The case for A.J. Burnett

Rebuilding Yankee Stadium with Legos
An uneasy marriage

A topic we’ve hotly debated in the comments over the past few months is A.J. Burnett. He’s eligible to opt out of the five-year, $55 million deal he signed after the 2005 season, and most people think he will. After he made his final start of the 2008 season last night, many Blue Jays bloggers bid him adieu, admitting that the chances of his return are slim. The Jays are rumored to be negotiating an extension, but at this point, this close to free agency, it’s not probable.

It’s not difficult to concoct an argument against signing Burnett. He’ll be 32 for the start of the 2009 season, and will likely require a four- or five-year contract with an average annual value of around $15 million, possibly more. That’s quite a risk to take on a guy who has just three 200-inning seasons in his career — and followed two of them up with injury-shortened campaigns. In short, taking on Burnett would be a considerable risk.

When he’s on, though, he’s nearly unhittable. Even with his ERA north of 4.00 this season (though just barely), he’s still struck out 231 in 221 innings, walking 86 in that time. His 19 home runs is quite low, too.

One case I’ve heard for signing him is that he’s a Yankee killer, so it makes sense to have him pitching for us instead of against us. He does, after all, hold a career 2.43 ERA against the Yankees in 77.2 innings of work. That alone, though, isn’t good enough a reason to ink him. Yeah, he might hurt us if he’s pitching for another AL team, though that damage is far lessened by just getting him out of the A.L. East.

You know what other team he’s succeeded against? Yep. The Red Sox. In 56.1 career innings against Boston, he’s pitched to a 2.56 ERA, including a 2.60 mark over 27.2 innings this year. In four starts, two of them in Fenway, he allowed just two homers, striking out 24 and walking 13. They hit a paltry .206 against him this year, and have managed just a .212 average over his career.

Does this mean that we should sign Burnett? Hardly. It does provide another point for the team to consider, though. Not only does he pitch well against them, but he pitches well against the Sox — and wasn’t too shabby against the Rays this year, striking out 26 to 8 walks in 20 innings (3.15 ERA). Which, of course, makes me wonder if the Red Sox will be in on him. While I’m open to the idea of Burnett, I’m not too keen on a bidding war over him. I hope the Yanks front office isn’t, either.

Image from flickr user Larry Coor under a Creative Commons license.

Rebuilding Yankee Stadium with Legos
An uneasy marriage
  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

    “One case I’ve heard for signing him is that he’s a Yankee killer, so it makes sense to have him pitching for us instead of against us. He does, after all, hold a career 2.43 ERA against the Yankees in 77.2 innings of work.”

    By that token, though, wouldn’t he be that much LESS effective if he signed with us? After all, he wouldn’t be able to have anymore easy victories anymore, since he doesn’t get to pitch against us…

  • radnom

    Pass.

    Not for the money he is going to get.

    • radnom

      P.S.

      If C.C. goes elsewhere, I would rather pick up Pavano’s option than have Burnett at $15+ million for the next 4-5 years. Seriously.

      • 27 this year

        Once CC goes elsewhere, Pavano’s option would have already been declined.

  • Rob_in_CT

    It all depends on CC. If they get CC, there is no point in pursuing Burnett, I figure.

    If they fail to get CC… well, you have to ponder it. If it takes 4 years at 15 per to get him, jikes. He threw a lot of pitches this year. He’s rarely healthy. But the ability is tantalizing.

    What have his health problems been? I know he’s always hurt, but what type of injuries?

  • stuart

    No thank you.. He is having such a great year, then why is his ERA so high?

    He is a career 10 games over 500 pitcher who has like 90 wins for his career. he will miss at least 7 starts a year, and finds a way to lose with that stuff…

    NO thank you….

  • jsbrendog

    yeah cause cc seems like such a beter option pitching on 3 days rest for the last month of the season and throwing 120 pitches a start. yeah a fat guy will surely be injury free after that. PREDICTION: Sabathia gets injured and spends more time on the dl the next 5 years than burnett.

    remember that when it comes true.

