How much is that starter in the window?

Yanks want a lefty but why?
The Jorge Posada problem

The Yanks have been doing a lot of window shopping lately. They’ve been said to be looking at Damaso Marte, Jason Bay, and Xavier Nady of the Pirates. They’re supposedly keeping up with Freddie Garcia’s rehab assignment. Now we’re hearing, via MLBTR, that the Yankees are interested in A.J. Burnett. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. While the Yanks won’t necessarily make a big move before the deadline, they’re certainly exploring what’s out there.

That the Yankees sent two scouts solely to see Burnett doesn’t mean that they’ll land him. As we’ve discussed before, it’s not likely that J.P. Ricciardi would dish him within the AL East. However, this is a unique case. Burnett can opt out of his five-year, $55 million contract after this season. So Ricciardi, knowing he could lose Burnett at the end of the season anyway, might be willing to send him to whomever bids the highest.

This brings to the forefront a number of problems. If the Yanks trade for Burnett and he smokes the competition in the second half, he’ll opt out and the Yanks will have wound up with a two-month rental. If he sucks it up, not only will the Yanks have paid for a lemon, they’ll be stuck with him for another two years, owing him $24 million. The only way this really works out is if he pitches well and agrees to stay with the team.

Then again, given his injury history, maybe the Yanks would be best served to have him as a two-month rental. We know he has the stuff to succeed. It’s a matter of his ability to stay healthy. And yeah, he’s pitched poorly this year, though he’s done well against the Yanks and the Rays in his past two starts.

Which brings me to another point: Burnett is a Yankee killer. In 53.2 innings career against the Bombers, Burnett has struck out 46 to 19 walks, and has allowed just 17 runs. Since the beginning of the 2006 season, Burnett’s first with the Jays, only Roy Halladay and Scott Kazmir have better numbers against the Bombers (minimum 45 IP). Make the minimum IP 35, and Burnett slides one slot back, to Jarrod Washburn, another guy the Yankees could conceivably target.

No, I don’t think they’ll land Burnett. No, I don’t think it’s worth adding Washburn and his $9 million salary for 2009. But Brian Cashman is certainly peeking into the window. If there’s a deal to be had, it seems the Yanks will be prepared to take it. But I wouldn’t go betting on an acquisition before July 31.

Yanks want a lefty but why?
The Jorge Posada problem
  • steve (different one)

    If he sucks it up, not only will the Yanks have paid for a lemon, they’ll be stuck with him for another two years, owing him $24 million. The only way this really works out is if he pitches well and agrees to stay with the team.

    this risk doesn’t scare me at all.

    you go into the trade assuming he is a rental and bid accordingly.

    WORST case scenario is he is signed for 2 years/$24M? would that really be a bad thing?

    the Jays should trade him. he is DEFINITELY going to opt out. how could he not?

    will they trade him to the Yankees? i don’t know. prob not.

    • Adam

      agreed, 2 for $24M sounds like a bargain in this market. if mussina and pettitte are gone at the end of the year, we need someone to fill some spots, and i would much rather a pitcher with stuff like burnett rather than the dregs that will get $10/year for much longer than 2 years this offseason.

      • mike

        but the only reason he hangs around is because he is horrible – or he gets an extension to his extension

  • bkight13

    AJ has the stuff to be filthy, as the Yanks saw last Sunday. He is worth the risk and is a better option than Rasner, Giese and Ponson. Hughes, Wang, IPK, Pavano and others don’t appear to be anywhere near ready to help and the Yanks need to make a move now.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos

    2009 looks like this:
    2-Pettitte (if he gives it another year, which he probably will)
    4-?????? (Sabathia?)

    Knowing that Hughes and Kennedy are effectively starting over again since 2008 is a virtual washout, and considering that Pavano’s money is definitely coming off the books and that it’s probably not the best idea in the world to commit in excess of 10M betting on 40-year old Mike Mussina having another good run of luck in 2009, would having a 34-year old lefty named Jarrod Washburn with no significant injury history who can pitch 200 innings at replacement level or slightly better really be the worst thing in the world? Especially as a fifth starter who’d be cheaper than Moose’s contract extension?

