This winter, when the Yankees decided to ink Starting Pitcher, A.J. Burnett to a five year contract that will expire when he is 37 years old- it was obvious the Yankees were overpaying. But what they were getting in return was a pitcher who in the past few seasons, had as dominating stuff as anyone in the American League…arguably in all of baseball. In essences, having A.J. around with declining stuff in 5-years, would be worth the potential three years he can give you right now.
An electric fastball, the courage to pitch any hitter inside, and his dominance over the Yanks and the Red Sox- Burnett was a pitcher the Yankees had long coveted (as far back as ’04 there was rumors about acquiring him from the Marlins). A big game pitcher who had the sort of stuff where anytime he took the mound he could strike out 10+. In some aspects, A.J. had the intimidating stuff that the Yankees never replaced since Roger Clemens left the team after the 2003 season.
After a couple strong outings with the team to start the year, A.J. seemed like the sort of stopper the Yankees could use. Starting off the year with big starts that broke losing streaks and began winning streaks, A.J. appeared to be a nice fit for the 2009 campaign.
Well fast forward to June 10th and now A.J. Burnett’s act is getting old in New York fast.
Last night, coming into Boston, where the Yankees had been winless all season long, Burnett was hit hard once again as he went only 2.2 innings. Most discouraging was the fact that after a 4-run 2nd inning, A.J. never even let his teammates gather themselves, or provide them with a chance to win. Granted the Yankees weren’t going to win with the way Josh Beckett pitched last night. If that Yankees at least had a fighting chance, that would have been nice. But with that being said the Yankees are now 0-6 verse the Red Sox this season, with Chein Ming Wang going tonight. Not the most ideal situation for the Yankees.
If you look below, his last 10 starts have ranged from “ok” to downright “terrible”, but never once have we really got to see the A.J. Burnett that blew the Yankees and Red Sox out of the water last season.
- (Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports) Burnett’s last 10 starts
What does encourage me as a Yankee fan is A) his health thus far this season and B) His desire to do well. I’m not a huge fan of kicking the water cooler, but the appearance of annoyance last night as he handed the ball to Girardi, at least you feel as if this guy has the desire to start “kicking ass”, as soon as possible.
It would be nice to see A.J. begin kick some ass sometime in the next 5 years. I think a good starting place would be Sunday when he goes head to head with Johan Santana in the final game of a three game set verse the Mets.
On a final note: I can’t help but to think back to my blog about Carl Pavano when he joined the Cleveland Indians this offseason, and this quote from Burnett when he signed with the Yankees.
“(In) September, Burnett got an unexpected recommendation to sign with the Yankees: from Carl Pavano.
His former Florida teammate, maligned for multiple injuries during his four seasons in New York, spoke with him during batting practice at Yankee Stadium.
‘It’s a great place to play. It’s a great place to live,’ Burnett said Pavano told him. ‘I was expecting to hear, you know, different things.’ ” -espn.com
Once again….thanks a bunch Carl.