Braves’ Kenshin Kawakami now on pace to go 0-25

Kenshin Kawakami appears to give himself the choke sign. He speaks for everybody.

Kenshin Kawakami appears to give himself the choke sign. He speaks for everybody.

Phil Niekro is a Hall of Famer. But he also owns an unfortunate page of the Atlanta Braves’ record book: The top five single-season records for most losses in a  season: (20 losses twice and 18 three times).

Kenshin Kawakami? He is not a Hall of Famer. But he is on pace to provide Niekro with a cleansing breath — and Frank Wren with his career Waterloo.

Kawakami, quite possibly the worst free agent acquisition in Atlanta Braves history, lost again Tuesday night, this time 6-4 to Florida. He is now 0-7 after nine starts. At this pace, he will go 0-25 in 32 starts.  He’ll make over $7.33 million this season. I wasn’t very good in math so I’m not sure yet how that factors out per victory.

There’s always the chance Kawakami’s arms will fall off or his transmission will blow. Presumably that would trigger the warranty. Wren did purchase the warranty, didn’t he?

When the Braves signed Kawakami last season, Wren proclaimed: “This is a very significant signing for the Braves Not only is this a historically-important day for the Braves franchise, but with Kenshin we have acquired a pitcher who will be an integral part of our pitching staff over the next three seasons.”

Thank you. Try the veal.

Wren gave Kawakami a three-year, $23 million contract. In year one, the pitcher went 7-12 with a 3.86 earned run average. Relatively speaking, that was a Cy Young season. This year he is 0-7 with a 4.93 ERA. He has allowed a staff high seven home runs and opponents are hitting .327 with a .500 slugging percentage.

(For the record, it’s unfair to lump Niekro in with this guy: Niekro actually went 21-20 and 19-18 in two of the record-losing seasons.)

Kawakami is getting better. He has allowed only three earned runs in 12 innings in the last two starts. Still not quite worth $23 million. At this point, he seems to be destined for the Zane Smith/Pascual Perez pallet of death.  Smith went 1-12 with the Braves in 1989. Perez was the last Braves pitcher to start 0-7 (in 1985, when he finished 1-13).

Now all Kawakami needs to do is get lost on I-285 and Wren’s worst nightmare will be complete. (For the young or uninformed: Perez missed a start in 1982 when he circled I-285 looking for Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.)

Kawakami’s next scheduled start is Sunday against Pittsburgh. I promise I’m not making this next part up: Among the ex-Braves who will be there for fans to meet after the game: Zane Smith and Phil Niekro.

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182 comments Add your comment


May 26th, 2010
1:55 am


Chipper Jones should retire…

Coach (2011 or Bust)

May 26th, 2010
1:56 am

Kawakami deserves better but our Braves will continue to underachieve as long as Cox is steering this ship.

Our Bravos are 23-22 after 45 games. Frank Wren knows this team has huge holes, he will attempt to fix them even though it’s not the correct course of action. Why? Because Cox will find a way to under manage this team. They will finish with a winning record, they will come up just short of the playoffs. Count on it.


May 26th, 2010
2:17 am

Kawakami is straight up terrible! Once Jurrjens is back I hope they make him a RP and keep Medlen in the rotation.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Schultz, TDC. TDC said: Braves' Kenshin Kawakami now on pace to go 0-25: Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) But he also owns an unfortuna… [...]

richard nieh

May 26th, 2010
2:38 am

Trade for Oswalt now please. The Braves rotation is terrible. Jurrijens and Hanson will bounce back but they are dragging the team down. The team is a good team and they are playing good baseball with a lot of heart but the rotation is becoming the weakest link.


May 26th, 2010
2:42 am

“I wasn’t very good in match so I’m not sure yet how that factors out per victory.”


May 26th, 2010
3:03 am

Wow, I didn’t realize they let 14 year old boys write articles just for the purpose of venting. Act like a professional, or is this what I’m supposed to expect when I read your crap?

