LIVE from Braves (while Kawakami blows Gwinnett budget)

Kenshin Kawakami just got the news: He passed Nate McLouth as the highest paid player on the Gwinnett Braves' roster.

Kenshin Kawakami just got the news: He passed Nate McLouth as the highest paid player on the Gwinnett Braves' roster.

(Last updated at 6:30 p.m.)

I’m not sure but I think the Gwinnett Braves just shattered the International League salary cap.

If you haven’t heard the news, the Braves have: 1) Optioned pitcher Kenshin Kawakami to their Triple-A affiliate; 2) Brought up reliever Christhian Martinez, who will keep a spot warm until rookie phenom Mike Minor gets here before his first start on Monday in Houston; 3) Placed Kris Medlen (partial elbow ligament tear) on the disabled list.

The Medlen and Minor moves were expected, and Minor’s first start will be highly anticipated. He has been dominating in his five starts at the Triple A level, going 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA, 35 strikeouts and 10 walks in 31 2/3 innings. General manager Frank Wren said Minor will be joining the staff for only the short term, but it will give everybody a sneak peak of his future in the majors.

Which leads us back to Kawakami, who almost certainly has no long-term future in the majors (at least not in Atlanta).

Could the Braves possibly be burying this guy any more than they have? At the halfway point of his three-year, $23 million contract, he was pulled from the rotation and shipped to the bullpen, lugging a 1-9 record and a 4.48 ERA. (His last start on June 26 actually was his only win.)

Mike Minor is 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA with the G-Braves.

Mike Minor is 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA with the G-Braves.

Since going to the bullpen, he has pitched only once in 40 days (and 40 nights). That appearance was a meltdown: three runs and five hits in one inning against Milwaukee July 16.

It seems like a foregone conclusion Kawakami won’t be back next season. The Braves will have to eat the final year of the contract, unless they can deal him (which they couldn’t do in the winter or any time since). Kawakami said the other day through an interpreter, “I didn’t come over here to be a reliever.”

What a coincidence. The Braves didn’t bring him here to be a reliever.

Wren said Kawakami would make at least four starts with Gwinnett to build his strength back up. Then he conceivably could rejoin the rotation and make a few starts. We’ll see.

Here’s a question for you: Would you have any confidence in Kawakami coming back and pitching in a pennant race?

Kawakami (who’s actually a very classy guy and has handled this well) had the right response when asked about the future: “I was told I’ll make at least four starts and that’s what I’m focusing on right now.”

For the short term, we can only assume Gwinnett has blown its projected 2010 payroll. Also on the roster is center fielder Nate McLouth, who’s in the first season of a three-year, $15.75 million contract. There goes that budget. Hot dogs at Coolray Field could jump to $37.50. (I know, the major league club is paying the salaries. Work with me, here.)

Anyway, that’s the backdrop for tonight’s series opener against San Francisco, with Jair Jurrjens going against Tim Lincecum. I’m here, blogging live. So let’s get it started.

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Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

616 comments Add your comment

Idot

August 5th, 2010
5:49 pm

Idot

August 5th, 2010
5:50 pm

Are you saying, that KK blows?

Matt

August 5th, 2010
5:50 pm

I’d take the rookie over KK every day of the week. He was money in college and throughout the minors. I believe more in that history than the Japanese league.

Idot

August 5th, 2010
5:51 pm

That is not nice.

shmoe

August 5th, 2010
5:51 pm

anyone here?

Idot

August 5th, 2010
5:53 pm

WHY, was the manager not making KK stay in shape, just in case something like this occured?

Mightydawg

August 5th, 2010
5:56 pm

For what it is worth, KK was not optioned to the minors yet. He will be optioned after tonight’s game. Martinez takes Medlen’s spot.

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
5:59 pm

Jeff, does that count as a new job for Gwinett County population?

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)LIVE from Braves (while Kawakami blows Gwinnett budget)Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)… phenom Mike Minor gets here before his first start on Monday in Houston; 3) Placed Kris Medlen (partial elbow ligament tear) on the disabled list. … [...]

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:01 pm

Yeah, I do know how to spell “Gwinnett”; first name “Button.”

I can’t think of another guy named “Button.”

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:01 pm

Well, the Braves just might be serious about winning now.

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:02 pm

Dick Buttons. (I know).

Idot

August 5th, 2010
6:03 pm

I think that KK can pitch at the MLB level. His stamina had improved and he was going deeper into games, and he did in reality, pitch some good games.
He had some bery, bery bad luck, and he didn’t get a whole lot of run support. But, on the other hand, it seems like the few times that he would get a lead, he would end up BLOWing it.
I don’t know, thank God and Greyhound, he’s gone, I guess.

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:03 pm

How about Zipper Jones?

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:03 pm

If the Braves had taken my suggestion, Chipper and Troy would be coming back from R&R at a Palm Springs spa in 3 days.

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:04 pm

I’ll just shut up now.

Chip's Mama

August 5th, 2010
6:06 pm

Is my boy doing the play-by-play tonight, I sure hope so.
I just love the sound of his voice, he’s the best.

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:06 pm

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:06 pm

Troy Donahue? … I think the skater dude is Button, without the “s.” But, the fact that I led with the Troy Donahue thing (as a play on Troy Glaus) and Dick Button in the same sentence does not mean I’m..well, you know.

