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  1. This is pretty much exactly right. So much so, in fact, that I don’t feel bad about not having much time to write any more.

    Comment by Patrick Newman — December 18, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

  2. As an A’s fan, I’m thrilled at this deal. Even though the youtube vids don’t look all that promising, the bar at SS was set so low in 2012, with:
    – Pennington, .243 wOBA across 350 PA’s as a SS
    – Drew, .310 wOBA in 172 PAs – decent, but not enough to justify $10m/1year

    Really shouldn’t be hard for H.N. to improve on that black hole in the batting order. Right?

    Comment by nickolai — December 18, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  3. “Tsuyoshi Nishioka was amazing before he sucked a lot.”

    Comment by Jeff Sullivan's Editor — December 18, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

  4. I hate the new baseballs in the NPB! Now the home run leader in the Central League just has 31 homers.

    Comment by Sage S, 12 years old — December 18, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  5. Hiroyuki Nakajima’s personality will never match Munenori Kawasaki’s.

    Comment by JS7 — December 18, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

  6. I hate that the Yankees didn’t negotiate some deal with him last year. If he could play some 3B in addition to SS, it was a no-brainer to sign him to fill in for a predictably-to-be-injured Rodriguez and/or Jeter.

    Comment by Dejected Yankee Fan — December 18, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  7. Excited to see him play. Even though I’m doing exactly what the article says can’t be done (with any accuracy) I’m guessing .267/.330/.397.

    Comment by pkdryan13 — December 18, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

  8. If he hits .265-.330-.395 with adequate defense it’s a win for Oakland, anything more that that is a huge win.

    Comment by M W — December 18, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  9. His press conference indicates that he’ll be challenging that though.

    Comment by BX — December 18, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  10. How are we going to replace Pennington’s RBIs?

    Comment by Brad Pitt — December 18, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

  11. Japanese shortstops have never successfully become MLB shortstops. Something about the grass and throwing arm maybe. It’ll be interesting to see if Nakajima will be able to pull it off, or he’s gonna be playing second or third.

    Comment by simon — December 18, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

  12. Ik weet niet alles is wat er is ruimte voor discussie vanuit het oogpunt deze beweging nog steeds Blue Jays. Ja, voor een enkele werper, het zuigt op te geven (of liever 2 van 3) de vooruitzichten van de twee beste van hen in een enkele handeling. Maar als dat zo is, kun je net zo caster niveau, doe het dan op een premie ook. Ook, ik denk dat ik wil, en hebben een lagere waarde voor het team Jays zowel TDA en Syndegaard als Mets. Als je pot twee van hen, voordat het produceert de resultaten in de Toronto Star, (in het bijzonder een veilige gok bijna een Als je een pitcher van de bal), zal het twee of drie jaar misschien zelfs. Op dat moment, de pers in hun mid-30s, heb ik gezien de bestaande kern. Niet aan het feit vermelden dat (de Yankees en komt uit de periode dat zijn gesneden salarissen om onder de fiscale luxe in het bijzonder), misschien wel de Red Sox en de Yankees, die tot nu toe is gebracht. En het gaat over de verbetering van de Orioles en de Stralen zeg niets. Ik denk dat je de divisie te winnen, als het het beste team in honkbal dat je niet de play-offs te maken als een team van Jays in het recente verleden niet tevreden bent met een jaar, het is de ezel en de andere helft Ik ben vastbesloten om te gaan na divisie dat veel betekenissen aan vele soorten heeft. Is het bouwen van een team dat niet kan in de play-offs krijgen alleen door het indrukken van het puntje van zijn allemaal op de tafel, als u uw opname, is het beter, ze zijn weinig als je er bent geluid maken. Ik ben er vrij zeker van dat het zal de vooruitzichten voor elke gelegenheid om de World Series te ervaren handel. Het is niet de bedoeling om de vooruitzichten en de spelers in het algemeen ophopen?