Whopper Dawg

May 26th, 2010
3:05 am

To lump Mr. Niekro in with this dude is a great disservice to Phil. For many years, Niekro was the only class in the joint, he got tagged for so many losses because, quite frankly, Niekro in the eighth was better than anyone coming fresh out of the pen. If Phil had pitched for almost any other franchise except Atlanta, he would be revered as one of the greatest pitchers of all time, which he is.

Jeff, you need to take his record and subtract 5 losses a year from his record and add 5 wins a year, that is about right if he had played for another team. How does he look then?

Road Dog

May 26th, 2010
3:14 am

Well, I had a few simple thoughts — but I guess the only three posts pretty much says it all. Nobody cares anymore. Like the Hawks, this team stinks from the top down. Wren has no clue. Cox appears to have Alheimer’s Disease. There’s no leadership at the top. The players are just flopping around (only word I can use to adequately describe them without being censored) with no direction whatsoever. If you are going to mail it in — night in and night out — you should at least put a stamp on the envelope!! KK can’t even do that. Hugging that money — while fuglying up the entire baseball stadium. Hello, Bobby. The guy is 0 and 7 and you keep running him out there like he is the reincarnation of Cy Young. I only have one simple question. Why??? I’ve got a fifteen year old son who can spot the ball better than that. He’s been here, what, two years?? Learn the language so you can be a team mate instead of a cancer!! Throw that interpreter — not on the next bus out of town — but preferably under it!! This guy needed to be released in spring training. I know the millionaire’s club that is professional baseball tend to take care of their own. But you can’t seriously respect the game, or the fans, and have this guy as a starting pitcher. 0 and 25. That’s not a reach at all, Jeff. Hugely possible.
Unless somebody comes to their senses. See you in the funny papers — ’cause I’ll never see this team with this manager in a wild card playoff game — much less a World Series!


May 26th, 2010
3:25 am

Who did he beat last year?

Oh wait, let me see if I can remember… Roy Halladay, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Johan Santana (twice if I’m not mistaken).

Okay, that’s all I can remember but that’s pretty good for a 5th starter. Plus he threw 7 shut-out innings in a pivotal game against the Dodgers, in LA.

Only it would have actually been pivotal if we had made the playoffs but we didn’t so it wasn’t. We are squandering talent left and right like Wagner, your best example, while we wait for Bobby to finally get lost.

We used to lose in the playoffs every year, that was one thing. Now our fate is to fall short of even making the playoffs (and be happy about it as far as some people are concerned). With Wagner in his final year and Heyward a guy who could truly shine in that heightened spotlight, it’s a damn shame. KK would have been our secret weapon in October had we been there. Perhaps not so much in 2010 but good Lord, if he got half of Jamie Moyer’s run support he could be starting the All-Star game this year.


May 26th, 2010
3:30 am

I’m getting sick of ppl who always pin KK’s poor outings on the Braves offense. Were getting at a point where that excuse can no longer be used..


May 26th, 2010
4:13 am

Is it just me, or would batting Chipper deep in the order might be the thing to get him some good pitches too hit. Oh what am I talking about Bobby would never move Chipper any where else in the order if his life depended on it. Chipper is looking lost out there. Some of the pitches he’s missing on is by a lot. Let’s forget hitting for power right now we just need him to put some balls in play. Some of these young guys have never faced him & are going right at him. Screw the scouting report pitch to him until he makes you pay.

Tim L.

May 26th, 2010
5:22 am

Yep when JJ comes back KK should head to pen. And against RHP Chipper should bat 2nd and Heyward 3rd. Chipper still has a high OBP because he walks a lot.

And Phil Niekro in todays’ game would never lose 20 games or 18. The 2 seasons he lost 20 games he made 43 and 44 starts (won 16 and 21). His ERA those years – 4.03 and 3.36. Today 34-35 starts a season is max with many doing 30-32.

