Over the past two days I’ve tried to show that while not a $6.3 million pitcher, Kenshin Kawakami is a serviceable 5th starter for a team that could provide him a fresh start. So, who are his potential matches? Well, for a start anyone who thinks the Yankees are even a possibility also believes in unicorns and is in the market for that swampland I have just outside of Death Valley. Daisuke Matsuzaka was a far more successful pitcher in Japan than Kawakami yet with the Red Sox he’s become a 5 + and out guy with a 4.69 ERA and a 1.373 WHIP. I know Kawakami had a good outing against the Red Sox but they had never seen him. Repeated exposure to his stuff would not – in my not so humble opinion – end well. So let’s agree – or not you tell me – that the NL is his best option. After chewing the situation over I think there are three real options; the Mets, the Cards and the Astros. There’s a problem with all of these teams however, they have no money.
The Astros are probably the best fit. They came to camp with Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Meyers, and 29 other pitchers hoping to fill the last three starting spots.The club is for sale and are in a major rebuilding period while trying not to spend any money so the payroll is small enough to be attractive to say Mark Cuban. They lost their arbitration case to Hunter Pence and are saddled with Carlos Lee’s huge contract full of diminishing returns. The NL Central looks to be the Reds, Brewers and everyone else. KK would start every fifth day, keep the ball in the ballpark and put up ok numbers. Ideally we’d get Pence in return. He look ungainly, awkward and out of place but he’ll hit 205 homers, drive in 80 and get on base at a 330 clip. He’s a good fielder with a good arm and has while right is where he plays now, he has played center and done well. he got 6.9 million in arbitration this year and has one more arbitration year before free agency. The Astros would save $600K and gain a pitcher. Maybe we throw in a Brent Cleven or other minor leaguer as well (not a ranked prospect) to make it sweeter.
The Cards are a good fit too. They lost Wainwright, Carpenter is a year older and have nothing in the minors to fill in the gap. Dave Duncan might just make an acceptable number 5 out of him. The Cards even with Albert and Holliday aren’t going anywhere (IMNSHO) so the pressure would soon evaporate. Before anyone says lets get Colby Rasmus stop. They aren’t giving away his talent for KK. No, in the case of the Redbirds we’d have to eat some salary (although I expect Wainwright’s covered by insurance) but in return we could a guy like outfielder Phillip Cerreto and perhaps Matt Carpenter a 3rd baseman from AA last year. The Cards would be a harder sell but I have a hunch Duncan could fix KK; look what he did for Weaver.
Last but not well okay sadly for their fans least come the Mets. It seems that every day another shoe drops. Beltran (who I suggested we do a two for one for last winter) is back but not an every day player yet. They’ve signed every recovering pitcher without a contract on the injury list from last year and have Santana not sure to be back by the All-Star break. Oliver Perez will be selling programs soon and the bullpen hero of a couple of years ago and father in law smacker from last year has a vesting option that could be worth half the lineup next year. They’re left with Mike Pelfrey, Jonathon Niese and R.A. Dickey – who I admire a lot. If we threw in the right padding KK could fit right in to that team but again we’d have to eat a lot of money and take low minor prospects. . . or maybe Jose Reyes. . . nope dreaming again, sorry.
There is an outside chance that a dark horse team from the AL might be in play. The Mariners have a Japanese owner who might try and help KK save face. The Mariners are going nowhere and their rotation will need innings. I think as I said earlier the AL would beat him up badly but of the three divisions the AL West might be the easiest on him so perhaps that is a fit.
Those are my options, guesses and wishes. Honestly I think he may still be around midyear or later. Still I’d be talking hard to the Astros, after all they’re just down the road a piece.