January 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm by Kevin Orris under Front Office, Player Analysis, Q&A
Earlier this month, I received a question from a reader that wanted to know:
Why is Nate McLouth essentially being handed the starting center field job in 2011 while Kenshin Kawakami is being shown the door?
While I e-mailed him my response, I wanted to share it here for those of you who may be wondering the same thing.
For those unaware, Kenshin Kawakami is currently a member of the Mississippi Braves, the Braves’ Double-A affiliate. Therefore, he is still a member of the organization, however, Frank Wren has been trying to move him.
According to Wren, he has received multiple offers for Kawakami, including one from a NPB team in Japan, but he has not found an offer that has satisfied him to this point. I am positive that the Baseball Operations department has been evaluating plenty of scenarios, with every one of them having Kawakami dealt before Opening Day. He’s set to make $6.67 million next year, which would make him one of the highest paid minor league players of all-time.
From what I remember, most of the offers that Wren has received involve the Braves taking on around $4 million worth of salary. Right now, they are just waiting to receive an offer that provides bigger returns than those previously offered whether it is through cash or players. There’s an outside shot that they could trade a bad contract for a bad contract, but more likely that they trade him for a handful of washed up minor leaguers.
If they cannot find a suitor or an offer that they are satisfied with, I am sure that he will be invited to camp with a chance to compete for a role, but it’s unlikely that he will win one.
The Braves are committed to developing their young talent, therefore, Kawakami has no shot of making the rotation out of camp. Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, and Mike Minor currently make up the rotation with Brandon Beachy next in line.
While it once seemed like the bullpen could be a realistic landing place for KK, there are far too many superior arms at this point in Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Peter Moylan, Eric O’Flaherty, Scott Linebrink, and George Sherrill. There are also a handful of arms competing for a potential eighth bullpen spot: Scott Proctor, Erik Cordier, Juan Abreu, and Cristhian Martinez.
There aren’t many teams with money left in their budgets that are in desperate need of a back-end starter, so there’s a chance that he does compete in the spring, but even then, it only improves his trade value. Bill James projects him to pitch 50 innings this year with a 4.32 ERA. I’m not sure where he expects him to pitch, but there aren’t many players that the Braves would be willing to remove from the 40-man roster in order to make room for KK.
It’s interesting that you mention the Nate McLouth vs. Kawakami comparison. Fans might not realize this, but Kawakami posted a positive WAR last year, 0.6, while McLouth had an abysmal -1.3.
Obviously, any time that a player is costing you wins, it’s a bad thing. If WAR didn’t exist though, I would think that Kawakami cost the Braves more actual wins than McLouth did. (This is just an observation based on memory and no actual research)
The reason that McLouth has been handed the center field job is because of depth. While both are scheduled to make more money than they are probably worth, McLouth has more value over the alternative compared to Kawakami, who presents negative value to the pitching staff.
While McLouth had a sub-par season last year, he is still the best center fielder that the Braves have available. Kawakami isn’t even one of the best six starting pitchers available to the Braves, hence the difference.
In a perfect world, both would come into Spring Training and produce better numbers than ever before, but this is far from a perfect world. Don’t expect anything right out of the gate, but after the 40 game mark, the Braves are going to be forced to acquire an upgrade for McLouth if he fails to produce.
Have a burning question? E-mail me at Kevinorris@capitolavenueclub.com and I’ll answer them through e-mail and on the website on a regular basis.
July 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Draft, Farm System, Minor Leagues, Prospects, Q&A, Quotes
What can you tell us about this Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg character who is currently tearing up Appy League pitching for the Danville Braves? He was a blogger favorite from the get-go because of his name, but after his first 23 games, he’s hitting .402/.452/.620. Is he a legitimate prospect? Or is he just having an extremely fluky start to his professional career?
Callis responded by publishing the answer on his Ask BA segment. Here’s his response:
Spanjer-Furstenburg might have the coolest name in pro ball. But at this point, he’s more of a player off to a sizzling start than a real prospect.
A South African, Spanjer-Furstenburg was on his nation’s provisional 2009 World Baseball Classic roster but didn’t make the team. He began his college career at Florida Atlantic but transferred to NCAA Division II Nova Southeastern (Fla.) this year. He set a school record by hitting three homers in one game, and he batted .393 with 15 homers before signing with the Braves as a 16th-round pick.
