The Way I Really Feel About AJ Burnett.
Ripping on AJ Burnett is something that I will not do, simply because the New York Yankees signed him. Nick Swisher was a nice trade. CC, with all the money involved, is a great pitcher. That much money is risky, but they are getting someone who may be overweight, but has never had any history of injury, and once again, is a great pitcher. AJ Burnett is a different case. Because while Burnett has great stuff, up there with the best stuff in baseball, he has had questions about his determination, questions about his willingless to pitch when the slightest tweak comes along. This is not directed at the Yankees because I dislike them, this is directed AJ Burnett, and a five year paycheck.
I try to put myself in the perspective of a GM. And if I was sitting in most seats that reside overhead the diamond, there is little possibility that I extend an offer of 5 years, $82 milllion to a player such as Burnett. A pitcher with injury history AND the inability to pitch through a minor injury (Or so I have heard). For 2009 it looks as though the Yankees will have a filthy rotation on paper, especially if they bring back Pettitte for insurance or somehow bring in a Sheets or Lowe too. And if the Red Sox had signed him I probably could find a way to talk myself into Burnett’s “upside,” the flashes of dominance that he has shown. But I think that I wanted Cashman to make this signing, because I believe that in the long run, this will be a story of a pitcher who makes too much money and misses some time dished out over a five year period.
In eight seasons, AJ Burnett has started in 30+ games only three times. And two of those seasons were in contract years, as a fellow MLBlogger has stated numerous times. In his “career” year, Burnett had a 4.07 ERA, ERA+ of 105, while playing with a great defense behind him. The innings were there, 221. The strikeouts were there, 231, which is very good. And 86 walks is not nearly enough to impact a pitcher significantly with that many strikeouts. But still an ERA over 4 is not some incredible feat. Burnett’s Opponent OBP was .322. Even with the amount of strikeouts, Burnett allowed a fair share of baserunners, and that helped to translate into a rather high ERA for what some regard to be an ace.
Again, I could talk myself into Burnett, and depending on what the Yankees and Red Sox do the rest of the offseason, the Yankees may even be the favorite between the two of them. But while Burnett looks good short term, he looks quite risky long term. And the organization seemingly goes on forever. So while some teams bring up young cheap pitchers from the farm to contribute, others will make risky, lucrative signings, like that of the Burnett signing. But I have no crystal ball, therefore, maybe something turns on in Burnett’s head, and he becomes motivated to make all his starts (if that is the case as it appears to be).