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.
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.