A 6-foot-2, 235-pound righthanded hitter, Spanjer-Furstenburg played a variety of positions as an amateur but fits best at first base in pro ball. He’s old for the Appy League at 21 and his bat will really have to carry him, but he does have above-average power potential.
And Kevin responded in an email:
Names I want to see on backs of jerseys
He’s not really a prospect yet. Every team has these guys, and it usually means nothing.
Well, he’s still a blogger favorite even if the prospect guys don’t think he’s a legit prospect yet. They’re not wrong, nobody in the Appy League is really a prospect. Especially not those drafted in the 16th round. Anyway, thanks to Callis and Goldstein for keeping us informed about the blogging community’s favorite Appy Leaguer, Riaan-Spanjer Furstenburg.
July 11, 2009 at 11:25 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Player Analysis, Q&A, Transactions
Update 07/12/2009: See Bottom.
Dave Doyle is a very well-respected Mets Blogger over at Mets Report, a site he writes and maintains. We both exchanged questions and answers about the player our team just traded away. If you’re looking for any New York Mets content, please visit the Mets Report, a top-notch blog. Without further ado:
Q: Church gets a bad rap defensively. Yet the statistics (UZR and +/-) suggest he’s a slightly above-average defender. Tell us about his glove work from a fans’ perspective.
A: He’s not Roberto Clemente but Church is definitely an above average right fielder. He even filled in for Carlos Beltran in center field very capably on occasion this season. His arm is very good, not as good as Francoeur though. And he has surprising range for his body type plus good instincts on the ball. An above average fielder is a perfect description of him.
Q: We frequently hear things along the lines of “Ryan Church was in Manuel’s doghouse”. Two questions, 1) was he actually in Manuel’s doghouse and 2) what did he do to get there?
A: Church was definitely not one of Jerry Manuel’s guys. Manuel said in spring training that Daniel Murphy is a better hitter than Church (which is questionable at best). And Manuel wouldn’t even refer to Church by name when he missed third base in Los Angeles that cost the Mets a game on May 18th. Manuel referred to him as “the guy” that missed third. Those are a couple of examples among countless others that gave an indication that Manuel had a problem with Church. Both Manuel and Church denied there was a problem publicly, but there clearly was a problem. I’m not sure what caused the problem initially. My suspicion is that Manuel always expected more from Church than we got on the field and/or that it was just a bad personality mix.
Q: On the surface the Francoeur-Church swap seems like a “change of scenery” trade. I know Francoeur will benefit from being away from the Braves, do you think Church will benefit from playing in Atlanta (or being away from the Mets)?
A: That’s a good question. It was widely reported here in New York during the off-season that Ryan Church didn’t like playing in New York and wanted out. This was reported by Mike Francesa on WFAN radio. Francesa said he got that from a reliable source in the Mets organization. Church denied the story. But I think that there was something to it myself. So I do think that going to the Braves will be a positive move for Church. I don’t think the Mets, as an organization, came to think of Church as part of the solution to their problems.
Q: What was your reaction when the Mets dealt Milledge for Church and Schnider within the division and what was your reaction to the Mets dealing Church for Francouer, also within the division?
A: I wasn’t surprised that Milledge was traded. He had major problems with some of the veterans on the Mets, notably Billy Wagner. But I think it was a unanimous fan reaction that the Mets should’ve gotten more than Church and Schneider for him. I have to admit that I was surprised that the Mets would make a deal with the Braves. But my reaction is that it seems like a pretty even deal. I’ve heard from Mets fans that they hate this deal. But neither Church nor Francoeur is likely to have a major impact on the division race overall.
Q: Are Atlanta baseball fans going to like Church?
A: Another good question. Church doesn’t say much. But when he speaks, he’s always said all of the right things while he’s been in New York. His comments to the media have always shown class and maturity. He’s not going to come into town and rock the boat with inflammatory comments or actions. He never dogs it in the field or on the bases. The only thing that’s frustrating to watch is that he doesn’t hit lefties well. If he’s platooning, that won’t be an issue.