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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WHY CRUCIFYING BURNETT NEEDS TO STOP

(Photo: Getty)
I’m sorry, but I’m at the end of my rope with people continually ranting against AJ Burnett. Suggestions that AJ needs to be traded or released because he’s not pulling his weight are ridiculous. Let me give you an important piece of information. AJ Burnett is not a superstar. He’s never been a superstar. He’s a very good pitcher that sometimes gets into trouble and barely ever gets run support. That’s it, end of story. For anyone who thought we were getting CC Sabathia "light" was reading the wrong headlines. Read Baseball Reference. They have all of AJ’s career stats, and while some years look stellar, some don’t and guess what, it’s always been that way, so get used to it.

AJ Burnett was on a pitching staff with the Florida Marlins that consisted of Brad Penny, Josh Beckett and Carl Pavano and when the Yankees played the Marlins in the 2003 World Series, AJ was hurt and didn’t even pitch. When AJ went to the Blue Jays, he was behind Doc Halladay in the rotation and while he had 1 great season winning 18 games in 2008, he had a few seasons that stunk. 2001 he was 11-12 with a 4.05 ERA. He was 10-8 for 2006 and 2007 with an ERA in the high 3's those 2 years. His best record ever? 2008, 18-10. Fact.

This is a pitcher that looks much better if his offense hits and scores for him and if not, whatever mistakes he makes on the mound are amplified ten-fold. This is nothing new about AJ Burnett. No, he’s no scrub, but yes, he has his problems, just like every other pitcher does. Larry Rothschild has really done some magic this season getting AJ right, and while it hasn’t always worked, I think everyone can agree, it’s gotten better. Last year AJ was lost, 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA, his worst season ever; No confidence and no great quality starts the second half. This year he started strong and while he hasn’t exactly continued strong, he’s in a much better situation than last year.

I don’t dislike AJ Burnett, in fact, I dig his stuff, but tweaks are continual with AJ Burnett and Larry Rothschild knows this. So, he’ll need to make them, and fast. Even in WHY CASHMAN BELIEVES IN HIS YANKEES, I even chose AJ Burnett as the 3rd starter if we were to start the playoffs tomorrow. Who did I pick as our number 2? Bartolo Colon. I know, it sounds crazy but if you need consistency, you need to do that. Put it in perspective; If CC Sabathia were to win a Game 1 and Colon pitched like he’s been pitching all year and won Game 2, at least if AJ didn’t get run support, we’d only be down 2-1 instead of 1-1 and Freddy Garcia could use his veteran experience to take us to the next round. That’s not a slight against AJ Burnett, that’s the reality.

The Yankee brass sold us all a bill of goods in 2009 propping AJ Burnett up on a pedestal when he came over to the Yanks. CC, AJ and Teixeira came over and it’s was their brilliant P.R. machine at work, hinting about the Yankees new “aces” and a “1,2 punch” and yes, for 2009, it worked in their favor. But, honestly, anyone who knew AJ’s career numbers and injury record knew this was bogus. If you believed it, you were dreaming. Again, AJ Burnett is no superstar pitcher, he’s a talented pitcher that is constantly a work in progress and I’m fine with that because I never saw him as anything over than that.

(Photo: Getty)

So understand it and accept it and tell me, what other pitcher out there is better than AJ Burnett? Ubaldo Jimenez? I doubt it. I put him at the same level as AJ. 15-12 with a 3.47 ERA in 2009 and 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA in 2010. I’m sorry, 1 great and 1 good year does not a superstar pitcher make. Jimenez was 6-9 with the Rockies this year before going to the Indians. And what about Bedard? Erik Bedard was available. The Red Sox snatched him up. Well, they can have him. This is a guy that is always injured and to me, he’s over, lefty or not. There is no other starter that was available that I’d want on the mound in place of AJ Burnett.

So tonight AJ, you need to do your magic. Pitch, pitch, pitch and the offense, God willing, will get you the run support you need and hopefully that continues for you throughout the entire rest of the season. I’m pulling for you buddy, don’t make me look like a fool.

Please comment and let me know what you think and follow me on Twitter @BleednYankeeBlu and join the group Bleeding Yankee Blue on Facebook, just type it in.

16 comments:

  1. AJ is so frustrating to me as a fan because he has such electric stuff when he is on, but he always seems to make mistakes at the worst times. Give him a lead, and I always feel like he is going to give it right back with one of his patented down-the-middle fastballs that winds up in the seats.

    And he has been a little better about it this year, but he seems incapable of gutting out a game when he doesn't have his good stuff.

    So yeah, if he's a 4 or 5 starter, I guess you could live with him. But he's being touted as a #2 starter, and he simply is not good enough for that spot.

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  2. You echo my frustration Anonymous, but if you followed AJ throughout his career, you knew what you were getting when he came to the Bronx. That being said, I really like the guy and I think he gets the raw end of the deal sometimes.

