Sep
01

The low expectations for A.J. Burnett

By

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

With a patchwork rotation that includes a struggling Phil Hughes, a journeyman pitching way over his head and a 23-year-old with two Major League starts to his name as well as their ace, the Yanks have made it from one to A.J. Burnett start to another without a loss. It’s the first time since early July that the Bombers have won four in a row, and few fans expect Burnett to continue the streak.

We know how bad A.J. has been lately. The glow of his World Series duel with Pedro Martinez has long since faded into Yankee lore, and right now, we’re stuck with a guy who’s 3-10 with a 6.86 ERA since the beginning of June. We’re stuck with the innings eater who’s averaging under six frames a start. We’re struck with the strike-out pitcher whose K rate has dropped to 6.75 per 9 innings. And we’re stuck with the guy making $16.5 million a year through 2013. It isn’t a comforting thought.

Yet, the Yankees have little choice but to hand the ball over to Burnett tonight, and it’s in the club’s best interests to get A.J. straightened out. If we look beyond the numbers to the stuff as presented by MLB’s pitch f/x data, we can begin to see what ails A.J, and it seems to be a combination of a less effective curveball and a fastball without bite. What many have noticed about Burnett’s fastball this year is its velocity. He averaged over 94 miles per hour last year but has been sitting at 93 this year. The velocity chart shows a downward trend too, but a mid-90s fastball thrown thrown with proper movement would still be tough to hit.

Rather, Burnett’s problem appears to be just that movement. The horizontal movement on his fastball is nearly two inches less than what it was last year while the vertical movement is approximately an inch and a half more. So instead of tailing fastballs then run away to lefties and in on righties, his fastball seems to be moving less to the corners. Thus, Major League hitters will tee up on it.

The deuce seems to be giving Burnett problems as well. Last year, Fangraphs rated his curve as a plus pitch, 16 runs above average. This year, they rate it at -4.2 runs below average, and the pitch f/x data says the curve too hasn’t been moving horizontally as much as it has in the past. While Fangraphs didn’t smile upon Burnett’s fastball last year, without the movement on the fastball and with a stale curveball, the results have been, as we’ve seen, disastrous lately.

Right now, though, there are no other options. The Yanks could skip Burnett and hand the ball over to Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre for a turn, but they could also do that with Phil Hughes to give him some rest. They can’t take both Burnett and Hughes out of the rotation, and the Bombers need both ready to go come the American League Division Series. Without Andy Pettitte around, then, Burnett will get the ball every five days sink or swim, and to me, the data suggests that an adjusted release point and not more rest could solve some problems.

As a Yankee, Burnett has been an enigma. He signed an inflated contract because the Yanks desperately needed some power arms for their rotation, and his strike out numbers haven’t been where they were when he was in Toronto. He hasn’t been hitting his spots, and his walk rate over those last 15 starts is touching 4.5 per 9 innings. There is no Bad A.J. or Good A.J., only Infuriating A.J. Tonight, as the Yanks hold onto first place and try to ride out a winning streak, some A.J. will get the ball, and I’d be happy with next to nothing. Give me 6 innings, and give up 4 runs. That will satisfy my low expectations.

Categories : Analysis, Pitching
  • Jake

    What are the chances AJ is still in the rotation by the end of his contract? Slim, I would imagine.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      If he weren’t making so much, I’d almost flip that question and ask what people think the chances are that he’s still on the team by the end of his contract? No one would pay Old A.J. $16.5 million though.

      • Jake

        I can more easily envision him being released with a year or two left on his deal than traded.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          They’re not going to eat $33 million just like that though.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            I wonder if we’d ever do a bad-contract for bad-contract swap, like the Milton Bradley/Carlos Silva deal from this winter.

            It’s not really our style, though.

            • Ro

              Relax everyone. His contract is not that bad. I was not a fan of the $82.5 deal, but the Yanks had zero options at that time. He is not “over the hill” just yet, in the baseball sense. If his mechanics are straightened out this guy can be a front end guy still. When he is on, he has some of the best pitching stuff in baseball. It’s not like Cliff Lee has been throwing up Cy Young numbers that last 4 or 5 starts and we all know how much we love him. Probably different factors involved including the 114 degree daily climate there, but you get my point, even the best of the best suck at times. Burnett is just doing it longer.

              Maybe Cashman can discreetly shop him this winter. You figure there will be about $48mm remaining on his contract at that point. Perhaps Cash can put up $10mm plus Burnett and get one A and one B prospect in return. I maybe off on that proposal, but I think many of you are wrong about how unmovable this guy is. There are 6 NL teams that I can think of that would pick this guy up for three years and the approx $38mm. What are the other options after the season for top end starting pitching? Outside Lee, not many. Vasquez is the closest thing to a solid arm for teams to look at. 2010 offseason not pretty for pitchers. You put Burnett out there, there will some conversations happening..