    • steve (different one)

      there have been studies to show that overweight pitchers are actually MORE durable than their peers.

      you have a point about the short rest the Brewers are pitching him on, but you don’t really have any facts to back your “fat guy” claim.

      google “the Hardball Times Does Size Matter” if you want to read the article.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      I’ll take that bet.

      CC is a big dude, and even while being taxed, he doesn’t appear to be straining himself.

      Plus, he’s three years younger and has no injury history. Burnett’s already had TJS in ’03, he was shut down in ’04 with elbow problems, he went on the DL twice in ’06 with scar tissue and lingering problems from the TJS, went on the DL two more times in ’07.

      Look, I’m all for considering Burnett if CC’s not available. But are you saying you’d pick Burnett over CC just because you’re worried about injury based on the Brewers taxing him hard for one month?

    • Slugger27

      i gotta disagree…. i think his large size helps durability… its the tim lincecum type builds that should worry ppl

      in any case, to think burnett is a safer option than CC when regarding health is pretty silly at this point… CC’s proven durable for a long time now, and a guy 3 years older with 1 major surgery operation already under his belt seems to me MUCH riskier. the pitch count thing doesnt really bother me either, hes been throwing a lot of innings and pitches for several years now. the 3 days rest would worry me slightly, but if its only a for a few weeks and he has a restful offseason, i see no reason why he cant dominiate for the next 3, 4, or 5 years

  • Patrick T

    Sabathia has proven infinitely more durable than Burnett throughout his career. Sabathia won’t be derailed by injuries, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a very early decline. He has a lot of mileage in that arm. I can easily see a 7-year deal turning into 2 great years and 5 average-to-lousy ones.

    Burnett, only on a 3-year deal, which won’t happen, so pass. Same for Sheets, by-the-by.

  • steve (different one)

    here is my take on Burnett:

    i prefer Sabathia. most do.

    but if Burnett is on the 2009 Yankees, i won’t be unhappy.

    he’s a very good pitcher who could really break out from ages 32-35. he has top notch stuff, strikes out tons of hitters, and has shown he can pitch in the toughest division in baseball.

    will he be overpaid? yeah, probably.

    can the Yankees afford to overpay? yeah, definitely.

    if CC gets away, i would like the Yankees to pursue Burnett.

    • Count Zero

      Agreed. Provided he gets no more than 4 years. Although there is definitely a chance he turns out as badly as Pavano.

    • The Scout

      How many pitchers “really break out” at ages 32-35 if they have never done it sooner?

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Roger Clemens.

        Wait a sec…

        • Jack

          That settles it. Sign Burnett, hire Mac. Everyone wins.

      • steve (different one)

        ok, it was my own phrasing here that wasn’t great.

        let me clarify. Burnett, up to this point, has been a “good” pitcher.

        he has thrown 1376 innings of 3.81 era, a 111 ERA+.

        when healthy, he’s a #2 starter.

        if he were to stay healthy, he could “break out”. and what i am saying is that at this point in his career, he is probably past a lot of the injury risk that all young pitchers face.

        by breaking out, i really just mean “pitching as he already has at various points in his career for 200 innings a year”.

        i am not trying to say that bad pitchers suddenly become good pitchers at age 32. but good pitchers can become very good pitchers at age 32.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

          Very true.

          However, there’s more 28 year old pitchers who become better at 30 than there are 31 year old pitchers who become better at 33.

  • Chip

    Seriously guys, you can’t have enough pitching. Sign CC, Tex and Burnett. Figure it costs you 55 million per year to do all three and we’re still money ahead on the season. Yes, we’ll lose our first and second round draft picks but we still have our PROTECTED first round pick from last season as well as a PROTECTED second round pick plus two for Bobby plus one for Giambi. We could have a ton of picks while still stocking up on pitching and improving the offense. It just makes sense to do it. If CC goes down in the next few years, well we still have Joba/Burnett/Wang to rely on.

