This morning the Twins will introduce Byung Ho Park at a press conference at Target Field.
Let's all use the time before it starts to get it out of our systems. Go ahead, one more time, ask whether he's the second coming of Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
It's remarkable, how many people have asked me this.
The short answer to that question: No.
The longer answer:
Park has flaws. He strikes out too much. If he winds up being a bust, he will have cost the Twins about $25 million, which is not insignificant. He has not faced much high-velocity pitching.
But comparing him to Nishioka is like comparing David McCarty and Mark McGwire. Both were righthanded hitting college stars in the Pac-12, right? Or Carlos Pulido and Johan Santana - both were short lefthanders from Venezuela, right?
So why would we compare a Japanese shortstop with a Korean slugger?
According to my information, the Twins' signing of Nishioka was the result of two really bad ideas. 1) Manager Ron Gardenhire was tired of J.J. Hardy not playing through injuries, and wanted a faster player at shortstop. 2) Then-GM Bill Smith settled the debate over Nishioka in the Twins' organization by signing Nishioka for business purposes - if he became a star, it could lead to business and advertising deals with Japanese companies.
I'm not saying Park will succeed, and I certainly don't think he'll be a superstar. He'll have to adapt to American pitching. But he should be able to hit 20-plus home runs at a reasonable price for a taem that could have a tremendous lineup and be playing for a championship soon. It's a risk, but it's no more a risk than giving a high school or college player a large signing bonus.
Every signing is a risk.
If you're a Twins fan looking to be comforted, think of it this way: This is more a luxury signing for the Twins than a desperation move. They didn't need another corner bat. They could have spread their DH at-bats among their many promising young hitters. They could have hoped that Oswaldo Arcia or Kennys Vargas would rebound. They could have used DH to rest Joe Mauer's legs (I know how much you enjoy hearing about that) and Sano's.
Instead, they invested in a hitter they believe can adapt to American pitching. It's a risk, but it's not a risk that should remind you of Nishioka, any more than it should remind you of Ichiro, Matsui or Choo.
The new Vikings show with Viking Update publisher Tim Yotter is up at MalePatternPodcasts.com. The You Betcha Basketball Show will be up this morning with Jon Krawczynski. My chat with Justin Morneau is also available, as well as archived talks with Torii Hunter, Eddie Guardado, Alan Page, Chad Greenway, John Randle and some of my favorite writers. Thanks for reading and listening.