The 18 loss years Phil made 42 and 38 starts with 2.88 and 3.63 ERA.


May 26th, 2010
5:28 am

Phil won over 300 games playing for teams losing 90 and 100 games a year. He was consistently in the highest IP in the majors. He rarely missed a start. KK may well be out of the majors in a year. Who would want him at his price? Wren needs to cut his losses, demote the guy, and give a young arm a chance.


May 26th, 2010
5:52 am

KK is the Anthony Young of the Braves. That guy had no luck. He finished his career 15 and 48 with an ERA of under 4, and had a 27 game losing streak spanning two seasons at one point.

If KK’s losing continues, Bobby really should put him in the bullpen as a mop up man, and bring up someone from Gwinnett. I know it will be a while before JJ comes back, but, we can’t just keep sending a guy out there every fifth day knowing he is going to lose.

Braves have lost two straight after a good run. Hopefully this is just a mini losing streak, and not the beginning of another major funk.


May 26th, 2010
6:12 am

Not fair. In KK’s nine starts, the Braves have provided an average well shy of 2 runs per game in support. How’s the guy expected to win?

The trouble here is bats. And frankly, it has been for the last few years. How many times have you watched the Braves lose a tight one 2-0? Or 5-2? Or even 3-1? The answer is LOTS of times.

Get some bats, Bobby! A couple guys who hit for average, have speed, and can make life miserable for opposing pitchers. We have power. We need GUYS.ON.BASE.


May 26th, 2010
6:31 am

Third paragraph- “I wasn’t very good at match…” Maybe so, but you’re not very good at proofreading an article, either. Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Schultz.


May 26th, 2010
6:57 am

“Kawakami, quite possibly the worst free agent acquisition in Atlanta Braves history …”

How quickly we forget Albie Lopez, Dan Kolb, Ray King, …


May 26th, 2010
7:13 am

Did the Braves retire “I-285″ from their team jerseys?


May 26th, 2010
7:23 am

I know this article is primarily about Kawakami, but you can move Medlin to the rotation or trade for Oswalt, etc. He isn’t the only pitcher to have pitched against the East ( the division where we reside). They’ve beat the Mets once in 6 tries, the Phillies twice in 6 tries, the Nationals once in 3 tries, and we just lost last night to the Marlins who give us fits all the time. GET THE PICTURE.

The majority of our games are against the East. No matter who is on the mound we haven’t been winning in our own division. If that doesn’t change it will be another post season with the Braves sitting at home.


May 26th, 2010
7:32 am

Seriously, you can’t put this all on KK… he is getting no run support whatsoever. If the run support (and bullpen) was there for the good outings he’s had, the record wouldn’t look so bad. Plus last year he started off semi-slow then lit it up the second half of the season, arguably being the team’s best starter over the final stretch. Sure, I would have rather kept Vazquez than KK (all about the $$..), but saying KK is the worst acquisition in Braves history?? You’ve got to be kidding me… There have been FAR worse. KK is a decent starter. I’d take him on my team…a team that can actually score runs and hold the lead for its starters….

jeffrey d

May 26th, 2010
7:34 am

Last I heard KK was top (bottom?) 3 in run support in the Majors. Shouldn’t that be mentioned when ragging on a guy for his record? He’s received a loss or no decision for games in which he’s allowed 3 0 3 3 3 and 2 runs.

I know he hasn’t been lights out this season, but I wouldn’t call him the worst free agent acquisition in Braves history. Keep in mind he’s our 5th starter (he’s not the one who offered himself a $23 million contract)


May 26th, 2010
7:36 am

This might possibly be the stupidest thing Lib-Prog Jeffy has ever wrote.

And considering the massive volume of stupidity that has been output by him over these many years, that’s really saying something.


May 26th, 2010
7:42 am

Ummm… Jeff.

Kawakami might be horrendous.

But Albie Lopez is still the Atlanta Braves worst free agent pitcher signing. I’ll believe that for the rest of my life.


