Aug
10

Burnett to the bullpen, for the right reasons

By

(Charles Krupa/AP)

Last night’s game seemed like a replay of an old one. A.J. Burnett pitched well through five innings, but in the sixth he completely fell apart. All the good will he had accumulated by shutting out the Angels in the first five completely disintegrated when he handed them a three-run lead. The calls for his removal from the rotation were loud and frequent following the game.

As long as the Yankees employ a six-man rotation, there is no need to remove Burnett. As Mike argued last week, there are definite benefits to maintaining this six-pitcher arrangement for a few weeks. There’s a doubleheader later this month, which will require them to use six starters in five days, and everyone could probably use a bit of rest during the 30 games in 30 days stretch. But the six man rotation will not last until the end of the season.

The hope is that either Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes stands above the other and claims the final spot in the rotation. But what if they continue to pitch well, while Burnett continues to toil in mediocrity? The Yankees say that Burnett’s rotation spot is not in jeopardy, but they have every reason to say that right now. They might be singing a different tune, though, if Nova and Hughes produce quality results in their next few starts.

With more than two years left on his deal, Burnett is not going anywhere. The Yankees are not DFAing him, nor are they trading him. That leaves them with limited options. They’ve taken the path of least resistance, which is to continue trotting him out there and hoping for the best. But as has become apparent in the past two seasons, his best might not be enough. He’s been good at times, but he hasn’t sustained his success for any long stretch. It might be time to go with the alternative.

There is a right reason and a wrong reason for placing Burnett in the bullpen. The wrong reason is the one you’ll hear from most agitated fans: to get him out of the rotation. While that would certainly represent a byproduct of placing him in the bullpen, it does not represent a good reason for doing so. Placing him in the bullpen just to get him out of the rotation means, in all likelihood, that he’ll wither out there, waiting for a mop up situation. That’s not productive for anyone.

The right reason for placing Burnett in the pen is that he might actually find success there. Maybe if he’s able to gear up for short appearances, emptying the tank while taking advantage of his two-pitch arsenal, he could become a viable short relief option down the stretch. It might not be the best use of $16.5 million, but it’s better than leaving him in the rotation while a potentially better option leaves for the bullpen.

Two innings have bitten Burnett more than others: the 4th and the 6th. Why the fourth has been a problem remains something of a mystery. The sixth, though, is a bit more understandable. At that point he’s facing batters for a third time, and the third time through opponents have a .900 OPS against Burnett. In the sixth they have a .918 OPS. Even with the ugly fourth inning, if we look at just the first five innings Burnett has a .216/.294/.393 batting line against, with a 3.85 ERA and 4.17 FIP. It’s pretty clear that he lacks the stamina to give the Yankees length as a starter.

In the first three innings, however, Burnett’s numbers are much nicer. There he has a .205/.288/.358 batting line against, with a 2.88 ERA and 3.82 FIP. He strikes out almost a batter per inning, and has a 2.4 K/BB ratio. He does have some trouble starting a game, as opponents have a .812 OPS through 25 pitches, and a .728 OPS in the first inning. But perhaps Burnett could mitigate some of these numbers by 1) not necessarily facing the top of the order, and 2) emptying the tank rather than pacing himself. Given his overall numbers the first time through the order, when opponents have a .647 OPS, it seems worth the shot.

If stamina truly is the problem, and the numbers do indicate that is the case, then not all is lost for the last two years of the deal. It might be tougher to get into that peak physical condition, since Burnett will be 35 next year. But he can certainly work on building endurance during the off-season, with hopes of joining the rotation in 2012. But right now there’s no good way to improve his stamina. If he’s gassed after five innings, there’s little the Yankees can do.

Moving Burnett to the bullpen provides a potentially useful solution for a clear problem. Who knows: maybe Hughes or Nova will falter in their next few starts and necessitate Burnett staying in the rotation. But if they both pitch well, Burnett might not only be the worst of the starting options, but he might also be best suited for the pen. The chances are slim that they’ll do that, as they’ve remained adamant about keeping him in the rotation. But if the Yankees put him out there with the idea that he can play a useful role, then maybe they’ll gain some value from that.

