Kenshin Kawakami

I really haven’t the foggiest idea. He apparently looked good yesterday, but (a) it’s spring training, and (b) I didn’t actually see it and am relying upon secondhand reports of dubious value. According to Wikipedia, he throws a 90 MPH fastball, a curveball, and a cutter, and he apparently has good control. Keith Law, I think, says that his fastball is straight and that major league hitters will tee off on it, though it seems to me that while Japanese hitters probably aren’t as good as major leaguers, they also probably aren’t totally stupid.

His stats are apparently good, but you could put everything I know about Japanese baseball on the back of a Kaz Ishii baseball card. He won the MVP and the equivalent of the Cy Young in 2004. He won 17 games that year, which is apparently a typical league-leading total (their schedule’s about 140 games) and again in 2006. Last year, he was used in a six-man rotation, for some reason.

My best guess is that he’ll put up an ERA about 4.50. That’s just a guess. If he does that, he’ll probably be considered a disappointment, but if he’s only the third or fourth starter, if Lowe and Vasquez pitch like they should, that will be enough to help the team.

Kenshin Kawakami – The Baseball Cube

159 thoughts on “Kenshin Kawakami”

  1. Reply to Cliff from the last thread: I don’t see the piece you’re talking about on Hardball Times. I do see that Clay Davenport did a Kawakami translation a month ago on BPro. His numbers are probably better than mine, but we both get basically the same conclusion: this guy is pretty good, probably above average. I think a 4.50 ERA might be too conservative. He looks to me like a solid #3 starter in the #4 slot.

    Cliff, can you link to the piece you saw?

  2. Nice write up–but we still need a nickname (not Kamikaze).

    Kendo Kawakami….Kendo “Way of the sword’ is a specific type of Japanese sword fighting technique….

  3. Hopefully Mr “Kohkami” (which is how his name sounds like when pronounced by a Japanese) will live up to his reputation as a control pitcher to avoid acting like a human tee off. His fastball isn’t anything special but if he can leave it off the hot zone, he should be good.

  4. I’m going to guess that in Mac’s recap the made-up part is Schafer leading off and scoring three runs. He’s one guy! How can he lead off the game by scoring three runs!!

    Also, WHY did we send our two best players to rescue Francoeur. I blame Bobby for not employing our resources properly. This is the fantastical battle equivalent of situational bunting with a power hitter on a hot streak. You obviously send a Gunderson after Jeff. If we get a couple of 60-day DLs from Ogre related injuries it’s not going to boad well for the start of the season.

  5. As an aside, I’d like to nominate Terry Forster for the all-time Brave to send into battle ogres. Dispositional suited to come in to a tense situation and likely to frighten ogres.

  6. #5 + #10–Oldtimer got it right–lots of US servicemen were killed by Kamikazes…

    Let me give you another reason as well–it is suicide–not exactly what I would want to associate with a starting pitcher–though the Braves have certainly had some whose pitching certainly merited the description.

    In contrast, ‘Kendo’ requires skill and craft–the things which I normally associate with a starting pithcer….

  7. been a rough two days here in Bham. Tons of rain and a few twisters. Now we’re ready for some snow tomorrow and ready to be back in the 70’s next weekend. I hate AL weather

  8. To me, calling Kawakami “Kamikazi” would be like calling Jacoby Ellsbury “Scalpinator”. Or at least it would be if “Ellsbury” sounded like “Scalpinator”.

    But hopefully you get my point…

    Anyway, I’m a fan a Jet Ski, myself.

  9. in true baseball tradition, we should Americanize his name and just call him Kenny.

  10. Bobby, I’m sure, will call him Kenny. Hope KK doesn’t start watching South Park and think Cox is insulting him.

  11. @10, Better for the Braves:

    A season-ending injury for Johan Santana


    A season-ending injury for Jeff Francoeur?

  12. That was cold.

    Anybody know where I could find a list of all right-handed hitters?


  13. Johan will appear in, at most, 35 games this year.

    Francoeur will appear in, most, 162.

    You do the math.

  14. MLBTR has it that Bowden resigns… with possibly the best quote:

    “I have become a distraction. Unless you are Manny Ramirez, there is no place for distraction in baseball.”

