Tag: Kenshin Kawakami

MLB Trade Rumors: Five Top-Flight Pitchers On Trade Market This Winter

For several years now, it has been Major League Baseball tradition that cash-strapped teams shop one or more of their best players during the annual Winter Meetings. Lately, the biggest deals have been for elite pitchers: The Oakland Athletics traded Dan Haren to the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2007–a deal that included current stars in pitcher Brett Anderson and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez–and the dominoes have fallen each winter since. 

Johan Santana, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are three other big names that have moved over recent offseasons, and it seems only logical to believe that someone of that general caliber will move this year.

Who could be the biggest catches? There are no fewer than five legitimate trade candidates with a chance to make a long-term impact in a new home. Here they are:

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Notes on Atlanta Braves: Heyward, Diaz, Kawakami, Medlen, and Jurrjens

Originally posted at The Bravesologist.


Jason Heyward:

After being tested by a hand specialist yesterday, Jason Heyward has been placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to Sunday, when he pinch-ran for Eric Hinske.

Heyward has had the injured hand since May and his play obviously diminished due to the injury (.181/.287/.245). The DL is probably the right move to make. If he is going to have to play with it for the full season, it makes sense to give him time to rest and get it at least close to healthy.

Having Heyward out of the lineup hurts offensively and defensively. The top of the lineup had no easy outs with Prado, Heyward, Jones, McCann, and Glaus at the top. All have very high on base percentages and have been the key cogs in the lineup all season. With Heyward out, Melky Cabrera becomes the regular right fielder and, unless Cox alters the lineup, will also man the two spot.

Matt Diaz:

Matt Diaz is being called up to replace Heyward, so at least the Braves should get a bit better against left-handed pitching. The outfield now has numerous options against both righties and lefties. Against righties, a combination of Eric Hinske, Gregor Blanco, and Melky Cabrera is likely best. Against lefties, Omar Infante, Melky Cabrera, and Matt Diaz is probably the most efficient group. I don’t expect Bobby to handle it this way, though. Most likely, Blanco will stick in centerfield almost full-time with Cabrera staying in right. Hinske and Diaz will probably platoon and Infante will get spot starts in the outfield and infield as usual.

If Diaz can produce like we have seen from him in the past and Blanco can continue to get on base, this outfield alignment may be a bit more productive than they have been as of late.

Kenshin Kawakami:

In a move that must have been a very difficult decision, Kenshin Kawakami has been demoted to the bullpen to make room for Kris Medlen. As i mentioned in past articles, either decision had merit. If Medlen were moved to the bullpen, his innings would be limited and the bullpen would be strengthened. If Kawakami were moved to the bullpen, we would have the better pitcher throwing more innings in Medlen.

Jair rejoining the rotation alongside Medlen means that we are replacing one of our worst starters with one of our best starters from the previous year. If Kris were the one to be removed, we would be replacing one of our best starters this year, this was the right decision.

Kris Medlen:

I was vying to keep Medlen in the rotation pretty heavily as the deciding day day neared. I just believe Medlen is significantly better than Kawakami and his 3.70 K/BB ratio as a starter justifies that notion. Kris’ change up is far-and-away the best on the team and his fastball sets it up nicely. Medlen’s numbers may eventually dip a bit, but overall I think he should continue to act as one of the top three starters on this team. Medlen’s 0.90 WHIP in June lead all starters by a significant margin, with Tim Hudson finishing second at 1.21.

Jair Jurrjens:

Jair Jurrjens replacing Kawakami should mean an even more sturdy rotation, but there is a chance that Jurrjens is not quite ready yet. He has pitched rather poorly at Gwinnett in his rehab starts (6.38 ERA and a 1.36 K/BB ratio in 24 innings).

Jurrjens will face the Nationals on Wednesday and the Phillies in Philadelphia on Tuesday if all goes accordingly. Unless the Braves alter the rotation, he would just miss pitching again before the All-Star break and likely pick it back up at home against the Brewers at the start of the second half.