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                Perhaps Cash can put up $10mm plus Burnett and get one A and one B prospect in return.

                Not a chance.

                There are 6 NL teams that I can think of that would pick this guy up for three years and the approx $38mm.

                No, there aren’t. Not when his ERA+ has been 107, 104, and 77 the past three years.

                He’s an albatross. We’d have to kick in 30M, not 10M.

                And we don’t kick in money to move players. I can’t remember the last time we did that.

          • Jake

            Maybe $16.5 million. If he continues to pitch like this or even get worse over the next two years, they won’t keep him on the roster. None of this is that surprising–AJ’s deal looked atrocious from the beginning–but given he helped us win a championship last year I’m still not sure you can call it a mistake.

      • Johnny O

        Somewhere Kenny Williams just got an idea…..

  • Pete

    Of course, you know what will happen tonight on account of this article.

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      no hitter with 7 walks?

  • Ross in Jersey

    Isn’t the Ghost of Kei Igawa making a ton of money too? They gave Igawa plenty of chances, but eventually the FO seemed to simply have had enough and banished him to AAA for the rest of his days. Obviously AJ has a better track record than Igawa, but I wonder if it’ll get to the same point. Not saying it’ll happen this year or next, but the Yankees are known to bury (rather than live with) financial mistakes when possible.

    Oh well. I’m going to tonight’s game to cheer him on. May Mo have mercy on my soul.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Kei Igawa is making $4 million a year, and the Yanks gave him far far fewer chances than they have Burnett. They also are counting on Burnett to be a Number 2 guy. Igawa never had those expectations.

    • 28 this year

      Kei has a 5 year, 20 million dollar contract. That is a lot easier to swallow down in AAA than one that averages 16.5 million a yea

      • Ross in Jersey

        This is true. I forgot the $26 million posting price doesn’t factor into his salary.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Furthermore, Igawa didn’t have the major league service time to refuse a demotion to the minors, so he was easy to stash down in Scranton on either a temporary or a permanent basis.

          We can’t demote AJ, we have to either play him, cut him, or hope someone is dumb enough to trade for him*.

          (* I wonder how long Omar Minaya will be around before the Wilpons finally ax him?)

          • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

            Will he be around at the end of his contract? Will the sun rise tomorrow?

    • rick

      haha kei Igawa has to follow the aaa yankees pitchers i went to an swb yankees game friday and he sat a few seats away from me scouting pitchers… they wont even let him stay in the dugout… ajs new job soon if he keeps this up.

      • Rick in Boston

        Uhm, yeah, that’s normal. In the minors, the guy who started the day before and the guy scheduled to start the next day sit behind home plate. One person has the gun, the other charts the pitches.

  • mike c

    “There is no Bad A.J. or Good A.J., only Infuriating A.J.”

    he looked good in texas and KC

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      That isn’t really the point. I’m personally tired of the Good/Bad A.J. meme as though that’s a way to explain why he has bad outings. I don’t find it a funny excuse, and lately, he’s just been bad all around, not just inconsistent.

      • mike c

        well you’re not exactly pointing out something we’re not all aware of already. trying to figure out AJ is a moot point

      • Ross in Jersey

        I never really thought of it as an excuse, personally. Since AJ seems to either be incredibly bad or incredibly good, it’s a way to identify what kind of performance we think we’re in for. He rarely has any starts that one would call “grinding it out” so I think the meme is justified.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Yeah, I never saw the notion of “Good AJ and Bad AJ” as either an excuse, a joke, or a humorous meme.

          It’s more a simple statement of fact. There are two AJ Burnetts, and you never know which one will show up at any given inning. I’m not excusing him or making light of him by saying that, just saying it is what it is.

          • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

            But come on. Isn’t it a statement of fact about every pitcher? We got Bad Phil Hughes for his last two starts, but no one’s trying to laugh off his performance by labeling him as such. Maybe it’s just my annoyance with him overall.

            • mike c

              most likely. see the fans re:javy vazquez for reference

            • Zack

              AJ was always the extreme case though.
              Perception was that he was either 6/7 IP with 1-2 ER, or 3-4 IP with 7 ER. There was no middle ground, like when Andy is off he can still go 5-6 IP and keep you in the game, AJ can’t.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                There was no middle ground, like when Andy is off he can still go 5-6 IP and keep you in the game, AJ can’t.

                That. The reason the Good AJ/Bad AJ concept exists is that, compared to most other pitchers, there’s far fewer appearances (anecdotally speaking) of “Solid AJ” or “Doesn’t have his best stuff but still competing and keeping us in the game AJ”.