    Everybody says he’s the next Pavano but it’s obvious Pavano doesn’t have that kind of stuff. Plus, had Pavano managed to stay healthy, that contract could have looked like an absolute bargain! I’m ok with a rotation of CC, Wang, Burnett, Moose, Hughes to start the season next year. Yeah, somebody will probably get hurt but you still have Joba there to take care of that problem with a few guys like Coke, Aceves and IPK waiting in the wings in case of a disaster like this season.

    Realistically, we would expect Burnett to be our third starter behind CC and Wang. 15 million seems to be about the going rate for a legit third starter nowadays so why not? The worst case is that he’s another Pavano and we just put a kid in there to take his spot (which we would do if we don’t sign him anyways)

    • Chip

      Look at it this way as well, who would you want after CC, Wang and Joba next season? Would you rather a big September game is pitched by IPK or Burnett? Money isn’t an issue for this team and will mean next to nothing this offseason

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Hughes.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      I’ll say it again. We are not getting a pick for Giambi. If they were going to offer him arbitration, they’d be best served just to pick up his option. Because he’d surely accept.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Very true. We can expect picks from Pudge and Bobby (provided we don’t just keep Bobby) and possibly Moose. That’s likely it… Andy and Giambi are either playing here, retiring, or not being offered arb at all.

        • steve (different one)

          I’ll say it again. We are not getting a pick for Giambi. If they were going to offer him arbitration, they’d be best served just to pick up his option. Because he’d surely accept

          maybe, maybe not.

          it’s not unheard of for a team to have some sort of hankshake agreement with the player to not accept arbitration.

          with the new CBA, you don’t lose a pick for signing a Type B FA, so it won’t hurt Giambi’s chances at a new contract elsewhere to do this.

          the Padres did this with several of their FA’s last year.

          • steve (different one)

            *handshake, not hankshake. no pun intended.

          • Slugger27

            “its not unheard of for a team to have some sort of handshake agreement with the player to not accept arb”

            if this is true, then of course u offer it to him, but what would be in it for giambi? just to be a nice guy? it seems if there was a handshake agreement to decline arb then he would want a handshake agreement to re-signing with the yanks for like 1/8 or something

            • steve (different one)

              there isn’t really anything in it for Giambi. but there isn’t really any reason for him not to agree, either.

              if he were a Type A, it would be different, b/c then teams would be less willing to give him a contract if they had to forfeit their first round pick.

      • Chip

        Since when did they officially declare Giambi a Type-A? There’s a line of thinking that he might be type B and we could get a pick for him

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

          But we’d have to offer him arbitration, in which case he’d surely accept, given his salary this year and the maximum amount they can reduce that number in arbitration.

          People are citing handshake agreements to say that maybe the Yanks offer him arb and he declines. I remember they did this with Bernie, but that was under the terms of the old CBA, where they would lose the chance to negotiate with him in December if they didn’t offer him arbitration. The handshake deal was merely to extend that deadline. I’m not sure that type of deal still happens under the new CBA.

          • Lanny

            Who cares about picks? We can’t sign our first rounders and we settle for college scraps in rd’s 2-3 anyway

            • steve (different one)

              you really are a moron.

          • steve (different one)

            The handshake deal was merely to extend that deadline. I’m not sure that type of deal still happens under the new CBA.

            here is what i was talking about with the Padres:

            http://padres.mlb.com/content/printer_friendly/sd/y2006/m12/d02/c1749648.jsp

            the Padres offered arb to Chan Ho Park.

            Park made $15.5M in 2006. he declined arbitration and eventually signed a deal with the Mets for $600K.

            the ONLY explanation is a handshake deal like i described. it’s the exact same scenario as Giambi.

    • Reggie C.

      i think the fear isn’t so much that burnett would be riding the pine for 4 seasons, its more like burnett would have 1 very good year like ’08, 1 lost year, 2 okay years b/c of age. Do you pay a pitcher 15ML a year (avg) for slightly-above league avg. performance in half the contract life??

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

        I think any time you sign a free agent pitcher, you have to figure you’re getting one less year than you’re signing him for.

        • steve (different one)

          since when do pitchers fall apart at age 34?

          he’s 31 right now, not 36.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

            I’m not saying they’ll fall apart. I’m just saying that when you factor in injuries, you’re probably going to get 5 years on a 6 year deal, 3 on a 4, etc.

