Showing respect to Kawakami has proven costly

Recognizing that he would be embarrassed in his native land and protecting their future interests in bringing other Japanese players to Atlanta, the Braves never aggressively persuaded Kenshin Kawakami to go to the Minors to continue serving as a starting pitcher.

Consequently they find themselves in a position where Mike Minor appears to be the only sensible option to fill the rotation spot that was opened when Kris Medlen suffered a potentially serious right elbow injury.

Once the MRI results are reviewed, we’ll learn whether Medlen will indeed need to undergo Tommy John surgery and be lost for a year. If that’s the case, then the Braves may have no other choice but to get Minor’s service clock rolling and throw him into the heat of a pennant race.  

If the Braves still had the seven-game advantage that they possessed over the Phillies two weeks ago, then maybe they could send Kawakami to the mound Monday night with the hope that he could work at least three or four innings. 

But if there was even an inkling to do this, you’d have to think they would have at least allowed him to pitch the final two innings of last night’s win against the Mets.   Yet with a four-run eighth-inning advantage, they provided further indication that have little confidence in his ability to be a reliable contributor to their pitching staff. 

It’s certainly not Kawakami’s fault that he has pitched just one inning since ending his days in the rotation with his victorious June 26 effort against the Tigers. Instead, this reality has now grown into an even greater problem for the Braves.

With the possibility that Medlen will be sidelined until at least August of next year, there may now be a need to put Kawakami in the 2011 rotation.  But with the assumption that Minor will be a part of it, the Braves may have to trade either Jair Jurrjens or Derek Lowe to open a spot for the Japanese right-hander, who is still owed a little more than $8 million through the end of next year.   

Given that Minor has gone 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA in the five starts he’s made since being promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett, there’s certainly a chance he will prove to be a reliable fifth starter.  But he has made just 24 starts since leaving Vanderbilt last year and just 20 of those have been completed above the Class A level. 

While some of you have expressed concern about the fact that Minor went 2-6 with a 4.03 ERA in 15 starts for Double-A Mississippi this year, I don’t think this should be viewed in a negative manner.  From what I have been told, the defensive support at Mississippi was shoddy at best. 

Mike Leake, who was taken one selection after Minor in the first round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, has proven to be a key piece to the Reds resurgence this year. 

The Braves now may have to hope that Minor provides similar value.

Minor will start for Gwinnett at Lehigh Valley tonight.  If he throws just a couple of innings, he could still be in line to fill Medlen’s rotation spot Monday when the Braves open a three-game series in Houston.

The Braves have recalled Cristhian Martinez from Triple-A Gwinnett.  He could be asked to throw a couple of innings Monday night as a starter or reliever. 

If the Braves decide to give Minor at least one more start at Gwinnett, Martinez and Kawakami could piggy-back each other during that series opener in Houston.   

Follow me on Twitter @mlbbowman  

 

22 Comments

So what if we lose the Japanese market. There have been 2 successful Japanese players, neither one of them a pitcher. Ichiro and Godzilla are the only 2 that were worth a sh*t. Dump Cantwin now. I think this still has something to do with Frank Wren trying to salvage a stupid deal.

I wonder what level of respect is shown to American ball players in Japan? If they can’t cut it, they get sent packing.
KK’s 1-9 speaks just as loud as his demotion to AAA would have. Ask the Yankees and Red Sox about some of their Japanese “phenoms”. You get less respect in the long run when you are not honest about the situation. And, I am more than willing to be sent to AAA if anyone wants to give me $8 million. I know my way to Cool Ray, what time should I be there?

I’ll take the disrespect that follows.

Mark- the suggestion that the Braves might consider trading Jair Jurrjens to make room for Minor and Kawakami in next year’s rotation is honestly the most idiotic statement you have ever made. Seriously? That is a no-brainer decision even the worst GM could make- cut your losses, release KK, eat his salary and move on. Who cares what kind of damage that does to the Braves’ reputation in the Japanese market? Do you really think they would significantly downgrade their major league team and trade away a future #1 or #2 who is cheap now just to “save face” in another culture that they might pull a player from here and there? Trading Lowe might make sense if there was any realistic possibility of doing so, but there are clearly no takers and it would cost them more money to pick up the majority of his 30M (the only way a trade would happen) than it would to dump KK’s 8M outright (my 2 year old can do that math). I honestly can’t understand how trading JJ can even be considered as a rational point of discussion.