    If our rotation was Sabathia-Wang-Pettitte-Joba-Washburn, we’d feel no pressure to gamble on Moose, and with Pettitte and Washburn both in their walk years, we could still be grooming/prepping/spot-starting/”Joba-transitioning” Hughes and IPK for their move into full-time spots in 2010.

    • Reggie C.

      Even with the disappointment still very fresh, we still gotta put EITHER hughes or kennedy on next season’s rotation. These guys will pitch at some point this season, and that could very well determine who gets the 5th spot next season.

      I don’t see how the yanks leave both guys in the minors. That’d be an admission that both were terribly mis-handled. Since its the 5th spot, we better make damn sure that spots 1 thru 4 are strong. I’m thinking along your lines: sabathia, wang, joba, & pettite.

      With that 1 thru 4 rotation, we could start IPK and be okay.

    • raymagnetic ®™

      Ian Kennedy will not be starting over. He’ll probably pitch 150IP’s this year when you combine his major league and minor league innings. He could go to winter ball and pitch another 30 IP’s or so to get his innings up. He should be raring to go next year if all goes well for him.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos

        I’m not talking about innings caps when I call the season a washout… I’m saying that they didn’t really get any closer to being ML-ready pitchers. When they were in there, they were shelled, and they missed time being hurt. There’s no record of success to build on there.

        I’m not saying that going into 2009 with the fifth spot open for IPK or Hughes to battle it out for would be a horrible move… but I’m saying having 5 veteran starters in Tampa in addition to the two of them is far from a bad idea either. Washburn, IPK, and Hughes could all battle it out in the spring, and then the one who’s pitching the best at Scranton could come up when one of the other 5 tweaks a hammy or something, which is inevitable.

        The point is, having Washburn–who’s a lefty making 9M next year with no committment beyond that–is a much better insurance policy, IMO, than the Rasner/Karstens/Ponson goodie bag, and unlike the three of them, he’s got trade value… if one or both of he kids light the world on fire next March and we luck into having 7 good starters, we can flip Washburn for something.

  • Mark M.

    What’s the deal on Duchsherer?

    • yankeemonkey

      I would imagine that Beane will want Joba, AJax, Melancon, Hal’s dog and Cashman’s firstborn child (to start with) for Durchscherer.

    • Jamal G.

      He is a Free Agent after the 2009 season.

      Justin Duchscherer is also pitching way above his level. His FIP is 3.43, his BABIP is .215, and his GB/FB ratio is 0.99. Like I said, he’s pitching way above his level and no GM would trade Duchscherer away for anything less than a King’s ransom.

  • Seymour

    I believe that Washburn pitches tonight vs the Sox. A nice pitched game may sway the Yanks mind somewhat.

  • kunaldo

    This is a bit off topic…but um, did anybody notice the matchup for game 1 in fenway? Joba vs. Beckett!!! That has the potential to be a classic

  • John NY

    What is a two month rental worth in prospects? I mean, you can’t give them too much knowing this guys could walk. Marquez or Horne plus a throw in low tier prospect does the trick. I’m curious to know what the value of a Burnett would be?

    • Jamal G.

      John, if you had A.J. Burnett, would you trade him away for a package centered around injured starters Jeff Marquez or Alan Horne and a lower tier prospect?

      • steve (different one)

        would Burnett be a Type A at the end of the year?

        • NC Saint

          That was my understanding.

        • Jamal G.

          Funny thing, his ERA in 2007 was 15% above average but his ERA this season is 15% below average. So basically at this point he’s been exactly a league average pitcher for the past season and a half.

          I have no idea how Elias justifies their rankings so I won’t speculate on whether he will be a Type B or not but there is no chance he will be a Type A player.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos

            Correct me if I’m wrong (because I certainly could be), but I think one of the factors that goes into the Elias numbers is salary. Since Burnett is being paid like an upper echelon free agent, he’s got a good chance of drawing a Type A.

            • whozat

              That would seem kind of absurd. I think that there’s a correlation between salary and free agent status, because guys who are good tend to make a lot of money. But making a lot of money doesn’t boost your ranking. It’s some kind of performance/position ranking against your peers over the last two years.

