More bad news for Kawakami: DL at Double-A

LOS ANGELES — The bad news continues for demoted Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami, who was placed on Double-A Mississippi’s seven-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder.

The move came three days after the Japanese veteran was rocked for six earned runs in five innings Sunday against Mobile in his second start for the Braves’ minor-league affiliate in Pearl, Miss.

Dropped from the Braves’ 40-man roster in November, Kawakami has allowed 15 hits, nine earned runs and three homers in 10-2/3 innings of two Double-A starts.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said Wednesday that Kawakami would see the doctor in the next day, and for now the injury wasn’t believed to be serious.

Hopes the Braves had of trading the 36-year-old pitcher and any significant portion of his $6.67 million salary have presumably diminished for the near future, due to developments of the past two months.

Kawakami was two weeks late for spring training for what the Braves said were visa issues that prevented him from getting out of Japan. That put him behind schedule and limited his spring appearances in front of  scouts for potential trade suitors.

Now, the shoulder issue. Kawakami has dealt with periodic shoulder soreness for years, including during his first two major league seasons with the Braves.

A former Japanese League All-Star and winner of that country’s Cy Young Award equivalent, Kawakami signed a three-year, $23 million free-agent contract with the Braves after the 2008 season.

It has not worked out as either party envisioned. Kakawami has an 8-22 record and 4.32 ERA in 50 major-league games (41 starts), including 1-10 with a 5.51 ERA in 2010. He lost his starting rotation spot last summer and was removed from the major league roster after the season.

There were offers to the Braves from two or three Japanese teams early in the offseason, teams interested in bringing Kawakami back and reportedly willing to pay at least half of the money he was owed in the final year of his contract.

The Braves would have agreed to one of those deals, but Kawakami told them he wanted to stay in the United States and try to prove to himself and others that he could succeed at baseball’s highest level. (Unlike being traded to another major league team, any player has a right to veto being sold to an overseas team.)

The Braves still believed they would be able to trade Kawakami to a major league team during the winter or at spring training, and hoped to find a suitor who’d pick up a chunk of his salary. However, that was before his late arrival to camp.

Wren said that Kawakami was told in November, when dropped from the 40-man roster, that he would be sent to Double-A Mississippi and not nearby Triple-A Gwinnett if he was still with the organization this season.

There was speculation the Braves did it to pressure Kawakami into accepting a deal with a Japanese team, because if he couldn’t stay in his suburban Atlanta home while pitching for Gwinnett, he’d be less inclined to veto a deal.

Wren said the Double-A move was made solely because the Braves wanted to have younger players and prospects at their Gwinnett team — players who would be more likely to help the major league team if needed during the season.

63 comments Add your comment

Brian Asselstine

April 20th, 2011
2:33 pm

Honey Badger don’t care…

Chuck

April 20th, 2011
2:35 pm

Ugh! Hate to see that. Seems like an OK guy. Just hasn’t worked for either side.

myra

April 20th, 2011
2:37 pm

Geez, what a mess.

Richmond Braves Fan

April 20th, 2011
2:45 pm

Dave I remember reading in the offseason an interview with Wren (in fact it may have been with you) and Wren claimed to have not one but two teams interested in him but their offers were not near the 3 mil of the J apanese clubs. I think Wren said or it was speculated that they were offering a bout 2 mil. Do you think that was actually true or was that just GM speak trying to generate some interest? Man if that was true Wren has got to be kicking himself.

bascogcjs

April 20th, 2011
2:48 pm

Great job signing this guy.
The point is no Braves guy ever even saw him pitch live.
What a stupid decision to sign a player never seen by one
of your top baseball men.

ncb34

April 20th, 2011
2:54 pm

the only $23 million dollar guy i’ve ever felt bad for.
seems like a great guy, never quit on the team, just does’nt have the stuff to compete over here..
and before you start bashing him, realize he has done nothing wrong, except try to win in this sport, blame the braves for handing him all this money.

steve

April 20th, 2011
3:03 pm

One of the worse signs ever… good guy… had some bad luck but just hasn’t worked out at all for either party.Why don’t we just release him? We have to eat his salary in any case.

