Spare Parts: Yoshitomo Tsutsugo offers what White Sox need, and don’t need

My clearest personal run-in with the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon concerns lingonberries. Before I went to Sweden a handful of years ago, I wasn’t positive I’d ever heard of them, and certainly didn’t know what they tasted like. Once I started researching the food options around Stockholm, I couldn’t stop seeing lingonberries, causing me to wonder how oblivious I’d been.

It might be the same deal with Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. White Sox fans who never heard of the Yokohoma BayStar until this week might not be able to get away from him.

Tsutsugo is an outfielder. He bats lefty. He has a rich history of power and plate discipline. He might not be all that expensive. For those who want to cross “left-handed” and “corner outfielder” off your list with one move, Tsutsugo might be your lingonberry.

Tsutsugo has been one of Japan’s top hitters since 2014, and has more or less approached his current form — 30-plus homers, 80-plus walks, .900+ OPS — since 2016.

What’s not to like? Well, his strikeout rate spiked on him last season. He struck out in a quarter of his plate appearances last year, when a typical Tsutsugo season has a K rate around 18 percent. That makes his bail-and-whale swing a little less charming.

There’s also this, from when Mike Axisa started lining up potential suitors in his write-up of Tsutsugo on CBS Sports:

Chicago White Sox: Did you know White Sox right fielders hit six homers with a .565 OPS this season? I’m sure Eloy Jimenez would happily shift to right to get another big bat into the lineup.

I’m guessing word of Jiménez’s defensive woes hasn’t spread nationally, especially since Jiménez cut down on the goofy bloopers over the last couple months and has settled into a more ordinary brand of below-average. That’s just a particularly damning way of saying Tsutsugo is apparently a left-field-only candidate. The Sox could use the numbers, but I don’t know if they’ll want to add another unproven bat that is a defensive liability when they already have so many to contend with.

Spare Parts

A couple days ago, Steve Stone dropped “I don’t know if I’ll be back” into a tweet. It turns out that his contract isn’t set for next year. Stone is no stranger to dangling the prospect of exploring other options, although loyalty to Jerry Reinsdorf won out of the last time, and he’s spent the last few days defending the chairman on Twitter.

One of October’s running themes is the number of writers and broadcasters surprised when a deep drive dies on the warning track. Rob Arthur, who has been a leader in explaining the differences of the baseball’s behavior, says drag is way up this year. Along the same lines, Baseball America’s JJ Cooper said the International League experienced a similar phenomenon in August. I suppose that makes Luis Robert’s performance in Triple-A even more impressive.

To leave you with a cliffhanger, this winter’s Super Two cutoff hasn’t yet been established, but Brewers beat reporter Adam McCalvy gave an indication of where it might be by noting that Josh Hader will be eligible for arbitration at two years and 115 days of service time. That would make for the lowest cutoff over the last decade, so it probably won’t go much lower. However, Yoan Moncada and his two years, 106 days of service time will be watching with great interest.

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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roke1960

When I first saw Tsutsugo’s name as being a left handed power bat available, I thought this would be a good move for the Sox to make. After looking closer at his numbers, they are good, but not great. And that’s in the Japan league.

Then there’s this from Jim Allen, who covers Japanese baseball for the Kyoto News: “He’s a quality bat in Japan, but he’s really not the elite bat,” Allen said. “The whole question is how much of his power is going to play in the United States, and the big question is how is he going to adapt to seeing 100-mile-an-hour fastballs, which he hasn’t seen regularly because very, very few pitchers in Japan throw that hard. And he’s 27 years old. So it’s like taking a guy who’s basically played college-level ball most of his life and suddenly at 27 he’s in the major leagues.

“(Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei) Ohtani was a bit of an outlier. There are hitters who are that good in Japan. Tsutsugo is not quite one of them. He is relatively adaptable. In other words, I expect him to make some adjustments to MLB, I expect him to find some solutions to MLB. But I also don’t see him getting a guaranteed contract.

“He’s flexibile, adaptable, good leader, good teammate. But if you’re looking at the skills, I don’t think he’s going to blow anybody away with his skills.

“My guess is he’ll agree to a minor league contract, he’ll get a camp invite and that he’ll win a major league job out of camp because he’s just a really useful guy to have. But nobody’s going to be throwing guaranteed money at him. If they do, I would be surprised.