            • steve (different one)

              sorry, i was addressing the post above yours.

              this:

              its more like burnett would have 1 very good year like ‘08, 1 lost year, 2 okay years b/c of age.

              • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

                Well, I would imagine the fact that Burnett’s been falling apart for most of the past few years is what lead him to believe that he could fall apart by age 34.

                But you’ve got a point.

  • Reggie C.

    If we fail to sign CC, the Yanks are gonna find themselves in a bind. The options get reduced to Burnett, Sheets, or trade.

    Its all-hands-on-deck time in Milwaukee, yet Sheets is nursing fatigue / arm injury last time i checked. Does anyone really expect Sheets to put together a run of healthy years? Burnett’s on year-off year nature is really disconcerting in lieu of the annual $ he’s gonna seek.

    Trade options…do we even go down this route for a pitcher not named Santana? Who’s remotely available out there who’s worth it??

    1. Bedard? Nope-hurt.
    2. Peavy? Signed to team friendly contract. SD still has dreams of competing.
    3. Cain? He’s got tantalizing stuff, but he’s a young guy and hasnt put together a terrific year yet to cement #1 type expectations. But he’s the most available and interesting of the bunch b/c it could happen.

  • Slugger27

    out of curiousity, say CC signs elsewhere… would u guys prefer burnett at market cost (i would estimate 5/90) or a guy like lowe whos proven durbale, has had success in the al east, and would be less risk for a signing of say 3/50 or somethin in that neighborhood… i understand CC is the guy everyone wants and burnett is probably a sexier pickup, but if u absolutely must have a FA pitcher and CC isnt available, why would 5/90 for burnett be a better option than 3/50 for lowe?

    lets not forget, burnett’s era against non yankee teams is close to 5

    • jsbrendog

      i’d prefer pavano’s option so youre not tied into anything and hoping wang joba hughes pavano moose/aceves/whoever else can kee you in it. signing someone like sheets or burnett is a big risk with the $

      if you can’t get cc and burnett and sheets want too many years (years not $$ is the issue) then exercise pavano ( should do that anyway and make him prove something to ny and he’s reasonably priced) and see what you can get mid tier for less years.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    A hypothetical: What would you give a pitcher who, in 17 starts for a weak offensive team, put up these numbers: 8-7, 3.65 ERA, 111 IP, 98 H, 37 BB, 102 K. In those starts, opponents hit .233/.302/.386 off that pitcher.

    • Slugger27

      depends i suppose… his age? the league/division he pitches in? left-handed? injury history?

      those are fine numbers, but lots of factors to consider… 1 that comes to mind is why mystery player only made 17 starts?

    • steve (different one)

      can’t really say without seeing the rest of his body of work.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        It’s Burnett’s road splits in 2008.

        • steve (different one)

          i see. pretty nasty.

    • jsbrendog

      who si it? the mystery is killing me

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Ben, here’s two more sets of splits to put next to yours:

      17 starts, 8-7, 3.65 ERA, 111 IP, 98 H, 37 BB, 102 K, .233/.302/.386
      20 starts, 10-4, 3.05 ERA, 141.2 IP, 134 H, 37 BB, 143 K, .252/.303/.358
      14 starts, 6-6, 2.46 ERA, 102.1 IP, 85 H, 21 BB, 101 K, .223/.268/.330

      The first line is your aforementioned A.J. Burnett 2008 road split.
      The second and third lines are CC Sabathia’s 2008 home and road splits, respectively.

      CC on the road > CC at home > A.J. on the road.

      Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, here’s Burnett’s home split, which you curiously (or perhaps not so curiously) left out…

      17 starts, 10-3, 4.49 ERA, 110.1 IP, 113 H, 49 BB, 129 K, .263/.342/.389

      So, in summation:
      A.J. on the road: Good.
      CC at home: Great.
      CC on the road: Really Great.
      A.J. at home: umm, okay, I guess? I mean, not horrible, but… not worth 17M AAV…

      • 27 this year

        but think about it, the home field would be different at YS and plus, turf to grass is a big change. More grounders squeak through, more balls carry to the wall, the way the ball carries all the time.

