Nothing But The Braves

All about the Braves and baseball events.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nothing To Panic About

As you know, Braves starting outfielder Jason Heyward was hit on the face by an errant pitch from Mets starter Jon Niese and suffered a broken jaw.  He's out for four to six weeks, which is the duration of the rest of the regular season, at most.

David Schoenfield wrote about how important Heyward was to the Braves' surging in the summer months and simply concluded with this:
The big picture for the Braves is getting Heyward healthy for the division series. It's really pretty simple analysis: They're not as good without him.
That's true enough.  But is it a cause for panic?  After all, the Braves once had a 9 1/2 game lead in the wild card in 2011, and injuries and ineffectiveness caused them to go into an 11-21 tailspin and they lost out to the Cardinals on the final day of the season.

It's almost like history is just waiting to repeat itself.


Yes, the Braves aren't as good without Heyward.  In fact, their leadoff hitter problems might re-surface with him on the shelf.  But the truth is the team got along well without an effective leadoff hitter.  Here are the lines for the now-healthy members of the Braves that have at least 60 plate appearances in the first spot:
  • Jordan Schafer - 91 PA (77 AB), .299/.400/.494
  • Andrelton Simmons - 294 PA (275 AB), .222/.259/.338
  • B. J. Upton - 62 PA (55 AB), .200/.290/.364
This is a problem that might actually solve itself; Fredi Gonzalez loves speed to lead off, Simmons was bumped from the first spot in favor of Heyward and B. J. Upton's in the doghouse thanks to his batting average.  Look for him to put Schafer or Simmons there.

Now for defense.  In a general sense, I like to use UZR/150 as a gauge, but it's clear that the Braves did lose their best outfielder:
  • Evan Gattis: -8.8
  • Schafer: -10.8
  • Joey Terdoslavich : -22.8
  • B. J. Upton: -1.7
  • Justin Upton: -12.7
What this means in real-world practice, I believe, is that a handful of hits will fall in because Heyward isn't patrolling the outfield.  Will they be critical, Braves-dooming hits?  It's all about when it happens.

The real reason that I don't think there is reason to panic is this: pitching.  The Braves still have plenty of it.  As of this post, the team leads the National League with a 3.41 ERA and they've given up the fewest amount of walks.  Their relief ERA of 2.38 is the best in the majors; most teams would be devastated if they lost relief aces like Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters.  The Braves seamlessly replaced them with Luis Avilan and David Carpenter.  And there is, of course, Craig Kimbrel, who is already the Braves' most-dominant reliever in their history.

I don't expect a repeat of the collapse of two years ago.  I think this Braves team can hold their own until Heyward heals from his injury.  They have the pitching, a capable "classic" leadoff hitter in Schafer and their outfield defense may be putrid, but most won't notice it.

As they say: time will tell.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

In Defense of the "Laughing Indian" Logo

Sometime during the past couple of weeks, Major League Baseball and New Era released some concept pictures of teams' new batting practice caps for the 2013 season.  It's naturally a money-making venture, but this year showed some creativity in design and logo choices.  I personally like the Astros and A's the best out of the group.

But one potential cap logo has a bunch of knickers in a twist: the Braves are planning the return of their classic Indian head logo by featuring it on the cap.

It was immediately treated by some like they're sticking a Nazi swastika on their hat.

In today's world, Native American-inspired nicknames, logos and mascots are frowned on and discouraged because of perceived bigotry or racism.  The Braves are one of the teams that regularly have had to deal with this phenomenon, thanks to adopting the practice of Florida State University fans and their Tomahawk Chop chant and cheer during the 1991 season.  Ironically, this was a year after they discontinued the use of the Indian head logo.

The logo first appeared on the sleeves of Milwaukee Braves jerseys back in 1957. 

That just happened to be the year that the "Bushville" team won the World Series, and the logo was briefly adorned with a championship crown, which was common at the time:

 It remained on the sleeve until 1972, when the Braves switched to the more colorful, softball-style uniform, which Hank Aaron made famous when breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record dressed in the duds.

