In Yankee Universe, A.J. Means Absolute JokePosted: August 28, 2011
A.J. Burnett leaving the mound after another shelling – a familiar sight these days.
If Billy Martin was in charge, he’d have been marched to the wood shed long ago. Joe Torre’s Job-like patience would have worn thin. Heck, Casey Stengel might be rendered speechless.
That’s A.J. Burnett. a challenge for any manager. They all claim A.J .has great stuff. But pitching, like real estate, is all about location. And when Burnett winds up and delivers, who know where the pitch is going – certainly not A.J.
Forget the No. 2 starter money ($82.5M over five years) he’s being paid, A.J.should be the odd man out, the sixth man in a five-man rotation. .
When the beleaguered Burnett takes the mound, fans cringe, opponents exult and Yankee manager Joe Girardi generally has to go to Plan B by the third inning.
The Yanks should have realized what they were getting on Dec. 12, 2008, when they signed Burnett to a big, fat contract. A .500 pitcher.
Remarkably, since Burnett joined the Yankees rotation he’s three games under .500 — this for a team that’s been at or near the top of the standings for three years running. After finished 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA and winning a World Series game against the Phillies in 2009, AJ has been dismal.
Last year he was 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA in what may have been the worst season for a starter in Yankee history. And so far this year he’s got a higher ERA at .531 to go with a 9-11 record..
Burnett finished August with an 11.91 ERA in five starts — even worse than the 11.35 ERA he posted last June during a similar five-start meltdown.
Even Yankee GM Brian Cashman, who has been a staunch A.J. defender (in part due to his big outlay for the pitcher), has seen enough.
After Friday’s loss to the Orioles, when Burnett allowed nine earned runs and eight extra base hits, mixed in three wild pitches and made an error — in just five innings — Cashman voiced his displeasure.
“He was very bad,” said Cashman of AJ’s performance. “It is what it is,” he added. “He’s obviously pitching terribly right now.”
So Joe Girardi, what do you do with this guy? “With all these doubleheaders we’ve got to play games,” said the Yankee manager. “We need six men.”
Hardly a vote of confidence for the unwatchable Burnett — who doesn’t inspire any faith in Yankee universe these days.