Orioles.

The mullet alone is
worth 1.5 WAR
Patrick Newman at Fangraphs sees Tsuyoshi Nishioka as a Ryan Theriot/Chone Figgins type.  I could se him show a bit more power than that, but regardless, that is pretty good compared with the other FA's.

I'm guessing it'll cost a minimum of $12 million to win the posting fee for Nishioka.  The Twins would presumably slide him to 2nd base, and let Orlando Hudson walk, while the Red Sox would use him at Shortstop.  I think the Red Sox would really be doing themselves a favor, mostly by weakening their opponents, if they were able to sign Nishioka and bring back Bill Hall.

Even if they do not bring back Adrian Beltre, they could slide Youkilis over to third base and play Lars Anderson at first.

Theo's got a lot to do if you consider that he also has Victor Martinez's agent on line 2.

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