  • Infamous

    i honestly would rather pick up pavano’s option then sign burnett for 5+ years. Hes destined to lose mph on his fastball and if he cant strike out as many people with the way he walks them then he will be in big trouble.

  • Adam

    MR GAS!

    i love it.

  • Steve S

    Olney said it today. he thinks the Yankees will gladly do $140/6 for CC (matching Santana’s numbers) and the Dodgers and Angels wont go north of $100M on the total package. This whole he prefers the NL/ he wants to stay in Cali sounds more like a marketing tactic than a reality. he wont walk away from $30M

    Burnett is looking for 4 at $15M realistically and max being $18M. And Sheets should be a non-starting point because he is constantly hurt and felt tightness in his forearm last week (big indicator for Tommy John).

    I think the Yankees should look at Perez or Lowe who might be borderline in that second tier but might be more effective pitchers than Burnett or Sheets. If Joba is legit and they keep him as an ace. Then you would arguably have Joba, Wang and with some luck CC as the front end of the rotation. If CC doesnt come here then you still have a pretty decent front two. Then all you need is solid guys in the middle of the rotation that offer you innings and in connection with that HEALTH. Burnett offers neither. What he is is a guy with dominant stuff that has never put it together and now is north of 30. Its just such a bad contract to give. His market value at this point is probably 4-5 years at $15-$16M.

    I had this argument yesterday so I wont go much further but everything being equal and the yankees need to sign a starter beyond CC, then Id rather go young and try out Perez.

    • steve (different one)

      can you please offer an objective argument that favors Perez over Burnett?

      because i really don’t see it.

      he is younger, but is there any evidence whatsoever that Perez is a better pitcher than AJ Burnett?

      is it even close??

      Burnett offers neither. What he is is a guy with dominant stuff that has never put it together and now is north of 30.

      how has Burnett “never” put it together? he has 2-3 “very good” seasons under his belt already and 2-3 more “good” seasons.

      the worst thing you can say about Burnett is that he’ll be slightly overpaid given the injury risk.

      the worst thing you can say about Oliver Perez is that he could be a potential trainwreck of injury/ineffectiveness.

      seriously, how do any of the arguments against Burnett not apply to Perez? Burnett has throw 200+ innings 3 times already. Perez? none.

      Burnett has succeeded in the AL. Perez has not.

      i don’t get it.

      • jsbrendog

        never ever EVER sign or bring oliver perez to the AL East. come on. no way, no thanks, have a nice day dont let the door hit you in the ass on your way out of ny.

      • Steve S

        Steve:

        The seasons that Burnett surpassed 200 innings were followed by two years of injuries where he couldnt make more than 25 starts:

        2002: 204 innings and 120 ERA+
        2003: 23 innings pitched
        2004: 120 innings pitched
        2005: 209 innings pitched and 115 ERA+
        2006: 135 innings pitched
        2007: 165 innings pitched
        2008: 221 innings pitched and 106 ERA+

        Perez really shouldn’t be evaluated prior to his age 25 season because the Pirates did everything they could to ruin the kid. they let him go from 120 innings to 196 the year he was dominant. then he regressed and was sent back to the minors. In 2007 he managed to have an ERA+ of 120. This year has been a regression but like I heard everyone saying last year about Santana, inlcuding you Steve, you shouldnt pay ofr pst performance. Sometimes you have to look between the numbers when your dealing with guys who clearly have faults. Perez in 2008 in the 10 games he has won- thre 65 innings struck out 69 walked 29 and gave up 39 hits. AND he is 26 years old!! Everyone knows OBJECTIVELY that a player reaches his peak at around age 27. AND his only injuries over his career have been a broken toe and a lower back stiffness.

        Here is Burnett’s injury history http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/news?playerId=4153

        Im too lazy to count the amount of elbow stiffness and shoulder stifness he has had and he had that sore right shoulder as recently as LAST YEAR.