  15. Johan having an MRI in NY tomorrow, Im not pulling for this, but its sounding like a TJ approaching. Brandon Webb also complaining about right forearm tightness, better call Mike Hampton

  16. you have to question some of the moves Moore has made in KC also, but Id say Sabean tops the list

  17. The concern about Santana is really too bad. I hope he ends up pitching this season because I love seeing him, even playing for the Mets.

  18. Seems like we’re trying to force a nickname on Kawikami. Maybe, a better one will present itself once he pitches a couple of times.

    On the other hand, if we have to choose now, I am leaning towards Kendo.

  19. hankonnly, Im just looking at the innings he’s thrown and how everyone is talking about how his velocity has dropped 3-5 mph over the past year or so. It seems like all signs are pointing towards it

  20. #39–Sad–but not entirely surprising….I think that we would all like to see Andruw get his act together–but after hearing the interview that he did in Atlanta, I suspect that it will be a long road….

  21. Hey, Moylan pitched today? Is this his first time back? I thought he was certain to miss some time.

  22. I hold out hope that Andruw is either just pressing or shaking the rust off. But I really think he’s done.

  23. That’s some really thick rust — like bottom of the ocean thousand-year-old rust.

  24. Anybody know how the infield single happened? AJ hit a 5-foot dribbler and the third-string catcher ran to back-up first?

  25. Non-recap:

    Boxscore: Philadelphia vs. Atlanta – March 1, 2009 | News

    Braves lose, I don’t care. Jeff Ridgway, LOOGY candidate, gave up four runs, the Phillies’ margin of irrelevant victory. Josh Anderson had two hits including a triple. McCann homered. Francoeur was 0-2 before leaving the game with a bout of St. Vitus’ Dance. Moylan pitched, which surprises me; I can’t believe he’d be ready to pitch less than a year after Tommy John surgery, but if he’s willing to try, Bobby’s willing to overwork him.

  26. Was that really a guy who covers baseball professional proposing that we bat Kelly Johnson 8th and Garret Anderson 3rd?!

    Seriously, how much crack do you have to smoke before that becomes anything but retarded?

  27. Jeez, are the Royals going to bring back Leibrandt next? They could legitimately have an all ex-Braves rotation after Greinke:


    Not to mention the lefty/righty bullpen combo of Mahay and Farnsworth. Shame all these guys (well, except Mahay) suck.

    UPDATE: Oh, and Colon and Villarreal among the NRIs. Dayton, you need help.

  28. It must be the Peter Principle in action. Dayton was great for us. Maybe, he is just not GM material.

  29. Francoeur has not struck out yet this Spring and has walked twice. That’s something.

    Of course, it’s only 10 ABs / 12 PAs and the pitchers are just warming up.

  30. Yeah, yeah Santana says he feels absolutely no pain. Just like Mike Gonzalez said in May 2007.

  31. I am sure Bobby will call Kawakami as “Kammy”.

    We will wait, but I am sure there is something wrong with Santana.

  32. I just checked our schedule for the first time. There seems to be an error.

    According to what I saw we finish against the Nats, not the Astros. That can’t be right.

  33. #61 – that’s the best news I have heard in a long while. For once, we will not end the season facing the Astros.

  34. Dayton Moore has an almost impossible job to do in Kansas City. I’m not sure I can knock the guy who acquired Jairo Cuevas at least two times this season (three if you count re-signing him two days after non-tendering.)

    To be fair, he got Horacio Ramirez for nothing, and HoRam gave them some pretty decent outings last year in middle relief. Enough so that they were actually able to trade him to the White Sox for a low-to-mid-level prospect.

    Kyle Davies actually put up some decent numbers last year, too. 9-7 with a 4.06 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP is about as good as Royals fans have seen in a while from anyone not named Grienke.

  35. If you are talking about the worst GM in baseball, I can’t imagine how Brian Sebean not be the one.

  36. #61 – that’s the best news I have heard in a long while. For once, we will not end the season facing the Astros.

    Now hold up there. The Braves have had their season ended against the Astros for five straight seasons; two of which came in the playoffs. That could still happen again.

  37. To be fair, they didn’t end our season. Really, our season was destined to end when we were mathematically eliminated. It’s not like the loss or win against the Astros to finish the regular season had any bearing on the destination of our team. Just sayin…

  38. #65 – Well, I considered that, but I don’t think the Astros are good enough to reach the playoff this year.