                There’s no “Okay AJ”, it’s just Good AJ or Bad AJ. He’s a pitcher of extremes in a way many other pitchers aren’t.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              But come on. Isn’t it a statement of fact about every pitcher?

              It’s much more stark and omnipresent with AJ, though.

              We got Bad Phil Hughes for his last two starts, but no one’s trying to laugh off his performance by labeling him as such.

              Again, perhaps the disconnect is you think I’m “laughing off” a bad AJ performance with saying Good AJ/Bad AJ. I’m not laughing it off, it pisses me off. I’m just labeling it appropriately. There’s no laughing involved, just describing.

              • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

                I guess the results back that up too. In wins, Burnett has a 0.74 ERA vs. a 10.68 mark in games he loses whereas in wins Phil Hughes’ ERA split is 2.77/7.31 and CC’s is 2.18/5.15.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  For his career:

                  In wins: 1.99 ERA, .201/.281/.285 against
                  In losses: 6.93 ERA, .296/.377/.505 against

                  • BadaBling

                    Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      Drop it like it’s hot.

                • mike c

                  that is a crazy number. i would wonder what AJ’s numbers would be if he had gotten the hook early in some of those blowout losses he’s given up. i know it’s not expected from your #2, but it might have saved a game or two from being completely out of reach

              • CS Yankee

                Ageed, all starters lay an egg once in ahile.

                A while back RAB posted an article comparing Javy & Andy ability to limit the damage. AJ doesn’t ever seem to limit his bad performances, maybe his emotions get the better of him.

                Hughes bad two starts isn’t exactly correct…luck, poise or whatever faired him a much better outcome than AJ has done.

                A “struggling” Hughes has a ERA around 4 & is 16-5, while AJ is like 9-12 with a 7’ish ERA. I know these aren’t the best metrics to guage but some weight should be given to the fact that he depresses the players on the field by putting them in a bigger hole. Plus his anti-Sada deal is limiting his run support big time.

              • rek4gehrig

                Good points and Good AJ better show up tonight cos I have tickets to the game.

            • Ross in Jersey

              “Bad Hughes” gave up 2 runs in 5 innings despite walking 5 and having awful command of his pitches. When’s the last time AJ did that?

              I don’t think anyone “laughs off” AJ’s bad starts, either. He’s infuriating to watch, but I think it’s almost gotten to the point that fans think “this is who is he is, but he can still throw a 1 hitter in the playoffs”

              • Jorge

                Hughes is also now pitching innings he’s never pitched before. If that’s what he can give for about 2-3 more starts, and the team supports him, I will gladly take that from him this final month.

            • rek4gehrig

              Understood. But AJ’s Jekyll and Hyde episodes are more frequent than most (lately)

  • Hughesus Christo

    I feel like this has been a boring season overall because the team is too good (and the Sox have been Dead Men Walking), so the media is going into hyperdrive to find stuff to write about. Didn’t Burnett dominate Kansas City like 12 days ago? Didn’t he put up gem after gem in July?

    I have faith in Big Game (Allan) James. We all know he’s streaky, but you have to hope the good streak extends through October.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Last 15 starts: 80 IP, 3-10, 6.86 ERA and a FIP to match. He has pitched a few decent outings in that span, but I think those results transcend streaky, no? It almost warrants questioning giving him the ball every five days.

      • mike c

        august 2009 he was 0-4 with a 6.03 ERA, this august he’s 0-4 with a 7.80 ERA. maybe it’s the heat?

        • Bill in Boston

          but that was one bad month last year.
          this is 15 bad starts essentially, which is more alarming

          (I realize some were good and some were bad. But his numbers have been bad for a longer stretch)

          • mike c

            that is true, but i don’t think the yankees should write the guy off at this point. he’s better than his numbers indicate and his potential is too valuable to give up on now

          • Hughesus Christo

            But it’s not 15 bad starts. He was ridiculous throughout July. That’s four weeks ago. Then he was great again two weeks ago.

            So in reality we’re talking about four bad starts since July 1. Is 6/10 good starts great? No, but it’s not the sky falling.

            • Bill in Boston

              Not saying the sky is falling but I think we all need to see him pitch better down the stretch. Right now I don’t have much confidence in AJ in a playoff game.

              Since June here’s a monthly breakdown:
              June: best start was against baltimore when he went 6.2 ip and gave up 8 hits and 4 runs. He got bombed by toronto, philly, arizona, and the dodgers.

              July: was awesome except for one start against TB. However he was awesome against Toronto (good offensively), Oakland, KC, and Cleveland (not good offensively).

              August: awful against toronto on 8/2, good at Texas, great at KC, awful against Seattle (who are really really bad at hitting), awful against Chicago.