The Indian head remained on the Braves' main logo, changed to white with a red outline motif:

 The team kept it in 1987, needing only to change the Braves font and color of the base:

In 1991, the team decided to change to the logo they currently have today: the team name and tomahawk that they had featured on the front of their home uniform for the past four seasons.

I don't claim to be completely knowledgeable about how long some people have been upset at this logo or general depictions of Native Americans.  I can only speak to my own experiences.  Most of my experiences as a Braves fan dealing with outside backlash come exclusively from the Tomahawk Chop.

What I think is necessary now is standing up for this logo and attempting to inject some common sense.

It is simply a picture, nothing more than a piece of art meant to represent something.  In this case, it is meant to represent a baseball team: a group of athletes so good at the game of baseball that they are paid to do it for a living.  The American culture has long celebrated the virtues of professional athletics, believing hard work, perseverance and working to help your teammates to be praised and worthy of emulation.

Because so much attention is paid to sports, people also try to delve deeper into its meanings and significance.  When Native Americans are inserted with team logos and nicknames, past history is sometimes mentioned. 

It is a truly sad and unnecessary history that, to a degree, continues to effect today's world.  It is a history that I won't repeat here, but it is one that I accept and understand

 I was taught to treat all people with respect and kindness, to treat others as I would want to be treated.  Over the course of my life, I learned truths about other cultures and their histories which helps me understand them better.  Those times were educational and have stayed with me today.

What I don't understand is why the severely negative things have to constantly be brought up in this context of sports.  Sports is where we try to escape all the bad stuff in the world.  It's where we take a little time to root our home team to victory.  We take joy in our boys' and girls' successes or feel for them in their defeats and suggest how they might improve themselves.  We endlessly debate at who is the best at their job performance and we deck ourselves out in the team colors and emblems, no matter what they may be, to support our team.  Nothing more. 

When someone brings the outside issues into sports, like with the general standing of Native Americans in North America, that means they associate sports depictions of Native Americans with mocking or belittling them and their culture, and making light of their problems and struggles.  That, I believe, is misplaced angst.

I'm incapable of looking at it that way when it comes to Indian logos, especially this one. 

I enjoy the logo very much and it usually conveys good, nostalgic feelings for me.  When I look at it, it reminds me of the days when I first became a Braves fan in 1991 and when I started collecting baseball cards.  I specifically recall this card:

Francisco Cabrera in a rare moment when he played first base.  It was one of my first cards when I seriously started collecting, gobbling up cheap packs of Donruss cards at the local Big Lots store.  On a good number the Braves cards I have, especially from the 1980s and 1990s, the laughing Indian logo is prominently featured.  One of the more interesting things that I acquired was a promotional Pizza Hut place mat, featuring Dale Murphy and Craig McMurtry, the WTBS Superstation 17 logo and, naturally, the team logo in the middle.

The photo is from an eBay auction, not from my personal collection.

The laughing Indian should convey joy and happiness, not angst, hatred or past violence.  Heck, when this cap situation first started, I actually realized thanks to a friend that the logo looks like Mr. T without a beard.  No one hates Mr. T!

The logo can't be eradicated, and it doesn't deserve our scorn.  Like the Blackhawks and Seminoles logos, it deserves to be seen as dignified and honorable, at the very least.

I've always seen it that way.  It's upsetting that others don't see it that positive way.

* * *

At first, I thought it might be hard to do this post; talking about something that even has a hint of race in the discussion is like walking a tightrope without a balancing pole.  Then I realized that's really all I can do: share my thoughts feelings on the subject.

If the Braves do end up believing that "any publicity is good publicity" and release the batting practice cap for sale, I will buy it to add it to my baseball cap collection and wear it proudly as part of my devotion to the Atlanta Braves baseball team and their storied history.

If anyone still believes the logo or current traditions of the Atlanta franchise is offensive, then all I can do is ask this: are we really so high-strung and uptight in our American society and culture today that we can't have a little good-natured fun without responses filled with lessons of past war, anger, or even threats?

It's a picture of a happy, laughing Indian man, designed to represent a team that plays the glorious American sport of baseball. 

That's all it is.

Friday, September 21, 2012

World Baseball Classic Begins, Qualifying Rounds Start

I may be the only baseball fan in the world that gives a huge flip about these games. 