    #66 – we know that, but I still hated the fact that we had to end the regular season at Houston for the past two seasons.

  39. “I focus on hitting the ball hard and low, and if it goes out for a home run, it’s a mistake. A good mistake. If I try to hit home runs, my swing gets long.” – Freddie Freeman

    Take a f—ing lesson, Frenchy.

  40. Possible Nicknames:

    -Hari Cari
    -Short Round (from Indiana Jones)
    -Shredder (from Ninja Turtles)

  41. #68–Fair enough–at least its not kamikaze….I also think that Parish makes a good point: lets give him at least a few starts before we decide which nickname is the most apposite…..

  42. @71- I always thought Shredder looked like a badass in the movie, so that nickname flys with me.

  43. Kami is not bad actually – I think it is a minor deity, like a forest spirit or something in Japanese animist tradition. Hi Stepehen – made it in one piece, but I am going to hit the jet lag HARD in about 6 hours I think.

  44. Yeah, we really should wait. We’re not sure if we’re going to love him or hate him or what yet. Maybe if we’re split, the people who like him can call him one thing, and the ones that don’t can call him something else.

  45. I like Shredder too! It works if he is good or bad. Plus, liek you said Mike, he did look bad ass in that movie!

  46. Spike–Welcome to the UAE…its not exactly snowing…though its a bit cooler than the last few days….Between Bowden and Esmailyn Gonzalez the Nats are finally interesting…..

  47. We had some quite heavy snowfall here in Atlanta yesterday (well, I was in Gwinnett at the time but I think it was pretty universal to the metro area). Came down for 3-4 hours too, luckily it was just warm enough that little of it stuck and most melted (and dried) before night-temps hit.

    edit: and I’m suspense to see what Dix’s best comment ever was.

  48. 81 — Ha!

    88 — Dix… good luck? I just had a phone interview this morning. Ugh. Not a big fan of those.

  49. BTW: I think the Braves are the team tonight on MLB Networks 30 Teams in 30 Days… or is it tomorrow (late last night I was looking through the DirecTV schedule and I’m not sure how far head of things I got).

  50. It’s good I’ve got the next job lined up. First time I’ve ever left a job for anything other than to go to school.

  51. So, you’re just pretending all those sexual harassment charges at each of your employment stops didn’t happen, then?

  52. From the SI story:
    “In Chicago, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen publicly criticized [Javier Vazquez] as not being good in big games. Vazquez declined to talk about Guillen when asked on Thursday.”

    Attention, Smoltzie…

  53. Come on Stu, now you’re just making stuff up. Female impersonators can’t get charged with harassment.

  54. Charles P–Thanks for the interview–it provides just one more reason why the Bobby should not have given Frenchy so many innings…..

  55. Wow, the Dow is just taking a large steaming crap in every 401K’s oatmeal today isn’t it?
    52 Week range is 6,952.06 – 13,191.50 and it’s down around 6800 right now. Glad I’m a long way from retirement.

  56. #89, “He(Francoeur)’s the biggest power threat on the roster”


    As for the Santana injury, I remember similar stories about Moylan and Soriano last spring, “Oh, their arm is a little sore, but it’s Spring Training and they’ll work out the kinks soon”

  57. “We don’t get to play in the Olympics,” McCann said. “So this is our Olympics. To be a part of something as big as the [Classic] is going to be special. You get to put the USA across your chest. That’s an honor in and of itself.”

  58. Stu, the sexual harassment happened, no denying that, but I just changed my name and went back to school to get a degree with my new name on it and I was back in business.

  59. #105
    Yes, he’s a bitter Mets fan.

    Of course, every time Larry Wayne gets an AB vs. the Mets with the game on the line, Flushing fans are cleaning the poop out of their pants. He ain’t overrated then.

  60. Part of the “problem” of the Internet is the lack of review. Exhibit A — link at 105. Of course, he’s a bitter Mets fan.

  61. Someone who has Jose Reyes on their favorite team calling a player on another team–much less someone like Chipper Jones–overrated is pure comedy.


    Chipper had something like a 999999999 OBP last year

  62. Can that guy really think he’s making a good argument? Chipper was 2nd in OPS to Albert Pujols last year, and led the league the year before… in his age 36 and 35 seasons.