            • Mike HC

              You can break down every pitcher like that. Its not like pitchers go out there and pitch the exact same everytime. Sucky pitchers have good starts. Sucky pitchers can go on long streaks and get hot, only to completely implode in 3-4 starts. That is what sucky pitchers do. And this year, AJ has sucked. Will he always suck from now on? I doubt it. But so far, he has.

              • Hughesus Christo

                TO say he has sucked is oversimplifying it. Bad pitchers don’t have months of dominance like he has. This is why Good AJ/Bad AJ exists.

                • Mike HC

                  I’m kinda done with the Good AJ/Bad AJ thing.

                  He has a 5.17 era and 1.51 whip. He has 9 wins with the Yanks offense. Seems like he is just bad to me. You can’t be Good AJ/Bad AJ if like 75% of your starts are bad.

                  • Hughesus Christo

                    But it’s not 75% of his starts! It’s ~45% That’s why we call it Bad AJ!

                    • Mike HC

                      I was exaggerating. But since June, it has been about 66% bad. And even for the year, it was been more bad than good looking at every start. There have been maybe 10 or 11 starts for the year where you got good AJ. And bad AJ has been horrific. Meaning, the bad is just so bad it overtakes any good. For me.

                  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                    You can’t be Good AJ/Bad AJ if like 75% of your starts are bad.

                    But what if the other 25% of your starts are excellent? Isn’t that precisely why he’s Good AJ/Bad AJ?

                    • Mike HC

                      Maybe its more of a frustration thing from having to watch it. But I have trouble even having a “good AJ” part of the meme for a guy pitching with an over 5 era and 1.5 whip. The splits are obviously too exaggerated to the bad side, to even give credit to the good. In my opinion.

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      So, because you’re frustrated with Bad AJ, you’re going to pretend like Good AJ doesn’t exist?

                    • Mike HC

                      Because bad AJ is so much worse than good aj is good, I’m not going to claim “you never know if you are going to get good aj or bad aj.” Because so far this year and far more recently, the odds are, that you are going to get bad AJ.

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      But again, you yourself said “the odds are you’re going to get Bad AJ”.

                      Unless those odds are 100%, it implies there are odds (however unlikely) that you can get Good AJ.

  • jsbrendog (returns)

    someone get him a live chicken to sacrifice. not a bucket of extra crispy

    • Gmat

      Nicely done.

  • Klemy

    I’m really tired of the postgame “I’ve got to do better.” speeches. There comes a time that you actually have to back that up or the words become totally hollow. That’s where I am with AJ now…all hollow.

    • Jobu

      You mean the, “I have to do better, now please excuse me. I have to go home and revel in the money I made off this performance.” speech?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      What else would you like him to say, though? He does have to do better. When people ask him what he has to do, what alternative does he have other than to say “I have to do better”?

      It’s not hollow because it’s not genuine. It’s genuine… it’s just impossible. The reason he doesn’t do better after proclaiming that he has to do better is because he can’t actually do better, he is what he is.

      The only other statement he can make is “You know what? Sometimes I’m gonna be shitty. That’s who I am. I hate it, you hate it, we all hate it, but it’s not going to change for the next 3 years.” I’m sure that would go over like gangbusters.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

        Or he could say that he thought he threw good pitches but just got beat. That goes over well, too, from what I remember.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Pretty much.

          I don’t pay much attention to postgame comments, because no matter what a player says, some fan will be offended by it for some reason.

          • Klemy

            I’m not even offended by it. I’m just saying it’s tiring to hear so often.

            And yeah, I don’t know what else he can say. That’s not really my point. My frustration is that it happens and I’m tired of hearing it.

            I wish and hope that he improves for the better of the team, he’s just broken me at this point. I can’t expect anything but bad from him anymore. When he does pitch well, I’m more shocked than anything else. I hate that.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              And yeah, I don’t know what else he can say. That’s not really my point. My frustration is that it happens and I’m tired of hearing it.

              Then stop listening. Problem: solved.

              • Klemy

                I have absolutely no choice. I have been told by YES Network that I simply MUST stick around for the postgame!

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  Stop being an automaton and think for yourself, dammit!!!

                  (sips delicious Green Mountain K-Cup coffee delivered by W.B. Mason. WHO BUT?)

      • Ross in Jersey

        Maybe one day it’ll just click for him. Who knows. Maybe Cliff Lee will whisper something in his ear in spring training next year and turn him into a 20 game winner.

        I can dream, right?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Yes, you can dream. You have compared Chad Moeller to the Kraken, Ross… you can do anything.

          • Ross in Jersey

            When Moeller hits a walk-off homer in the world series, you will thank me.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              I agree.

              When that happens, I will thank you. When that happens.

              • Klemy

                MLB the Show…play, now.

            • mike c

              i’d settle for a clutch girardian triple

              • Klemy

                or an excuse me single, plating a run?