Categories : Pitching

87 Comments»

  1. JohnC says:

    Like the old Budweiser jingle

    When you say AJ Burnett,
    You’ve said it all.

  2. UncleArgyle says:

    To be honest, if I was forced to pick one of Burnett or Hughes to start a game, I’d pick Burnett. Which tells you how little confidence I have in Phil Hughes.

    • JohnC says:

      Thats a little unfair. Hughes had undoubtedly his best start in Chicago last week. Would like to see him get the opportunity to build on that with another couple of starts before I make that determintaion. AJ has had more than enough chances

      • UncleArgyle says:

        Hughes had the opportunity to build on that start with his relief appearence in Boston. He proceeded to surrender the game in 13 pitches and looked like a mop up man while doing it. Unfortunately, I think the reality is that both guys sorta suck.

        • JohnC says:

          That was a very tough situtation for him to come in after not being in the bullpen all year. Sorry, gotta almost discard that one.

          • UncleArgyle says:

            Fair enough, I’ll give ya that. But I still think Hughes has been god awful for about a year now.

            • JonS says:

              And Burnett’s been awful for two…

              • Nick says:

                +1. And Hughes has been hurt, not a great excuse, but an excuse nonetheless. What’s AJ’s reason for sucking this badly?

                • The Big City of Dreams says:

                  What’s AJ’s reason for sucking this badly?

                  —————-

                  Age??

                  #lookingforanything

                  • Adam B says:

                    he was never really that good to begin with… desperation moves frustrate me…

                    • The Big City of Dreams says:

                      desperation moves frustrate me…

                      ———————

                      Well then you’re not going to like Manny to the pen.

                  • ItsATarp says:

                    Inflated home run rate this season for AJ..last year he just sucked. But from July to the end of last year, Hughes was just as bad as AJ maybe worse…look it up on his Fangraphs page splits. July-Sept for what you’d expect from Mitre.

    • Dan says:

      I agree, I would prefer Burnett to start over Hughes. At least until I see more than one good outing out of Hughes. However, if Burnett stays in the rotation, even if he has been dominant for the first five innings, Girardi needs to have someone getting warmed up at the first baserunner in the sixth because Burnett should have never been allowed to face Mathis last night.

    • Mike HC says:

      I agree that Hughes and AJ are about on the same level at this point in terms of counting on them. I think the big difference is that Hughes has the potential to get better if we keep starting him, while AJ is either staying the same, or more likely, only getting worse.

  3. Justin says:

    Well said. Every time AJ is out there, I yell at Girardi to take him out after 5 pretty decent innings. Every time, Joe being Joe, leaves him out there and AJ gets hammered. He either needs to be a 5 innings and out starter or a reliever. Until Hughes stops putting the ball on a T for hitters, though, AJ probably needs to continue starting with an early hook.

    • rek4gehrig says:

      Totally agreed. We all know that AJ has the ability to implode in a heart beat. So does Girardi. Why he doesnt take him out the minute he shows signs of imploding baffles me.

  4. John B says:

    Joe! You got my hopes up. Reading the title of the article made me think the Yankees actually went through with this. Oh well. I was there last night and everyone was just waiting for him to fall apart even though he had pitched 5 scoreless. He got out of a couple jams but I knew as soon as the intentional walk came AJ was doomed. Extra baserunners help AJ none. NONE!

  5. Frank says:

    They won’t admit their mistake and move him to the pen…never happen. Who would tell him, girardi? You’ve got to be kidding me.

  6. Kostas says:

    I think that part of this blame needs to fall on Girardi and his handling of Burnett. This is his third year with him and the second consecutive one where AJ has become the AJ that we all feared. How is it that with all the data, the knowledge of baseball, that manager Joe can mismanage so often. Granted, he is not responsible for making a pitching change and then having that pitcher serve up a thigh high fastball down the middle. But he is directly responsible with making decisions that affect outcomes of games.