Bill

April 20th, 2011
3:05 pm

Well, it looks like “what goes around comes around”. If Wren did send him to AA to force a deal…well you got it. No one made the Braves sign KK, its a gamble and the Braves lost. But I believe BC and FW never real liked KK anyway. (it could have been handle better)..but who am I…. just a fan.

ueeediot

April 20th, 2011
3:06 pm

Meanwhile, Wren traded Tim Collins (look those numbers up, what the he** were you thinking) and Gregor Blanco for essentially no one.
Im sure Wren made a play for Roy Oswalt too….

Wren needs to go and soon.

chuck

April 20th, 2011
3:07 pm

bascogcjs: speaking of top men makes me think of unlabeled crates in far-off warehouses where such rubbish could be stored…..

I wonder if he took his Maserati to Mississippi….sounds like a McMurtry song don’t it, DOB?

As for the Honey Badger, he don’t care about much…not even a puff adder bite to the face.

chuck

April 20th, 2011
3:08 pm

Steve, dropping him from the 40 man essentially means we did release him…nobody is biting at that salary….he had to clear waivers.

David O'Brien

April 20th, 2011
3:09 pm

Chuck, it does. Actually, sounds even more like a Robert Earl Keen song.

Bill

April 20th, 2011
3:10 pm

If he is on DL for rest of year will Ins. pay part of his salary? Both lose. Good luck to KK.

Capt. Obvious

April 20th, 2011
3:20 pm

The guy had sooooooooooooooooooooo many bad breaks. I never felt like it was him. The ball ALWAYS had eyes. Good luck KK.

Chris

April 20th, 2011
3:20 pm

At least it’s not the 100 million the Red Sox paid Dice K

AdirondackDave

April 20th, 2011
3:25 pm

Ok, time to write this fellow off. DOB, any possibility the Braves could recoup some insurance money. It’s looking more and more chronic.

chris

April 20th, 2011
3:28 pm

last time I checked a 4 something ERA ain’t that bad for a 4/5 starter. Never figured why he got thrown under the bus by the fans. We spout out stuff like W-L record doesn’t matter then we crucify the guy for going 1-10 w/ a 4.50 ERA, while just about every time in MLB, including the Braves, had guys around 4.50 with winning records or .500 records. I’m not saying he’s in our top five right now, because he’s not. I’m just saying he always got unfair treatment by us fans who expected him to come in and be an ace. He was a little run support from being 6-4 with a 4.50 ERA, which everybody would have been ok with from a 4/5 starter.

Hope he gets healthy and gets a chance somewhere.

PDOG

April 20th, 2011
3:30 pm

Don’t believe Wren about the reason he send KK to Miss. If that was the case why is Lopez pitching in AAA. I always thought the Braves were a claas organization but the way they have handled KK is a disgrace. I have no problem with him not making the 25 man roster but the guy should have been pitching in AAA.

alexander

April 20th, 2011
3:37 pm

Agree with chris-reasoned argument.

Scott from Fairburn

April 20th, 2011
3:40 pm

Wren bashers … how soon we forget … remember what our starting rotation looked like three years ago before we signed Lowe and Kawakami … they attempted to resign Hampton before he went to Houston (thankfully) … both Glavine and Smoltz were coming off of major surgeries … Smoltz pitched a fit and bolted for Boston … Glavine had nothing left.

And remember we were in on A.J. Burnett … How’s that working out for the Yankees given the $80+ million they paying him?

Sure, KK did not work out but it was a reasonable gamble given the available pool of starters. On the other hand, I don’t buy Wren’s explanation of why KK wasn’t sent to Gwinnett.