              • tommiesmithjohncarlos

                Okay – You’re right, I’m wrong. I thought I read that somewhere (that salaries were considered), but I can’t substantiate that, so I’ll assume I was mistaken (or whatever I read or heard was mistaken).

                It’s strictly statistical performance over the past two seasons – top 20% is type A, next 20% is type B, bottom 60% is bubkis.

                1B/OF/DH: PA, AVG, OBP, HR, RBI
                2B/3B/SS: PA, AVG, OBP, HR, RBI, Fielding percentage, Total chances at designated position
                C: PA, AVG, OBP, HR, RBI, Fielding percentage, Assists
                SP: Total games (total starts + 0.5 * total relief appearances), IP, Wins, W-L Percentage, ERA, Strikeouts
                RP: Total games (total relief appearances + 2 * total starts), IP (weighted slightly less than other categories), Wins + Saves, IP/H ratio, K/BB, ERA

                With 47 starts, a 20-17 record, 299.7 IP, a 4.23 ERA and 308 K’s from the start of ’07 to now, as long as Burnett doesn’t go in the tank between now and the end of the season, he may even be a Type A.

                Tom Glavine was a type A last year… Jason Schmidt, Esteban Loaiza, Paul Byrd, and Jeff Weaver before that.

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos

                  Sorry again – Type A is top 30%, Type B is the 20% after that.

                  Burnett should be Type A.

                • tommiesmithjohncarlos

                  Nope, disregard that. The formula was 30-20, but after the 2007 season, it changed to 20-20. So my initial numbers are right.

      • Cult of Basebaal

        no, if i had aj burnett, i’d trade him for some pocket lint, and the change that fell between the cushions of your couch.

        baseball teams can never have enough couch change!

        • goose

          the same problems the yankees see in his contract are the same problems the yankees are facing – he stinks he stays if not he is gone.

          more than likely he is gone because if he continues to pitch to what he has the past 2 years he will get at least 12 million for 4 or more years

          the jays are desperate to get rid of him

      • John NY

        I just threw those two names out there because those are the type of players that potentially get it done (if healthy).

        Generally speaking, I don’t see the yankees going for Burnett considering the yanks current track record. This is a transistion year…if it wasn’t, we’d be looking at CC and/or Johan in the rotation.

        I think Cashman’s plan is focused on the 2008 Offseason when he gets rid of some salary while positioning the yanks with a strong minor leagues system for possible trade chips.

        2008 in reality is what it is and I have no expectations to see a major move like Burnett.

  • NC Saint

    Calling any of these sorts of trades two month rentals is a bit misleading. If we got Burnett and he walked at the end of the season, we would get two compensatory draft picks. So you can’t just weigh a package of prospects against two months of Burnett. You have to weigh the difference in value between a package of prospects and having two extra picks against two months of Burnett. That, it seems to me, is a very different calculation.

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      Which then becomes discounted by the possibility that Burnett doesn’t exercise his opt-out, which would conceivably happen if (a) he turns in a very poor two months, depressing his value on the FA market, or (b) he injures himself, which is a very real possibility given his injury history.

      It’s a really, really tricky scenario for anyone trading for Burnett. I think you’d see more teams in play if it were a strict two-month rental with a high probability of draft picks at the end.

      • r.w.g.

        Pitching poorly will not deter him from opting out, I don’t think. Didn’t Jeff Suppan get like $40 million dollars? I think Burnett can easily get at the very least 3 years 30 million (in a place with less income tax than Toronto or NYC),

        • mike

          Suppan did a Beltran – he came out of ( virtually) nowhere and blew the doors off in the playoffs the moment before he was a FA and got a big deal.

          But your point is correct – AJ will get a 4/55m deal without blinking

    • steve (different one)


      Burnett was a Type B last year. would he be a Type A this year? maybe.

      if he’s a Type B, those 2 picks become 1 pick.

  • r.w.g.

    Might not be a terrible idea. Jason Bay would be nice, as well (although I’d rather see if we could pry away McClouth).

    He’d probably be better as a rental, and to be honest I think he’s going to opt out of that contract no matter what at the end of the year. He was pitching pretty much the exact same way he is this year when he landed his big deal from the Jays 3 years ago. He’s actually giving up more hits than he usually does this year, with a good defense behind him. His bloated ERA this year (4.84) is not really a product of him playing on a bad team.. it’s just the way he’s pitched this year. His walk totals are pretty bad this year, too.