        • Mike HC

          Based on how Cliff Lee has been pitching recently, maybe it was AJ whispering in the ear of Lee.

      • rek4gehrig

        Perhaps preface “I have to do better” with “I sucked”.

    • Mike HC

      All media quotes are hollow. How completely honest and open would you be knowing that everyone in the world will have access to it. I think you would choose your words carefully as well.

      • Klemy

        Again, I’m not trying to make a point of what he says so much as express my total disappointment in the performances. Maybe I expressed it badly with the OP, but the quotes about being better just don’t inspire me in any way. I don’t expect any level of insight out of him.

        • Mike HC

          In that case, neither do I. I just don’t expect it, or craze it really.

          • Mike HC

            crave

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          the quotes about being better just don’t inspire me in any way. I don’t expect any level of insight out of him.

          He’s a baseball player.

  • Jobu

    If AJ looks as bad next May as he has since June, can the Yankees send him to the minors to try and work through mechanical issues? They can get him off the 40 by passing him through waivers, if anyone claims him just let him go, but can they then send him down?

    • Ross in Jersey

      I may be wrong, but I believe Burnett’s a 10 and 5 player. He can veto any waiver claim and can’t be sent to the minors without his permission.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

        Gotta be on your current team for 5 seasons to be a 10 and 5 player. Burnett is not one, but he can block deals to 10 teams each year.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        It’ll be like Oliver Perez 2010 all over again.

      • Ross in Jersey

        Er, sorry, that’s wrong. 10 and 5 means the last 5 years are with the same team. I thought it was 5 years with the same team at any point, but that’s incorrect.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Yeah, the 10/5 thing doesn’t apply to being sent down (only to blocking trades and junk), but I’m sure Burnett, like Ollie Perez, has language in his contract barring the team from sending him to the minors without his permission (unless he’s on a rehab assignment).

          • Jobu

            Maybe the Yankees should send him down to rehab from shitthemounditis.

            • CS Yankee

              Too funny.

  • http://www.twitter.com/brandonholley B-Rando

    Lately I’ve made conscious decisions to not turn the game on until after the 1st inning or 2 when AJ starts. I just can’t stand sitting there and watching him give up run after run so early in games.

  • Jonathan

    I was really looking forward to seeing AJ pitch in KC in person to try and see if there was something obvious going on with him, but he was touching 96 and sitting at 93-95 and his curve was great. Before, when he still had overpowering stuff, i almost assumed other teams were stealing his signs or he was tipping pitches (i think it’s much easier to steal signs/tip pitches when you only throw 2 pitches, think Randy Johnon in Toronto), but now when he’s throwing 91 mph straight fastballs and a roller curve…i don’t know what to think…How did he go from so good in the first part of the year to this?

    • Mike HC

      To be honest, I think it is easier to “scout” a player on TV, than from the stands. I guess if you are first couple of rows, maybe, but even then, the camera probably gives you a better angle and the ability to rewind.

  • Mike HC

    Nice write up. I think you definitely encapsulated how everyone here feels. Put simply, he sucks.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    The good news for AJ Burnett: He’s facing the Oakland A’s tonight.

    2nd to last in homers, bottom 5 in the league in slugging, only two regulars (Barton and Cust) with OBPs over .330.

    (can’t wait to see Kurt Suzuki hitting 3rd again)

    • Jobu

      That is unpossible. Billy Beane is a genius who invented OBP!

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        I guess they stopped doing Moneyball in Oakland.

        Sincerely,
        Joe Morgan

      • Hughesus Christo

        I really hate Billy Beane. I can’t wait until Moneyball bombs at the box office, just to stick it to Billy Beane again.

        It’s really hard to inherit three Aces and ride a roster of pioneering roiders.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          It’s really hard to inherit three Aces and ride a roster of pioneering roiders.

          Beane took over in Oakland in 1998. Hudson had been drafted the year before and was still in AA. Beane’s FO drafted Mulder and Zito themselves.

          He didn’t “inherit three aces”, he inherited one good 21 year old ace prospect and a 1997 A’s team that went 65-97 with a rotation of Steve Karsay, Ariel Prieto, Mike Oquist, Dave Telgheder, Brad Rigby, Jimmy Haynes, Willie Adams, Don Wengert, Mike Mohler, Carlos Reyes, and Andrew Lorraine.

          • Hughesus Christo

            What does the 1997 rotation have to do with Zilderson coming up? I’m sure Beane was involved with the draft the entire time, but there’s nothing genius about drafting aces in the top 10 of the MLB draft. Lucky, yes, but none of those were out of the box choices.

            And the epic roiding on those teams can’t be ignored.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Hudson was a 6th rounder.