    At this point, his in game management of starting pitchers – especially ones with suspect track records – is more like watching Clint Hurdle or Jim Tracy.

    • JohnnyC says:

      I blame Levine and Hank. Just cause.

    • Mike HC says:

      He was throwing a shutout through five innings. How are you really going to take your starting pitcher out at that point? If you are going to do that, than he simply can’t be a starter.

      I see no reason to fault Girardi at all for AJ.

      • CBean says:

        i would have taken him out after the intentional walk. I mean, he was sorta wild throwing the balls to Martin for the walk, which is exactly how it was during the ALCS last year.

      • rek4gehrig says:

        Not at the point but immediately after the walk. This is not just any starting pitcher…this is AJ we are talking about. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    • Ed says:

      The fear with AJ was that he’d spend half his contract on the DL. No one expected him to stay healthy and suck.

  7. Dave says:

    While I get the “first 3 innings” ERA point, his ERA in the first was is 4.88 , and was 7.09 a year ago.

    http://www.baseball-reference......1&t=p

    http://www.baseball-reference......0&t=p

  8. Jim S says:

    As of right now, playoff rotation is probably Sabathia, Colon, Garcia, Nova.

    Hughes needs to repeat his Chicago outing before we crown him King.

    I honestly don’t think Girardi will run AJ out there in an important playoff game, unless he substantially improves over the next month+. But on that note, I do not want him in high leverage bullpen innings either, not over Rivera/Robertson, and maybe not even over Logan/Ayala/Wade/Soriano.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Hughes needs to repeat his Chicago outing before we crown him King.

      Yup. As nice as it was to watch him storm through a garbage lineup, well . . . it was still a garbage lineup. And it was one start.

      That said, I have a bit more faith in Hughes pitching well the remainder of the year than Burnett giving them much length.

  9. JohnC says:

    What was most disappointing about that innign was most of the damage occured with 2 out. Inexcusable walking a weak hitter like Bourges there, and Not being able to retire a 200 hitter like Mathis.

  10. JoshTFL says:

    Part of me thinks adding a pitch would keep him in the rotation for another year or so. Maybe a cutter or a splitter. Just something to offer other than a curveball in the dirt.

  11. Boo Radley says:

    It doesn’t matter the reason, Burnett belongs in the pen. He needs to be demoted so that he understands he is not entitled to a rotation spot just because of his contract. We have 2 better starters than him and when A-Rod gets back we’ll need to send down Noesi to make room. Someone will have to go to the pen and that will be AJ.

  12. MannyGeee says:

    AJ Burnett: 6th Inning Guy (TM)

  13. Chris says:

    I felt bad for AJ last night, I have to admit. If he was able to finish off the 6th (with 2 outs!! Come on man!) Joe would have put him out there in the 7th and had the chance to be taken out and get a nice hand from the stadium crowd. Instead he imploded again. Bounced 59 foot curve balls, wild pitches and even came close to throwing away the first pitch of an intentional walk! He could have used that cheer and win for his own mental health. Its the first time I actually felt bad for the guy.

  14. stuart a says:

    aj burnett has a 12 year or so track record. phil hughes has a 2 .5 year track record. hughes won 18 games more then burnett the guy with the stuff has ever won.

    i make burnett the long man in the pen. high leverage important situations for burnett no friggin chance.

    he still has admirers. guys like aj aloways have admirers. he throws hard looks good, they cannot comprehend that results matter. aj over his career has had nice 6 game streaks, but not since he has been a yankee and his inability to comprehend the results of his performance is head shaking.