Wow, titletownbrave, you’re a real piece of work. Also, you might want to go back to middle school and work on your reading comprehension skills, because that’s not what Mark was implying at all.
Also, the trading Jurjjens suggestion is because he’s up for arbitration after the season and he’s a Scott Boras client, meaning we won’t be able to afford him once he eligible for free agency.

Ramming an inferior, Japanese made, product down our throat is pretty disrespectful as well. There is no dishonor in trying and failing, he just wasn’t able to produce at a major league level in Atlanta.
Move on Frank….
Teams in MLB pay an exorbitant rate just for the chance to sign these Japanese “phenoms”. DIce K is average, the last 2 or 3 the Yankees have gotten have been bad, At best they seem to be to MLB what Jr. College transfers are to the NCAA BCS teams. If the worst thing that happens is the Braves lose future opportunity to drop $50 million for the privilege to try to sign these guys for another $50 million, I, as a fan, am completely comfortable with telling the league on that little island frequented by Godzilla to bite me.

I agree vino…Trading Jurrjens just so we can make a spot for Kawakami and not hurt his feelings is completely retarded. I mean, it what way does that even make sense? If we dont even have faith enough in him to let him pitch 2 innings with a 4-run lead then why get rid of one of our best pitchers to make room for him?? Send Kawakami packing and scout some more Venuzuelans(however you spell it)…

Trading JJ is the stupidest thing i’ve ever heard. So what if he’s a Boras client? I promise you the franchise will sink further down this Liberty Media black hole if that happens. Hell, maybe its a conspiracy and Liberty Media is trying to keep connections with their Japanese market? anyone think of that??!!!

Bowman, I understand that JJ could reap serious rewards in trade bait and give us a bat we could use, but since his injury earlier this year, I wonder if it’d be the smartest thing to trade him in the midst of a down-year – by his standards. It was only a year ago that sports writers like yourself were calling him the bright future of the Braves staff, but now we might consider trading him because of a terrible signing? If jeopardizing any years of contention because of a terrible signing like KK’s, I’d rather do it by cutting him and jeopardizing our relations with Japan than not and have a worse rotation. Kawakami has never been consistent and is 10 years older than JJ. I can’t believe I’m comparing the two. KK has never looked like a decent MLB pitcher, which knowing KK was successful in Japan, that should show you a little of the disparity between American and Japanese baseball. Just because you’re good in one doesn’t mean you’ll be good in the other league. Ichiro is the exception to the rule, I think we all know that. For every Ichiro, you get an overpaid Fukodome, Dice-K, Tagakashi, etc. Japan’s athletes still haven’t proven their worth to MLB and I think jeopardizing World Series contention for future dealings with a questionable market is ridiculous. I wonder how many Asian Braves fans actually like Kawakami. If they do because he’s like them, then maybe they need to reevaluate their choices of idols.

How am I a piece of work?? Excuse me for not wanting this guy in our rotation and wanting to keep JJ….I think the numbers speak for themselves. And apparently I’m not the only one that feels this way since he’s only pitched 1 inning after being taken out of the rotation.

Apparently Kawakami is going to Gwinnett to make a few starts and stretch his arm out, and Minor is coming to Atlanta.

AP & Reuters are reporting that Liberty Media is in negotiations to sell their ownership interest in the Atlanta Braves to Toyota Motor Corp., pending approval by MLB.

The curious angle to the Major call up is that this is the year of the philosophy for shutting the young guys down to stop the innings increase. Thank you SpankMe’s for the Jaba Rules we are all screwing around with now. Minor has already been quoted as saying he was experiencing arm fatigue, and that article was a few weeks and innings ago. Going every 5th day in a pennant race seems like a pretty risky (circa 2010 anyway) option. That said, he can really pitch, and his stuff was much better than I was led to believe when I saw him live.

AP and Reuters are not reporting anything about Toyota buying the Braves, Fricking troll.

For all of you who complain about KK performance are you just looking at his W/L record and deeming him to be bad because of it, even though pitcher have a rather limited control over that aspect. KK was worth more then he was paid last year by WAR and his value would be even higher if he wouldn’t have been pushed out of the rotation, this year he was on pace to atleast put up a performance worth his contract for the year before he was pushed out of the rotation. Now not everybody likes to use WAR but can you atleast point at something else than his W/L record to say that he’s bad.