That sounds just like a guy Hahn and Jerry will target. He’s cheap. That will be good enough for them.

jorgefabregas

Comparing the NPB to college ball seems quite the undersell, given that projection systems usually rank it above AAA and below the majors.

Trooper Galactus

Agreed, though to be fair, the gap between AAA and MLB is so significant that NPB still has a pretty wide range of quality to fall in before hitting that top level.

anthonyprinceton

A couple players with Chicago connections in the NPB. Dayan Viciedo just finished up a season with the Chunichi Dragons and slashed .315/.374/.496 in 594 plate appearances. Maybe he figured something out or maybe the pitching, run prevention environment in the NPB isn’t so good. Kosuke Fukodome at the age of 42 just slashed .256/.347/.397 for the Hanshin Tigers. However, a minor league deal for Tsutsugo is essentially risk free as long as he is not the only OF addition.

yinkadoubledare

Jabari Blash, career -1 WAR and slash line 186/306/307, hit 261/397/540 in Japan this year. Neftali Soto got 44 plate appearances in the majors like 5 years ago. He hit 269/348/554 in Japan this year.

I’d be pretty skeptical of this guy coming over and hitting much. He’d likely be better than what we ran out there last year but so would Deion Gloveonchair.

burning-phoneix

NPB is frequently described as “AAAA” but I don’t really buy it. Considering the amount of guys who are washed up in AAA go over to Japan and set national records, I’m more comfortable slotting it in between AA and AAA

knoxfire30

Seems more like a fun flier idea to bring this guy aboard as oppose to a key off season move.

roke1960

But the bad part is that Rick and Jerry would promote it as a key offseason move.

knoxfire30

I dont care how they promote it, I care about the whole off season package, if they bring on 2 starters, a pen arm, grandal and then this guy, they can throw him a parade for all I care.

roke1960

Addressing right field and DH with a decent Japanese player only would not be good.

knoxfire30

I think this would be the equivalent of throwing a mil or two at a vet with a spring training invite, I wouldnt think this is a move that then stops you from signing your RF and DH situation.

If he is being signed as a starter out of the gate I would be very underwhelmed.

Neat_on_the_rocks

I mean, if they truly can get him on on a minor league deal, I see no downsides to adding him.

hackwilson

Steele Walker will be ready by 2021 if not sooner… This Japan Tsutsugoi isn’t going to make it to the majors because He’s already disappointed…

Soxfan2

The thought of  Eloy in RF will give me nightmares for a while. Eloy’s arm in RF? woof. 

With that being said, I am confident Eloy can be an average defender in LF.

evenyoudorn

“I’m your lingonberry” made me tear up at the end of Top Gun.

MrTopaz

Especially the tv edit where the preceding line (“bullshit”) is awkwardly dubbed to “no way.”

evenyoudorn

Yippee Ki-yay, Mr. Falcon!

yinkadoubledare

You see what happens, Larry? You see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?

Right Size Wrong Shape

Lingonberries are the only thing that make a trip to IKEA tolerable.

zerobs

Sounds like Jim was born to cover the White Sox. Jim went overseas to have lingonberries when there are IKEA stores in his backyard; the Sox are going to go overseas to get a more expensive version of Dan Palka.

evenyoudorn

And your curious lack of superfluous Allen wrenches and cam locks.

asinwreck

Careful. I think the Sox front office reads this and will think signing Hank Allen will address the vacancy at DH for 2020.

As Cirensica

This needs more love. It’s majestic.

5742mail

Let’$ make a trade with the Cubs for Haywood and Chatwood minus half their salary and Underwood for Engel,Palka and Fuller. This deal would be great for both side, the Cubs would free up money and the Sox would get RF covered a left handed bat and a pitcher that’s hard to hit but walks a lot.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Would the Bears sign off on this? They already lack cornerback depth.

Trooper Galactus

Clu Haywood is still playing?

NDSox12

Yep, still leading the league in nose hair.

billyok

This is the good shit right here. 

As Cirensica

Marilyn Manson…yeah baby!

dansomeone

You forgot a Cub named James Norwood. The Sox might as well ask for him too.

Anohito

I remember Tsutsugo. In a WBC a year or so back, during the USA vs Japan game he crushed what looked like a go ahead 3 run homer in the 7th or 8th but even the camera was fooled as it landed into the right fielders glove (cutch I think?) nowhere near the warning track even. It was a pretty memorable moment because for a split sec there the dream was dead but then it wasn’t in such a laughable way. Note also Nate Jones pitched for team USA that year. He gave up a homer if I recall.