    I would not have changed anything from last night really.. how about not walking mark trumbo who walks as much as robinson cano. how about not walking the 8th place hitter, or giving up a 2 run bomb to the track to a guy hitting 185???

    the endless time and energy wasted discussing a guy who is a utter dope is amazing. the guy is 34 and has never ever figured things out and is still delusional to think he is actually helping the team.

    if money was no issue he would be gone in 5 seconds… gone… off the team. let some other team show how smart they are by fixing him like some team is fixing oliver perez and countless others like burnett. andrew miller of the sux, another reclamation project. but he is 26 so the sux gave it a chance since they are smarter then the other teams, just ask them. hows that going? miller has won only because he is on a great team his results have been bad and will stay bad, but hey he has electric stuff also. the electric stuff group should have a party invite guys like; burnett, ankiel, miller, oliver perez, jaf samardja, and many many others. guys who theoretically should be good but really are not. they may look good but the results!!!not so much.

  15. SDM says:

    I think it is a stamina problem at least in part. My father talks about this all the time, AJ for the most part is good for the first 90-95 pitches, but it seems that ones he crosses that point his control and command starts to deteriorate; and after reaching 100 pitches everything collapses.

  16. Mike HC says:

    I would keep AJ around the rotation for as long as possible. Mostly because Colon, Garcia, Hughes and Nova all have the potential to blow up before the playoffs, in any number of different ways. The closer we get to the playoffs with that group pitching reasonably effective the less chance of a blow up is, but until we get a little closer, I think keeping AJ in the rotation is the safe way to play it.

    Come a little bit before playoff time, I would hope Colon, Garcia and Nova/Hughes are all clearly superior starting options to AJ, and then we can move him to the pen.

  17. mike says:

    its so annoying to watch Nova mature – working his way thru a lineup the 3rd time, which he was incapable of doing in the past, while watching Burnett regress into a 5 inning pitcher.

    However, the bigger issue is still wondering whether our stud pitching prospect or nominal #2 starter better belongs in a long-relief mode out of the bullpen………..

  18. Gonzo says:

    Just curious, if you could go back to the ’08-’09 offseason, would you sign AJ? If not, what would be your plan?

    • billbybob says:

      My plan, knowing what we know now, would have been to do something, anything, else.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      I figured Year 5 of that deal would be painful. I didn’t figure on Years 2-4 being painful, as well.

      That said, 2009 was worth quite a bit, and until the contract prevents the Yankees from getting a needed piece in free agency, I’m ok with it.

    • Crime Dog says:

      I would sign him again. If they don’t sign Burnett, maybe Cashman makes a move for a pitcher 2 offseasons ago (Lackey? yikes). Burnetts been mediocre-to-awful since last year, but he has taken the ball every 5 days and had some moments, so there’s some value there. Obviously not 16.5M in value, but that money should be viewed as a sunk cost at this point.

  19. Granderslam says:

    Great post!!! I’ve been saying this for awhile. Burnett is essentially a two-pitch pitcher (with exception of the recent introduction of the change-up). However, his arsenal would certainly be better suited to Bullpen duty. That “nasty” stuff might actually benefit with shorter appearances…maybe even an increase in velocity. I was personally an advocate for Joba in the rotation, but it cannot be denied that his stuff and gritty demeanor was amplified out of the BP. Maybe that’s what AJ needs.

    Screw the money. AJ in the BP might actually make the pitching staff stronger IMO. I think he could be absolutely dominant in that role.

  20. jon says:

    Novas ceiling was always a number 4 or 5 but that was before he added that slider i wonder how far he can go

    4 seam, 2 seam, change, curve, slider

  21. duzzi23 says:

    This headline was cruel I thought the Yankees came to their senses and finally put AJ in the pen. He’s been awful and under 500 for two seasons now enough is enough. I wish we had the AJ from Toronto that would dominate us. His stuff really isn’t as nasty anymore he used to be a 97-98 mph guy with a sharper curve and the speed of his fastball made his curve way better. Now he is a 92-94 guy big difference.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Here is Burnett’s velocity chart from Fangraphs. Looks like he was about the same guy in ’09, took a small step back in ’10, and a larger one this year.