Still, the World Baseball Classic is now the premier baseball tournament in the world.  The International Baseball Federation halted the Baseball World Cup, a tournament that had been played since 1938, to put weight behind the newly-expanded Classic.

For the 2013 series, 16 teams are playing in four qualifying pools in order to determine who will advance to the main tournament next year.  Four teams in the pools have played in previous Classics while 12 others are newcomers to the tourney:

Pool A - Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, FL

South Africa

Pool B - Armin-Wolf Baseball Arena, Regensburg, GER

Czech Republic
Great Britain

Pool C - Rod Carew National Stadium, Panama City, PAN


Pool D - Xinzhuang Stadium, New Taipei City, TPE

Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)
New Zeland

The qualification games are currently being played, with each pool in double-elimination format.

Game 1, Pool A: Israel 7, South Africa 3

Israel's debut in the World Baseball Classic went swimmingly, their first win coming against WBC veteran South Africa.  First baseman Nate Freiman, a Padres prospect, hit two solo home runs and  Former major leaguer Shawn Green singled twice in five at-bats and scored a run.  Pirates farmhand Charles Cutler also lent support with a three-run double in the eighth. 

South Africa rallied with three runs in the ninth, but it was too late for a huge comeback.

Game 2, Pool A: Spain 8, France 0

There's no love lost between these two countries on the diamond, either.  Spain pounced early, scoring seven in the first three innings, and kept France off the board the rest of the way.  Nick Schumacher, who last played in the minors in 2010, tossed a shutout for 6 1/3 innings.  Rangers prospect Engel Beltre and free agent Paco Figueroa both had three hits, with Beltre hitting a triple.  Former Brave Barbaro Canizares capped Spain's scoring with a homer in the eighth.

Israel will play Spain next, and South Africa will go against France.

Game 1, Pool B: Canada 11, Great Britain 1, 7 inn.

Unceremoniously booted out of the last Classic in pool play, the Canadian team needed to get off to a good start here.  Great Britain kept it close, with the score 3-1 after six innings.  Phillies prospect Albert Cartwright hit a solo homer off of starter and former major leaguer Shawn Hill (Blue Jays) to bring the game to that score.  Canada then delivered the knockout blow with eight runs in the seventh, including a walk-off two-run triple by Tyson Gillies (Phillies).  Jimmy Van Ostrand (Nationals) and Skyler Stromsmoe (Giants) drove in three runs each for Canada.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Intemperate Braves And Baseball Thoughts

It's "catch-all" time. There's a lot to talk about, so let's get to it:

  • The trade for Dan Uggla, just as a reminder, breaks down like so:

    2B Dan Uggla: 674 PA, .287/.369/.508, 33 HR, 105 RBI, 130 OPS+, 3.7 WAR

    UT Omar Infante: 506 PA, .321/.359/.416, 8 HR, 47 RBI, 111 OPS+, 2.9 WAR
    LRP Mike Dunn: 19 IP, 15 H, 4/4 R/ER, 17 BB, 27 SO, 1.684 WHIP, 0.4 WAR

    It's the kind of trade that looks so good on one team's side: the Braves get a power bat they so desperately need in exchange for a utility player who had a career year and a rookie reliever who is wild, but has potential.

    Since the trade, Braves GM Frank Wren has tried to work on an extension with Uggla. On the 7th, the talks were said to be encouraging.

    "The early discussions we've had -- really introductory discussions -- have been very pleasant," Wren said. "I think there's a mutual desire for us to keep him long term and for him to stay long term. I think that has come through loud and clear -- both from Terry and from Dan. I think we've made it clear that's what we want to happen."
    Unfortunately, since that time, outfielder Carl Crawford agreed to a monstrous seven-year, $142 million contract with the Red Sox. Before that, Jayson Werth had signed a huge seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals. This might cause some fears that Uggla will demand an extension that's either out of the Braves' budget range or will cripple them down the road when Uggla's skills most likely decline.

    I'm really not sure that Uggla will be able to increase his demands that much. After all, the players that got those huge deals are outfielders with speed, stolen-base ability and decent defense. Uggla provides below average to horrible defense with above-average offense and no speed.

