Braves getting the least from those making the most

loweThe Braves will start a pitcher tonight with a record of 0-8, an earned run average of 4.91 and a salary of $7,333,666 million. Suffice to say, Kenshin Kawakami will not be invited to the next stockholders meeting at Liberty Media.

But he’s not alone.

The Braves are receiving great value from several of the lower-salaried players on the team: Martin Prado ($400,000), Jason Heyward ($400,000), Tommy Hanson ($435,000), Eric Hinske ($1 million), Troy Glaus ($1.75 million). But here is a rundown of players with the top eight salaries on the approximate $84.4 million payroll:

1. Derek Lowe ($15 million): He has eight wins (8-5) but was shelled in his last start at Arizona (seven runs in four innings) and has the third worst ERA on the staff at 5.04 (behind only Jair Jurrjens, who is on the disabled list, and

Derek Lowe (above) and Kenshin Kawakami have inflated salaries and inflated ERAs.

Derek Lowe (above) and Kenshin Kawakami have inflated salaries and inflated ERAs.

Jesse Chavez, who doesn’t really count). THUMBS DOWN.

2. Chipper Jones ($14 million): He was starting to show signs of coming out of his season slump (.237), but he has had to sit out the last five with a sore finger. He was expected to be one of the team’s top run producers while batting in the three hole, but he has fewer RBI (21) than Hinske (22), who has 52 fewer at-bats and is hitting 80 points higher (.317). THUMBS DOWN.

3. Tim Hudson ($9 million): He has been by far the Braves’ best pitcher (6-1, 2.44). He has 10 quality starts in 12 outings THUMBS UP.

4. Kenshin Kawakami ($7.333,666 million): His defenders like to point out that he has five quality starts (good for a fifth starter) and has lacked run support. Both true. But it misses the point. He was paid to be better. And please, no more whining about how records can be misleading. The guy has a 4.91 ERA. He has allowed the staff’s most home runs (eight), the second-highest batting average (.281) and the second-highest slugging percentage (.492). Since signing with the Braves, he’s 7-20 with a 4.16 ERA. His contract: three years, $23 million. THUMBS DOWN.

5. Billy Wagner ($6.75 million): Wagner was considered an injury risk but he has paid off so far, with 10 saves (two blown), an ERA of 1.54 and 36 strikeouts (only nine walks) in 23 1/3 innings.  THUMBS UP.

6. Brian McCann ($5.7 million): His four-year All-Star run could be ending. He is battling vision problems again. He has a modest four-game hitting streak (5 for 16) but is hitting only .255 on the season with 25 RBI. McCann’s work ethic and mental stability play in his favor for a rebound, but that assumes his eyesight is OK. THUMBS DOWN.

7. Nate McLouth ($5 million): It was hoped McLouth would be the Braves’ bridge to Jordan Schafer as the leadoff hitter and starting center fielder. But the bridge collapsed. Batting average: .180. On-base percentage: .299 (basically ahead of a lot of pitchers). THUMBS DOWN.

8. Melky Cabrera ($3.1 million): Led the team in lampoons after the Javier Vasquez trade. Doesn’t lead them in anything else. Stats: .244 average, .310 on-base percentage, one homer, 14 RBI. He also has two errors. THUMBS DOWN.

Totals: 2 thumbs up, 6 thumbs down.

Also this: The above eight represent $65,883,666 of the total payroll, or 78 percent.

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195 comments Add your comment

TONE

June 9th, 2010
2:07 pm

TONE

June 9th, 2010
2:07 pm

TONE

June 9th, 2010
2:13 pm

whats wrong with Mcann’s eyes I am ashamed to admit but I have just started following baseball again after about a 10 years of not keeping up with the game .

Ted M

June 9th, 2010
2:15 pm

yup good point…but Lowe and KK are pitching well enough, w/a few more descent starts, we’ll be able to trade one of them soon.

JTH

June 9th, 2010
2:17 pm

Most of this is Wren’s fault. He was suckered into overpaying for KK. He got suckered(again) by Boras into panic overpaying for Lowe. Traded for both McOut and Cabrera. Plus all the other questionable moves he’s made. Keep Cox, retire Wren.

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
2:17 pm

Tone — He’s had “issues” ever since he had laser surgery over a year ago.

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
2:18 pm

Ted M– Not sure about that. Wren tried to trade one of them before the season (instead of Vazquez) and couldn’t get a bite.