    Comment by Jaames — December 18, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

  13. Google translate:

    I do not know all there is room for discussion from the viewpoint this movement still Blue Jays. Yes, for a single launcher, it sucks to give up (or rather 2 of 3) prospects of the two best of them in a single operation. But if so, you might as caster level, do it at a premium as well. Also, I think I want, and have a lower value for the team Jays both TDA and Syndegaard as Mets. If you pot two of them, before it produces the results in the Toronto Star, (especially a safe bet if you almost a pitcher of the ball), it will take two or three years maybe. At that time, the press in their mid-30s, I have seen the existing core. Not to mention the fact that (the Yankees and comes from the period that are cut to salaries under the luxury tax in particular), perhaps the Red Sox and the Yankees, who until now has been charged. And it’s about improving the Orioles and the Rays say nothing. I think you win the division, as the best team in baseball that you do not make the playoffs as a team of Jays in the recent past are not satisfied by one year, it is the donkey and the other half I am determined to go after division that many meanings to many species. Is to build a team that can not get into the playoffs only by pressing the tip of his all on the table, if you want your recording, it is better, they have little if you’re sound. I’m pretty sure it will be the prospects for any occasion to the World Series experience trading. It is not the intention of the prospects and players in general accumulate?

    Comment by ataraxia_ — December 18, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

  14. So basically we have no idea how good he is, other than he’s worse than Jeter and A-Rod.

    Comment by Ivan Grushenko — December 19, 2012 @ 12:40 am

  15. Yes, because we have soooo many comps to chose from.
    It’s also crazy that no left handed Venezuelans born in 1988 have become decent CFers.

    Comment by Timb — December 19, 2012 @ 2:37 am

  16. lololol

    Comment by mooks — December 19, 2012 @ 2:52 am

  17. Agree with Timb here. Sure, many unknowns about him, but assuming a player will not measure up due to “grass” and “throwing arms” is spurious.

    Drew definitely does not have a + level arm from SS and did reasonably well despite limited range. In fact, I would be surprised if Nakajima didn’t surpass Drew offensively this year, even if not spectacular, and managed to equal Drew defensively.

    Comment by Bab — December 19, 2012 @ 6:05 am

  18. Great article, Jeff. You were definitely interested in writing this one.

    Funny thing about this deal is that, almost no matter what, A’s win.

    I’ll make a bet that Nakajima adjusts intelligently and at least matches Drew’s offensive performance. Drew was not amazing defensively and may be a wash in comparison. Even with that, the A’s pin down a veteran team SS for two years minimum at just over half the cost of Drew for one year. Sure, might not work out, but this is an insightful and smart risk by Oakland.

    And it’s not the kind of contract that will strand the guy in America as an overpaid pariah in case he completely fails. Judging from his comments, Nakajima is excited and motivated and adds to the international Oakland flair. These things matter more than you may think.

    A bit speculative, but it will be interesting to see if Oakland has figured out something about international prospect development. Cespedes, by the way, was second fiddle in the Cuban league ended up getting the MLB contract.

    Comment by Bab — December 19, 2012 @ 6:21 am

  19. 99.9999% of Americans have never successfuly become MLB shortstops.

    Comment by TiensyGohan — December 19, 2012 @ 9:24 am

  20. Very sound. Nakajima experimented a lot with different styles. A big issue for Japanese middle infielders is the violence at second base. You rarely see hard outs there on potential double plays.

    Comment by JBallAllen — December 19, 2012 @ 10:27 am

  21. I’m still not convinced that Billy Beane gives a hang about defense, especially infield defense with the pitching staff he has assembled. Jarrod Parker is the only one in the bunch who has shown a propensity for inducing ground balls.

    I agree with you that Beane is looking for a SS who can get on base and hit some balls into the gaps. That was Stephen Drew’s m.o. until he fell victim to the Drew family malaise and the diabolical greed of Scott Boros. The A’s had replacement level performance from the SS position last year. The bar is pretty low for Nakajima.

    Comment by Gregory — December 19, 2012 @ 11:19 am

  22. Y’all are being a little harsh on Simon. He never claimed there were a lot of comps, nor did he assume it was a grass and throwing arm issue. He just said “maybe” it was. Given Ichiro’s arm, seems like the make some good ones over there, but of course he is slightly singular. Of course, Hideo Nomo had a nice arm, too.

