The Yankees weren’t exactly making a huge secret out of the fact that they were shopping A.J. Burnett this offseason, so none of this came as a huge surprise to me. What actually surprised me was that a team was willing to freaking take him. So thank you, Pittsburgh Pirates, Good Samaritans of Major League Baseball, for being willing to give up a couple of prospects and a milk crate of batting practice balls knowing what you are getting into. Because even though this is going to cost the Yankees nearly 20 Raul Ibanezs, it is worth not worrying which pitcher will show up every five games: Good A.J. or Bad A.J.
So why do I feel bad about this?
Maybe it’s Catholic guilt for the pain and frustration Pirates fans are about to endure. I mean, sure, 2009 was great, but you have seen his record, right? 34-35 in 99 games with the Yankees, a 4.79 ERA in the regular season, 5.08 in seven postseason starts. I hesitate to use the term “bust”, but when you consider A.J. was getting paid ridiculous ace money, the numbers are just unacceptable. Sorry, Pittsburgh. Just…sorry.
It certainly isn’t the first time a big name pitcher arrived in the Bronx only to fall short of expectations (Randy Johnson, anyone?) And the Yankees certainly aren’t the only team to throw stupid piles of money at a big name pitcher only to have their expectations explode into a million shards (*cough*John Lackey*cough*) But I feel kind of awful that A.J. has been slammed so hard for his time in pinstripes when it wasn’t all that long ago that Carl Pavano screwed us over. Seriously, the guy had a richer contract than A.J. and started, what, 26 games in four years? He had an ASS INJURY, PEOPLE. And yet…
A.J. will probably have a decent season in Pittsburgh, which of course will cause the Yankee haters to crow about how stupid Cashman was. And in response to that, a few quick reminders: A.J. was marginally better in his years in the NL, the NL Central is not the AL East (especially with Pujols in California), and sometimes a player just isn’t a good fit.
So farewell, A.J.! Thank you for those times you kept Bad A.J. at bay, particularly during last year’s ALDS. I’ll miss your pies! I won’t miss your tats.