It’s business and it’s the only leverage the organization had … make him uncomfortable in Pearl, MS rather than living in his Atlanta mansion and tooling around town in his black sports car.

bruce mac

April 20th, 2011
3:43 pm

He who laughs last laughs loudest. How do you like me now Frank? Send me to Mississippi and I will show you DA Mr. Tough Guy. MLB Union creates an over priced piece of dog dung. I am tired of paying for these guys to sit on their ars and draw big money at my expense. I hope the NFL owners stick to their guns. They will be profitable long after MLB bites the dust just like all the other strong union based over priced organizations in the USA.

mathman

April 20th, 2011
3:45 pm

Hopefully, some insurance kicks in here, and will pay while he is on the DL. Sounds like he needs surgery to me. Maybe, the insurance will pay for the whole thing. Now, if we can do something with McLouse.

Wren has made some horrible deals. The worst is probably not seeing KK pitch in person, prior to throwing all of that money away. Anyone who scouted him, would have seen he is not a ML pitcher.

And, it makes no difference whether it was Gwinnett or Pearl MS, the guy can’t pitch in either league.

Mike Jay

April 20th, 2011
3:48 pm

Scott, get out of here with your sound reasoning and astute observations. KK is pretty unlucky, he should seek his fortune back in the land of the rising sun. Of ocurse that would be admitting defeat and bring shame to the house of Kawakami os my guess is he mettles around the braves orginization until his contract has expired. Hell I would probably do the same.

phil

April 20th, 2011
3:50 pm

We should recoup some $ from insurance on this guy. But let’s face it. He was not a number 5 starter anywhere but maybe Pitt or KC. He stunk. I’m sure he’s a great guy, but he can’t get Nate McLouth out.

And we way overpaid for him to begin with. I wish him luck in his recovery and maybe he bounces back to the point that we can unload him for pennies on the dollar.

tomahawk'n in TN

April 20th, 2011
3:51 pm

Maybe they insured his contract and are getting a better payout from ins. than they could get from another team. Hey it’s one way to recoup some of the loss.

Mike Jay

April 20th, 2011
3:52 pm

Wren may not have seen him in person, nor Bobby Cox but their scouts did. That is not really all that unheard of.

Astro Joe

April 20th, 2011
3:54 pm

If you translate Kawakami into English, do you get (Mike) Hampton or (Dan) Kolb? An expensive gamble for Wren that was done at a time when the Braves were desparate for starting pitching. I like the effort, however, I wish the Hawks GM were as creative. I wish KK a speedy and long-lasting recovery (as he likely rehabs in his metro Atlanta home).

N Nine

April 20th, 2011
3:56 pm

KK is living the American dream. Living the life without doing much.

Mitchell

April 20th, 2011
3:58 pm

ncb34

April 20th, 2011
2:54 pm

the only $23 million dollar guy i’ve ever felt bad for.
seems like a great guy, never quit on the team, just does’nt have the stuff to compete over here..
and before you start bashing him, realize he has done nothing wrong, except try to win in this sport, blame the braves for handing him all this money.

And remember that from May to early September of ‘09 he was a key figure in one of the best Braves pitching staffs in years.

That team absolutely should have made the playoffs. There’s no excuse for it really.

Bobby just has to stick with guys who have no business being in the starting line-up, night after night.

At least take the wild card, then you can say you accomplished something, so you can have something to remember later on a feel good about.

That team failed to live up to their capabilities solely because of Bobby Cox, just like he is solely responsible for losing to the Giants in October.

mathman

April 20th, 2011
4:00 pm

That is a low blow saying KK couldn’t get Nate McLouse out. One would think he believes he can. KK says part of that ERA being so high, was McLouse holding on to the ball and double clutching when throwing. KK said McLouse should have been able to throw some of those runners out at the plate.

