Only the New York Yankees fanbase can go crazy over A.J. Burnett sucking in a game where Derek Jeter went 5-6 and the Yankees scored one million runs off the White Sox in Chicago. A.J. was staked to a 12 or 13-1 lead or something like that, and he couldn’t get out of the 5th inning. Instead of celebrating the Yankees offense and winning streak, the media and fans chose to go after A.J. Burnett, like it’s a freakin’ #NEWSFLASH that A.J. Burnett sucks and was a horrible signing by GM Brian Cashman.
I am a self-professed founder of the A.J. Burnett Sucks fanclub, I warned the Yankees and fans that the signing would be a bad move, so it pains me to tell all of A.J. Burnett’s other haters that he is actually doing better in 2011 than 2010, and it really shouldn’t come to a surprise to anyone that A.J. Burnett is not an ace, never was an ace, and never will be an ace.
If only Brian Cashman would eat the cost and manager Joe Girardi would stop telling A.J. he is a #2 starter and putting him in the post-season. As it stands now A.J. Burnett is blocking the development of Ivan Nova and/or Phil Hughes.
At 16.5 million dollars a year, it’s a cost that Cashman does not want to sink yet. He doesn’t even want to relegate Burnett as the infamous “long man” out of the bullpen like previous Yankees busts like Jeff Weaver, Jose Contreras, and Javier Vazquez served before getting shipped out. Nope, AJ is here to stay. He will outlast President Obama.
But here’s the thing- 2010 A.J. Burnett isn’t as bad as 2010 A.J. Burnett.
A few of A.J.Burnett’s improved stats:
ERA, ERA +, WAR, K/9, K/BB, WHIP, H/9, BABIP (batting average on balls in play). His BABIP is .270, last year it was .323, and his career BABIP is .291. The MLB average is .298.
However, 2011 A.J. Burnett is walking a few more batters, throwing more wild pitches, and is giving up HRs at a slightly higher rate. His Quality Start percentage is at 35%, down from 42% last year. His career QS% is 57% and the MLB average is 49%. AJ’s fastball velocity has been on a downward trend for years. He currently averages 92.6 MPH.
If you actually watched or listened to all of AJ’s games this year, you would have noticed that he usually has one “inning from Hell” where he either gets fatigued or loses his focus, and Joe Girardi is slow to hook him, or he leaves men on base, which ultimately score to jack up his ERA and ruin his Quality Start. You should have noticed that AJ has been involved in close games this year, and sometimes the Yanks don’t hit for him. This week’s slugfest between New York and Chicago was an aberration. It was the first time all year AJ did not finish the 5th.
So, I just wanted to let you know that 2011 AJ is better than 2010 AJ..but that’s not saying much. AJ Burnett sucks and will always suck.
Anyway, maybe it’s time for Girardi and Cashman to stop coddling A.J.’s fragile psyche- I mean how worse could he pitch, right? Joe and Brian always put the younger pitchers “on notice” and Hughes and Nova have to pitch for their jobs one start at a time. Due to Burnett’s huge contract, they have to give him work, but why not try to officially make him the #5 starter and see if that motivates him. Put his ass in the bullpen like they did to Chien-Ming Wang. Would AJ destroy the clubhouse chemistry if his authority figures taking the kid gloves off?
The grim reality is that it’s possible no amount of motivation (carrots vs sticks) could make Burnett into something he’s not. AJ was 32 years old when he signed with the Yanks three seasons ago, and it was unrealistic for Cashman and the Steinbrenners to believe AJ would improve with age, especially since he never harnessed his so-called “stuff” that scouts and coaches have always gushed about. Some teams and pitching coaches get cocky and believe they can “unlock” a player’s potential. AJ makes 16.5 million a year because of his “stuff”, which has never translated to 20 wins or an ERA under 3.30 for any season. Scouts have made his career. His career season average is 13-12, 4.03 ERA, and throughout his career he has found his way to the DL. His most similiar pitcher according to the fun Bill James Similarity Score: Pete Freakin’ Harnisch. Randy Wolf is on the list too. The Yanks have been so “fortunate” that AJ has been healthy with them.
- Put him on waivers and pray the White Sox or Orioles pick him up, because they are suckers.
- Trade him for low level minor leaguers and eat the bulk of his contract.
- Cut him and eat over $33 million dollars (Still much less than the money spent on Kei Igawa).
- Demote him to 5th (or 6th) starter.
- Demote him to bullpen.
- Keep on insisting he’s the #2 starter, block Nova/Hughes, and allow Burnett to pitch Game 4 of the ALCS (skipped in the ALDS, like last year). Continue this bullshit until 2013 and then eat the last $16.5.
Which is the most irrational choice? The one that the Yanks will continue to practice- the last choice.
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