  22. Crime Dog says:

    I still think its a 3-headed fight for the 4th spot in a Playoff game. Yeah Nova was great last time around, but it was against the White Sox. Same goes for Phil. In a playoff game, you can take Burnett out after 5 innings with this bullpen, as long as Joe makes the right choice and doesn’t pull a 2010-ALCS move. I think in all honesty I’d take Burnett in game 4 of an ALCS. Give me 5 innings of one run ball and turn it over to Soriano-Robertson-Mo

    • chaz says:

      What 2010 ALCS move did Girardi pull?

      In game 4 he left in Burnett and he gave up a HR to Molina. In Game 6 he brought in Robertson and he gave up the HR to Cruz.

      Which one was right and which was wrong? Or are they both wrong and subject to second guess because neither worked out for your team?

      • Crime Dog says:

        I go to the pen everytime in that scenario. I think in the playoffs, with your 4 starter (who’s struggled as much as Burnett has/had), you should have as short of a leash as possible. So, game 6 was the right call in my book.

        It’s all subjective anyway

  23. Bronx Byte says:

    Burnett is too stubborn to add another pitch. In his mind he’s just going through a rough patch and will be better the next time out. He’s as delusional as it gets.
    If all he can give is 5 decent innings, he belongs in the bullpen where he won’t need to face an opponent’s lineup for a 3rd time around.
    He can alternate the 6th inning bullpen role with Cory Wade.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      I don’t think it’s stubbornness at this point — he’s a professional, he’s been pitching for how long? I’m sure he’s tried to add/refine the change, as well as refine the command. For whatever reason, it just isn’t there, and it’s never happening.

      It’s easy for us to say that’s because he’s a headcase or he doesn’t work hard enough, but that’s almost certainly bullshit.

    • ItsATarp says:

      he’s using his change up more this year…3.5% last year to 10% this year

  24. UncleArgyle says:

    The problem with AJ to the Bullpen is that AJ can’t throw strikes. Thats a really big problem to have for a relief pitcher.

    • Dirty Pena says:

      David Robertson disagrees.

      • UncleArgyle says:

        I know David Robertson, I’ve seen David Robertson Pitch. And AJ Burnett, Sir, is no David Robertson.

        /Lloyd Benson’d

    • Mike HC says:

      It is a problem to have for a starter too. And since starters pitch more innings, it is a big problem for a starter.

      • UncleArgyle says:

        Would you ever bring AJ Burnett out of the Pen in the middle of an inning with Runners on base? Since Burnett is always close to the league leaders in Walks and Wild Pitches, I hope the answer would be an emphatic “NO”

        • Mike HC says:

          I’m just saying a bad pitcher is a bad pitcher anywhere, for the most part. I would rather he do it out of the pen, where maybe he can conserve all his energy for just an inning or two.

          And no, since he is a starter and is used to coming in for clean innings, I would basically only have him start a clean inning.

  25. Alibaba says:

    I don’t know whether this will happen, but going to the bullpen could add a couple of mph to the fastballs. He could be a really good long man, probably the most expensive in history!!!

  26. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    I don’t blame Girardi for sticking with Burnett in these games. Afterall, if the starter is pitching well and cruising through 4.5 innings anyone would assume that that pitcher can get through the 7th inning with very little damage.

    But…its time to swtich geats with AJ. If I were Girardi this is what I’d do…

    Keep the 6 starters. On Burnett’s starts, let him go no further than 5 innings, even if he’s pitching well. Then, bring in Hughes to start the 6th and have him treat it like a start so he could go at least 3, if not 4 innings to finish the game.

    If Burnett falters earlier, just go to another pen guy to get to the 6th inning and then bring in Hughes…do not bring him in during an inning.

    • chaz says:

      Yes- let’s screw around with the rotation down the stretch for 3 straight years.
      2009- Joba’s innings limit (injured less than two years later)
      2010- Hughes’s innings limit (injured the next year)
      2011- Let’s have a six man rotation or use Burnett and Hughes as a combo. Disrupt the (mostly) successful 5 day routines of Sabathia, Colon and Garcia? No problem!

      Solution- choose the 5 starters you’re comfortable with, lock down a playoff spot by mid-September,and then set up your playoff rotation.

      It’s not that difficult.