  63. Bowman:
    “The Braves were able to reach agreements with each of their non-arbitration-eligible players this year. The past two years, they had been forced to assign Jeff Francoeur’s salary by unilaterally renewing his contract.”

  64. Someone explain to me why we don’t just unilaterally renew every pre-arb player’s contract. It’s our right. Is Jair Jurrjens really more likely to give us a millions-of-dollars discount on a long-term deal in 2013 if we give him an extra $100K in 2009?

  65. 1. They could hold out.
    2. The MLBPA would start calling for the return of arbitration after two years of service at the next CBA negotiation.
    3. It would be mean.

  66. No reason not to try to come to an amicable arrangement with a player and make him feel wanted when the cost is pretty trivial. It’s good business to talk it over with them rather than just dictate their contract.

  67. #105 – seriously, the guy is using RBI’s and runs scored to compare Chipper and Wright. Avg, OBP, OPS, and SLG mean nothing to him

  68. In fairness, because he’s on the field more, Wright has been producing more Runs Created than Chipper the past several years, even though Chipper’s RC/G is much higher. There is definitely an argument to be made that as awesome as Chipper is, his health issues keep him out of the first tier of baseball awesomeness. This guy just didn’t make it.

  69. I’d like to see how Chipper plus the worst third baseman replacing him for the games he misses compares with Wright.

    I think only Andruw replacing him last year would have led to a worse line than Wright.

  70. To make the case that Wright is better than Chipper, sounds like that guy is trying to use the same argument that Gadfly used to claim Frenchy was any good.

  71. Re@124
    Saw that show last evening. Two of celebrity guest panel (Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams and ex-GM John Hart) pick the Braves to finish second, Joe Magrane picks them third.

    Highlights: Hazel Mae finds a way to ask Jeffy, “Why did you suck at baseball last year?”
    Jeffy: “I had a good start, got in a slump. Couldn’t adjust, swung at everything. Relaxed in the last month and just played ball.” Honest.

    The show loves our pitching, hates our outfield. You won’t learn anything new, but it’s good to see some of the kids. “How can you miss with a name like Gorkys Hernandez?” Magrane asked.

  72. @ 105 – Classic, relying on counting stats and denying that games played (or presumably PAs/ABs) are critical to understanding counting stats. The guy’s a moron.

  73. Saw the Braves installment of “30 Clubs in 30 Days.” Nice to junk out for an hour on the Bravos, even if it wasn’t a whole lotta new stuff.

    I like MLB Network’s approach to these things. The on-air people don’t really pull any punches & they can squeeze in plenty of content in 60 minutes.

    Also, love the segment with “The Batting Stance Guy.”

  74. Hanson’s going again today, but it is against Panama, so I don’t know if it will tell us anything.

  75. That may be the best youtube ever… I think Mac should use JUST that one on the game threads this year. Same clip, every game.

  76. Team USA vs Yanks on MLB Network right now. w/2 outs Jeter knocked in two, Chipper followed with a single, and David Wright grounded out. Interesting rooting for Jeter against the Yanks.

  77. Wow,

    My wife has just offered to by me a round trip ticket to Orlando on March 20 to see the Braves play in spring training. Unless she is planning on having an affair, this seems too good to be true. I think I will take her up on it! :)

  78. Probably going to the US/Phils game Thursday. Pretty jacked up about seeing some good baseball. Baseball season baby! WOOO!

  79. Marc,

    You’re not really going to fall for that are you?

    An affair may be the least of your worries. Does she have access to your bank accounts?

  80. Marc, in the future, your wife will ask you to do her a favor, and there will be no way that you can possibly turn her down. Even still, I’d say that’s a pretty good tradeoff.

    By the way, Bruce Chen today: 1 2/3 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 2 BB, 1 K. At least some things never change.

  81. @122: Wow, that’s a stretch. This guy’s argument is all about counting the 25-50 games that Chipper has missed each year over the last few seasons against him. I never discounted the importance of games played, plate appearances, or RBI opportunities.

    More importantly, I never made a relative judgment, and was using RP to measure positive success. My case was that Francoeur’s 2007 season was a productive one, not that it was more or less productive than anyone else’s season. (When challenged I used other people’s numbers to put Frenchy’s in clearer context, but that is different than what this guy is doing.) As I said before, high RP or RBI numbers when considered against relative opportunities carries some significance. Considering average to above average RP or RBI numbers while ignoring opportunities is just idiotic.

