After Joe e-mailed me the news of the A.J. Burnett signing, I forwarded the confirmation along to my dad, and he and I had a brief e-mail exchange about it.
Dad: Well, it’s hard to know what to say. Don’t you see the sickness of the system?
Me: Yes I do. I hope the Yanks ask for some more tax-free stadium bonds too.
Dad: They don’t make it easy to be a pure fan.
Now, of course, that exchange is dominating by a bit of hyperbole. The Yankees are in reality spending money they have coming off the books, and the stadium construction, which somehow allows them to deduct from their revenue-sharing payments, is actually helping them afford these free agents. (In a poorly-constructed screed, FoxSports.com’s Mark Kriegel attempts to explain the Yanks’ economic position here.)
But my dad isn’t the only one unamused with and rather skeptical of the Yankees right now. Cliff Corcoran at the Banter utterly hates this deal (and later explained why.) Jay Jaffe isn’t a fan of this signing either. Even the Marlins’ team president David Samson had some choice words for the Yanks.
I’ll admit it. It’s hard to root for a team that’s simply trying to overwhelm everyone else by throwing money at a baseball problem, and if the Yanks do indeed sign a Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira or Adam Dunn to shore up the offense, this will truly be a team of highly-paid (and some may say overly-paid) mercenaries set to debut a ballpark that was built more as a major of revenue than as a true necessity.
But as my dad and I were later saying on the phone to each other, the Yanks aren’t doing anything against the rules. They’re overpaying for the best free agents because they can and because the system allows them to. So they’re willing to spend nearly $250 million on pitchers in a time of a deep recession. So they’re willing to jack up their payroll to astronomical heights. Baseball allows it; what should stop them?
Of course, I’ll root for the Yanks with way more emotion than any rational person would. I’ll continue to take it personally when they lose and continue to be more frustrated with their opponents than the players are. That’s just the nature of fandom. But at the same time, I can’t help but think that a system where the Yanks can toss money at problems may not be the best for the game and may very well be broken. I’m just glad I’m not the person in charge of fixing it.
A few notes to keep us busy as Friday evening turns into Saturday morning (and my studying for my contracts final gets more and more boring):
- A few hours ago, we talked about Bernie and the WBC. Now, it sounds as though Bernie is going to make a serious run for the team. For the first time since 2006, Bernie is going to don his baseball uniform and play for the Carolina Giants of the Puerto Rico Winter League. I really hope this is simply a tune-up for the WBC and not the beginning of a Major League comeback attempt for the 40-year-old Bernie.
- The injured Scott Proctor was non-tendered by the Dodgers. Somewhere, Joe Torre is crying into his green tea. What ever will he do without his favorite toy next season?
Three days, two new starters. Well, technically CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett aren’t Yankees yet because they haven’t passed their physicals, but there’s no reason to suspect they won’t. $243.5M is all it took … well, that assumes Sabathia sticks around for more than three years, far from a given.
AJ Burnett’s a controversial figure here at RAB. I’ve made it well known that I prefer Derek Lowe, but it doesn’t matter. Burnett’s going to be a Yankee, so root for him to do well and support him like you do anyone that wears the pinstripes. He and Sabathia add two pitchers to the staff that miss bats regularly, and in fact CC and AJ are two of the most unhittable pitchers in baseball: last year batters made contact on just 72.0% of the swings they took against CC (best amongst starters in the bigs), while just 76.2% made contact against Burnett (sixth best). When’s the last time the Yanks had two arms like that?
And for those of you that have already declared that Burnett is the second coming of Carl Pavano, that’s patently wrong. I’ll let KLaw explain:
Matt (Yardley, PA): I’m with Bryan. Burnett to me is Pavano ver2.0.
Keith Law: Not even close. Pavano in the NL in his only two healthy years, right before signing with the Yanks: 423 IP, 272 K’s, 35 HR allowed. That’s in a big ballpark, facing opposing pitchers to boost his K total. Burnett, in the AL East, in a slight hitters’ park, last two years: 387 IP, 407 Ks, 42 HR. You can’t make a performance argument that he’s like Pavano. You can’t make a health argument that he’s like Pavano (who was hurt in some part of every year until his sixth season). You definitely can’t make a stuff argument that he’s like Pavano. That’s a completely unfair tag to place on Burnett.