Bob Horner can add up money

August 5th, 2010
6:08 pm

Funny stuff….KK and McClouth’s salaries are really high for minor league teams….nuts….too bad Gwinnett Co. doesn’t have a local income tax …LOL

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:09 pm

Both of my dogs got neutered this week and they still had a better week than the Braves.

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:09 pm

Donny – I coulda been somebody. I coulda been a contenda…Rats, wrong movie.

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:10 pm

Keep working on it Marlon.

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:10 pm

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:12 pm

Donny, you’re a real slab of meat. A regular guy.

Chippers Daddy

August 5th, 2010
6:12 pm

Im so happy! =)
couldn’t we have called up marek or kimbrel instead of martinez though? i mean i know the whole 40 man roster situation but we have a spot open, and kimbrel is on the roster.

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:12 pm

All of this was before Brando turned into Orson Welles.

Chippers Daddy

August 5th, 2010
6:13 pm

Damn it woman! Where is my supersuit?!?

http://thebravechop.blogspot.com/

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:13 pm

Stella? Streetcar? Not Adrian? I’m comfuzable.

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:14 pm

And now back to the Braves!

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:16 pm

Saw the redo of the Viet Nam/Cambodia flick a month ago. Scared me so much I’ve suppressed the title from my memory.

Boatdoc

August 5th, 2010
6:17 pm

Apocalypse… Then?

Katherine

August 5th, 2010
6:19 pm

I think you all are insane lol

captain Midnight

August 5th, 2010
6:20 pm

Boy I’ve been got a good opportunity to take a slug of my Jack Daniels with the dishonorable Mr. K shipped off to Gwinnett. Lately I’ve had to take a big slug for depressed reasons.. Maybe Mr K can accidently hit Mr McCrap with one of his wild pitches while he is there.

Donny Corleone

August 5th, 2010
6:20 pm

That movie did make Martin Sheen have a heart attack.

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:21 pm

Is Minor of legal age for the Majors?

Boatdoc

August 5th, 2010
6:21 pm

I resemble that remark…

Jeff – what a story it would be if KK went to Gwinnett, got his stroke back, came back and won a half-dozen games, then became the 2nd Japanese player in a row to win MVP of the World Series.

Hey, I can be REALLY optimistic!

In the meantime, love to see Minor do the same.

DP

August 5th, 2010
6:23 pm

I’d have at least as much confidence in Kawakami starting as I had in Jeff Francouer, who kept his right field job for close to 3 years while stinking it up and pouted after he was sent to the minors for a few days. I have more confidence in Kawakami than I did in Greg Norton who kept his pinch hitting job last year until the end of the season despite hitting under .150. I have more confidence in Kawakami than I do in Nate McLouth.

Kawakami didn’t make Frank Wren overpay him, there’s no indication he hasn’t given it his best and he’s been a professional and kept his mouth shut while the Braves organization has treated him in a pretty shabby manner. If Kawakami is willing to go to Gwinnett, why didn’t they send him down a month ago? Other teams could have scouted him for a possible trade (with the Braves picking up part of his contract if necessary) and he could have kept himself ready to step back in as a starter for the Braves if necessary.

Did Kawakami do something that caused the Braves to treat him in this manner?

captain Midnight

August 5th, 2010
6:25 pm

Katherine I can’t speak for the others but you are right about me.

Katherine

August 5th, 2010
6:25 pm

Maybe he wasn’t willing to go to gwinnett earlier….we don’t know. Maybe you should ask bobby.

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:25 pm

Boatdoc – Got it. Apocalypse Now Redux (then). The original was kind of nice, but Redux was b-a-a-a-d in a scary way. I think I must have been relaxing or something when I saw the original.

Boatdoc

August 5th, 2010
6:26 pm

I don’t know…. go 1-9?

I haven’t seen the Braves treat KK poorly so much as people on this blog – many who overlooked the fact that KK’s ERA, WHIP, K-BB ratio and many other stats were similar to D-Lowe.

Now I see him taking a beating here too.

All aboard the Hey-Train

August 5th, 2010
6:27 pm

Possible Lowe loses his starting job when Medlen returns?

Boatdoc

August 5th, 2010
6:27 pm

Delbert – could recreational pharmaceuticals possibly have been involved?

I saw both too, and the original seemed to kind of meander more – Redux, with a LOT more extra footage, seemed to keep you locked on the narrative better.

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:28 pm

Wakarimas-ka.

Katherine

August 5th, 2010
6:29 pm

I don’t think we should cry a river for KK….how much is he making again?

All aboard the Hey-Train

August 5th, 2010
6:30 pm

Hopefully KK gets his feet back under him in Gwinnett. McClouth seems to have succeeded in that sense.

Delbert D.

August 5th, 2010
6:31 pm

Boatdoc – Were you a Doc on a boat? We may have seen it together. That one patrol where the guys made raisin jack in 5-gallon potassium hydroxide bottles.

Katherine

August 5th, 2010
6:31 pm

Sure…everyone seems to do better when they leave the team….why is that?

Ralph

August 5th, 2010
6:32 pm

Donny, the braves are not serious about winning yet, they haven’t called up Freeman yet.