Kawakami crowding Braves 25-man roster

The Braves are expected to make a decision regarding Martin Prado’s status later today.  But if there’s even the slightest reason to believe that he’ll be sidelined through Sunday, they almost need to place him on the disabled list. 

With Kenshin Kawakami’s presence, the Braves are already essentially operating with a 24-man roster.  As they attempt to rebound from a miserable road trip, they don’t need to be playing a man short on both their pitching staff and within their offensive mix.

Fortunately Omar Infante is around to soften the effects of Prado’s absence. While he’s not going to supply the same kind of power potential, Infante certainly has the ability to be a catalyst at the top of the lineup and a sound defender at second base. 

Now back to the Kawakami situation.   There’s no doubt that Kawakami’s three-year, $23 million deal falls into the “bad contract” category.  But it’s an even worse contract when you look at the fact that the decision to send him to the Minors could adversely affect the opportunity for the Braves to get other players from Japan in the future. 

This might sound odd.  But multiple Major League sources not affiliated with the Braves, have said that others in Japan would view such a demotion as reason for their players not to affiliate themselves with an organization that has sent somebody like Kawakami to the Minors.  

Now that Jesse Chavez is gone, Kawakami might actually pitch more often, or at least whenever an emergency or “mop-up” situation arises.  But I can’t see why he wouldn’t agree to the chance to keep his arm stretched out while making a few starts for Triple-A Gwinnett. 

Kawakami, who lives in Gwinnett County, has to see that his future in Atlanta appears to be bleak. So if he truly wants a chance to at least serve as a starter in the Majors beyond this year, wouldn’t it make sense for him to at least take advantage of the chance to pitch on a regular basis somewhere?

In case you’re counting, Kawakami has made one more appearance than you and I since being removed from the rotation after his June 26 win against the Tigers.

By the time next year arrives, Mike Minor will almost certainly be in Atlanta’s starting rotation, that will definitely still include Tim Hudson Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens, unless the Braves are absolutely blown away by an offseason trade offer for Jurrjens.

It’s unlikely that Jurrjens will be moved and just as unlikely that the Braves would   
be able to move the $30 million still owed to Derek Lowe over the course of the next two years.

So as things currently stand, Kris Medlen and Minor will enter Spring Training as the top candidates to fill the final available spot in the rotation.  In other words, the Kawakami situation could definitely be problematic next year. 

The Braves attempted to trade Kawakami over the course of the past month.  There was seemingly some talk with the Mariners to see if they would be willing to move Chone Figgins’ bad contract for Kawakami’s. 

But with Figgins owed at least $26 million over the course of the next three seasons, it didn’t make much sense for the Braves to trade for a offensive player in decline simply to rid themselves of the approximate $8.8 million they still owe Kawakami through the end of the 2011 season. 

Kawakami is set to make $6.67 million next year.  With this in mind, the Braves might have a better chance to move him during the winter, especially if they are willing to eat at least a portion of the salary. 

TONIGHT’S LINEUP vs. Johan Santana

Infante 4
Heyward 9
Chipper 5
Diaz 7
Gonzalez 6
Glaus 3
Ankiel 8
Ross 2
Hudson 1

It’s interesting, but not surprising, to see Ankiel in the lineup against a left-handed pitcher.  He has struggled against them throughout his career.  But because he is regarded as a much better defender than Melky Cabrera, I don’t think Bobby Cox will be using a strict platoon in center field.

Stay tuned for updates regarding Prado. 

  

 

13 Comments

Which leads to “How the heck last year was Melky Cabrera the starting center fielder for, of all teams, the Yankees?”

A bandbox for a stadium and six or seven perennial All-Stars batting in front of you is all you need, I guess.

My friend (a Yankees fan), told me that Melky and Robinson Cano are really good friends, and that some are attributing Cano’s success this year to him not getting trashed with the Melk Man all the time.

this is complete BS. The Braves put it in his contract that he couldnt be demoted and now they want to force him into being demoted only so he can build enough value to be traded? There have been plenty of opportunities to use KK out of the pen, but Bobby is doing what he does best. If Chavez can get thrown out there so can KK.

For that matter, he’s been a hell of a lot better than Derek Lowe and for half the cost. KK has a 4.1 era as a brave and they cant find a way to use him? I hope he tells Frank and Co. to shove it. What a crappy way to treat a player.

