Well the news was made official this week. A.J. Burnett signed a one year, $16M deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and thus ends his two year tenure on the Pirates.
I talked a bit a few weeks ago about what I thought about the Burnett situation and if you want to see the whole bit then you can click that link and read it. I won't go over all that again because my views have never really changed. I thought it would be good if Burnett came back to the Pirates because he obviously makes them better but at the same time there are some risks to doing that.
Burnett is 37 years old. For normal human beings that are relatively healthy that is on the younger side (you hope) of your life. For a baseball player, especially a pitcher, that is old. At some point Burnett is going to fall off the cliff and I really don't think the Pirates wanted to be that team for $14-18M. I don't blame them.
I don't think that playing for the Phillies really helps Burnett at all. Citizens Bank Park is a hitters ballpark and the Phillies are what we like to call a bad defensive baseball team (27th in UZR/150 and dead last with -102 defensive runs saved. Burnett is a ground ball pitcher and the Phillies aren't very good at turning batted balls into outs. That does not bode well for Burnett. Burnett does fit the mold that the Phillies like, he's old.
This isn't about wishing Burnett has a bad season. That would be wrong. This isn't about saying that I didn't want him back on the team, because I wouldn't have minded seeing him back on the team. I just feel that it doesn't hurt the team as much as what many may want you to believe.
Burnett's tenure with the Pirates was a great one. When he came from New York there wasn't a lot of fanfare and he was coming off back-to-back seasons with a 5+ ERA. All he did was come to the Pirates where he added a combined 7.0 fWAR and hovered around a 3.40 ERA. He brought a killer mindset that adored him to the fan base and was a central piece in the Pirates getting to the postseason last year.
He struck out nearly 10 batters per nine innings last season and while he faded a little down the stretch and wasn't turned to for the pivotal game five against St. Louis in the NLDS that doesn't overshadow the amazing success he had with the team. Burnett didn't back down from a challenge and that is what you love about him. I don't know what a "Pittsburgh guy" is but if you could craft someone to come in and be that guy it was Burnett.
Good luck A.J. (except against the Pirates). You were fun to watch when you were here and while you choose to play elsewhere I know that all of Pittsburgh appreciates what you've done.
Other news and notes:
-Pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training. Wooooooooooooooooo.
-Today Wandy Rodriguez threw a pen today and said that he felt good [Pirates Prospects]
Rodriguez is going to be a huge piece to the team. I don't think you can really understate that. The Pirates didn't get anything from him last year and dodged a bullet when he didn't need surgery last season. Without Burnett they are going to need innings. I don't think we can really expect 200 innings from him but Rodriguez was wildly underrated by Pirates fans while he was healthy. If they can get some innings out of him this year that will be a huge help.
-Tim over at Pirates Prospects had an interesting talk with Clint Hurdle about defensive shifts for the outfield. [Pirates Prospects]
-This isn't Pirates related but FanGraphs did an article about what an extension might look like for Mike Trout. The Angels are looking to maybe extend him and they thought a 9 year/$260M deal or 10 year/$300 might look like a good point. Holy hell. The crazy thing is that is probably a good deal for Trout as that deal wouldn't expire until his age 30 season. [FanGraphs]
-Evidently the Pirates and Kendrys Morales are interested in each other. [Boston Globe]
Morales declined his qualifying offer so that comes with a draft pick for another team to sign him. While the Pirates are at the backend of the draft it doesn't seem like Pirates are in play for signing a player that comes with draft pick compensation. Morales would be good offensively but I am not sure about him overall. He doesn't play good defense and doesn't do anything else overly well but it more than a gut feeling with me that I don't think it would be a great idea to get him.
-This came nearly a month ago but I missed it. CBS Sports did a All-Time Single-Season team for the Pirates. It was interesting. [CBS Sports]
-The Kansas City Star breaks down that teams are not getting $25M more from the TV contracts. In reality it's like $5-$10M more. [Kansas City Star]