Friday, February 17, 2012

A.J. Burnett Finally (Reportedly) A Pirate

You are finally ours A.J. Burnett!!!! After weeks (what seems like months) of speculation and media foreplay (I guess you can call it that) the Pirates and Yankees finally agreed on a deal that will send A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for money and a few prospects (not sure if they are classified as "b-level" or "meh").

The Pirates will be paying $13M of Burnett's $33M that he is owed over the next two years. There were rumors that the Yankees wanted $15M from the Pirates but that just seemed to be trying to get as much out of them as possible until the Pirates said no. The Pirates will pay $5M of Burnett's in 2012 and $8M in 2013. The Pirates will be sending some lower level minor leaguers to the Yankees but both sides are still talking about which two. This is not expected to hold anything up.

There are some rumblings on the players but nothing finalized. The first guy that was brought up was Diego Moreno. Moreno is a hard throwing righty who is a bullpen guy. He is 25 years old. Nothing much else to see here besides him throwing hard. Also interesting to note that Moreno successfully made it though the rule-5 diraft this year as Ben Balder states. As Pat from WHYGAVS says the Pirates have had no problem finding hard throwing bullpen guys.

The other guy that the Pirates will give up is said to be a low-level Class A guy according to Dejan Kovacevic.

I have talked about this Burnett stuff in a few other posts over the past couple of weeks and I like the deal. Dejan Kovacevic did a really nice job of writing an article in the Trib this morning about it and it really sums up what I think in a nutshell.

It was really just a matter of time before this deal got done as the Pirates and Yankees haggled through the media and who was going to go where but the deal is finally here and the Pirates, believe it or not, are a better team because of the deal.

As it sits right now the rotation consists of Erik Bedard, Charlie Morton, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, A.J. Burnett and Kevin Correia. Correia, in a word, was horrible last season. You can talk to me all you want about how he led the team with 12 wins but he was getting hit around a ton and since he is more of a pitch to contact guy that wasn't going to work for an entire year. Sure, he probably was pretty lucky, and you need luck when playing baseball, but he is someone that I would rather not see in the rotation.

Burnett will be a rare breed for the Pirates in that he can eat a ton of innings and he will be able to strike a good amount of guys out. In the above rotation there really isn't a guy that can go out and strike out over eight guys per nine innings like Burnett can. Sure, Burnett can't pump it up to 99 like he used to be able to, it will be more like 92-93, but his curveball as always been good and in the last four years he has tossed over 180 innings per season. Not too many Pirates pitchers (two I believe) have thrown that many innings in one season.

Burnett was pitching in a home run factory in New York and his HR/FB rate was amazingly high at 17%. His career average is 11.3% and maybe a change into the National League will get him to miss a few more bats.

Some are talking as if this Burnett trade is bad becuase the Pirates will be eating a portion of the salary and this one move isn't going to put them into the playoff chace. That is true, but they could have got Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and this team still wouldn't be in a playoff race. That is the reality.

The other reality of the deal is that as of right now this instantly makes the team better. Sure we are not getting the A.J. Burnett of old but he is better than Correia or Brad Lincoln and with the injury risk of Bedard and Morton coming off hip surgery it will sure be nice to have someone else in the rotation that you can rely on every fifth day.

Burnett did have an above 5.00 ERA the last two year but his advanced metrics looked much better than that. He had an xFIP of 4.49 in 2010 and last year his xFIP was 3.86. If you are not up on the sabermetrics this click this link to lean about xFIP. Basically xFIP takes into account that defenses vary and brings batted balls to league average as well as home run rates to league average. xFIP is regarded as a good predictor of future ERA. I knox that this doesn't mean he will throw for an under 4.00 ERA but it gives good cause to the fact that he probably wasn't as bad as his 5.15 ERA in 2011.

Look, I understand that this could end badly. Most of the veteran free agent pickups in the past few years have been dreadfully bad. Burnett could come in here and bomb and be worse than Kevin Correia. I doubt that happens but it is a realistic possibility. For those of you that think this is another Matt Morris trade please go read this. You can complain about it all you want but you either want the Pirates to spend money to upgrade the team or you don't. You can't play on both sides of the fence.

Here is a look at Burnett's career statistics:

199518NYM-min234.289811033.2271616223261.4857. • GULF
199619NYM-min403.88121200058.0312625054681.4664.80.08.410.61.26KPT • APPY
199720NYM-min324.39121100055.1363427343631.4285.,MET • NYPL,GULF
199821FLA-min1041.972020000119.07427263451861.0005.60.23.414.14.13KNC • MIDW
199922FLA-min6125.522623100120.2132917415711211.6829. • EL
200023FLA-min002.193300012.143309121.0542.,CGY • FLOR,PCL
200124FLA-min001.93220009.142204100.8573. • FLOR
200427FLA-min004.91220007.195414101.77311.01.24.912.32.50JUP,ABQ • FLOR,PCL
200629TOR-min201.894400019.0115416220.8955.20.52.810.43.67DUN,MAN,SYR • FLOR,EL,IL
200730TOR-min001.80110005.03110170.8005.40.01.812.67.00SYR • IL
13 Seasons1211114.1031430912191960.1178697789420382617911051.3328.
162 Game Avg.13124.1034340212141951079822901951051.3328.
FLA (7 yrs)49503.731341310148853.2719395354663777531111.2847.
NYY (3 yrs)34354.799998020584.058733231181258513931.4479.
TOR (3 yrs)38263.948180151522.2480250229561915251121.2848.
NL (7 yrs)49503.731341310148853.2719395354663777531111.2847.
AL (6 yrs)72614.391801781711106.2106758254013744910381011.3708.
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 2/10/2012.

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