Why take on Figgins. Someone wil take KK and pay his $7mil salary next year and I hope they do. He’s a good pitcher and deserves more than he’s getting from our FO/manager

Mark,

My first reaction to a potential Figgins/KK deal was much like you, that why add more commitment on a bad contract just to get rid of KK’s bad deal. But after further review, I don’t think it would be a terrible deal. Maybe you need Seattle to kick in a few extra bucks to pay Figgins, but it could work. I don’t think Figgins is in decline, I think he’s unhappy in Seattle (see punching manager in the face, and I’m not sure he’s the one in the wrong after that whole Jr. sleeping in the clubhouse scandal). Figgins is 32 yes, and he’s got at least three more years at $9m coming his way. But other than this season he’s been pretty consistent, and consistent in ways that would help the Braves lineup. He’s not a power source, but he’s a high on base guy who steals lots of bases. And those speedy leadoff type guys tend to age well, like Rickey Henderson and Johnny Damon. Figgins was born in GA so he’d be coming home. He’s versatile, can play all the same positions that Omar Infante can, so you just put him at the position you need that day. Salary wise, KK makes around $7m this season and next. Figgins makes $8m this year and $9m next, so this season and next are a wash. Figgins is due $9m in 2012 and $8m in 2013, so maybe you try to get Seattle to send between $5-8m to make the deal worthwhile. Seattle still would get some salary relief in 2012-2013 by moving Figgins contract but the change of scenery might be positive for Kawakami, joining Ichiro and the Japanese manager Wakamatsu and maybe they extend him if he works out. The Braves are going to be in need of offensive players beyond 2010, with Chipper likely to retire. If they could free themselves from the waste of a roster spot that KK is, and get some body who at the least could be a servicable utility player it might be worth the trade.

Maybe Seattle would be interested in Nate McLouth too. :-)

I also agree that KK is getting treated like crap. His one relief appearance was not exactly brilliant, but what do you expect when he hadn’t been sent out to pitch in 20 days. Does anyone actually believe that Chavez was a superior pitcher? So then why the h*ll was he carted out there on a semi-regular basis while KK rots in the bullpen?

Ir-related to anything, but does anyone know for sure what time the game on the 7th starts? The Braves site says 7, but my tickets say 4, and Fox’s schedule says 7 still.

@CSG, are you sure it wasn’t KK’s agent or whoever negotiated the contract on his behalf?

@Joe, where do you get your info from? I’d like to tap into that source myself.

@viva, ever heard the saying that Attitude makes Altitude? I bet that might have something to do with Chavez’s getting the hours in while KK rots. Me thinks that KK saw the relief outing as an insult on par with being sent down to the minors.

@Brandon, can’t blame you for asking, man. I’d be doing the same in your position.

You can “me thinks” all you want, but your speculation seems to based a little more in fiction. In the few interviews I read when he got bumped to the pen, KK said he understood why and didn’t seem to complain, and he also pitched brilliantly in his last start. Who knows, maybe I’m wrong; I’m not in the clubhouse, but regardless of attitudes, why are you gonna keep bringing out the guy who has an ERA over 6.00 over the veteran who hasn’t had a great year but at the same time hasn’t had an awful one.

Also, yeah I’m pretty sure I saw “attitude makes altitude” on a poster in my elementary school guidance counselor’s office.

It is not in Kawakami’s contract that he can’t be sent to the Minors. It has everything to do with the fact that they don’t want to do so at the expense of possibly preventing themselves from signing Japanese players in the future.

why would they fill the need to move him to the minors? seriously, there is absolutely no reason for the guy to rot in the bullpen, esp when they could find outings for Chavez. Kenshin has better overall numbers than DLowe, why arent we dicussing why DLowe is wasting a roster spot? I dont understand this column or the treatment of Kenshin. This in itself might keep other japanese players for wanting to come to ATL

If that is genuinely the case I find it bizarre. Obviously you know Frank Wren and I don’t but over the time he has been in charge of the Braves it seems to me he has always put the welfare of the team ahead of sentiment and politics. This was most noticably the case when Glavine was “forced” to retire and Smoltz wasn’t given a new contract. This upset a lot of people in the Braves nation, but were the right moves to take the team forward. Now it seems a guy who is not pulling his weight won’t be demoted because of not wanting to possibly upset future players we may or may not sign and who may or may not care/remember that Kawakami was demoted for not being good enough.

We can’t pander to the Japanese market. How much additional revenue can having a Japanese player on the roster actually bring in? I was in Tokyo and Osaka in December and the impression I got was that they only care what Ichiro is doing. I never once saw any reference to Kawakami and barely even any reference to Matsui, who had just been a World Series MVP.

How is he not pulling his weight?? He’s the “long reliever” who is never put in long relief! His next to last start he pitched 7 innings of 2 hit, 1 run ball. He’s either being a d*ck and not wanting to pitch out of the bullpen?which I find hard to believe, or they just don’t want him to pitch. Also, there haven’t been many long relief opportunities in the past month. So unless, like I previously said, he is being difficult about the demotion, you have to be an idiot to think he should be demoted based on performance. The only way that he should be sent to Gwinnett is to stretch out and start a few games to audition for another team or to be ready in case a starter goes down.

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