        Is that not objective enough?

        • steve (different one)

          right, except i asked you to objectively show how Oliver Perez is a better pitcher than AJ Burnett.

          you haven’t done that.

          you cherry picked the numbers from his 10 wins to make your case. seriously? you don’t see the absurdity in that?

          for the record, i don’t disagree that Burnett has injury risks. if that was the crux of your argument, i would be ok with that.

          i just think it’s odd that you pick on Burnett for being someone with great stuff who hasn’t “put it together”, yet you are arguing for Oliver Perez.

          • Steve S

            I agree that Perez hasnt put it together YET. But if I had to bet millions of dollars I would bet on Perez has probably done as much as Burnett through their age 26 seasons. I dont understand how you cant see the absurdity of not realizing that Perez has a lot of room for improvement while AJ has probably peaked AND he is a guy is a greater risk of injury. Not to mention the fact that when I say he has a great stuff thats what I mean by never reaching his potential. For a guy who throws 95 with his breaking stuff he should be dominant but he hasnt even been the best pitcher on his team.

            I did cherry pick on Perez but its clear that the Yankees will have to delve into free agency to solidify the rotation and with the choices available, I think, objectively, Perez is the better bet. Im not saying that he is the absolute solution BUT if I had to bet on the next four years, I would bet that Oliver Perez would have a better run based on his age, his talent and his health record. Plus not even a year ago Perez put up a great season. And in his best year, he managed to put up a far better season than Burnett EVER put up. There is proof of his talent and there is room for development. I dont know how thats not a valid argument that Perez is the better investment over Burnett.

            And seriously you picked three seasons in six years to demonstrate that AJ Burnett put it together? Really? He has number one type stuff and he has never topped a 122 ERA+, he never had an ERA under 3.28. This is only the second time that Burnett has reached 200 K.

            In 2004, which is only four years ago Perez managed to put up a 145+ ERA and strikeout 239 guys in 196 innings. Last year Perez managed to win 15 games and have a 120 ERA+ with an ERA at 3.56. I dont have a massive sample size but those ten starts this year demonstrate that there is room for improvement. As opposed to Burnett who now has past his prime and never shown he can be consistent.

            • Steve S

              AJ had never had an ERA under 3.98, typo.

    • Slugger27

      i stated in an above post i think lowe would be a very attractive option should CC not land here… but oliver perez? he cant even be a no. 3 pitcher in the nat’l league, hes walked more ppl than any met has in 25 years… hes a lefthander with a good fastball, but thats about it, id just assume pitch igawa

    • Slugger27

      burnett has never put it together? now i dont advocate signing him to 5 years or anything, id rather sign sheets or lowe to be quite honest… in fact im probably one of the bigger anti-burnett guys on this thread, but theres no denying his talent and to say he has never put it all together is silly. i dont have the stats in front of me, but doesnt he lead the AL in Ks?

      • Steve S

        Is everyone just watching the games he pitches against the yankees? He has never put it together. This is the first time in his career that he cracked 12 wins and it just so happens to be his contract year.

        When is the last time we signed a pitcher who managed to have his highest win and inning total in his contract year following years of numerous injuries? I think his name was Carl Pavano and at least Pavano was 28. This guy is 31. Did one year of the youth make everyone forget the ineffectiveness of signing pitchers over 30 years old?

  • JRVJ

    if the Yanks don’t get Sabathia, they should go nuts on offense (Teixeira and someone else), and keep both Mussina/Pettitte.

  • john

    Personally I hope to hell the Yankees pass on Burnett. We do not need another Carl Pavano — and all three of the most talked about FA pitchers are ‘injury’ risks next year (Burnett, Sheets and Sabathia).

    Frankly, this team didn’t lose in 08 because of pitching — it lost because of lack of offensive production (when over 1/3rd of your games are <3 RPG you have offensive problems).

    I really don’t believe the Yankees need to shoot their wad on FA pitchers in 09.

    Wang, Chamberlain (1/2 year), Moose (if he comes back on a 1 or 2 yr deal) — start there.

