Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Where to catch AJ Burnett in 2009 should he sign
ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that what seemed like an attempt to drive up the price for starter AJ Burnett may now be Boston seriously going after the 32 year old righty. A source close to Crasnick stated that the Red Sox now consider Burnett a “priority”. Granted, this could be just speculation predicated on ‘sources’ who may be nothing more than mail room employees who heard a rumor from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone.....
Regardless, allow me to express my feelings on the possibility that Boston is interested in AJ Burnett:
While this may be Theo doing his job and inquiring about the availability of a starter (who knows, maybe Josh Beckett has something wrong with him that has Boston concerned about him being ready for next year), or may be this is just the usual chatter that comes from hot stove talk, the thought of signing AJ Burnett is a concern.
First off, it was reported by the NY Post that the Yankees were prepared to offer Burnett a contract in the neighborhood of $80 million over 5 years. While it is questionable whether or not the Yankees or anyone would offer a 5 year deal to a 32 year-old who has had elbow problems in the past, the fact that he was making $11 million a year under his deal with the Jays, a deal he opted out of, makes the $14 million per a likely number he is after (why would he leave $11 million on the table if he didn’t think he would get it somewhere else?).
Secondly, Burnett has shown no indication that he deserves that kind of money. Most people will point to his 18-10 mark in 2008 as indication he deserves $14 million annually (W-L marks are rather poor indicator of a pitcher’s performance), his other numbers show a pitcher who was, at best, average. He finished 50th in MLB in ERA (4.07), 53rd in WHIP (1.34), and 33rd in OPS against (.707), finishing behind guys like Nick Blackburn, Kyle Lohse and Gavin Floyd in those categories.
Finally, Burnett threw 200 innings in 2008 for just the third time in his career, and if the seasons following those two campaigns are any indication of what to expect in 2009, look out, it’s not going to be pretty. Here are the other two times he threw 200 innings plus and what happened the following year:
2002--12-9, 3.30, 203 K, 29 GS, 204.1 IP .607 OPS against
2003--0-2, 4.70, 21 K, 4 GS, 23.0 IP .732 OPS against
2005--12-12, 3.45, 198 K, 32 GS, 209.0 IP .643 OPS against
2006--10-8, 3.98, 118 K, 21 GS, 135.2 IP, .734 OPS against.
Not what I would call inspiring. While Boston may be looking at Burnett to throw in the 4 slot–thus allowing Theo to move Masterson and Buccholz for a catcher, say, Taylor Teagarden–you then have to ask whether or not Burnett is a) even the best option and b) worth the price?
I say no. If the answer is not found in-house, you can always take a cheap flyer on a Brad Penny (6-9, 6.27, 1.63), Oliver Perez (10-7, 4.22, 1.40 WHIP) or Jon Garland (14-8, 4.90, 1.51 WHIP), get decent numbers for where they will be throwing in the rotation (not to mention playing on one of the league’s top offensive teams would bolster their numbers), and be cheaper and have fewer years on a deal. Granted, if there is something wrong with Beckett (and there is no indication there is) that completely changes the worth of Burnett to the Sox.