Here’s the thing with W/L even if you pitch 9 innings and only allowed one run you can still get the loss, should that loss be the pitchers fault because he got no run support? KK had some great games where he got no run support even though he limited the opponets to 0-2 runs through six innings but still no win. Jaime Moyer have a higher ERA then KK but his W/L Record is 9-9, Chris Narveson ERA is almost a point higher and his record is 9-7 Kevin Correia ERA is higher then KKs and he’s 7-7 and there is even more pitcher that have worse ERA then KK but much better W/L record.

Braves have really mistreated this situation with KK they have hardly used KK since he was moved to relief and now when Medlen goes down with an injury which was a big risk with him they find that KK because of being unused isn’t really in a condition to start. So now they are forced to promote Minor instead, Well Done.

KK gave up runs in critical situations, that’s why his W_L s*cked. His ERA sucked. WAR is a ridiculous made up statistic, that nobody in their right mind buys into, other than the “statheads”.

His ERA sucked you say but plenty of other pitchers have worse ERA and still have a good W/L record, do they also suck? As a starter this season KK have an 4.48 ERA which is better then several pitcher this season, like Edwin Jackson 4.97, James Shields 4.57, Javier Vazquez 4.61, Freddy Garcia 4.73, AJ Burnett 4.93, David Bush 4.55, Randy Wolf 4.91. Derek Lowe have an ERA 4.44 and he paid almost twice as much as KK this season, is his 0.04 ERA advantage over Kawakami really worth twice the cost.

If he gave up runs in critical situations how do you explain how he didn’t get wins when held his opponets scoreless, Sure some losses can be blamed on him but many times he often recived little to none run support.

I said that not everybody like to use WAR but since you brought it up can you explain what part of it that is “ridiculous”? Or should I just take your word for it?

Wow. The JJ stuff created quite a stir. Like the other day, I guess I should have clarified it by saying the Braves would have to be blown away with an offer. And I mean blown away with a legit middle-of-the-lineup bat. JJ is a future ace, but it’s not good business to simply ignore that he could garner a strong return.

Thoughts of JJ and Hanson being a successful combo in ATL for many years to come likely died when Hanson also joined forces w/ Boras. The ATL payroll will have to significantly increase for both to be around when their arb years are finished.

Yes he could have more losses, he could have less and he could have more wins the point being it’s not something he can really control. You haven’t gotten back with the ERA yet, If KK ERA sucks JJ ERA also apperently sucks since both have the same ERA after JJ start today but everyone got really upset when him as a trade candidate was brought up while many wanted to outright release KK which is really bad use of money.

You dislike the use of WAR, I dislike the use of W/L record to determine if player is good the difference is that I explained why I disliked it and why I think it does a bad job at it. You just said that you dislike WAR because of it’s ridiculous made up stat, that never seem to correlate. If it really never seems to correlate you should have no problem backing up that argument since there should be plenty of evidence for it.

You know Oscar, I went back and reviewed Kawakami’s record and realized his is actually much worse than his W-L would indicate. He had 3 no decisions where he gave up 5-4-3 runs in 4-2-1 innings respectively. Ge could have easily had 3 MORE losses.

As to WAR and the moronic UZR. I am not gonna waste my precious moments on this Earth discussing ridiculous made up stats, that some people need to explain everything that happens in baseball, but really never seem to correlate.

Mark- are the Braves really to the point where they can’t compete at all for Boras clients? If that’s the case, then we might as well resign ourselves to becoming the next Kansas City or Pittsburgh. Boras is not going away. With some huge chunks of payroll coming off over the next two seasons (assuming Chipper retires this year or next), it seems like they’d be able to find a way to lock up guys like Jurrjens, Hanson, & Heyward. Besides, isn’t there a chance that JJ and / or Hanson are reasonable people who might be happy with a solid long term contract offered to them before they approach free agency? Boras can influence them, but he can’t brain wash them. Can he?

The thought of trading JJ for an absolute top line right handed power bat (not sure who that would be at this point) is certainly a more reasonable conversation than suggesting the need to make room for KK as a motive.

… I still don’t like the idea though.

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