      • CP says:

        I think 2009 worked out pretty well, and 2010 wasn’t that bad either (2 wins from the World Series – and that’s despite having their top two pitchers pitching injured in the playoffs).

        What is to suggest that doing it again this year would be a problem?

      • Foghorn Leghorn says:

        when you have two guys that can’t go 5 innings, why put it all on the bullpen?

        AJ is useful for 5 innings or less. for the rest of this year, Hughes is a wild card.

        Next year its wide open…i doubt colon or garcia will be back. So, hopefully CC re-signs, Hughes and Nova fill the #3 Nd #4 slots…then AJ at teh #5 hole…and they have 1 huge hole to fill for the #2 slot

      • ItsATarp says:

        Hughe’s innings limit was not really a problem since it was the smart thing to do considering he never threw that much innings before

      • Scully says:

        This. Whomever is pitching best come the middle of September will start playoff games. That’s that.

      • Crime Dog says:

        I think come early September the 6 man rotation is gone with the 6th starter going to the pen and getting some mid-high leverage innings to A)rest DRob/Soriano down the stretch and B)see if he can stick it (whether its Hughes, Nova or Burnett) as a low-mid leveraged reliever

      • Foghorn Leghorn says:

        if you plan to have Hughes and burnett pitch on the same day, it does not affect the routines of the other 4 starters.

        i think putting AJ in the pen will be a disaster b/c he’s never done that. He’s useful for 5 innings and leave it at that. And then use Hughes for 3 or 4 so you don’t kill the bullpen everytime AJ starts.

      • Ed says:

        If anything, the problem with 2010 Hughes is that his inning limit was too high. He pitched about as many innings in 2010 as he did in 2008+2009 combined.

        Joba’s problems go back to 2008, when he fell off the mound and landed on his shoulder. If you want to blame anyone, blame Pudge for the bad throw to second.

        Pitching is brutal on a player’s arm. Everyone’s arm will give out eventually, and if you overwork a player it’ll give out a lot sooner than it will if you limit their workload. The team has a 6 game lead for the wildcard. The odds of them missing the playoffs are incredibly low. There’s no reason to burn out pitchers to add maybe a couple extra percentage points to their odds of making the playoffs.

    • rek4gehrig says:

      Exactamente

  27. Crime Dog says:

    Burnett is what he is at this point: A 4/5 starter. Compare him to other contenders’ 4/5 starters and he doesn’t look as awful as people make him out to be. Kendrick (Phils), Garrett Richards or Pinero (Angels), Wakefield, Brad Penny, Matt Harrison, etc. The infuriating part for some fans is we’ve seen Burnett be a “#2″ starter, but those days are gone. The money is irrelevant, he’s getting that from the Yankees no matter what. Now, it’s about squeezing the most worth out of him as possible. I still think a 5 starter who takes the ball every 5th day is more valuable (even with Burnetts poor numbers and peripherals)than a middle reliever who won’t climb any higher than 5th on the reliever food chain.

  28. stuart a says:

    all the fangraph know it all’s analyze aj. still trying to get water out of that wrag. my point on the hughes front is he is 9 years younger and appears to have a higher aptittude to adjust. after 12 + years thinking aj can adjust to anything is laughable. still really throwing only 2 pitches after all these years and his post game analysis is beyond stupid.

    aj burnett is the epitome of todays athlete and to some extent society. he looks good, talks good, but when it matters he gags and comes up small and never pays for his lack of production. I thought 1 of the reasons we like sports is all are treated equal and performance/results is all that counts…

    skip his starts make some addtl baloney excuses but once the roster expands put him in the mop up role… nova the supposed 4th or 5th talent wise has 10 wins, aj has 8. it is also more then wins. nova had a great game againstthe white sox, yes there offense stinks. how did that work out for AJ.