  • At the Winter Meetings, Wren agreed with reliever George Sherrill to a $1.2 million, one-year deal, which includes $200,000 in incentives. The deal won't be official until Sherrill passes a physical. The former closer was downright awful for the Dodgers last season, posting a 1.926 WHIP in 31 1/3 innings. The year seems to be an aberration. If Sherrill makes the team, he'll be the third lefty in the pen, joining Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters.

    I do believe that Sherrill will be fine. At worst, he should be a great LOOGY, something that might appeal to new manager Fredi Gonzalez.

  • Wren is also working to move Kenshin Kawakami. According to MLBTradeRumors, Rob Biertempfel tweets that the Pirates are close to a deal, but the sticking points are how much the Braves will pay of Kawakami's $6.67 million salary and whether or not left-hander Paul Maholm might be included.

    Maholm might be an interesting reclamation project if he's included, but it will be a shame to see Kawakami go. I've defended him a lot over the past couple of years and I do believe that he shouldn't have been stuck with the 1-10 record. In fact, that should be a test case on how wins and losses don't mean too much for some pitchers. If Kawakami does move on to Pittsburgh, all I can say is: Sachiare!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Braves Net Lee From Cubs To Shore Up First Base


1B Derrek Lee (475 PA, .251/.335/.416, 16 HR, 63 R, 56 RBI, 94 OPS+)


RRP Robinson Lopez (A Rome - 92 2/3 IP, 84 H, 51-45 R-ER (4.37 ERA), 43 BB, 70 K, 1.371 WHIP
RRP Tyrelle Harris (A/A+/AA - 49 2/3 IP, 38 H, 17-16 R-ER (2.90 ERA), 22 BB, 60 K, 1.208 WHIP
LRP Jeff Lorick (A/A+ - 52 1/3 IP, 43 H, 25-13 R-ER (2.24 ERA), 21 BB, 43 K, 1.223 WHIP)

With the platoon of Eric Hinske and Troy Glaus not totally cutting it at first base (507 PA, .238/.339/.413, 19 HR, 80 RBI) and with Glaus going on the disabled list, Braves general manager Frank Wren decided to pull out the stops for a waiver claim.

The Braves traded three minor league relievers to the Chicago Cubs for first baseman Derrek Lee and cash. Lee, a 14-year veteran, has battled back problems this season. Still, he has posted a .251/.335/.416 line in 475 PAs with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs, effectively matching the production of Glaus and Hinske.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Old Buddies Become Trade Partners

CF Rick Ankiel (101 PA, .261/.317/.467, 4 HR, 14 R, 15 RBI, 103 OPS+)
RRP Kyle Farnsworth (44 2/3 IP, 40 H, 13-12 R-ER (2.42 ERA), 12 BB, 36 K, 1.164 WHIP)

RRP Jesse Chavez (36 2/3 IP, 40 H, 24 R-ER (5.89 ERA), 12 BB, 29 K, 1.418 WHIP)
CF Gregor Blanco (66 PA, .310/.394/.362, 0 HR, 9 R, 3 RBI, 107 OPS+)
LRP Tim Collins (AA Mississippi - 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R-ER (1.12 ERA), 3 BB, 14 K, 0.875 WHIP)

The Braves have traded outfielder Gregor Blanco, reliever Jesse Chavez and pitching prospect Tim Collins to the Royals for veteran outfielder Rick Ankiel and reliever Kyle Farnsworth.

I can only imagine the amount of venom some Braves fans have placed into their posted words this afternoon and evening when learning about the trade. Frank Wren traded for the very same Kyle Farnsworth that single-handedly lost the NLDS for the Braves five years ago?! Has he lost his mind?!

Not quite. In fact, on this trading deadline day, Wren has kept his mind quite sane by not giving up any of Atlanta's prized prospects. In the days leading up to the deadline, worries abounded that Wren would trade any of Freddie Freeman (Baseball America's #32 pre-2010 prospect), Arodys Vizcaino (#69), Mike Minor or Randall Delgado to beef up the Braves' outfield production. That is one way to look at the day's work.

