Kawakami is one of the veteran imports out of Japan coming over to play Major League Baseball this upcoming season - he signed with the Atlanta Braves and they are looking to get something out of him.
My friend rounded up some loose Japanese cards of Kawakami - and also other players like this guy. I think they are all subset cards and none of them are rookie cards. They are coated with gloss on both sides and are somewhat aesthetically pleasing.
It seems like the Atlanta Braves' starting rotation looks better that it did several months ago - though the team hasn't been in the postseason since 2005 and the buzz has been with teams like the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies.
It will be interesting to see how the Braves' starting rotation holds up - when things break down if guys don't perform well, take a step back instead of take a step forward and really aren't as good as expected.
Derek Lowe didn't have a defined role when he first came to the Major Leagues - but his talents have enabled him to be a well-paid starting pitcher, despite not always being faithful to his home team.
Jair Jurrjens didn't really come out of nowhere - but had a nice breakthrough season in his first full season in the Major Leagues in 2008.
Javier Vazquez needs to grow a pair [check out his last three regular season starts in 2008, not to mention his 2008 American League Division Series start] - but at the end of the year you look at his ability to pitch 200 innings a year [while striking out nearly the same number of hitters as innings pitched] and you see a workhorse whom you roll the dice with every year.
Vazquez has also recorded double digit wins in nine of 11 Major League seasons - you can almost say he is the epitome of a quality No. 3 starter.
Tim Hudson probably isn't coming back for a while and neither is Tom Glavine - whom I think is really looking to leave the game on his own terms and is still trying to make a comeback despite some long odds.