Disbott 3000

April 20th, 2011
4:03 pm

I agree that KK had some bad breaks in Atlanta but, come on. He lost in Atlanta. He lost in Gwinnett. He’s been losing in Pearl. Ultimately, that isn’t just a few bad breaks, that’s a bold statement that the pitcher flat-out hasn’t got anything to offer. I wish him health and luck, but ultimately the Brves will be far better of without him.

Chuck

April 20th, 2011
4:19 pm

I wonder how many Chucks the system will allow. This is my first post today. I shudder to think what KK did behind the media to get the treatment he got by the Braves. Never seen them treat someone like they did KK – not even Caminiti in his addict days. Too bad for everyone on this situation – hopefully too bad for the insurance company!

Sonny Jackson

April 20th, 2011
4:21 pm

Well, I wish him luck anyway…

N Nine

April 20th, 2011
4:22 pm

The only player in baseball i can’t stand is Shane Victorino. He is such a huge asset for the Phillies. I like to use the word hate describing him.

[...] Atlanta Braves [...]

Tiger Blood

April 20th, 2011
4:53 pm

All KK has to do is dominate at AA, and he’ll get another chance.

He got a late start in ST, and only pitched 2 games at AA, in the 1st of those two, his line was not horrific, but wasn’t what you’d expect from a major league type talent facing AA hitters (5.2 innings 7 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 homers and 3 Ks)

Could be that he was already feeling shoulder pain with start #2, which yields the results that DOB cited.

Smack

April 20th, 2011
4:54 pm

Just release him already. Allow him to save face. There is no way that we are going to net anything for him at this point.

Tiger Blood

April 20th, 2011
4:57 pm

Wasn’t there a younger player (20 – 22 years old) that the Braves signed around the same time they signed KK?

Whatever happened to him?

Old School

April 20th, 2011
5:01 pm

Don’t feel bad for him..embarassed my team brought him on and paid him what they have….wasted money……..shell shocked for 6 runs out of Double A….he has got nothing to bring him ot the big leagues. He just needs to go home and be a Little League coach.

Larry

April 20th, 2011
5:05 pm

KK always gave it his best shot. His performance against the dodgers late summer of ‘09 out in LA still one of the guttiest efforts I’ve ever seen. His ERA wasn’t much different from lowe’s but he never got any run support. It’s hard to have a lot of sympathy for a guy making millions playing a game, but it does seem like he braves have treated him like dirt. At least he tried to earn his salary. Anybody remember Albie Lopez besides me? One of the fantastic signings by the previous self proclaimed genius.

Kinshin Kawakami

April 20th, 2011
5:15 pm

Maybe if Brave no send me double a I do avergae job at big leagues and they trade me. But when i not do good at double a no one want me.

Money Handshake

April 20th, 2011
5:15 pm

Nate’s average is up to .250….Nate is on a tear. Not since Lemke’s 1991 WS, have I ever seen a hotter Braves bat….The Great Nate.

Bob Leblaw's Law Blog

April 20th, 2011
5:18 pm

Not only did he not get run support last year, but in comparing the pitchers he faced versus the pitchers Lowe faced, they averaged approximately 1.5 better per game in ERA. People seem to forget his ERA was under 4 his first year and last year I think it was around 4.6 prior to being demoted to the bullpen.

BC jumped the gun on this guy last year and prematurely brought in Minor. I believe Minor ended up w/ an ERA over 6. He would be perfect for a lot of teams as a 4 or 5 starter but no one is going to pay what we owe.

I wish the guy the best of luck. He’s handled himself well during this ordeal.

phil

April 20th, 2011
5:21 pm

All of these various names make me shudder….

phil

April 20th, 2011
5:23 pm

Please…don’t mention the name of Minorleague….his one and only start made me retch uncontrollably….

Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

April 20th, 2011
5:44 pm

Enter your comments here

wjones

April 20th, 2011
5:53 pm

You know, this is sort of like having a For Sale sign in front of your house for a year, being forced to repeatedly drop your price, getting close to having a nibble or two…..then a storm comes and a big oak tree falls on it!

