Friday, February 10, 2012

The Pirates and A.J. Burnett

Word has been spreading like wild fire that the Pirates have been a front runner for acquiring Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett. Truth be told the Yankees have been trying to get rid of the guy and nobody seems to want to take him.

Burnett has not been very good over the past couple of years and couple that with the fact he is due $33M over the next two years and you can see how the Yankees might want to get up under this contract. Enter the Pirates.

The Pirates have been looking for another guy for in the rotation when they went after Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt but were unable to get either of those players to come to Pittsburgh because, well, who wants to come here for a team that isn’t going to contend. Truth be told Burnett might want to come to Pittsburgh. Granted, we don’t know that but the Pirates are not one of the 10 teams that are on his no trade clause so I guess I can say he wouldn’t mind coming to Pittsburgh.

Over the past couple of days we have heard different scenerio’s where Burnett would be on the Pirates and it really ramped up last night. Word came out that the Yankees wanted a straight up swap with the Pirates sending Garrett Jones to the Yankees for Burnett and also having the Yanks eat about $23M of the salary. The Pirates did not take that and probably with good cause.

Look, Jones isn’t going to be a piece to the future and his play has dipped a little the past couple of years but he is one of the only viable options left in terms of a power source and one of the only guys that really can be relied on to play first base. Sure the Pirates have Casey McGehee, Jake Fox and Nick Evans but I am not really sure how much we can expect from those guys. At least with Jones we know what we have and someone can be there to hit pretty well against right handed pitching. If Jones is gone then the Pirates will most likely have to rely on McGehee and then you don’t really have another option for third base if Pedro Alvarez isn’t able to turn it around.

I still think getting an arm on the mound is important at the starting rotation is paper thin. Right now the Pirates have Charlie Morton, James McDonald, Erik Bedard, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia and Brad Lincoln. Burnett immediately shifts Correia and Lincoln out of the rotation and gives them more of a buffer if Morton isn’t ready to start the year or if Bedard breaks down like he has in past years.

Right now it is looking like the Yankees want an “OK prospect” and for the Pirates to pick up a 50/50 split on the money.

I have no idea what an “OK prospect” is but I can’t imagine it is much. For what it is worth I think this deal gets done sometime soon and I am good with that. It makes the rotation better and gives a little more buffer.

I know some people are talking about this like this is some savior to the staff but it shouldn’t be looked at like that. This is a guy who has struggled a little the past couple of years but has really been hurt by some unlucky play which included a 17% HR/FB ratio which is extremely high. Here is what Burnett’s stats look like through his career:

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.

Last season he carried a 5.15 ERA last season but his xFIP was under 4.00 at 3.86 and a 4.49 xFIP in 2010 when he had an ERA of 5.26.

Look this does not fix anything and at best this is a guy who can hold the fort most nights and give you a ton of innings. I would much rather see Burnett on the mound than Correia so there is that. I will have more on this as it happens but hopefully we can hear something soon.

UPDATE: 12:00 p.m. 2-11-12

Ken Rosenthal brings this little nugget today. So basically there are three teams (with the other being on his no trade list) that are still in on Burnett. Most likely the Pirates are the best partner because they can eat some money. I think this gets done but it might be a while before everything floods out.

To be honest the Yankees really have no leverage. They have to get rid of Burnett and with so few buyers they are really going to have to play on the terms of the team that eventually gets Burnett.

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