"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


I will start with a confession: I now love A.J. Burnett. I love his sizzling fastball and knee-buckling curveball and disappearing changeup. I love his sneer and his stare and his cocky glare.

I used to hate all of it when he handled my team – one, two, three – spit and walked off the mound like he owned the world. A guy like Burnett is easy to hate when he’s on the other side, but I find him irresistible now that he’s with us.

I officially fell for him last night in a bar. The music was loud, but the shouts were even louder when the news rolled across the screen: “ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the New York Yankees and free agent A.J. Burnett have reached a preliminary agreement on a five-year, $82.5 million contract.”

The barroom cheered and cheered and cheered again.

But some people were not cheering. Those people look at Burnett and see everything that can go wrong. They see his past injuries and the length and size of his contract and some other things that I can’t even understand right now because I’m in love with a talented pitcher who can get batters out.

That’s why I look at Burnett and see everything that can go right. I see the blazers and the benders and the Bugs Bunny changes. I see the frustrated Sox and Rays and Jays and O’s who will now hate Burnett as much as I used to.

I see a beautiful baseball summer with A.J. in a rotation with CC and Chien-Ming and Joba and maybe Andy, too.

And then I remember the true love this game can bring when you believe in the promise of the future and not just some possibilities drawn from the past.

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1 The Hawk   ~  Dec 13, 2008 10:31 am

Nice. That makes me feel better too ...

2 Pete   ~  Dec 13, 2008 10:31 am

I suspect my emotions lie somewhere in between your love and Cliff's disgust.

3 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 13, 2008 10:35 am

[2] You may be closer than either of us. We’ll see.

4 Just Fair   ~  Dec 13, 2008 10:44 am

I'm with you. Ain't no sense complainin' now.

5 Todd Drew   ~  Dec 13, 2008 11:00 am

I’m sorry for the different font in this post. It looks like I may have busted something in the blog.

6 Raf   ~  Dec 13, 2008 11:10 am

1-Denial- He signed who? For how much? And how many years? NFW!

2-Anger- What an idiot! And with all the kids on the farm, what a ridiculous signing.

3-Bargaining- Maybe there's an opt-out clause.

4-Depression- This may be a return to 80's style management...

5-Acceptance- Well, after reading Todd's column, maybe Burnett isn't so bad after all...

7 zack   ~  Dec 13, 2008 11:26 am

By the middle of the summer, you will all be with William and I!

8 flycaster   ~  Dec 13, 2008 11:36 am

Nice post. I get so weary of the negativism. How about waiting until things actually look bad before slitting our throats? Think about his effectiveness vs Boston. Makes me smile.

9 Joseph   ~  Dec 13, 2008 11:58 am

Nicely done Todd. Christ, I was starting to get depressed hangin' around here. At this point in time, I'm thinking about next year, not 3,4 or 5 years down the road. Hell, I could be dead by then. I'm thinking / hoping A.J. is gonna be a big plus in the Yank's rotation in the forseeable future.

Meanwhile, I wish Cashman would forget about Pettitte and Cameron and take that 20 mil. and add a little more and make a run at Tex. If that were to happen I'd be so happy I wouldn't know whether to s--t or wind my watch. I guess chances of that are slim, but it's nice to think about.

10 rbj   ~  Dec 13, 2008 12:30 pm

Put me down in the not happy camp. John Kruk had a nice insight (jeez, I think that's the first time that's been written) that A.J.'s best seasons have come in his walk years, otherwise he's been a bit fragile. Oh well, it isn't my money and I think he'll be better than IPK/Rasner/pick-up-from-the-scrapheap.

11 upper deck view   ~  Dec 13, 2008 12:55 pm

I am going to think positive about the whole team and all of the changes. No one wants to be home sitting on the couch in October again so I am behind A.J., CC and anyone else Cashman thinks can help us bring home a World Series.

12 Raf   ~  Dec 13, 2008 1:05 pm

I think he’ll be better than IPK/Rasner/pick-up-from-the-scrapheap.

In that context, he's a great pickup.

06: 21 starts, 115 ERA+, which was better than Chacon, Lidle, Ponson, etc
07: 25, 119, better than Clemens Hughes, Igawa, etc
08: 34, 105, better than just about everyone on the staff.

13 3rd gen yankee fan   ~  Dec 13, 2008 1:59 pm

[6] I'm still at Stage 2.

14 ms october   ~  Dec 13, 2008 2:08 pm

we'll have to take a poll to see how many people made it to raf's stage 5 as a result of this post.

IF cashman still lands one of the bats i will reach acceptance.
afterall if the these great pitchers with strike out stuff bears out - who cares if the outfiled defense is atrocious, so manny/dunn, hell even abreu come on down :}

(although the choice was not necessarily burnett or a bat, it will be hard to think otherwise if no offense is signed this year)

15 mehmattski   ~  Dec 13, 2008 3:06 pm

I too am still at stage 2. My stage 3 is different though, as I will be hoping hard that Burnett fails his physical.

How is a season with a 4.07 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP considered a "turnaround year"? Without his pretty good last month, he would have been over 4.50 and 1.40 respectively. Yes, his BABIP was high this year, but that's despite one of the best team defenses in the league behind him, and he had his worst line drive rate of his career. The injury history, the traditional statistics, and the components are all scary, and they're all getting worse.

