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
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.