JTH

June 9th, 2010
2:19 pm

I will say that Chipper’s and McCann’s problems aren’t his fault. Jones is breaking down and McCann seems to be going blind. Hopefully Chipper decides to retire instead of hanging around too long and embarrassing himself like Junior.

kk get that win tonight

June 9th, 2010
2:23 pm

@Tone, Mccann has had problems with his vision for a while now. He has had trouble picking up the ball out of the pitcher’s hand. He has had surgery to try and correct the problem and has switched back and forth form glasses and contacts. It has been a roller coaster ride for him.

Answer this JEFF SCHULTZ

June 9th, 2010
2:24 pm

GIVE ME A PLAYER THAT THE BRAVES COULD GET IN RETURN FOR NATE THAT COULD GIVE THEM POWER!!!!!!!???!!!

Melk Man

June 9th, 2010
2:26 pm

Jeff,

To be fair to Melky, you are not giving him any credit and just glossing over his final stat line. How about this? He his .294 in may, and he is 5-for-9 in his past two games with three RBIs, a stolen base and a triple.

In addition, the guy is a lifetime .267 hitter. Wren didn’t expect him to hit .285 or to have to play everyday. He was just supposed to be another option who gets in there occasionally. McLouth’s struggles and Diaz’s injury have forced him to play more and he has been good since May started.

NWO

June 9th, 2010
2:26 pm

I heard that Ke Griffey Jr is available for cheap. Just have to wake him up from his nap.

Dumbo

June 9th, 2010
2:26 pm

Yes sir right here Atlanta City we’ve got Slipper, McCant & McOut…no wonder the Braves can’t seem to figure themselves out.

gmoney

June 9th, 2010
2:28 pm

And they are still in 1st place…amazing

Melk Man

June 9th, 2010
2:29 pm

Melky is hitting .286 (26-91) since May 1

BravesFan

June 9th, 2010
2:30 pm

What McCann is going through with his eyes is exactly why I’m gun shy about laser eye surgery. Truly scary stuff.

KSU OWL

June 9th, 2010
2:30 pm

Nice that the ‘1st’ person hung out their ‘Idiot’ sign twice. That should be a new game for the mouth breathers out there. Not just first, but how many times first in the same blog?

Can’t understand why Lowe is always pounded on. The team scores runs for him. They did last year too. I’d rather have someone with a 5.00 ERA that the team scores seven runs a game for than someone with a 2.00 ERA that they refuse to bat for.

Melk Man

June 9th, 2010
2:30 pm

JTH — We are not in first place right now without Frank Wren. Learn something about the game before you make comments like that.

Melk Man

June 9th, 2010
2:32 pm

If you are going to hate on him for McLouth, Lowe and Kawakami, give him credit for the stuff he did right too: David Ross, Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, Jair Jurrjens, Eric O’Flaherty, Eric Hinske…

JTH

June 9th, 2010
2:32 pm

Melk Man- shut up and get off your high horse. You’re not any better than anybody.

JTH

June 9th, 2010
2:36 pm

“give him credit for the stuff he did right too: David Ross, Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, Jair Jurrjens, Eric O’Flaherty, Eric Hinske”

Yes, great job. But those top heavy under performing salaries are handcuffing the Braves. The only reason they’re in first is because the Phills are banged up. I wouldnt count on still being there in late August without a major trade for OF power hitter.

BravesFan

June 9th, 2010
2:36 pm

KSU OWL, do you seriously think that batters won’t try to hit for certain teammates?

clay

June 9th, 2010
2:37 pm

Here’s a name for you that we could trade mcclouth for or we could just release him and eat his salary. His name is Andruw Jones, dont know if you ever heard of him but his bat is back to life and he is only getting paid 500,000. White sox have already said he is one of the names to be dealt by the deadline because they want another bat. Come on wren he is dirt cheap and can play just as good of defense still as mcclouth and give you a little bit of pop. oh yeah and that word “attendance” will go up even more for you which means more revenue which means we can actually quit gettin these players for cheap and pay a real player to come here.

TONE

June 9th, 2010
2:41 pm

batters not hitting for certain teammates ? And you are talking about idiot signs
HERES YOUR’S
you can pick it up at your leisure

Sonny Clusters

June 9th, 2010
2:41 pm

We was wondering if using thumbs was smart. Everybody knows that fingers and thumbs and toes are troublesome to this team. Here we have our young right fielder with a thumb injury, and our third baseman with a finger injury (ring finger, not trigger finger), and two outfielders with toe injuries. This team is hanging by a toe or a finger or a thumb right now and here we have Jeff giving thumbs up and thumbs down.