Anohito

I just looked it up and found it. Even watching it now put a jolt in my heart even though I knew the results.

I can’t wait for Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball! Especially with Vaughn repping the sox.

karkovice squad

They’ve done alright scouting Cuba. Maybe they could call Tadahito, who’s been managing Lotte the last couple years, and get an edge on evaluating Tsutsugo.

ParisSox

Is there anything you don’t know? I mean that as a compliment.

karkovice squad

Loads. How to raise $2.5bn in capital and loans to buy a sports franchise and bring its operations up to date, for example.

GoGoSoxFan

Start a Go Fund Me Karko. We’d all kick in a few bucks.

ParisSox

Yup. I got a tenner burning a hole in my pocket.

karkovice squad

That only leaves convincing Reinsdorf to sell, negotiating the sale, and convincing a supermajority of ownership groups to approve it.

No sweat…

iowasox1971

Well, now we know why Stone has been so supportive of Reinsdorf and the organization’s rebuild efforts on Twitter. When you’re trying to get a new contract, it probably doesn’t hurt to try to get on the boss’ good side.

That said, I still hope that the Sox bring Stone back. He’s a great analyst, and with a new contract, perhaps he will cut down on getting in Twitter battles with fans.

Perhaps the Japanese outfielder would be the answer for us at DH if we can’t sign Martinez or someone like Dickerson. If his defense is shaky, he and Eloy should not be manning the corner outfield spots.

ImmortalTimeTravelMan

If we signed this guy I don’t see him playing much OF for us. Some other writers I’ve seen have basically said he’s a Japanese Adam Dunn with a much weaker power profile. If he produced 25 HR’s and 80 RBI’s as a DH that would me a lot more production than we got this year, but that’s not a given.

That being said I also couldn’t see this guy accepting a minor league deal. You could throw one year 8-10 million deal to see if the guy could hit, but I’d much prefer a more accomplished hitter (Martinez, Grandal).

hackwilson

Can’t win the Division with Renteria…
Manager Available: Mickey Callaway, Clint Hurdle, Hensley Meulens, Mike Sciscia, Ozzie Guillen, Joe Girardi, John Farell, Joe Maddon, Buck Showalter, Joe Wotus, Tony Larrusa, Dusty Baker, Joe Espada, Rual Ibanez, Bruce Bochy, Gabe Kaplar

hackwilson

Ozzie

hackwilson

Ozzie is my choice Jim…Nothing else matters to me about this Homegrown rebuild experiment…If Kopech and Cease come through we can wait it out…I want Mooky…2021 on on

As Cirensica

I am gonna go ahead and guess Jim’s choices: Bochy and Espada

hackwilson

ugh Uncle… I’ll guess gez Girardi/Maddon…jeez

hackwilson

Somebody’s tits got lit up which is more fun and Renteria “Rickyball is a drag”…Yep pun intended

As Cirensica

Something does not add up in baseball, and something big and bad will happen to shake off everyone back to reality

PauliePaulie

I’m always shocked by the comment sections in stories like this.
When did it become mainstream to say that companies and owners are supposed to get rich while worker pay stagnates?
And why the comfortable reaction to the fact that trickle down is bullshit?

lil jimmy

I chalk it up to jealousy.

karkovice squad

The pro-owner angle has been mainstream longer than the pro-worker takes though it was more subtle before the twitterz.

PauliePaulie

Admitting and shrugging that trickle down down is, indeed, bullshit is new though, right?

karkovice squad

Yeah, kinda. But it’s context-specific: pitting fans against the 1%-.01% who are fighting the .001%.

Welcome to the New Gilded Age.

Also curious about who’s a bot/astroturf and who’s paying for them to say what.

robert

I share your shock. I wonder if people side with the owners because it is so much easier to see how much players make. Their contracts are widely reported. The profits owners are able to generate are not made public.

Trooper Galactus

Which makes one wonder, especially in this day and age where owners keep holding up municipalities for public funds, why more people aren’t outraged about that. Even more so given all the bullshit Loria pulled on Miami after selling the Marlins.

hackwilson

It’s a Private club MLB and the members of the club get to make the rules including how they pay the hired help…Can you say lock out

MrStealYoBase

If the As have to pay Matt Chapman and his 2.109 years of service time arbitration, Oakland suddenly becomes a team with lots of interesting trade candidates.

evenyoudorn

Wonderful. That always works out great for us.