May 26th, 2010
7:44 am

Another great article by JS. Does this guy know KK gets no run support and when he does the bullpen blows the lead. How are you able to continue to write this garbage?


May 26th, 2010
7:53 am

Braves smell

May 26th, 2010
7:56 am

I agree, Jones should retire. When a suposed star like Chipper is leaving 8 runners on base, its time to think about that number 3 spot. Chipper is the game coster.

KK didnt do all that bad last night. He did not deserve to lose this one. If Chipper would have just brought in a couple of those opportunities and Chavis returned to AAA, then KK wins. Why in the world Cox leaves Jones in the number 3 spot is far beyond my imagination. The guys career is over. Double play after double play. Last I heard this was a team (TEAM) sport and Chipper is not a number 3 hitter, Hayward is. Move him for the remainder of the year and send Chavis and his base on balls and poor pitching to the minors. Bring back JJ and leave Medlin in the number 5 spot. KK is not a starter, but good long relief.

The end of this season needs to see KK released, Chipper retired and take the bit and trade for Oswalt. He wants to come here. Spend the money if he will rework his contract. Move Freeman up to the majors and move Glaus back to 3rd. Bring up Schafer as soon as hes ready and send Caberea packing. We might have a team them ya think?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJC , jmeucci. jmeucci said: RT @ajc: Cy Young Award doubtful: On his current pace, Kenshin Kawakami would finish the season 0-25, Jeff Shultz says. [...]


May 26th, 2010
8:03 am

If Bobby were to stick around until Chipper retires, he would keep sending his body out (a la “Weekend At Bernies”) game after game, batting in the 3rd spot, even after his ave. got to .000.

Bobby in the dugout: Come on Chip! Come on Chip!

Mr. Know It All

May 26th, 2010
8:04 am

The real problem is Chipper (aka Quitter) Jones in the 3 hole. How many rally killers is this guy going to have before Bobby Cocks mans up and moves him out of the 3 hole. Chipper is a 7 hole hitter at best! Pitchers are pitching around Heyward to get to Chipper….if a pitcher is pitching around the 2 hole hitter to get to the 3 hole hitter then we have MAJOR ISSUES!

Revamped lineup we need ASAP:

Chipper (…..would rather see Conrad here at 3B)
Pitcher Spot


May 26th, 2010
8:05 am

Forget about this just being the worst free agent acquisition in Braves history. This is probably the worst free agent acquisition of a Japanese ballplayer in baseball history! Seriously, what Japanese player has been worse?


May 26th, 2010
8:06 am

Luck/circumstance certainly plays into this – compare KK and DLowe’s stats.

KK’s got a better ERA, K/9, WHIP, and a lot less walks.

If you ignore the W-L, KK’s been the better pitcher, but KK’s 0-7 and DLowe’s 6-4. Go figure.

F-105 Thunderchief

May 26th, 2010
8:06 am

He’s Kawa-crummy! Wren was on a Japan kick last year. He made an offer to legit prospect Tazawa. And then when he signed with the Red Sox instead, Wren inexplicably picked this bum off the scrap heap and made him a rich man.

Mr. Roboto

May 26th, 2010
8:07 am

Thank you very much Atlanta for finding home for Mr. Kawacrappy. No have to worry about losses no more here in Japan.

Also, no ‘I was no very good in match’-y. Think you mean ‘math’-y Mr. Schultz. Please no forget proofread you nice articles even if on late night drinking sake after another Braves loss cause by Bobby Cox stupidity. Good job anyways. Domo arigato.


May 26th, 2010
8:07 am

Pasquel was funky. good times


May 26th, 2010
8:08 am

Hey Jeff: My six-year-old son is considering playing baseball in the Fall. Perhaps I should let him take some batting practice against Kawakami. After roping a few hits off him, I’m sure his confidence will be built up enough to take his chances against tougher Little League pitching.


