Musings On AJPosted: August 10, 2011
I was not happy when the Yankees signed AJ Burnett to that five year deal worth $82.5 million, in fact, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that already. The Yankees brass saw an 18-win pitcher who struck out over nine per nine innings and threw over 200 innings and posted a 4.07/3.45/3.51 ER/FIP/xFIP line. They also saw a guy who dominated their team and the Red Sox. I saw something different though. I saw a guy who had trouble staying healthy was very inconsistent and coincidentally had a good season on the last year of his contract.
Now we are almost three years deep into this new contract, and AJ has performed well in 1 plus seasons as a Yankee. He had a good 2009, but has fallen off big time since. He had a horrible 2010 campaign and he has stepped it up a little bit in 2011. But for what AJ can and should be, fans and management should not be content with AJ being able to go five innings every start and keeping his team in the game.
Now the Yanks have six starters and if Phil Hughes is able to build on his last performance this coming Saturday, Burnett will be the weakest link. People have been bringing up the fact that he seems to run out of the steam after the first few innings (see last night) so why not try him in the bullpen. His stuff would probably play up in the bullpen. He would have a fastball probably in the mid-nineties and his power curveball would probably have more bite than ever.
His two pitch arsenal would probably fit much better in the pen, but with the amount of money he is making and his pride, I’m sure management will try to keep him in the rotation for as long as possible. But it will come to a point (if Hughes and Ivan Nova keep pitching well) where AJ’s pride will be pinned up against putting the best team on the field and in that case, it’s bad that we don’t know which one will win out.