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A.J. Stands for Awful Judgment

Posted By Cliff Corcoran On December 12, 2008 @ 6:12 pm In Cliff Corcoran | Comments Disabled

There are so many things to dislike about A.J. Burnett and his new Yankee contract that I don’t know where to start. I suppose I’ll start with in the cheapest, easiest place, with a comparison of Burnett and Carl Pavano at the moments at which they signed their big Yankee contracts:

A.J. Burnett Carl Pavano
Age 32 29
ML Seasons 10 7
Seasons w/ 30 GS 2 2
Seasons w/ 200 IP 3 2
IP last 3 yrs 524 2/3 559 1/3
Contract Term 5 yrs 4 yrs
Age at end of contract 36 32
Average annual salary $16.5M $9.9875M

There’s no question that A.J. Burnett has better stuff that Carl Pavano. There’s also no question that Carl Pavano’s contract was a smarter, better investment at the time it was signed than Burnett’s is today. None. Pavano arrived in New York off not one, but two consecutive 200-inning seasons (Burnett managed just 165 2/3 innings in 2007), was three years younger, signed for one year less (making him a whopping four years younger in the final year of his deal), and the average annual salary of Pavano’s deal was 40 percent lower than that of Burnett’s.

Oh, and here’s another little nugget, the two pitchers’ career K/BB rates entering their Yankee contracts:

Pavano: 2.28
Burnett: 2.25

One could argue that the comparison between these two pitchers isn’t entirely fair. Pavano’s performance (or lack thereof) during the length of his contract was an extreme case that is extremely unlikely to be repeated, even by a pitcher with Burnett’s sketchy history. At the same time, the Pavano contract was widely panned upon it’s signing, long before anyone knew just how badly things would go, and I think it’s clear that this Burnett contract is an even worse move. It may not be entirely fair, but it is extremely informative, if for no other reason than it’s illustration of the fact that Brian Cashman, a general manager I have long defended in this space, did not learn from one of the biggest mistakes of his career.

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