Another way is to compare Rick Ankiel directly to the Braves' previous center field producers before this afternoon's game in Cincinnati:

Nate McLouth - 216 PA, .160/.275/.254, 3 HR, 20 R, 14 RBI
Melky Cabrera - 135 PA, .305/.381/.432, 0 HR, 14 R, 11 RBI
Gregor Blanco - 62 PA, .291/.371/.327, 0 HR, 8 R, 3 RBI

Cabrera's line looks strong because he has been the Braves' latest center fielder. But, the rest of his lines, including .242/.289/.325 (128 PA) as a left fielder and .222/.286/.317 (72 PA) as a right fielder, drag his stats down to .265/.328/.366 before today's game.

That doesn't fully prove my case, but the anecdotal evidence of Cabrera committing a bizarre throwing error in today's game might help the idea that the Braves could do better in center field.

Rick Ankiel, who may be the Braves' starting center fielder for the remainder of the season, spent more than a month on the disabled list with a right quad strain. Once again, the Braves have acquired a player with more home runs than the previous player(s) at the position (Ankiel 4, Braves CFs 3). He is better in the small sample size (11 XBH in 101 PAs to Cabrera's 23 in 346 PAs), so he could improve the Braves in that department if he keeps the same rate.

While some Braves fans still haven't forgiven Farnsworth for surrendering a game-tying home run to Brad Ausmus, the likelihood is that he's not going to get the opportunity to screw something like that up. In 37 games with the Royals, Farnsworth was relied upon heavily, pitching 44 2/3 innings. His ERA (2.42) was mostly helped by pitching more than one inning in eleven appearances (1.29 ERA in 21 innings).

However, out of the 99 relievers that have 200 or more appearances since 2006, Farnsworth has the 19th-worst ERA (4.19) and has given up 37 home runs over that span. Fortunately, he has only allowed two this year. and hasn't given up a home run in nearly two months.

In my opinion, I think Ankiel and Farnsworth can improve the Braves in center field and middle relief at the minimal cost to the club's plans (Tim Collins).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Schultz Gets It Right, But How He Defends It Is Lacking

(First, a little background...)

Kenshin Kawakami's season has taken another ghastly turn.

In two-plus innings Sunday, the Braves' fifth starter gave up three runs on six singles to the Kansas City Royals and left only to see the runners he left on score. With a 5-4 deficit, the Japanese hurler was faced with the prospect of starting the season with ten losses and nary a single win. Fortunately for Kenshin, the Braves pulled out an 8-5 victory over Kansas City, leaving him where he was at the start of the day.

With Braves starter Jair Jurrjens nearing his return from a hamstring injury, the question for fans and pundits is who will be sent to the bullpen to make room for Jurrjens in the rotation? Many, if not all, agree that spot starter Kris Medlen should stay in the rotation and Kawakami should be banished to the pen. AJC sportswriter Jeff Schultz agrees, but how he defends the move is questionable arguing at best.

It's time for the Braves to end the Kawakami experiment

It all starts with the headline. The Braves didn't sign Kawakami just to see if Japanese hurlers succeed in the majors; they thought they had something with him. Kenshin means a lot more than being a Braves starter for a simple fact: he is the first Japanese player to play for them in the major leagues. That alone helped them bring solid set-up man Takashi Saito to Atlanta (1-2, 2.92 ERA, 141 ERA+, 24 2/3 IP, 34 K, .973 WHIP before his injury). It seems that it's easy to lose sight of this fact.

So I stood by Bobby Cox Sunday when he said he didn’t want to talk about any future decisions regarding Kenshin Kawakami, though he added, “He’ll make his next start.” Why? By default. Jair Jurrjens has at least another week of rehab left.

Excellent point to start. If Cox had come out and said that Kawakami was going to be demoted to the bullpen before he made his next start, Kenshin would have that hanging over his head while he's trying to hold off a Tigers team that's in contention in the AL Central.

And then I stood by Kenshin Kawakami as he deflected no criticism (a commendable character trait of his) and said of possibly losing his starting job: “I haven’t thought about that much. But being a starter, I’m not really doing my job right now, so I’m ready for anything that is coming.”