Answer this JEFF SCHULTZ

June 9th, 2010
2:42 pm

STILL WAITING ON THAT ANSWER JEFF :) THAT’S A GOOD POINT CLAY

Sutton's Fro

June 9th, 2010
2:43 pm

I agree with all of these except McCann and Cabrera. McCann is not only suffering with his vision issues, but he’s also spending more time behind the plate than the average starting catcher due to the aforementioned pitching woes. He’s a pretty big guy, and I would bet that fatigue is hurting him in the batters box. (Not to mention that he got the most useless hitting coach in baseball!!)

Maybe it’s because I had such low expectations, but Melky has been a pleasant surprise. His numbers are getting better with more playing time, and he shows a lot of hustle both in the outfield and on the base paths.

I also think the Chipper is the one guy that will keep his “emeritus” position until he calls it quits. Wren and Liberty Media understand that the outcry over Smoltz, Maddux, and Glavine (or even Francoeur)would be nothing compared to the fans’ reaction if they dumped Chipper.

GSU Eagle 91

June 9th, 2010
2:46 pm

We are in first place because we have very good ( overall) pitching, good defense,a spark plug named Prado, and T Glaus’s excellent May…The other guys mentioned are contributing as well..

Chipper needs to have a seat… HOF bound for sure, but he simply cannot get the bat around anymore! McClouth reminds me of Brad Komminsk with his mighty struggles and needs to be benched! Andrew Jones needs to retire with a Brave uniform on as he is the best defensive outfielder I have seen in my 48 years….

Delbert D.

June 9th, 2010
2:49 pm

I’m glad we have McCann *and* Ross. I’m not giving up on McCann.

I could never figure out what the Braves thought they were getting when they originally signed Derek Lowe…something about “eating innings.” His mere presence on the field must somehow inspire both teams’ hitters.

chief pitchanono

June 9th, 2010
2:49 pm

Yep just goes to show you why you never go for free agents. Most of the time its not worth the risk. So far the Lowe & Kawakami deals have been bad, but if you remember back to when they were made we had just lost almost our complete pitching staff to injury and that off season we were really desperate. Under the circumstances I don’t blame Wren for the Lowe deal, who would know he would stink it up, but Kawakami was just to big of a gamble for the money, considering he had to know that there was a chance we might not even need him with Hanson and Medlen almost ready in the minors at that point. Again I think he made the Kawakami deal out of fear because of all the pitching injuries the year before. On the Mclouth deal, I thought it was great at the time, but how could we know he would fall flat on his face as soon as he got into a braves uni, maybe our scouts missed something. For chipper yeah we probably overpaid, but he is the franchise guy and he’d just won the batting title, you kinda had too, but the jury is still out, he just might surprise us yet. Same thing with Melky, allot less money, but I still think he may redeem himself, he seems like one of those guys who may be a darkhorse if the Braves make the postseason. Finally McCann, for his numbers, since he has been call up, the Braves got a deal. Nobody could know he would have the worst eye doctor in the world. Tons of people have had this procedure with no problems, its been two years for him and he’s still haveing issues – what a shame.

Jt

June 9th, 2010
2:50 pm

Sad to day, but you ain’t wrong Jeff. Cold hard facts-as it has been said, “they can be stubborn things”. I think that Melky is showing signs of life and may end up grabbing more playing time and may begin to pay off. But I really do not hold out much hope for Chipper-damn, I hate to say it. His struggles have gone on too long. McClouth is who he is- and what he has been for the Braves is who he is- the sample size of his AB’s is large enough. The Braves can get on streaks with those who are producing but they cannot sustain any longevity without those you mentioned producing. Got to have Chipper and McCann consistent. And need D Lowe to be what he was signed to be

Ross

June 9th, 2010
2:54 pm

Can’t this wait until football season? Did you and Bradley flip for good cop/bad cop?

-drl

Delbert D.

June 9th, 2010
2:55 pm

Sonny – We used to play baseball with at least 2 of our fingers taped together a lot of the time. We were coached to use the knuckle-dragger stance in football except when our right hand fingers were taped together.

Tale of Woe

June 9th, 2010
2:57 pm

We are going to have to make a decision shortly on McLouth – my guess is that in the next week or two we might need to put him on the DL (come up with some mystery ailment like Oliver Perez) and call up Shafer to see if he can get the job done for a couple of weeks. It can’t hurt. His defense has to be better (Why doesn’t McLouth like to throw the ball home on a tag up play with one runner on and 1 out?) and if Shafer can hit .230 it would be a huge improvement over McLouth…

Ted M

June 9th, 2010
2:59 pm

there is more desperation now then. The Red Sox and Angels have the 9th and 10 worst ERA’s in the AL. and Angels aren’t to far from the very worst in the AL.

