Upon AJ’s Place

As the Yankees put the finishing touches on a 7-4 victory over the Royals, I felt randomly compelled to post on my long-dormant blog.

AJ Burnett pitched a decent game, but struggled as usual to finish what he started. He was pulled in the 6th after allowing 10 hits and 3 runs, walking one and striking out two. While he was credited with a win when his team took back the lead he had given away, Burnett did little to inspire confidence, or to growing notion among some that perhaps he is better suited to be sent to the bullpen than either Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova. Burnett is paid like a stud #2, and you would be hard-pressed to make the case that he is currently one of the 5 best Yankee starters.

Most Yankee fans would have happily taken a deal in the Spring for August performances like this….from Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia. Instead, those two are currently our #2 and #3, while we find ourselves shaking our heads as Burnett coughs up a 2-0 lead to the light-hitting Royals. The win was AJ’s first in ages, and improved his record to 9-9…He’s not being paid to go 9-9, or to sport a 4.61 ERA or 1.38 WHIP. His 2009 cache is nearly depleted, and potential and flashes just simply aren’t enough. How he’s capable of performing carry more weight than how the other guys are performing.

Phil Hughes is on an extremely short leash, and he was 18-8 last year and is working his way back from injury. Nova is 11-4, with an ERA more than half a run lower than Burnett. One could be sent back to the bullpen and a potential Joba-esque fate while the other faces the prospect of maybe heading back to Scranton. Cashman went on talk radio last week to make some bizarre declaration like “we knew what we were getting with AJ”…essentially trying to paint his struggles the past two seasons as an expected part of the $88 million signing. A steadfast refusal to publicly entertain the notion of moving Burnett out of the rotation in favor of guys clearly pitching better is strange. It may have to do with his seemingly fragile psyche, which seems to overshadow the brilliant array of pitches he is capable of throwing.

Hard-luck losses like his 4-2 loss at Baltimore where he allowed all 4 runs but did so on only 5 hits while striking out 10, those can happen to any great pitcher. But a 4 inning no-decision while giving up 7 earned runs after being spotted 13 by the Yankees, that shouldn’t happen. Yet if the line was presented to a Yankee fan without the name attached how many of us would pick AJ as the culprit?

Random rain-outs, injuries and circumstance have allowed the Yankees to keep a 6-man rotation for a few weeks. In their last two starts:

Hughes-

DATE OPPONENT RESULT IP H R ER HR BB SO GB FB TBF Pit Dec. Rel. ERA
08/13 vs TB W 9-2 6.0 4 2 2 1 1 6 8 8 23 96 W(3-4) – 6.55

08/02 @ CHW W 6-0 6.0 3 0 0 0 0 4 9 7 20 65 W(2-3) – 6.93

Nova-

DATE OPPONENT RESULT IP H R ER HR BB SO GB FB TBF Pit Dec. Rel. ERA
08/10 vs LAA W 9-3 6.0 5 3 3 1 3 0 17 5 25 96 W(11-4) – 3.85

08/04 @ CHW W 7-2 7.2 6 1 1 0 0 10 11 6 27 102 W(10-4) – 3.81

Burnett-

DATE OPPONENT RESULT IP H R ER HR BB SO GB FB TBF Pit Dec. Rel. ERA
08/15 @ KC W 7-4 5.2 10 3 3 0 1 2 7 7 25 88 W(9-9) – 4.61
08/09 vs LAA L 4-6 6.0 7 4 4 1 3 6 7 12 28 105 – – 4.60

Which pitcher would you drop out of the rotation? Does past success and fear about what it could do to a pricey investment count for more than it should?

An aside: I am not sure why I don’t post like I used to. I kept this thing up fairly consistently for the better part of 6 years. However, work got busier, grad school came and went, and social media microblogging have made things like this somewhat obsolete. Mostly though, I felt that not many people visited the site, and that I wasn’t putting the effort into it which would warrant FB/Twitter pimping. (I will probably link to this post, but as Doc Holliday said “my hypocrisy only goes so far”.)

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3 Responses to “Upon AJ’s Place”

  1. keithosaunders Says:

    To me it seems as if the Yankees are doing it with mirrors this year. They are a good team, but how are they dominating the American League with no production from Burnett and Garcia and Colon (who I don’t believe in) as their 2 and 3 starters? The playoffs will reveal alot, as they will have to face either Texas or Boston in the ALCS. (they should hacve no trouble with whatever central division patsy they play)

    I hope that you contionue to post in your blog — I enjoy your writing and would be sorry to see you go — even if it is just once or twice a month.

    What do you mean by social media micro blogging?

  2. bob Says:

    I’ve been a Yankee fan since the mid 50′s and I don’t ever recall having less confidence in a supposed # 2 starter than AJ. Considering the size of his contract and expectations, he may be their worst free agent signing ever.

  3. Author Says:

    Keith- micro-blogging is creating the equivalent of a blog post on FB or Twitter.

    Hi Bob- I dont think AJ is a #2 anymore, even in the Yankees’ minds. Im not sure he’s a #4 at this stage, but everyone seems a dicey prospect these days. We are better than almost everyone’s everyday lineup, but best-on-best in the playoffs is worrisome.

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