Decision For Braves' 2010 Rotation

Randy GautreauxContributor IJuly 29, 2009

All right...I've had enough. I've had enough of having any momentum completely drained from watching another horrendous Kawakami start. Now, I'm not here to bash the man, because he hasn't pitched completely bad all season...just not very good.

Entering tonights game against Josh Johnson and the Marlins, Kawakami had a 4.04 ERA with 72 Ks to 43 walks. Not bad if you need him as a No. 5 pitcher. However, the problem has been his innings pitched.

Javier Vazquez, just for comparisons, has pitched 133 innings to a tune of 2.98 ERA. Thirty-three extra innings! That's about three to four extra games pitched. Kawakami's short night tonight (four plus innings, six earned) are not going to help his numbers very much.

Nor will it help his bid to keep his spot in the rotation. The Braves currently have three pitchers with sub 3.00 ERAs in Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens and Vazquez. Derek Lowe's ERA is a bit high, though a five to six game stretch of poor performances skyrocketed it. Lowe has been pitching much better of late plus he tends to go deep into ball games because he can at least handle damage control.

Shortly after watching the Braves fall 6-3 to the Florida Marlins, I read an article by Mark Bowman of that said Hudson will not be going to the bullpen when he returns. Instead, he will be inserted into the rotation (which makes sense, seeing as he is making starts in his rehabs, not appearances out of the bullpen).

Bobby Cox will never tip his hand until the last minute, but just by watching the performance of all the pitchers thus far, Kawakami is definitely the odd man out.

I'm not saying the Braves will trade him. His numbers and financial obligations would scare any team into accepting a trade, unless maybe the Braves were to include a prospect, but for the rest of 2009, Kawakami may be heading into bullpen duty.

Which brings me to my next point. I've been reading an awful lot that next year the Braves will not be able to afford both Vazquez and Hudson. Reason being because the Braves will need to pay either Soriano or Gonzalez a hefty raise to keep them from walking to free-agency including all the money going to arbitration eligible players for next year.

However, I do believe that with a few shrew moves, like allowing Garret Anderson to walk next year (unless he really takes a nice discount) and trading Kelly Johnson (who I really do like but a raise on his $2.4M pay to be a back up infielder?

However, he could be converted into a left fielder and platoon with Matt Diaz, this all assuming Heyward isn't patrolling right field by then, could clear up some space and still allow for Hudson's option to be picked up. Plus, we never know if payroll might go up (I know, I may be dreaming on this one but it did go up this year).

That being said, next year the general manager of the Braves must, and I repeat, MUST set his rotation with Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson and Derek Lowe. All in that order!

As for Kawakami, I would say he may be the most expensive middle reliever in baseball. But I do not want to see someone pitching just because he's getting paid. If the job can't be done well, then step aside and let someone else do it.

Again, I could just be dreaming of that rotation, but there are ways, Wren will just have to make some bold moves.