Overall, there was some good news and bad news in the past day. The Braves were able to beat Stephen Strasburg thanks to a tremendous pitching performance by Tim Hudson and they took advantage of the National’s spotty defense. Jair Jurrjens will return on Wednesday and Kris Medlen gets to stay in the rotation. Matt Diaz will return to the team and hopefully better the offense against left-handed pitching. Unfortunately, the likely All-Star, Jason Heyward will miss 14 more days including the All-Star game.


You can find more from Ben at The Bravesologist  , Talking Chop  , or on his twitter@Ben_Duronio

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Atlanta Braves: Chipper Jones Heating Up, Extends Hit-Streak to 10 Games

Fear not, Braves fans. Chipper Jones has apparently found his stroke after a painfully slow start to the 2010 season.

He extended his hitting-streak to 10 games on Saturday with a three-run home run, and his bat is looking livelier than it has for a long time.

During the streak, he’s batting .389 with 10 RBI, 6 runs, 2 home runs, and two stolen bases. He has five walks and struck out six. The streak also includes three multi-hit games.

That being said, he’s still only batting .256 on the season with 32 RBI, 28 runs, and 5 home runs.

When you look at his numbers month-by-month, it’s easy to see that he’s improving.

March and April

In the months of March and April, Jones batted an awful .230 and was slugging just .393 He had just six RBI, 10 runs, and two home runs in 61 at-bats.

He only managed to six hits for extra bases and 24 total bases in the first two months of the season.


Jones hit .265 in 83 at-bats in May, but his slugging percentage dropped slightly to .373 for the month. Still, his OBP went up from .390 in March and April to .410 in May—slightly higher than his career OBP of .406.

During the month of May, he recorded 15 RBI, 10 runs, and one home run. He also had six doubles and 31 total bases.

While not good numbers by any means, there was definitely improvement in the areas of RBI, batting average, and OBP.


So far in June, Chipper is batting .271 in 59 at-bats. He has 11 RBI, eight runs, and two home runs. His OBP has slipped to .353 for the month, but his slugging percentage has gone up to .424 in June.

Those numbers are a little bit more reasonable when you consider that Jones has missed eight games in June compared to six games from March to May.

Putting Everything Together

If Chipper stays on track, his hits will have increased every month of the season. While the power isn’t there yet, his bat is showing some signs of life—especially over the last two weeks.

When the dust settles, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Chipper finishes the season with around 90 RBI, 90 runs, and 20 homeruns with a .285 batting average. If he does, it will be the first time he’s scored 90 runs and reached 90 RBI since 2007.

The Braves could use his bat if they want to create some space between them and the rest of the division. Going into Sunday, only 3.5 games separate the Braves, Mets, and Phillies at the top of the NL East.

* On a seperate note, the Braves’ Kenshin Kawakami finally won a game after starting 0-9.

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It’s Not Bad Luck: Why the Braves Don’t Score When Kenshin Kawakami Pitches

Through his first 13 starts in 2010, the Atlanta Braves have given pitcher Kenshin Kawakami pitiful run support.

With the Braves scoring just 3.13 runs in KK’s outings, it’s hardly a surprise that he is 0-9. Bad luck combined with mediocre pitching can do that to you.

Last year, the lack of run support given to Mets ace Johan Santana was a hot topic in baseball. I wrote an article (spurred by some moronic comments from Steve Phillips) and concluded that Johan’s lack of run support was mostly due to the opposing pitcher (and not the vibe that Santana gave off on Mets hitters).

Kawakami earned the nickname “Dragon Slayer” last year, as he faced opposing teams aces a fair amount of the time despite pitching out of the back of the rotation.

With that in mind, I think it is worth taking a look at his 2010 opponents to see why the Braves fail to score when he is on the mound.

In his first four starts (in which KK went 0-4) he faced Tim Lincecum, Ubaldo Jimenez (who threw a no-hitter that night), Hisanori Takahashi, and Jaime Garcia.

Of those four pitchers, Takahashi has the worst ERA at 3.13. A 3.13 ERA could make someone an ace (or at least a quality number one starter).