    After that: We have a lot of pieces that contributed this year and have potential to contribute next year. (Aceves perhaps, Hughes, Pavano (yes, him), Pettitte if he doesn’t retire, Coke being talked about now as a potential starter) — That’s a lot of pitchers.

    (Note: I think Sabathia goes West as predicted).

    And really, if Burnett is a Yankee-killer, but against the rest of the league he’s +4ERA…how does that help us?

    • jsbrendog

      i also really like the idea of coke as a starter. if him and joba have innings issues why not use one out of the pen and one as a stater for half the year then flip them? send the starter to the pen and the reliever to the rotation…..would that work?

      • jsbrendog

        and i think aceves can eb a good 4-5 starter in the al east

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          That’s what we all though about Kennedy after three starts last September too.

        • Reggie C.

          Dont. Trust. September. Stats.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      and all three of the most talked about FA pitchers are ‘injury’ risks next year (Burnett, Sheets and Sabathia)

      What’s Sabathia’s injury risk again? That he’s chunky? Plenty of fat guys have been injury free in their MLB careers. Most I can find on CC is him missing one start in April with an ab strain. That’s it.

      (Note: I think Sabathia goes West as predicted).

      Who predicted this? And how reliable is the prediction? Sure, he’s from Vallejo… and yet, both of the teams in the Bay area suck and won’t spend on pitching. Neither will the Angels, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks… the only team out west that would consider giving CC more than $100M is the Mariners, and no way does he step into that trainwreck.

      So again, most of the pro-Burnett or anti-CC discussions are predicated on the idea that we won’t be able to get CC, that he’ll go somewhere else, but where is this mythical somewhere else that he’ll go to?

      If we do $140M over 6 years for CC, who’s going to match that?

      * crickets *

  • Reggie C.

    is anybody here in favor of getting Matt Cain if we miss out on CC sabathia? instead of crossing our fingers for Burnett and/or Sheets, doesn’t cain represent the type of young pitcher who could flourish in a ballclub with a better offense??

    • steve (different one)

      sure, how do you propose we get him?

      no, i don’t think it makes any sense whatsoever to trade Cano for him.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Cosign.

      • Reggie C.

        darn. you handcuffed me steve. i’m not one to insult Nate Schierholtz with a trade based on quantity rather than quality. Though that seemingly worked in the Santana situation…

      • Reggie C.

        I don’t see it being done without Cano. Giants need hitting. Maybe we send’em X-Nady, Melky, Kennedy (he’s from Cal anyway).

        it’d leave us an OF of Damon, Gardner, Abreu(?). Messy..i know.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

          Nady, Melky, and Kennedy for Matt Cain sounds like a Scott Layden trade offer.

        • Slugger27

          nady, melky and kennedy? sabean would either hang up the phone or then laugh for 8 seconds and then say “no, seriously cashman, who r u offering?”

          • Reggie C.

            argh.. i wrote schierholtz. i meant Sabean.

            like i said. its not done without Cano. Drop X-Nady (who’s over-rated b/c he hasnt been an allstar caliber player before this year) and insert Cano and you got a serious trade offer.

  • Chris

    Burnett is 7th in the AL in DIPS. Behind Cliff Lee, Halladay, Ervin Santana, Beckett, Mussina, and Danks.

  • Josh

    Is it unrealistic to think this comes down to getting CC Sabathia OR getting Burnett AND Sheets for roughly the same amount of money? I’d actually prefer the Burnett/Sheets option. CC scares me, especially considering the heavy workload this season.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      You need to reevaluate your fear sensors, if one month of Ned Yost/Dale Sveum riding a 28 year old CC who has never had an injury problem scares you more than 30 year old Ben Sheets and 31 year old A.J. Burnett, who are injured more than Phil Hughes and Carl Pavano.

      Getting Burnett and Sheets, both of whom are good at getting hurt, is not safer or smarter than getting CC, who’s actually good at pitching. Even at the same money (which it probably won’t be.)

      6 years at 140M is 23.3M AAV. Burnett probably gets 16-18M, which leaves only 5-7M for Sheets. No way does he take that little.