So there you go, better than I ever could have put it in so few sentences. Like I said, whether you like the signing or not, root for the guy until your hands are so sore you can’t clap and your voice is so horse you can’t scream, then do it anyway. He’s a Yankee, love him like one.
One small roster note for the night: Chris Britton and Justin Christian were non-tendered, making them free agents. I hope they bring J-Chrizzle back on a minor league deal. The moves make room on the 40 man for CC & AJ. The Depth Chart is up-to-date.
Here’s your open thread of the evening. There’s lots to talk about tonight including the two new arms and Rangers-Devils. You know the deal, talk about whatever, just be nice.
Update: Here’s the link. Still doesn’t make it any better.
This comes straight from MLB Trade Rumors. According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Yankees have signed A.J. Burnett to a five-year deal worth $82.5 million. We expected this was coming. That doesn’t mean we have to like it. More to come as we get it.
A.J. Burnett is currently holding what has widely been reported as two five-year offers. The one from the Braves appears to be a few million dollars less than the one from the Yanks, and according to Jon Heyman, a decision is coming soon. Both Peter Abraham and Hal Steinbrenner feel that Burnett will wind up in the Bronx. We’ll have the news when it breaks, but I can’t say right now I’m thrilled about five years of A.J. Burnett. · (122) ·
Bernie Williams has never officially retired. Now 40 years old and with a burgeoning music career, the former center fielder hasn’t been able to quite call it quits. Perhaps, he hasn’t filed out those retirement papers yet because he wants to play for Puerto Rico during the upcoming World Baseball Classic tournament. It would be a nice gesture if Bernie’s last baseball appearance could come during the WBC. Now all he has to do is convince the team to take him. · (77) ·
No matter how maddeningly ineffective and inconsistent his is, someone will always be happy to pay Kyle Farnsworth over $4 million a year to pitch. This time, the Royals have emerged as the winners of the dubious Kyle Farnsworth Sweeptstakes. They get Krazy Kyle for the not-so-discount price of $9.25 million over two seasons. As you can imagine, Royals fans are not so thrilled about the news. Have fun with that, guys. · (30) ·
Oh, Manny, Manny, Manny. What ever will baseball do with you?
At age 36, Manny Ramirez had a season for the ages. Spending time in Boston and Los Angeles, Manny hit a combined .332/.430/.601 with 37 HR and 121 RBI. Despite racking up just 229 NL plate appearances, he finished fourth in the league’s MVP voting, and the writers wouldn’t have been wrong had they given him the award.
With free agency looming, he seemed to be playing inspired baseball, and clearly, he was hoping for a big pay day. Well, the Winter Meetings have come and gone, and Manny is still unemployed. The Dodgers have offered him a two-year deal, and the team is prepared to wait him out. In other words, if Manny realizes that nothing will top that offer, the Dodgers will tack on a third year and call it a deal.
For his part, though, Manny will have none of it. In fact, the Manny Ramirez camp has unleashed the retirement “threat” on the baseball world. According to Ken Davidoff, sources close to Manny say the slugger would retire if no team were to offer a deal to his liking. In a line straight out of the Dugout, Manny supposedly spends his days working out, watching cartoons and playing video games.
Now, clearly, Manny isn’t going to retire. He seems rather focused on some personal milestones. Both 600 HR and 3000 hits are within his reach. But these are the antics that lead teams to stay away from Manny Ramirez. Personally, I’d love to stick Manny’s bat into the middle of the lineup. Bat him fourth of fifth behind A-Rod, and the Yanks would pummel opposing pitchers.
Then, I realize that we’d have to deal with Manny’s mood swings too. We’d have to deal with his tendency to remove himself from games at key points, his tendency to threaten retirement, his tendency to do the whole Manny being Manny thing. Is it worth it? Probably. But it’s not a shock that teams aren’t rushing to sign Manny Ramirez when his camp starts dropping the r-word as though Manny’s retirement is a threat to anyone other than Manny.
As the Yanks near a deal with A.J. Burnett, the trade talks for Mike Cameron are back on, according to multiple reports. This is almost as fun as the now-dead Jake Peavy-to-the-Cubs deal. Anyway, use this as a blanket open thread as sorts. If nothing else happens tonight, you won’t be hearing from me for a few hours. · (307) ·