    We could probably get him for a pretty decent package. I would trade Kennedy for him straight up, maybe throw in Suttle or Laird. Maybe Melancon plus Hilligoss/Marquez?

    • whozat

      To me, the calculation for this trade deadline is this:

      Assuming that the team continues to play as it has, will these deals make the Yankees legitimate World Series contenders? If not, will these deals set the team up to continue to improve in 2009 and beyond?

      If you can’t answer yes to either of those questions, there’s no point in making the deal. Why trade for Burnett? He’s been bad and always gets hurt. He won’t fix the offense, and he won’t make the team better in the future because he’ll either opt out or be hurt and collecting checks from the DL. Draft picks for the Yanks put guys into the system early in the pipeline; it’s not we get to draft college hitters that are two years away from the bigs.

      Depending on the price of Holliday (I can’t imagine they were serious with that request from the Angels), that’s one deal that I could see making sense for now and later. He can play RF, which we need NOW, and they could extend him to play a corner position for the next 6 years or whatever.

      • r.w.g.

        Holliday is a good player.. not sure if he is quite a RF (he will not be better than Abreu).

        As for Burnett.. I think he could help us this year. I believe we would have a better shot at winning the World Series if Burnett was pitching every 5th day instead of Sidney Ponson or Darrell Rasner.

        The risk you run is the chance he doesn’t opt out. If he stays healthy and continues to pitch like he is right now, he will top the 2 years and $24 million he has coming to him.

        There is a lot of risk involved with him, but perhaps the risk lowers the price. And if it doesn’t, just pass on him.

        As for Holliday, I think it really depends on what Colorado would want for him. They are going to want one, maybe two, top 10 prospects. They might say “He’s our best player, so we want your best prospect.” Colorado OUGHT to recognize that Holliday’s value to other teams isn’t as high as it is to them.. but I’m not sure that they want to concede too much on that point. They are going to want serious players for him. Not sure if a package like Kennedy and Tabata plus more would get something done.

        • mike

          What if trade Abreu, $, and (2 minor league pitchers) for Holliday – they will get some additional picks when Abreu leaves after the season, and I cannot stand to see the chubby #3 hitter in our lineup have no power and shy away from flyballs in the field.

          Abreu should be a Type A, and the Rockies have given up on the season, so if they deal Fuentes, Holliday etc- getting some pix , ML ready pitchers and shedding payroll may be the way to go

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos

            If you mentioned Bobby Abreu’s name in your trade proposal to Dan O’Dowd, he’d hang up the phone so fast that it could throw out Brett Gardner at second base.

        • whozat

          “not sure if he is quite a RF (he will not be better than Abreu).”

          Baseball Prospectus is pretty sure he’d be OK over there. Also, Abreu this season is, apparently, the worst defensive RFer in the AL. I was very surprised by that, but even if you think defensive metrics are a bit flawed, it certainly means that he’s not doing well out there.

          “I think he could help us this year. I believe we would have a better shot at winning the World Series if Burnett was pitching every 5th day instead of Sidney Ponson or Darrell Rasner.”

          I didn’t say “better shot”. I said “legitimate contender”. Obviously a healthy Burnett makes the team better than it is right now (unless they have to trade like…Cano to get him). But Burnett by himself does not make this team a legit postseason threat. They’re still getting crap production from catcher, CF, and RF. And LF until Damon comes back. And DH. And having problems hitting with RISP.

          • r.w.g.

            With all of those problems you just mentioned the team is 4.5 out with just about half the season left. You don’t think the team is a legitimate contender now? Seems like this is a team that has talent and needs to improve and is close enough for those improvements to make a difference.

            I go into every season with the Yankees as a legitimate contender. Until they stop making the playoffs every year for over a decade, I’m going to keep that attitude.

            And while Bobby is not having a banner season all around (defense has really regressed and he is taking fewer walks), the guy is still hitting and is still productive.

