Kawakami is in Braves camp…for now

When Kenshin Kawakami arrived in Braves camp this morning, he introduced himself to manager Fredi Gonzalez and renewed acquaintances with a caffeinated Derek Lowe. 

Instead of greeting his former rotation mate with, “Don’t worry, they didn’t want me last year”, Lowe simply welcomed Kawakami back and playfully said something about how the Braves had to send Brett Favre’s jet to get the Japanese hurler. 

With his visa issues resolved Kawakami was able to leave Japan and arrive in Braves camp more than two weeks after pitchers and catchers staged their first workout.

“It feels like I was just in elementary school and I was sick the whole time and just came back,” Kawakami said through his interpreter.

At least Kawakami has managed to maintain a sense of humor as he prepares to enter a tough situation.

Kawakami is well aware that the Braves have spent the past four months attempting to trade him.  He also knows that if he stays within the Atlanta organization, he’ll likely begin the season pitching in either suburban Atlanta’s Gwinnett County or Pearl, Miss. 

But when asked, Kawakami refused to admit that he’s hoping to be traded.

“To be honest, I can’t think about that right now,” Kawakami said. “If anything, I’d love to be on this team.”

When the Braves attempted to deal him to some interested clubs from the Japanese League, Kawakami said he wanted a chance to pitch in the United States for at least one more season. 

Obviously, this was a right he earned when the Braves opted to give him a three-year, $23 million contract before the start of the 2009 season.  Since then, they’ve seen him go 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 50 appearances (41 starts).

Through the first two years of this deal the Braves have paid Kawakami  $1.79 million per win.  Considering there’s a good possibility that he never pitches again in Atlanta, that number will likely look even more Hampton-esque before it’s all said and done.

It’s believed there were some Japanese clubs willing to pay nearly half of the $6.77 million Kawakami is owed in the final year of his contract.  Major League clubs haven’t been willing to offer quite as much. 

The Pirates showed some interest and the Orioles were believed to have offered to pay the Braves $2 million for Kawakami.

Because the Braves waited to see if they could get more, Kawakami now prepares for a season without knowing exactly where he’ll be pitching.

Check MLB.com and braves.com later today for a complete story about Kawakami’s arrival.

Follow me on Twitter @mlbbowman   

10 Comments

Feel free to add that he pitched much better than that line indicates and that he was a solid #5 guy in 2009.

Also feel free to add that he has acted like a Prima Donna and NO ONE WANTS HIM!!! Best offer 2 MM of 7 MM owed. Another Q-Tip signing boner.

I don’t think he acted like a prima donna at all. He ranked in the bottom 5 of starting pitchers with lowest run support. He has a right to try and prove himself in American baseball.

I guess that’s why there is such a huge demand for his services. The starting pitching pitching starved ML’s have really snapped him up. I’m mean the guy has been on the trade block, for like, forever? What do we need to do take out billboards?? It’s obvious he isn’t gonna play here.

I guess that’s why there is such a huge demand for his services. The starting pitching pitching starved ML’s have really snapped him up. I’m mean the guy has been on the trade block, for like, forever? What do we need to do take out billboards?? It’s obvious he isn’t gonna play here. For the Brave’s management to be willing to let his 7 MM salary sit in MS for the season, tells me that they are not that thrilled with his act either.

I agree with Viva that KK kept the games close in 2009. His problem is that he is a nibbler, and as 2010 progressed it got even worse. We’ve talked about this before and it still holds true, a pitcher has to be able to get outs IN the strike zone to survive. It is what ultimately ended Glavine’s career. In the era of the pitch count, nibblers struggle to give 5 innings and that will not get it done in the long run. Especially on a team with pitching as solid as the Braves have. In 2010, KK just didn’t give the Braves a chance to win.

Speaking of no chance to win, what is Jo Jo up to this spring? He should be about 2-0 for somebody by now. He loves Florida in March.

I?m going to embody the spirit of nc and propose a wild trade: Kawakami + 3 million cash + Hicks or Conrad to the Mariners for Chone Figgins. The M?s get about 5 million in salary relief for this year plus unloading Figgins?s contract for the next two years, and one more arm with big league experience in a very Japanese-friendly town. The Braves get a net gain of 5-6 million in salary commitment this year, plus Figgins?s salary for the next two years (with Chipper off the books), and a guy who can step in CF if McClouth flops, play 3rd or left when Chipper goes down or if Prado needs to be the occasional RH option at first, play 2nd if Uggla has any injury problems, and maybe even cover at SS if Gonzalez gets injured. So go ahead?tell me how stupid this would be for either team.

Not a bad idea dfrill…

And bills right. Sometimes you have to look past ERA and saber metrics and look at the facts; the man can not keep this team close enough in games. It may be a team effort, but we expect one of the offense or pitching to be working. The offense somehow never worked when he was in the game, but that only masked the fact that KK was throwing meat by inning 4 and was pulled by inning 6.

Brandon, you’re scaring me. Anytime you agree with me I have to go back and think about what I must have missed. :)

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