    Regardless, for whatever reason, Matsui and Nishioka didn’t cut it as ss here. Matsui actually had some decent years at the plate for a middle infielder, but he couldn’t play ss here. Even though he had a decent rep coming over, and Bobby V thought he could cut it here. I believe Nishioka had a decent fielding rep coming in as well. On the other hand, Nakajima is already coming in with a so-so ss D rep due to supposedly diminishing range. So Simon is right in one respect, it will be interesting to see if he can make the grade at ss. His bat will certainly need to play up some if he is a -10 or so fielder. That may surpass what Drew did last year for Oakland, although given his injury Drew may improve some this year. It is also true that the bar was set quite low by oakland’s ss last year.

    Certainly from a fantasy perspective, Nakajima looks like a nice sleeper. And in reality could be a nice step up for Oakland.

    Comment by wobatus — December 19, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  23. That makes no sense. Ken Medlock played the fictive version of Grady Fuson in the movie, and Ken Medlock could never be confused with Brad Pitt.

    Comment by Gregory — December 19, 2012 @ 11:32 am

  24. I believe he is talking out of the universe of plausible ss, ya know, guys in the majors, in the high minors, or AAAA like the NPL. Relatively speaking. Not like he is trolling Japan. There have been Japanese players (very few) who came here with reps over there as decent ss, and UZR suggested they couldn’t measure up versus the .000001% of people who make it as major league shortstops. I don’t believe Simon is saying it isn’t possible. So just having a decent fielding rep over there won’t mean they will measure up versus the world’s elite fielders, and Nakajima already has some question marks. Doesn’t mean he won’t be ok at it, and his hitting looks promising.

    Comment by wobatus — December 19, 2012 @ 11:38 am

  25. Didn’t he say something about chips?

    Comment by wobatus — December 19, 2012 @ 11:39 am

  26. Cespedes had just set the Cuban league home run record before coming over.

    Comment by SecondFiddle — December 19, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  27. Yeah, totally. Was for some reason thinking specifically of his rookie year in Cuba.

    I’m not knocking Drew at all, he’s a solid player who came up with some nice plays late in the season. It’s just that Drew and Nakajima are right around the same age. Drew priced out Oakland even though no one is sure how high his performance levels project post-injury.

    I think this article also shows, in addition to his consistency, Nakajima was able to adjust to changes in the game and did not suffer statistically inordinately more than the rest of the league. This ability to adjust is obviously one of the most critical factors for success for MLB batters, and Cespedes had already demonstrated that he knows how this game works. May be that the best foreign imports are, so to speak, ‘students of the game.’

    Comment by Bab — December 19, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

  28. But had he used the user name “Ken Medlock,” only you would have gotten the reference. So not only are you overly touchy, you’re obviously quite greedy. I thought it was fine.

    Comment by Ned Yost — December 21, 2012 @ 9:10 am

  29. Simon may have a point. Most Japanese stadiums have turf infields. Shortstops can learn to bounce throws there that can’t be bounced here.

    Also, there’s much more emphasis in Japan on not making errors than there is on having great range. Cultural thing. Errors = seppuku.

    Comment by Blake — December 23, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  30. hey FG.. gettin quite a few of these ads a bit lately

    Comment by Cidron — December 23, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  31. Tsuyoshi Nishioka went to turf in Min & couldn’t cut it from 2B let alone SS.

    Comment by MaineSkin — December 25, 2012 @ 1:18 am

  32. I was reading another article on Nakajima that made reference to this one. Obviously, considering that it’s January 16, I’m a day( in this case a month) late as usual.
    Another very interesting signing by Billy Beane. I just love Billy but you never know if he’s going to be a pragmatist, who only offers very short term contracts to players, managers, etc. or a mad scientist who throws caution to the wind, trading away most of his proven young talent for slightly younger prospects. One thing that is consistent, Billy rarely makes mistakes and that’s why I trust his judgement. Will Nakajima pan out as a SS, only time will tell but if Billy is using the same crystal ball he used last season, the odds are in the A’s favor.
    Good article Jeff Sullivan and I’m happy you didn’t come to any conclusions about Nakajima like you did with Cespedes last year. Is that partly due to the fact that the A’s had success with a bunch of rookies, including Cespedes, in 2012?

    Comment by Noreen Giarretto — January 17, 2013 @ 1:18 am

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