              And everyone was juicing, not just Oakland.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Good AJ could dominate anyone. Bad AJ would make the Mariners look like the Yankees. The 1927 Yankees.

      (Sorry about the Good AJ/Bad AJ thing, but IMO, it really is true. You honestly don’t see “didn’t have his best stuff but hung in there” AJ, like Hughes was last night and, errr, Andy Pettitte his entire career.)

    • Ross in Jersey

      Do you think that matters though? Yeah, they’re a bad major league offense. But… they’re still major league caliber hitters. Almost any major leaguer on any team can hit a belt-high-middle fastball, which is what AJ seems to be throwing a lot of these days. KC hung a 6 spot on him earlier and their offense is almost equally inept.

    • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

      AJ gave up 6 runs in 7 innings to the Mariners, who are on pace to finish the season with the worst offense of any team (NL included) in nearly forty years.

      If bad AJ shows up, the Athletics will have no problem with him.

  • mike c

    one note about AJ’s role in the postseason that i think might be taking shape. javy’s role in long relief could be good preparation for october, when he might be a hugely valuable life preserver for girardi. being able to pull bad AJ early before he gives up 4+ runs in early innings could really give us a chance to stay in those games when he obviously can’t get the job done. that would give us CC, AJ/javy, Andy, and phil as options. it would definitely calm some of my fears about the #2 spot

    • vin

      You might be on to something there. I always assumed Phil would go to the pen for the playoffs, and Javy and AJ would start. That was until about 2-3 weeks ago. You need a short leash in the playoffs, and being able to swap Javy in for AJ might just work.

    • Yank the Frank

      I agree that seems to be where Joe is heading and also keeping Chad and Mitre as long distance back-ups. Instead of a dominating rotation we’ll have a flexible one.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Which is why we kicked the tires on Ted Lilly.

        • http://www.progressamericana.com/ Pablo Zevallos

          I highly doubt Lilly could have helped much at all. I don’t think his stuff is up to it at this point

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            I don’t think Lilly’s stuff is any good anymore either, but he’d be an upgrade over Dustin Moseley. That’s all that counts.

  • CS Yankee

    He reminds me of that comic book character that is half good-half bad after being in an accident. Evil takes over and he is all bad for awhile…but, how does that play out?

    Whatever that guy is nicknamed, so shall AJ be meme’d.

    • CS Yankee

      It is from Batman. Harvey Dent (friend of Bruce Wayne) becomes…Two-Face

      AJ burnett is “Two-Face”, he might actually flip a coin that has a two-face on it right before every inning.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Dream scenario:

    CC, Lee, Andy, Hughes and AJ open the 2011 season as the starting rotation. Joba continues to work as a starter in the spring and pitches well, then goes in the bullpen as a situational (i.e. non-8th inning) reliever designated as the 6th starter. Ivan Nova remains the 7th starter, shuttling between Scranton and the big league pen. Adam Warren joins him as an AAA stud and the designated 8th starter

    All 7 starters pitch fairly well, and Joba shows enough consistency to merit joining the rotation immediately. Next August, full of quality pitching depth, we float A.J. through waivers (as we would with most players) and Krazy Kenny Williams puts a claim on him, attempting to bolster his White Sox pitching staff (suffering from another Peavy injury and a Freddy Garcia implosion) for the stretch run.

    We pull a Toronto Blue Jays/Alex Rios and just dump Burnett on them outright. Chicago happens to not be one of the 10 teams AJ’s no-trade clause applies to that year.

    Joba steps seamlessly into the rotation, and Andrew Brackman comes up in his place and pulls an Aroldis Chapman. We win #29. Hilarity ensues.

    Boom.

    • Pat D

      Most certainly a dream.

    • Jobu

      The sad thing is that as I read this, I can really see it. There is literally nothing that can be ruled out for Kenny Williams. I am going to be sad when the White Sox fire him.

    • Ross in Jersey

      Why not add “Jeter wins the triple crown” for good measure?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Because that wouldn’t be realistic. Everything in my scenario could actually happen next year.

    • CS Yankee

      Best damn dream ever!

      (baseball category wise, that is)

    • Yank the Frank

      Next season AJ does a Pavano and wins 20 games for the White Sox.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Meh, I’m good with that. Pavano’s solid in Minnesota, but I’m not losing any sleep over it.

        I’ll have CC, Lee, Hughes, and Joba together in the rotation, baby.

        • rek4gehrig

          ps. What is going on with Lee?

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            It’s baseball. Shit happens. He’ll be fine.

            • Ross in Jersey

              8.28 ERA in his last 5 starts. That AJ-esque!

  • Matt Montero

    I’m predicting 7IP, 10Ks, 4BB, 2ER tonight folks

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Sounds great.

      BTW, tell your brother Jesus that he’s teh awesome.