May 26th, 2010
8:08 am

Looking back to check my stats, KK’s statistically been better than JJ also – they are both winless.

F-105 Thunderchief

May 26th, 2010
8:10 am

Actually, unless Kolb and Wickman came here in trades, Kawakami is not the worst free agent signing.


May 26th, 2010
8:10 am

Why get on KK and not Chavez? I’ve missed watching about three games, and so far I haven’t seen him pitch when he didn’t allow at least 1 run. Usually the runs come in bunches. Knowing this, why would Bobby bring him in only one run down, when he has at least 4 other relievers who would have kept the lead at 1?


May 26th, 2010
8:13 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.


May 26th, 2010
8:15 am

Can’t any reporter get my quotes right? When I say I have “confidence” in Chavez, I’m confident that he’s going to give up at least one, hopefully two runs per outing. Are we clear now?

Voice of Reason

May 26th, 2010
8:18 am

Have been wondering what is happening around the baseball world with other “stars” – read this link about Todd Helton of the Rockies. He is having a power outage like our Chipper is but is hitting at a better average and his OBP is still quite good, like Chipper’s. – Hope this link works from the Denver Post. Thought the comparison was quite good and maybe it is time for either Jeff or Mark to also take a hard line on their thoughts on Chipper being moved in the lineup. I do believe that with his OBP and ability to put ball in play, he would be better suited for batting 2nd in the lineup. Having J-Hey behind him might get him better pitches to hit and his batting average would improve, too.

Sid Bream

May 26th, 2010
8:18 am

Where were you when I slid?

Otis Nixon

May 26th, 2010
8:20 am

Where my coke at?

John Rocker

May 26th, 2010
8:21 am

How the hell did you monkeys get in here?

Reid Adair

May 26th, 2010
8:21 am

Kenshin Kawakami isn’t on his way to being Frank Wren’s Waterloo; Wren has long since passed that stage of his Atlanta career.

That being said, I wasn’t in favor of this signing when it occurred, and it’s just gotten worse. In his nine starts, Kawakami has given up less than three earned runs only twice – and one of those was against the Reds to give him that wonderful three earned runs in his last 12 inings.

Kawakami isn’t cutting it. I realize Jair Jurrjens is hurt, but they need to do something for this spot instead of conceding a game virtually every time he comes up in the rotation. Call somebody up. Do something.

On a separate note, the story about Pascual Perez getting lost on 285 is one of my favorites.


May 26th, 2010
8:28 am

So KK gets a quality start, and you insult him like this, Shultz. May the Bird of Paradise poop on your forehead.

Melky C.

May 26th, 2010
8:30 am

Quality move having Chavez pitching in the 8th. Its a 3-2 ballgame with a full and rested bullpen and the guy in there when the game is on the line has an 7.71 ERA and gets his brains beat in 2/3 times he pitches. Its not like its the 6th inning. Moylan, Eric O., somebody else besides this clown and we win the game.


May 26th, 2010
8:31 am

Um, Morris, clean your reading glasses. . .

Marvin Mangrum

May 26th, 2010
8:33 am

Really, whoever got this bum ought to be fired. Thats PERIOD! Chipper should be on first, anybody should be in center, and Glaus should be on third. If after this week Escobar has not gotten a hit, he should become a pinch hitter, following Melky Cabrerra. But you know what, I already know Frank Wren doesnt read the AJC, its obvious, I want players, not races of people. I want winners. If I went to ATL on Sunday and paid to see a game that had Sundays lineup I would sue someone to get my money back. When is this crap gonna stop? When are you freaking writers going to put a stop to this? Is everything these folks do ok? Can a sports team do anything and be ok? The Braves are pitiful, because management is pitiful. I mean, damn you can see that, right. Chipper batting third, me sitting at home hoping he is gonna get hit by the pitch, McLouth batting 8th, Escobar batting 7th. And except for 3 or 4 folks this even is not a team. Really, just stay at home till it changes.