In May, the opponents got a little easier for KK. He lost to Livan Hernandez (2.94 ERA, which makes him a top pitcher this year even if we all know he isn’t), Cole Hamels (the first non-ace Kawakami faced, although Hamels is a solid second starter), and Anibal Sanchez (3.22 ERA, good for the top spot on most teams).

His three no decisions in May came against the likes of Ian Kennedy (3.57 ERA), Aaron Harang (5.44) and Paul Maholm (3.77). Harang is the only back of the rotation pitcher out of that bunch.

In his first three June starts, Kenshin, a number five starter himself, faced Clayton Kershaw (2.96), Ian Kennedy (again), and David Price (2.31).

So all in all, through his first 13 starts of 2010, Kawakami faced exactly one pitcher (Aaron Harang) with an ERA over 3.80. While KK is pitching out of the fifth rotation spot, he clearly isn’t facing other teams’ worst starters.

The great ERAs show the guys Kawakami has faced this year are shutting down just about everyone, not just the Braves. While the lack of run support KK gets is disturbingly low, it’s not all that unexpected when you see who he is pitching against.

In short, the small run support Kenshin Kawakami is getting isn’t just bad luck, but bad matchups as well.

All in all, Kawakami’s 0-9 record might be a blessing in disguise for the Braves. Instead of having the entire rotation line up, they likely have a better pitcher four out of every five times out.

The times they are facing another teams’ ace, KK takes the loss (which is the likely outcome for the Braves anyway) and the Braves have a better chance to win 80% of the time.


This article is also featured on Tomahawk Talk

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Kenshin Kawakami: Hard-Luck Braves Pitcher or Just Plain Bad?

It’s a wonder seeing a starting pitcher winless this far into the season. After 13 or 14 starts, one would expect several wins, losses, and no decisions from them. When you’re paying a guy over $7 million to pitch for your team, you expect a few wins, especially if your team’s in first place.

The Baltimore Orioles feel this way about Kevin Millwood, certainly. He has 14 appearances, a 5.16 ERA, an 0-8 record, and leads the American League in home runs and hits allowed. It could be that his career is nearing his end.

He’s not the hard-luck pitcher of 2005, but a battered down shell of himself.

Atlanta Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami, on the other hand, could be the new heir to the hard luck crown, or an absolute joke, depending on one’s view.

He currently has an 0-9 record, a 4.42 ERA, 25 walks, 50 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.418  in 13 games. Most of those stats look like ones from your typical 4th or 5th starter, except for that first one.

In Kawakami’s case, should he really be winless this far into the season? That answer is a resounding no. Atlanta’s 3-10 when he starts, which isn’t good by any means, but let’s look at those three wins:

May 14 vs. Arizona—Four runs, three earned in 4.1 innings. The Braves won thanks to a two-run ninth, 6-5, so no credit to Kawakami there.

May 19 vs. Cincinnati—Kawakami threw six shutout innings with five strikeouts, but the Reds scored eight runs in the eighth to tie the game and give Kawakami the no decision. He would have gotten the win if not for a rare bad performance by Takashi Saito.

June 9 vs. Arizona—Same story. Six shutout innings, eight K’s, but no run support until the eighth inning. Should have a win.

So Kawakami should have at least two wins in those shutouts. Does he deserve the losses he has though? He gave up at least three runs in each of those losses, so I can’t write any of them off.

A 2-9 record is nonetheless still quite poor, and still keeps him in the company of Wandy Rodriguez and Charlie Morton, both of whom have nine losses, though they have wins at least.

Kawakami’s other stats also seem to support the hard-luck theory. He’s not in the top 10 NL pitchers in any bad categories (hits allowed, earned runs, wild pitches, etc.) and his WAR is a very average 0.0. In fact, his WAR, ERA+, and WHIP are all better, albeit slightly, than fellow Braves’ pitcher Derek Lowe, who is sitting pretty with an 8-5 record.