    This guy clearly reached a conclusion and then tortured numbers to fit. David Wright is a hell of a player, he’s probably better than Chipper at this point given his youth, and if he continues his torrid pace for another dozen years he may even surpass Chipper’s career accomplishments, MAY. It isn’t a stretch to compare the two, and most ratings I’m familiar with put Wright ahead of Chipper based on health reasons if nothing else (ESPN has Wright at $27 and Chipper at $15!) This makes it even more insane to try and make the case that Chipper is somehow overrated by saying he doesn’t match up to a guy who is rated so much higher.

  82. Well I guess we could have done without the Kawakami signing but at that time we didnt have Lowe … I might have waited and saved that 6 or 7 million or whatever he got .. seeing how Hanson looks ready and Glavine will probably hold down 5th spot .. then we have Reyes,Campillo and Morton n the waiting if injury … anyway we can trade Kawakami ??? Probaby not .. would like dto have had that extra $$$ for a better option in LF spot .. we still need a heavy hitter in there .. at least we have some depth in pitching that we might be able to use as trade bait come trade deadline. Thoughts ?????

  83. This just in … on March 19th Mike Hampton pulls hamstring … recovers on May 5th and pulls an Oblique muscle .. I know these dates have not happened yet but I have a sneaking feeling I am right !!!!

  84. #137…………good luck. for me, going to whorelando for any reason sounds only slighly better than a weekend in jail. i’d be checking the schedule and try to catch the Braves somewhere(anywhere) else.

  85. Gadfly – I probably wasn’t being fair to you, but you did talk a lot about RC in the context of horrible rate stats.

  86. Just got done looking at the Team USA roster. Any guesses who the old man on the club is??

    Hint: his birthday is 4/24/1972

  87. More on Hanson’s outing from Carroll Rogers on the AJC blog:

    Hanson gave up one unearned run in three innings on two singles and a walk. He struck out three. He threw 53 pitches, 37 for strikes. that third inning he threw 24 pitches, 14 for strikes. So he wasn’t quite as pinpoint. So yeah, I think I’ll go ask him: what the heck happened in the third inning? Ha….That’ll be it for him.

    In the first two innings, Hanson threw 29 pitches, 23 for strikes.

    Meanwhile, the Mets are losing 13-0. I don’t care how meaningless these games are. That’s good, clean fun.

  88. Alex,

    You are correct. I can no longer turn down any request at any time the rest of my life. :)


    My wife has all the money anyway so it doesn’t make any difference. :)


    Orlando isn’t my favorite place but after the winter we have had in D.C., I’m ready for some warm weather. But I was surprised that those tickets aren’t cheap. I used to complain about the NFL charging full price for pre-season games but I guess baseball (or at least the Braves) do the same.

    Re: Chipper. I think it’s fair to factor in games missed in considering a player’s worth. After all, no matter how good the player is, it’s not worth much if he isn’t on the field. On the other hand, it’s not like Chipper is playing fifty games a year. Mickey Mantle won the MVP one year playing in 123 games and George Brett played in 117 games the year he hit .390. The guy couldn’t seem to decide whether the reason Chipper was overrated was because he wasn’t any good (obviously ludicrous) or didn’t play enough. And it’s sort of odd to say that he is overrated by Braves fans; obviously this guy doesn’t read the AJC blogs.

  89. You guys don’t like Disney World? I loved it even before I had kids.

    Disney World = A people trap run by a mouse.

  90. The boxscore says that Matt Young is now playing left field, which is odd because he retired in 1998… Oh, a different Matt Young, who appears to be the new Gregor Blanco.

  91. I dunno about the big team, but the Gwinnett Braves are going to kick serious ass.

  92. Marc – It it a legit point that Chipper loses value because he has not stayed healthy, but it’s not the crux of the article.

    The guy says Chipper is not good any more, just a contact hitter and a statue in the field.

    Braves win!

    Panama sucks!

    Give us back the canal.

  93. Parish,

    Well, I think he veers back and forth because he is trying to legitimize a ludicrous argument. He can’t really say Chipper sucks, even though he does say that in places. In one of the comments, he says Chipper is a “borderline everyday player” which is absurd.

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