Braves drop Kenshin Kawakami from 40-man roster

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Just in case there was any doubt that the Braves have completely given up on Kenshin Kawakami, they dropped him from their 40-man roster today, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. The Japanese right-hander passed through waivers and was sent outright to Double-A Mississippi.

Kawakami, 35, is 8-22 with a 4.32 ERA in 50 games (41 starts) since signing a three-year, $23 million contract with the Braves prior to the 2009 season. This includes a 5.15 ERA to go along with an ugly 1-10 record this past season. Though Kawakami was removed from the 40-man roster today, he is still owed $6.67 million for next season.

Braves general manager Frank Wren is trying to swing a deal with a major league club, but his best bet may be to find a willing suitor in Japan. Bowman reports that the Yomiuri Giants and Nippon Ham Fighters have contacted the Braves to express their interest. An unidentified third team has indicated to the Braves that they would be willing to pick up more of Kawakami’s salary than either the Giants or the Fighters.

With the Braves trying to set a budget for their offseason, I would expect Wren to find a resolution sooner rather than later.

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.

Video: Aaron Judge sends a baseball into the upper deck at Citi Field

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit another jaw-dropping home run, victimizing Mets starter Robert Gsellman in the top of the fourth game of Wednesday night’s game at Citi Field. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t even move. The ball traveled 457 feet and was hit 117 MPH off the bat, according to Katie Sharp of River Ave Blues.

The home run moved Judge’s AL-best total to 37, putting him two ahead of the Royals’ Mike Moustakas. Along with the prodigious dinger total, he has 80 RBI, 90 runs scored, and a .291/.421/.616 triple-slash line in 499 plate appearances. Judge is on pace for 50 dingers. If it holds, that would give him the rookie record for home runs in a season. Mark McGwire currently holds the record, having hit 49 for the Athletics in 1987.