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  3. A.J. got plenty of run support tonight--13-1 lead, and did not last 5 innings. When he left the game, the score was 13-8. The Yankees placing him on waivers yesterday was no "accident.' This guy is what he is...an extremely overpaid mediocre...at best...pitcher. His career numbers as a Yankee are 31-33. Only in New York can someone "laugh all the way to the bank" as A.J. did with the ridiculous contract that the Yankees gave him.

    But the bottom line is that Yankees gave him the money, so the blame is not entirely on A.J. The Yankees were willing to pay him that kind of money, and now they are stuck with him for another 2 or 3 years.

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  4. it seems aj always blows it when the yankees give him run support. He pitches well in a close game though like when he pitched 3 or 4 starts in a row last month giving up 3 runs or less but he had no run support. As for his contract, the yankees gave him that much because he had great career numbers against the red sox but after joining the yankees his numbers against the red sox are ridiculously bad.

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  5. If he had a shred of self-awareness, he'd retire out of shame.

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  6. His performance tonight really backs your article!

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  7. He made you look like a fool.

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  8. I can't stand AJ Burnett. I've stuck with him all along until this very start. He gets a huge lead like this and he coughs most of it up and he can't get out of the fifth inning. It's a damn shame that he makes soo much money, thus he can't be demoted to the bullpen or be released, or be traded simply because no one will take his money. Right now if you take money out of it, A.J Burnett would be the one out of the rotation. It was like Mike Mussina in 2007. He was getting paid a lot but Torre skipped him a few times around. Girardi has to do what's best for the team, and right now having Hughes or Nova out of the rotation just isn't the right thing to do.

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  9. Joke for the day: What’s worse than an injured Carl Pavano? Answer: A healthy A.J. Burnett. I've been a Yankee fan since 1963 and AJ Burnett is the most frustrating pitcher they've had since then. I've seen inconsistent pitchers before, but I've never seen a pitcher look great in the 1st, 4th and 6th innings and terrible in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th. His only saving grace: he seems like a nice guy. I still can’t believe that two years ago he made more money than Roy Halladay.

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  10. There is no excuse for not getting a win when staked to a 13-1 lead. I don't blame a guy for just going out there and getting shelled. AJ Burnett is not mentally tough, and that's what pisses me off. You can tell when he is rattled. He can be pitching great and then one big hit and you can see the wheels fall off. He signed the big contract to come here; he needs to get his head straight and at least try to back it up.

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  11. "This is a pitcher that looks much better if his offense hits and scores for him and if not"

    EPIC FAIL. Quit being a yankee ball washer. aj sucks. glad you just word on this after 2 years

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  12. OK Anonymous, you got me. AJ sucks. What genius idea do you have to fix our rotation? You seem to have it figured out. Go ahead, tell me an intelligent idea that could actually happen to better the Yankees. I'm all ears. Really genius, what's the plan? Or, is it that you just don't like my opinion, because to tell you the truth, I had no problem with you stating yours until it became nasty and pathetic. Again though, thanks for reading.

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  13. A yankee ball washer? Because he has faith in our guys? Since when was
    that such a bad thing? He's right. We know AJ is inconsistant. That
    has never changed. He has one absolutely terrible outing and the whole
    world wants him gone? There's a reason he is in pinstripes and still
    in the rotation regardless of his ERA or losses. Support the man for
    being a Yankee and boo him when he's in the other dugout. Maybe the
    Yankees need to look at their fan base rather than their staff. This
    is really annoying. I'm not saying he's worth all of the money he is
    making, but he's not pitching for Milwaukee.. What regular player
    DOESN'T make a substantial amount of cash in the Bronx? We have the
    money so we shell it out. I still stand by AJ and will until the end
    of his career.. as a Yankee or anything else.

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  14. yankees + music = LIFE just made it to my good list. Thank you. You understand me. I didn't think my explanation that dense, but clearly it was to some. thanks for reading, thanks for commenting.

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  15. A couple of things:

    I don't think A.J. needs to be traded, demoted or relegated to the pen. I do think he needs some major mental therapy - the guy's clearly up in his head. We've seen this before: an ace who waivers towards the end of his career. One of my favorite pitchers of all time is Mike "Moose" Mussina, whose inconsistencies plagued his career as well, albeit finishing with a 3.95 Yankees ERA and 3.68 lifetime ERA. Moose had 11-win seasons and he had +15 win seasons. He was arguably one of our best starters and a great 2nd, 3rd or 4th rotation pitcher.

    A.J. needs run support - no question about it. But he's way too up in his head. Once A.J. gets right with himself, he'll be right on the mound. Hate him, be angry at him, wish he were dead - whatever - but don't write him off just yet.

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  16. @Jesse Schindler: Jesse, you make a good argument. I didn't even notice that you also cited Moose as an example. Thanks.

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