Tucker T

June 9th, 2010
3:00 pm

You are a little hard on BMac. I think he at least deserves a “push”. He’s only been the best offensive catcher in all of baseball for the past 3-4 years. Check the numbers. He will rebound this season and put up close to typical numbers. He’s young with still several productive years ahead of him, unlike Chipper. The others, I can’t argue with you.

GTSteve

June 9th, 2010
3:01 pm

Sonny Clusters, you make my day

Sonny Clusters

June 9th, 2010
3:04 pm

Taping a weak finger to a strong finger was a trick that Coach used to use a lot. We was thinking Chipper might do that with his hurt finger but we was told by somebody that used to play with the Braves that Chipper can’t tolerate tape. Taping that finger would be like hitting it with a hammer.

Reid Adair

June 9th, 2010
3:07 pm

Six players with a “THUMBS DOWN” rating – all of which I wholeheartedly agree with, and four of the six – Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, Nate McLouth and Melky Cabrera – were brought here by Frank Wren. Wren claimed all of them were going to improve the team.

They haven’t – particularly Kawakami, McLouth and Cabrera.

ugalaw

June 9th, 2010
3:07 pm

Brian McCann is only having a “thumbs down” year by Brian McCann standards. His OPS+ of 116 is second among national league catchers. Even with a somewhat disappointing first half, Brian McCann is an absolute steal at 5.7 million.

N8

June 9th, 2010
3:09 pm

I’m not sure what’s more alarming. Chipper’s production, or that it took almost 5 months (dating back to last July 1st) of poor baseball for one of the AJC columnists to notice. :-)

That being said, as a guy who has advocated for Heyward to be the 3-hole hitter for 2 months, it appears that Chipper’s prescence alone in the order is still worth something. Offense has sputtered with him out the past 5 days.

N8

June 9th, 2010
3:10 pm

“Even with a somewhat disappointing first half, Brian McCann is an absolute steal at 5.7 million.”

I disagree. His offense usually makes up for his putrid defense behind the plate. So far his offense has NOT made up for that defense. In fact one could make the argument that until his eyes are back to normal, Ross gives the team an overall (hitting and defense) better chance to win games.

Sonny Clusters

June 9th, 2010
3:11 pm

When we was playing ball we’d have a finger sticking out of our glove when we was in the field. The glove might have five fingers but we didn’t put five fingers in the glove. As far as our throwing hand, we didn’t really need five fingers to throw a ball. Batting was different, though. We would wrap all our fingers around the bat and if one of our fingers was hurt we’d just spray some bactine on it and tape it to a good finger and play on. We was pretty tough, though, and not a big sissy like somebody on the Braves with a sore finger.

Greensboro, Georgia

June 9th, 2010
3:12 pm

*
—————————————–
…….Nesbitt for Heisman……….
…….**********************………

bman

June 9th, 2010
3:15 pm

I would love to see the Braves make a swap for Andruw. Give up Mclouth and a little cash and see what Andruw can do for the rest of the year. The strike outs are about the same but he can still go deep and he would at least give a good effort to try and throw someone out at the plate. Lowe is doing an ok job. Everyone knows he is not our ace and it just sucks that JJ has been out this long. Lowe had 15 wins last year and will repeat that this year so I have not beef with him. Medlen would have to take KK’s spot in the rotation when JJ comes back to make it a strong starting 5.

Clay

June 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

1. Jeff, I wish “Jesse Chavez didn’t really count.” Bobby’s gonna use him come hell or high water.

2. ….., but he’s still in the three hole, come hell or high water.

hootersgirl

June 9th, 2010
3:17 pm

Well said Sonny!

sam baker

June 9th, 2010
3:18 pm

Nesbitt for heisman hahahhahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahhahahahahahah! THE GUY IS LAME AND RUNS A MIDDLE SCHOOL OFFENSE! TECH FANS STOP WISHFUL THINKING AND STOP DISCUSSING YOUR RIDICULOUS DREAMS ON BRAVE BLOGS AND SAVE THEM FOR YOUR BOOK CLUB MEETINGS!

Paddy

June 9th, 2010
3:18 pm

Clusters…you are right. Chipper is afraid of tape. It all goes back to his childhood in Fla. He had a tapeworm in the 3rd grade, never could shake the untold horror of that episode. You know he is in a support group? Has been for years. They say it has helped alot.

Clay

June 9th, 2010
3:19 pm

Sonny, next thing you know, he’ll miss a game cause of an ingrown toe nail. Wait ….. he already did!!