Again, no complaints. Kawakami readily accepts blame for things that go wrong, which is a trait that stems from Japan's corporate business-like culture. It's an honorable trait, but Kawakami's taking blame for his performance doesn't totally shield him from criticism, much like what's next:

Kawakami is baseball’s only $23 million fifth starter.

I'm not sure why Schultz dragged Kawakami's contract into this debate. It just shows the Braves tied up a few bucks into their rotation. Derek Lowe has a $60 million, four-year contract that was criticized from the start. Tim Hudson signed a three-year extension at $9 million per year just a couple of months after returning off Tommy John surgery which was questioned by some at the time. Only three starters (Tommy Hanson, Jurrjens and Medlen) are making less than $1 million this season.

If anything, Schultz should be blasting Lowe with a statement like that; there were times last year and now that Lowe was pitching worse than Kawakami.

He also has the distinction of being 0-9 for a first-place team.

That's not a particularly damning statement, as there are poor starters on first-place teams in general. The first-place Cardinals have had to deal with Kyle Lohse underperforming (9 GS, 1-4, 5.89 ERA, 1.711 WHIP), Texas has to attempt to contend with the inconsistencies of Rich Harden (13 GS, 3-3, 5.68 ERA, 1.677 WHIP) and Scott Feldman (14 GS, 5-6, 5.16 ERA, 1.566 WHIP), and there is Javier Vazquez's second go-round with the Yankees which included a demotion to the bullpen for a brief time (13 G, 6-6, 5.01 ERA, 1.286 WHIP).

Of course, when a pitcher is the only Braves pitcher in history to start the season with nine losses and no wins, he can't get away with much.

Only three other pitchers in the majors have lost as many games: Houston’s Wandy Rodriguez (3-10), Cleveland’s David Huff (2-9) and former Brave, now of Pittsburgh, Charlie Morton (1-9).

The Indians are in last place. The Pirates are in last place. The Astros are one-half game ahead of the Pirates. See where I’m going with this?

Unless you're implying that first-place teams aren't "supposed" to trot out players with nine or ten losses and few wins, I don't see where you're going with that statement. We can be better served by comparing all these pitchers' seasons in more detail:

Rodriguez - 14 GS - 6 QS, 3-10 (4-10 team)
75 1/3 IP
95 H
59 R, 51 ER (8)
34 BB
52 SO
6.09 ERA
1.712 WHIP
11.3 H/9
4.1 BB/9
6.2 SO/9
3.10 R/27

Huff - 13 GS - 4 QS, 2-9 (3-10 team)
70 IP
88 H
53 R, 47 ER (6)
30 BB
34 SO
6.04 ERA
1.686 WHIP
11.3 H/9
3.9 BB/9
4.4 SO/9
3.83 R/27

Morton - 10 GS - 4 QS, 1-9 (1-9 team)
43 1/3 IP
66 H
52 R, 45 ER (7)
16 BB
35 SO
9.35 ERA
1.892 WHIP
13.7 H/9
3.3 BB/9
7.3 SO/9
1.72 R/27

Kawakami - 14 GS - 6 QS, 0-9 (4-10 team)
75 1/3 IP
85 H
47 R, 40 ER (7)
25 BB
51 SO
4.78 ERA
1.460 WHIP
10.2 H/9
3.0 BB/9
6.1 SO/9
3.51 R/27

Now we see some more similarities: a high amount of hits, walks and unearned runs allowed, relatively few strikeouts, high WHIPs and ERAs, poor quality start ratios and extremely low run support. Kawakami is the best of these pitchers and has the highest amount of no-decisions because the Braves are a better team than the Astros, Pirates or Indians. However, that doesn't do much to salvage Kawakami's record.

It would be best to take this route, but Schultz tries to go it a different way:

Yes, Kawakami has received little run support in some starts but that hasn’t really been the case of late. He was handed a 4-0 lead Sunday against Kansas City and promptly doused it with gasoline and lit a match to it. He also committed his third error in his last two starts.

There's no question that start was the worst of Kawakami's major league career. Errors aren't necessarily bad if you can make pitches and limit the damage. At this point, it appears that Kawakami isn't very capable of doing that. That being said...