    the angels waived kazmir, demoted piniero, sent down conger, call up guys from AA out of desperation and why not. the yanks didle around for ever on aj and jorge. yes jorge is border line HOF but he is toast. they have a bench of 3 guys 2 being cathcers and they run out a total joke every 5 days and people talk about this joke being a #2 starter. btw they hide aj so he does not have to face the redsux also…

    what a friggin joke….but hey will will fix our bleach blond #2 starter..

    lackey is better then aj, his contract is a joke also but lackey has a track record of not gagging in big games and not just game 7 of the world series as a rookie. lackey is significantly overpaid but really game 7 aj vs lackey who would you rather have on your side?

    so know it is maybe a fatigue issue. really..

    if aj cared about his craft as much as we do, you think he would have worked on a 3rd pitch before now to help him in the later innings of his starts. i would waive him just for his comments last night,”i would have changed nothing”, sounds like he is really getting it.

    aj is one of the biggest overhyped look good no results athletes in sports…

    • JP says:

      I agree he’s bad, but I don’t think it’s true that he doesn’t care about his craft. How do we know that?

      Little things can make a big difference, and his main problem seems to be that his ball moves too much. So he can’t control it, and not only gets behind in counts, but also when ahead in counts, some of the pitches intended for corners or out of the strike zone drift over the center of the plate.

      He probably is too old to have any sort of major change occur, but I still think he mainly has mental problems and that the right sort of coaching or sports psychology could help him alot.

  29. ralphrc says:

    He just sucks. That’s it in a nutshell.

  30. bg90027 says:

    Most every starter pitches better early in the game than late in the game albeit not as bad as AJ has. Bartolo has an ERA above 6 in innings 7-9. CC has a high ERA in the 6th inning which seems random but is true.

    I know it’s very frustrating to watch AJ blow up and ruin an otherwise good start, but let’s have some perspective. He’s had only three starts all season in which he pitched terrible and didn’t give the team a chance to win and he’s had very good starts of 7IP & 8IP length. Sure, he’s not worth $16.5 but that ship sailed long ago. It’s hard to say definitively that he’s not one of the teams best 4-5 starters. That’s what the last two months should decide.

    I’d hope Giradi would have a quicker hook come playoff time if he’s still in the rotation but I don’t have a problem with him giving him a chance to work out of jams now. Every game isn’t a must win right now. It’s highly unlikely that an AJ blowup or two could keep them out of the playoffs.

  31. LarryM.,Fl. says:

    Joe, I disagree with your thoughts on AJ’s issue as stamina. Sure when you have thrown 106 pitches after 5 innings the tank is pretty drive. But to get to this point, there is an issue an its not stamina. I believe that AJ has a very limited focus span. He gets through 3 innings OK then coughs up the HR. Gets through the fifth then explodes with bad choice after bad choice with location and pitch selection. He was throwing 93-94mph with his final pitches Also when he’s tanking mentally, its noticeable to everyone. Girardi has got to move him out.

    I believe he would loss it if sent to the bullpen.Can we trust him in relief? Its worth a try. His mental outlook will not be there, IMHO. He’s a starter in his mind. Who justifies a HR to Abreu by indicating that it was two rows deep. Our damage control return would be nil and he’ll have to be traded with the Yankees giving up a boat load of cash to satisfy a team buying low.

    By sending him to the bullpen, we could hope for a wake up call. AJ is embarrassed and does some work on the mental aspect of game. But in reality people don’t change. If he can’t work it out. Try to trade him over the winter. I’m sure some one will go for him on a subsidized salary.

  32. Rainbow Connection says:

    I suggested this a week or two ago…
    Burnett: 4 innings
    Hughes: 4 innings or 5 innings
    Someone else: 1 inning?

  33. smurfy says:

    Eckersley, Dennis. Just like what happened with him. The A’s, probably Dave Duncan, saw the possibilities, and it worked pretty well: Gotcha!

  34. cranky says:

    It has been apparent for some time that AJ might make a terrific reliever. It’s also been apparent for some time that he is no longer an effective starter.
    The Yanks ought to try the experiment. If not for the team’s sake, then for MY sake.
    Every time Aj Burnett starts a game for the Yankees, I feel sick.

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