Matt the Brave

April 20th, 2011
6:52 pm

I wonder if he has been dealing with this shoulder issue for the last two seasons and didn’t tell anyone about it (a la Schaefer did with his wrist). Thoughts?

Bob the Blogger

April 20th, 2011
7:06 pm

@Matt,
I have wondered why his second season was so much worse than the first, considering the acclimation to the 5 man rotation, a different ball, and a new culture that he had to handle in his first year. Maybe he has just been trying to tough it out. At any rate, I can see the Braves just taking anything they can get for him, or just releasing him at some point.

JasonInFL

April 20th, 2011
7:31 pm

This is bad news for the Braves, not KK!

Go Braves

April 20th, 2011
9:45 pm

“Kawakami has dealt with periodic shoulder soreness for years, including during his first two major league seasons with the Braves” What the heck was Wren thinking when he signed Kamakazi??? Another class A job of signing a free agent by Wren.

Kenshin Kawakami's English Translator

April 20th, 2011
10:00 pm

Kawakami-san, say that Braves very good to him, pay $23M for three years and gave him a legit shot to pitch in big leagues. He say that he is home-sick for the Ferrari and that his shoulder is not injured–he just sucks out loud.

The sushi is not so good in Pearl, MS. Want to come back to Atlanta before Seppuku becomes necessary. Braves allowed Kawakami-san to save face by going on DL. That is all for now.

Did I mention that Kawakami, sucks?

Mark (another one)

April 20th, 2011
10:48 pm

All 35 year old starters have shoulder issues. It is becoming common for pitchers to get a cleanup surgery after they retire so they can sleep. Kawakami is no different. It is the nine day DL, not a death sentence.

KK will come back and earn his money by pitching were he’s assigned. AA, AAA, another MLB team. He is making a ton of money and doesn’t want to walk away from it. The Braves are paying him, so he does what they tell him to do within the confines of his contract. I don’t see the crime. The only reason this makes the news is because of the size of the contract.

[...] pop out to short, single to right.===Kenshin Kawakami, currently pitching a Double-A Mississippi, was placed on the 7-day DL on 20th due to right shoulder pains.  Kawakami started a game on the 17th and started complaining [...]

[...] google_color_text = "999999"; google_color_url = "191919"; Looking to buy Getting A Loan With Bad [...]

chuck

April 21st, 2011
5:47 am

So far i am the only chuck going lowercase, and my posts are by far more enlightening and immensely more entertaining….so you can tell it’s me….it’s science.

kwajbraves

April 21st, 2011
11:51 am

The only bad news here is that we have $6M tied up to a AA pitcher. We could use some of that money to get us a serviceable outfielder.

Kawasucki

April 21st, 2011
11:59 am

KK get used to the Pearl MS sushi, you sure as heck aren’t going anywhere else….don’t deserve to go anywhere else!!!!!

NO MORE BOBBY

April 21st, 2011
1:37 pm

Not MLB material. Let it go.

wt

April 21st, 2011
2:50 pm

But…but..but he has to be great because he cost 6.5 million and the sports experts all said he was great and..and.

Hhhahahahah Braves are dunces. Good thing the MLB has a monopoly or the Cuban National team would whup them like a bad puppy.

Ok, so has the minor leaguer Shaffer sobered up yet?

AthensBrave

April 21st, 2011
6:41 pm

The poor guy can’t catch a break. But I sure don’t feel sorry for him. He made a but load of money of off of us and has done nothing.

Larry

April 21st, 2011
10:33 pm

Hey wt, you’re still a knucklehead

Trojan

April 22nd, 2011
1:12 pm

Frank Wren is a good GM but he has handled this whole situation horribly.

He has a pitcher with a era of 4.32 in two complete major league seasons and he was unable to trade him with only obligating a team for a small portion of KK’s salary.

He has acted like KK has a era of over 8.00 instead of 4.32. Wren blew this one.

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