Further — and this is where all of those, “Oh, stop picking on him, meanie; don’t you know the Braves don’t score for him?” arguments fall apart — Kawakami’s ERA is 4.78.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. There is a glaring counter-example for that statement: Derek Lowe. Lowe's ERA is 4.77, but he's getting 5.79 runs per 27 outs of support. Lowe owes his 9-5 record (10-5 team) partly to that. If Kawakami had Lowe's run support, there's no doubt in my mind he'd have a similar record or one close to .500. The poor run support is a significant culprit.

Once again, because some of his defenders ignore this number: 4.78. That is the worst ERA on the staff among active pitchers, save reliever Jesse Chavez (7.33), who doesn’t really count.

I haven't ignored it, but you seem to be ignoring Lowe, whose ERA is .01 higher than Kawakami's, and he doesn't get this kind of criticism because he has the most wins on the staff combined with a high run support.

Kawakami also is yielding the most hits per nine innings (10.2), has allowed the most home runs (nine) and, it follows, the highest slugging percentage (.478).

See, things like this are where you should have been going all along! Lets compare Derek's stats to Kenshin's and see how they match up:

Lowe - 15 GS - 7 QS, 9-5 (10-5 team)
88 2/3 IP
89 H
49 R, 47 ER
37 BB
51 SO
4.77 ERA
1.421 WHIP
5.79 R/27
9.0 H/9
3.8 BB/9
5.2 SO/9
5.79 R/27

Lowe has a similar resume to Kawakami and has given up just two less home runs (seven), but he has a 9-5 record. Why? Run support, pure and simple.

Stop the madness.

Is it just me or does that statement not have enough feeling to it. It needs an exclamation point. Or two. Like this: Stop the madness!!

If Jurrjens is cleared following his next start at Gwinnett, this should be an easy decision for Cox: Keep Kris Medlen (3-0, 3.67 as a starter) in the rotation and put Kawakami in the bullpen.

Yes, exactly. Let's look at Medlen's starting record too:

Medlen - 8 GS - 5 QS
3-0 (7-1 team)
49 IP
49 H
22 R, 20 ER (2)
9 BB
32 SO
3.67 ERA
1.184 WHIP
9.0 H/9
1.7 BB/9
5.9 SO/9
4.89 R/27

Very impressive so far. I think Kris has the talent to keep that kind of a record going.

Granted, middle relief is not what general manager Frank Wren projected when he gave Kawakami a contract for over $7 million per year.

I don't think it's what anyone thought would happen. I thought that Kawakami would at least be a fourth starter when he came over here to Major League Baseball. I figured he'd have his struggles, and he did have them last year. But this year is just a whole 'nother league in struggling. It's rather unfortunate and kind of sad. You have to feel bad for the guy, even if you're trying to toss him out with the bathwater.

But Kawakami has shown an ability to strike people out. So maybe there’s something to salvage from this.

Think of it as salvaging the rear bumper after a front-end collision.

A car wreck of a season. Not quite a train wreck, but I suppose it'll suffice.

I can pretty much guess which way sentiment is going on this. I’ve got a poll up also. Let me hear ya.

You heard me here, Jeff!

The poll's choices are as follows:

What should the Braves do with Kenshin Kawakami?
  • Keep him as a starter
  • Put him in the bullpen
  • Sit him on the curb with a sign that reads "Owner will pay $7 million for you to haul away"
At 12:08 AM, EST on June 22nd, I voted "Put him in the bullpen".

60% (1,686) who voted said put him in the bullpen. 36% (1,020) said release him and eat the cost. 4% (92) said to keep him as a starter.

I don't agree with eating Kawakami's money and releasing him. With the way the money is being doled out in Atlanta, you can't just throw it away to a guy who isn't playing for you anymore; you have to get something out of him. Kawakami's better than this and he knows it. He can probably regroup in the bullpen and salvage something out of this year.

It is the correct move to put Kawakami in the bullpen because of his struggles. However, we can blame lack of run support as a reason for his struggles, despite the argument that Jeff Schultz provides.