  • rek4gehrig

    “The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.”

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      “I guess some people never change. Or, they quickly change and then quickly change back.”

      -Homer Simpson

      • Pat D

        “You tried your best and failed, the lesson is: never try.”

        • CS Yankee

          “It ain’t over, til it’s over”

          -Yogi Berra

          Little known fact: although he said it some 40-odd years earlier, he was envisioning it toward the contract and post season performances of a Mr AJ Burnett.

          • rek4gehrig

            “Everytime I find the meaning of life, they change it”

            • Pat D

              “Just when they think they got the answers, I change the questions!”

              –Roddy Piper

              • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

                I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.

                -Roddy Piper

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  “What’s everyone blaming me for? Blame Felix. I wouldn’t have hit into the double-plays if he hadn’t hit singles.”
                  -Joe Torre of the Mets after tying a major league record by hitting into four double-plays, each time after Felix Millan had singled just before Torre came to the plate (July 21, 1975)

                  • http://www.twitter.com/jordan_smed JGS

                    “I’ve seen Youkilis in the shower, and I wouldn’t call him the Greek God of anything”

                    -Terry Francona

                  • Ross in Jersey

                    “The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.”

                    -Casey Stengel

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      “There is one word in America that says it all, and that word is, ‘You never know.'”
                      – Joaquin Andujar

                • CS Yankee

                  “Be the change you want to see in the world”

                  -Ghandi

                  Was he implying that AJ should throw the changeup?

  • theyankeewarrior

    It just shows how deep this team is that we have incredibly low expectations from our #2 starter and we’re clearly the favorite to win the WS.

    • Ross in Jersey

      There’s 200 million reasons why the 2010 (million) Yankees are 200-1 (million) favorites to win the World Series.

      /Lupica

      • theyankeewarrior

        Ha, yes, because every other MLB team has a payroll of $0.00 and the Yankees’ is 200+M.

        /casual baseball fan’d

    • CS Yankee

      Don’t count Boston out, they have Beckett who is the bestest, clutchess pitcher in October & have limited Clay’s innings this year by design. The Yankees or Tampa will miss the playoffs.

      Sincerely,
      Mitch Williams

  • larryf

    No curveball for strikes=Bad AJ

    fastball not good enough to overcome his mental issues….

  • larryf

    Amazing how well the team has done with crappy AJ, crappy Jeter and injuries. Grit……

    • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

      Good AJ and Bad AJ is what he is. It’s not some cute little saying. It’s the god’s honest truth.

      And no one knows which one it will be, that includes AJ himself.

      Skipping starts or sending him to the minors or sitting him down with a psychiatrist isn’t going to suddenly make him turn those 8ER outings into 4-5 and keeping the Yankees in the game. He is 33 years old. This is who he is.

      • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

        didn’t mean for that to reply to you, larry.

  • Gmat

    I’m an AJ fan [ducks tomatoes thrown] and I’ve tried to defend him throughout this year. It’s tough to do at this point. The Good/Bad AJ meme has gotten annoying, but it’s true nonetheless. It’s incredibly infuriating watching him pitch when he’s got nothing going for him. As a pitcher with two pitches, when one doesn’t work, MLB hitters will just sit on the other.

    What I want to know is why is he not throwing the change-up that he was working on? Yes, you don’t want to be beaten by a third or fourth pitch, but his first and second pitches are getting crushed so THROW THE DAMN CHANGE! At least it would be a different look for hitters and may in-turn make his fastball less hittable.

    At this point all we can do is hope for the Yankees’ sake, our sanity’s sake, and the arm of my couch’s sake, is that he turns it around. I have faith that he’ll figure it out eventually, I just hope that it will be sooner than October.

    [crosses fingers, rubs lucky rabbits foot, etc]

    • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

      I’m also an AJ fan and have questioned his not using the change too. (As have non-AJ people)

      I think his not using the change up is 2 fold. 1)The catcher has to call it. Cervelli needs to make it an effort one game to just go change up crazy. and 2) if it is called he has to have the confidence in himself and in the pitch to throw it.

      • Gmat

        Those are great points, and if AJ’s falling behind hitters, Cervelli is kind of stuck at that point. Don’t want to walk a guy on a 3-1 changeup, either.

        • larryf

          We have a few guys who can confidently throw a 3-1 change. AJ is not one of them. CC/Aceves/Mosely/Nova/Javy seem to be able to do it.

          • Gmat

            Right, AJ doesn’t have the confidence in his change that they do. If he’s not confident in the pitch, he won’t want throw it and Cervelli won’t call it when he’s behind in the count.