There's a chance he may be an above average pitcher next year. There's a better chance that 2009 may be the only year he's worth a damn.

16 sonyahennystutu   ~  Dec 13, 2008 4:00 pm

Don't worry. Be happy.

17 The Hawk   ~  Dec 13, 2008 4:26 pm

[10]That observation about his walk year performance has been made a few times, but it's not that great a contrast. Anyway let's just look at it like when there's something on the line, he performs better, and hope that that means the increased intensity of NY will help him maintain that quality.

18 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 13, 2008 4:41 pm


We'll all probably be in the same place. Here. AJ will be in Tampa.

19 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 13, 2008 4:53 pm

Mehmattski, Didn't Jaret Wright have a bad physical that the Yankees more or less disregarded? We may be out of options.

20 zack   ~  Dec 13, 2008 5:00 pm

[15] That is a false argument and you know. I could just as easily say the opposite about the crappy month of June. Or, "take away the 14 innings against the O's or the 16 against the A's and you have a pitcher with a 1.2 WHIP and 3.5 ERA.

"There’s a chance he may be an above average pitcher next year. There’s a better chance that 2009 may be the only year he’s worth a damn."

That is also just not true. There is absolutely nothing, nada, to suggest Burnett will suddenly turn into a pumpkin. Yes, he might not give you 200 innings, but he IS a pretty good bet to give you somewhere around 150 innings of above average, high strikeout pitching.

Burnett is a good pitcher. He just can't stay healthy.Or rather, he can't quit nagging non-major injuries. Don't equate the latter for the prior and say he is a good bet to stink.

21 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 13, 2008 5:06 pm

I think the rest, with the rather mediocre ERA and WHIP and high line drive percentage is valid though

22 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 13, 2008 6:50 pm

I've made an express jump to stage 5, he's a Yankee now and I will be cheering loudly for him to whiff Dusty McMVP 3 times, then bring high-heat near Youkilis chin followed by a knee-buckliner of a curve for the K. If he DOES become D.L Carl Jr Burnett though..well, get those NY Post headlines ready boys...

23 thelarmis   ~  Dec 13, 2008 7:12 pm

[22] shit, "Carol," would work for both Pavano & Burnett... yeah man, he's ours, so we've gotta hope for the best and root for him to stay healthy & productive.

24 Just Fair   ~  Dec 13, 2008 7:22 pm

@111 days in case anyone was wondering. The last guy I swore I would never root for b/c I hated him with every ounce of my guts was Johnny Damon. I know the comparison is completely unrleated, but the caveman certainly grew on me. Happily. : ) Beware of the Porche's, AJ.

25 mehmattski   ~  Dec 13, 2008 8:53 pm

[20] Fair enough about Burnett's September 2008, but by the same token all the people who say "he's great against the Red Sox" are making the same small sample size mistake.

As for the evidence that he'll turn into a pumpkin, I'd say he's already some type of large gourd. At age 32 and he had a 105 ERA+. He's passed his prime, and his numbers WILL get worse; it's a question of whether that worse will begin next year or in years after. I stand by my statement: Burnett will pose at least one season worse than his 2008 over the next five years. Worse than this year means a below-average pitcher, who now has a very large contract. Whoopee.

26 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 13, 2008 10:39 pm

[22] Dusty McVippee I say, Dusty McVippee!

I reiterate, there's still time for a big move to shore up the offense in a way that may delight us again, but I'm certain that will be tempered by what we give up or take in with it. Don't disregard the notion of Big G coming back in on a much reduced tab to DH and platoon again if we can't get Dunn or say Adrian Gonzalez... or Magglio??

Well, since my money's only directly tied up to the government bonds they're asking the city for, I'm only really pissed off about that at this point. I'm resigned to not being able to get a decent seat, if any seat at the Stadium unless a friend was being charitable, and the percentage of my cable bill that makes up YES is negligible to me, and after rolling the SUV on the Major Deegan doing donuts in the middle of three-lane traffic, I've expended enough emotion to return to my regularly scheduled nonsense, already in progress. It's hard to care what happens to the money when no one asks me what to do with it.

27 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Dec 13, 2008 11:08 pm

[26] heading out on a cloudy Sunday, how many days till P & C report?
Chyll, get this on in your SUV, windows down, bring some real funk to the Deegan..it needs it

28 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 13, 2008 11:33 pm

whoopee, everyone went to sleep.

29 The Hawk   ~  Dec 14, 2008 12:42 am

[26] I'm waiting for my friend to come back with drinks from the bar and dropped in ... Your post made the time pass nicely, so thanks!

30 thelarmis   ~  Dec 14, 2008 2:29 am

[27] i'm up. just getting in from work. really i hope i do sleep tonight though. i need it in a BIG way...

[26] towers has already said he won't trade adrian gonzalez. i'd be cool with getting Dunn. i'll be mortified, however, if the shit sox land Tex...

31 Mark   ~  Dec 14, 2008 7:17 am

"the true love this game can bring when you believe in the promise of the future and not just some possibilities drawn from the past."

Optimism is refreshing.

32 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 14, 2008 9:24 am

I gave up on optimism a long time ago. Bloody feud we had.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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