            I’m not saying the Yanks don’t need a big bat, but I think it’s really kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy if you say the team aren’t ‘real contenders’ but never make an attempt to get Rasner and Ponson out of your rotation. Besides, Holliday has VERY, VERY apparent home and road splits.. you want to trade AJack or Montero for this guy?

        • Cult of Basebaal

          man, i love some of these trade proposals.

          here’s a hint. when i was talking about pocket lint and couch change earlier, *that’s* the category ian kennedy falls into right now.

          he got crushed in the majors, then got injured and was last seen being mediocre in AAA.

          he’s a throw in right now, he’s the very definition of selling low.

          (which is why i wouldn’t trade him. i think there’s a far better chance he rebounds and becomes a useful part of our rotation (or a *future*) trading chit, than he brings us something useful right now)

          • Cult of Basebaal

            grrr. that was supposed to go at the main level, not in direct response to this thread. gah.

      • goose

        still need a hitter — that is the problem.

        their interest in burnett seems to indicate to me that wang is a lost cause

  • Reggie C.

    I can easily see the Rockies ask for Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson or Jesus Montero. Pretty rough price if you ask me.

    Between the two (Jax & Montero), i’d actually rather trade Montero since Jax is alot closer to the majors , and we haven’t seen Montero hit against High-A pitching. Still … a pretty rough price.

  • John NY

    What about adding Chacon? Is he still available?

  • John NY

    Girardi would kick his ass if he pulled that crap like he did in houston.

  • Harry

    Burnett or Ponson/Rasner?

    Sign me up for AJ.

    The yanks can take the hit if he doesnt opt out and stays which there is little chance he’d do when he can make another 60 mill on the market.

  • zs190

    Somewhat unrelated idea, but anyone think maybe signing Kenny Lofton would be a decent idea? I think he’s a legit upgrade over Melky/Gardner in CF and would only cost a million or so probably at this point in season.

    I had higher hopes for Gardner but he looks a bit overmatched as a starter, seems better off as a bench 4th OF guy who could pinch-run/defensive replacement.

    • steve (different one)

      i was thinking about Lofton today. where is he?

      • zs190

        he played really well last year and he was bummed out nobody wanted to pay him 6 million to play this year so he’s not playing even though a lot of teams were willing to pay him a million or two to play, crazy Kenny.

        It’s just a thought about signing him, it’s probably hard to talk him into playing this late in the season but we could use some outfielders that can hit with Matsui likely out and Damon hurting and all those young OF’s not hitting worth a lick right now.

        • OMG

          When evaluating Brett Gardner, you need to keep in mind that he always struggles when initially introduced to a new level. It happened at AA, and AAA. I would give him some more chances to prove himself in the majors. Unfortunately he is on the Yankees and most Yankee fans have little patience.

          P.S We should of traded Cano at the all star breaking, right Yankee fans?

  • vinny-b

    Kennedy, Miranda, and Jason Jones, for Burnett.

    if not. I counter with, Kennedy and Sanchez.

    do not care to give up positon players. We are to thin.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Vinny-B, you can have your answer now, if you like…

      My offer is this: Nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up, personally.

  • mike

    Washburn has a few advantages over AJ – he doesn’t miss a start, lefty, and will cost less in $ and players.

    While AJ can pitch as an ace, he is not an ace everytime out, and if he pitches like an ace he will be a FA in October.. Wash is a mid/back of rotation guy, can pitch out of the pen and is signed for next year to give us protection.

    There is likely no reason the Yanks can’t get both (which wouldnt be the worst thing in case Wang/Hughes are still banged up), where Pettite, Joba , Moose, AJ and Wash give you a nice rotation – with IPK and Ponson rounding things out

    • goose

      he is also crap

      they just better nt do anything to jepordize getting sabathia

  • usty

    Maybe AJ will be like Wells. Yankee killer outside of pinstripes and extremely good pitcher in them.

  • Gary

    $24 million to the Yankees is chump change or, in layman’s terms, three dogs and two brewskis.

  • sparks

    im all for getting aj ..i mean ill take my chances with burnett and joba 1-2 in a playoff series..i could see us getting burnett and this finally being the year we win it all because what weve lacked in recent years are the lights out starters in the playoffs guys like wang and mussina never got the job done for us.