To argue the side of him being bad though, he needs to keep the earned runs down if he wants to win. If he allows three earned and the Braves lose, 3-2, then oh well, he should’ve allowed fewer. Furthermore, he has one very concerning stat: He has never finished out the seventh inning, and five times he failed to make it past the fifth.

It’s hard to win a game when you don’t pitch a good deal of it.

Nonetheless, I’m going to fall into the camp that thinks Braves’ fans need to give the guy a break. He’s not pitching all that well, but he’s not terrible. Some teams would love to have him. I’m sure the Orioles would trade Millwood for him, and the Pirates could use a decent starter (Never said they were good teams).

It’s difficult to think of a pitcher for a first place team as hard-luck, but if anyone falls under that umbrella besides Zack Greinke, it’s Kawakami. He allows some earned runs, but they’re few enough that Heyward or Prado should be able to knock a few runs in for him.

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Atlanta Braves on a Hot Streak—Can They Keep it Up?

On April 30, the Atlanta Braves were sitting at 9-14—fresh off of a nine-game losing streak and five games behind the division-leading New York Mets.

Holding a minus-18 run differential and an offense that could do virtually nothing but draw a walk, the Braves’ outlook on 2010 was bleak to say the best.

Fast forward to Memorial Day (May 31), and the Braves are a half-game up on the Phillies with a plus-45 run differential and appear as if they’ve figured out things on the offensive side of the ball.

Led by Jason Heyward (who holds the fourth highest OPS at 1.019 in BASEBALL and best in the NL) who had a .358/.475/.667 May after taking a more aggressive approach at the advice of Bobby Cox, Martin Prado (the NL hit and OBP leader), and Troy Glaus (the NL RBI leader for the month of May), the Braves capped off the month of May with a six-game winning streak to bring their season’s record to 29-22.

The pitching, as was anticipated heading into 2010, was also spectacular during the Braves’ 20-win month as Tim Hudson (4-0 1.59 ERA in the month of May) and company posted a 3.53 team ERA with 192 total strikeouts.

But, with those impressive stats comes the all important question…is this the REAL Atlanta Braves squad?

Well, I can tell you: I don’t think it is.

The pitching seems to be legit, but it’s going to be hard for Troy Glaus and Jason Heyward to replicate the ridiculous averages they posted and for Glaus and Martin Prado to re-create their 20+ RBI months (especially the latter since he has transitioned to the lead-off role) on a month-in and month-out basis.

But, on the same hand, Chipper Jones and Brian McCann are going to do a little more than, respectively, one home run and 10 RBI they posted in May.

For those reasons, I think it’s fair to postulate that the real identity of the Braves lies somewhere between their identity as the team with multiple sub-.200 hitters, as they were known in April, and the team that was, arguably, the best in the National League for the season’s second month.

My gut tells me it’s closer to the latter, though.

This is a team that should be good-to-go for a divisional/Wild Card fight if the right moves are made (i.e. losing McLouth and shuffling the outfield with some sort of call-up or trade…Ty Wigginton/Luke Scott, anyone?) as long as the staff (which should be bolstered by the return of Jair Jurrjens at some point in June) and bullpen hold up.

Now all they have to do to look “real” is get their fifth starter a W (as Kenshin Kawakami sits at 0-7 on the season)…

And now, a good (albeit unrelated) song.


(This post is also featured on SportsLeak.com)

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Quick Thoughts On Wins As A Statistic

Just to prove how random, and therefore essentially worthless, wins are as a statistic, check out the numbers of two pitchers below.

Pitcher #1 – 4.86 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 35 strikeouts, 29 walks and 63 innings pitched in 11 starts.

Pitcher #2 – 4.66 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 32 strikeouts, 15 walks and 56 innings pitched in 10 starts.

Pitcher #1 is Derek Lowe, owner of a 7-4 record, and pitcher #2 is Kenshin Kawakami, who currently sits atop an 0-7 record.  On the same team with across-the-board worse stats, Lowe is having a far superior year if you put much stock in wins as a viable stat.  What do you all think about this?  Do you think wins are overvalued or am I way off-base here? 

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