  • viasistina

    Winning masks many ills and maybe that’s wuy no one is talking about the 1000 lb gorilla in the room..which is our captain hitting below .270 with a month to go and looking decidely older in the field and batters box. His swing seems slow and his bat lacks the pop. Several times these past several weeks our captain has come to bat in situations either in the bottom of the eighth or ninth with the tying and winning runs on base and has failed to deliver even one of those classic Jeter clutch hits. A couple of times he grounded into the now too familiar double play to end any chance of a rally. It is a slump or is it simply the relentless effect of age? Now ask yourself, is Hank going to fork over $20-25 Million to a aging shorstop with declining skills? What team would sign him for that kind of money? Where else would he go? Every young shortstop who came into the league with Jeter back in 1996 is now a faded memory at another position if he is still in the game. Has the time come??

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Per our commenting guidelines, please keep comments on topic. This post isn’t about Derek Jeter, a copy we’ve covered frequently this year.

  • larryf

    What about AJ’s wild pitches and passed balls? Mostly curves? Scoring of passed balls/wp’s is very subjective but I’d be curious to know what percent of the TOTAL are curves vs fastballs.

  • http://BleacherReport Jerry

    I think what I find most upsetting is his lack or his display of humility. He has that caviler attitute both off and on the mound and almost appears to be saying “Screw you all, I have a great contract and there’s nothing you can do about it”. When he’s having a bad day, he doesn’t back up home plate, and is late covering first base. He wears his “I don’t give a s–t attitute” on his face and in his actions. He’s like the rich kid on the block who takes his bat, ball, and glove home if things don’t go his way. Yet no matter how much he stunk up the park the day before with his performace on the mound, he’s in the dugout joking around, much like Joba. Somehow, I don’t get that fuzzy “being a good teammate” when I see him either on the mound or in the dugout. He needs a good dose of humble pie.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Every single one of his teammates says Burnett is a top-notch teammate. That and his HOPE Week commitments prove to me that he’s not a bad guy by any stretch of this imagination, and your character assassination is completely unwarranted.

      I might not like Burnett the pitcher, but I’m more than willing to defend Burnett the person from attacks like this.

      • larryf

        I’m sure this is true Ben but the point about AJ not backing up correctly were well seen in the white sox game…

        • Tim

          Yes. So he gets frustrated with his poor performance and lets that affect his judgement on the field. But it certainly isn’t because he doesn’t care, or that he’s a bad guy. By all accounts, he’s a GOOD guy. And a very good teammate. Immature, yes. But an excellent teammate and person.

      • http://BleacherReport Jerry

        I’d like to see proof that all of his teamates feel that way about him. I did not get that impression from the club house interviews after his last outing. I was not talking about his off premises charitable work, I was relating to his on field mannerisms during a bad outing.An example of his lack of humble pie is the quote of his in today’s Post when asked to respond to his very poor August? His reply? “Aint no worse than June” and walked away eating a sandwich!! Page #81 of todays Post.Are those comments also “character assassination” ?

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          I’m not doing your research for you. There are plenty of examples of Burnett as a well-respected and well-liked teammate. What you’re doing with absolutely no first-hand knowledge of the situation is character assassination.

          • http://BleacherReport Jerry

            I at least was able to provide one example of his attitute by quoting recent remarks to a post writer to and including the page number. It would appear that your definition of “character assassination” is either any sort of adverse critism or disagreeing with your feelings. Amen!!

            • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

              Nothing from that quote of his own speaks to the fact that you claim he’s a bad teammate. Nothing at all.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I think what I find most upsetting is his lack or his display of humility. He has that caviler attitute both off and on the mound and almost appears to be saying “Screw you all, I have a great contract and there’s nothing you can do about it”. When he’s having a bad day, he doesn’t back up home plate, and is late covering first base. He wears his “I don’t give a s–t attitute” on his face and in his actions. He’s like the rich kid on the block who takes his bat, ball, and glove home if things don’t go his way. Yet no matter how much he stunk up the park the day before with his performace on the mound, he’s in the dugout joking around, much like Joba. Somehow, I don’t get that fuzzy “being a good teammate” when I see him either on the mound or in the dugout. He needs a good dose of humble pie.

      Fixed.

      Useless narratives are useless.

  • Evan3457

    Granted AJ doesn’t turn in the “kept the team in the game” very often. He did do it once in a key moment; Game 5 vs. the Angels last year. 4 in the first, then 5 shutout innings, pitching out of some trouble in the 3rd and 4th, then the Yanks rallied for about an hour in the top of the 7th, taking a 6-4 lead.

    Girardi looked at the pitch count and his shaky middle relief vs. the lengthy cool-off on the bench and decided in favor of the pitch count. AJ put the 1st two guys on in the bottom of the 7th, and the pen let both score, giving him a no decision, and Hughes the loss.

    Would’ve been an impressive “kept the team in the game” for the clincher, but they don’t play would’ves.