      Sheets + Burnett is probably 26M combined, BEST CASE scenario. 30M combined is not outside the realm of possibility. CC’s ceiling is probably 24M.

      Spending more money for two pitchers who aren’t as good and get hurt more often isn’t smart. Especially if Sheets really does need TJS, then you’re gonna have to wait until 2011 before he’s back to full strength and effectiveness.

  • Nick

    Is it ever a good idea to give a pitcher a long term contract?

    Since the early nineties the yanks have handed out long term deals too:
    Tim Leary
    Mike Witt
    Andy Hawkins
    Dave LaPoint
    Jimmy Key
    Kenny Rogers
    David Cone
    Mike Mussina
    Carl Pavano

    Only Mussina, Cone, and Key worked out well, and all three of those were either done by the end of the contract, or missed significant time.

    Moral of the story, long term contracts to pitchers are not good ideas.

    Bring back Pettite, Mussina for 1-2 year deals…and maybe even Hot Carl.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      And none of those pitchers were as good as CC Sabathia is. Only Moose and Cone are even close.

    • Slugger27

      u make a fair point, but CC is a superstar… i wouldnt wanna give him 7 years, but this guys a Cy young pitcher that could win 20 games every year when healthy… pitchers to long term contracts are always risky, but it seems to me if you HAD to sign a FA pitcher long term ((and to me the yanks do)) CC is about as safe as u can get

      then again… ya never know….

      • Nick

        Many of those listed were considered highly when signed.

        I know i said only bring back Pettite, Moose, and Pavano…but I could be talked into CC.

        The last fat lefty from California that I can think of is David Wells…and who I forgot from my list, and he did turn out well.

  • http://www.sportsandthecity.com eyebleaf

    Props for the link!

    Here’s hoping AJ will stay. He came to us a boy and, today, he’s a man.

  • Lanny

    “I’m not too keen on a bidding war over him. I hope the Yanks front office isn’t, either. ”

    We are the Yankees. We paid a pitcher 46 mill to pitch in Scranton. We paid Pavano not to be around. Why would anyone be scared of a bidding war????

    You overpay for free agents. You give them long contracts. There are no bargains in this game. That’s life. Who cares if they give Burnett 5 yrs and 18 mill per? Not like they are moving into a new stadium and charging more for tickets or anything. It’s not like there cable network is worth 2 billion.

    • cupz

      Pitiful reasoning. “Just because you’ve made a mistake before, why not make it again?” Pitiful.

      The Yankees should spend their money responsibly and wisely. their indifference in this matter is one of the reasons we’re on the outside looking in.

  • tom

    It would take talent to get Cain but we have the talent to pull it off. You think sabean would hang up if the offer was Montero,Kennedy, Betances, and DeLeon

  • Southpaw

    If I were the Yanks Id forget about pitching…..Sabatthia, Burnett and Sheets are going to cost way to much and the years you are going to give them just arent worth it. Its a gamble Im not willing to take. Why pay Sabathia all this money when you know by 2011 hell break down and be another Randy Johnson? Or Carl Pavano ? or even worse Why pay Burnett just because hes a Yankee Killer? what about all the other teams in the league. Also take this into account. Gaston asked him to pitch two more times so he could go for twenty wins and he said no. He didnt want to hurt his arm and risk losing any money in his opt out clause. On the flip side Sabathia may be doing harm by pitching too much. I say dont risk it.

    Instead The Yanks need to go after Tiexiera , dont let this guy get away. Get him! Then They need to trade for either Matt Kemp or Nate Mc Clouth. Let Abreu and Giambi go. Trade Damon..He still has value. See if you can get a type B pitcher . Trade Melky also. Cano and Kennedy will have to go in the McClouth , Kemp deals. So you sign Hudson at second. The pitching wasnt the horrible problem this year. It was the breaking down of the hitting. You need someone in the line up to protect A-Rod. Nady isnt the guy. Let Pettite And Mussina come back another year with Hughes. Acedo is good. The bull pen is strong , keep Joba as a starter. Thisll be the best bet.