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Why Are Yanks Dumping Burnett For 30-Year Old Platoon Player?

Why Are Yanks Dumping Burnett For 30-Year Old Platoon Player?

Why Are Yanks Dumping Burnett For 30-Year Old Platoon Player?

The rumors of A.J. Burnett going to Pittsburgh are heating up. Buster Olney “tweeted” the Yankees want Garrett Jones in return; something that Pittsburgh appears unwilling to do.

I have no issue with this deal from the Yankees point of view. Jones is probably as good as Raul Ibanez, and they would be ridding themselves of a quarter of Burnett’s money for a player that could help their offense. This is an indication the Yankees don’t believe Burnett is fixable in pinstripes.

The big takeaway is the fact the Yankees don’t see value in Burnett even in the back of their rotation. You can never have enough pitching in today’s game, but the Yankees rather have Burnett pitch somewhere else and pay a majority of the tab. There are rumors the Yanks are willing to pick up about $8 million dollars of the remaining $33 million on the contract.

Brian Cashman understands there are certain players that can’t succeed in the New York environment. He admitted that Javier Vazquez is one of those individuals that can’t handle the spotlight. It appears he believes Burnett falls into that same category. The nature of the New York media is to find a story and make it an issue. Burnett’s play on and off the field makes him a constant target.

It’s silly, no doubt, but the Yankees aren’t going to put up with it for a pitcher that produces an ERA over 5.00 and can’t win with an offense that scores over 5 runs a game. His drama off the field, real or imagined, makes it even worse. Jones is no star, but he’s a great story. He’s averaged 23 HRs, 75 RBI, and a .250 batting average for his career.

A late bloomer, Jones finished 7th in the NL Rookie of the Year at the age of 28 after toiling in the Minnesota organization for five years. He fits what the Yankees are looking for in a DH. He’s left handed, can play the field (OF-1B), and extremely inexpensive (made 455k last year). Keep in mind, you will need a RH complement, as he hits a paltry .199 against LHP for his career. From the Pirates point of view is taking on 75% of Burnett’s money a wise move? I think Burnett can be a useful piece in a National League rotation. Maybe Pittsburgh sees the NL Central as wide open and importing a former NL ace can put them in the mix.

Personally, I would ask for the Yankees to pick up half ($16 million), but I don’t know if they would do that for a player the ilk of Jones. Is Burnett at $12 million a season worth it for Pittsburgh? Fangraphs has his performance the last two seasons worth about $6 million dollars. I suspect the Yankees would have to pick up more than $4 million per year to make this deal worth it for Pittsburgh. Perhaps the Pirates do the deal without giving up Jones, which in that case it makes no sense for the Yankees.

That is, unless, you believe they can’t sign a DH without moving Burnett’s money. I don’t.

 

*** Forget Garrett Jones, I think the Yankees might have their DH solution already on the roster. The Yankees were helped immensely last season by scrapheap pickups like Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Luis Ayala, Cory Wade, and Eric Chavez. It was a banner year for Brian Cashman with those type of moves; historically not a strength.

This week the Yankees imported both Bill Hall and Russell Branyan on minor league deals. With reports that Cashman will have to move A.J. Burnett‘s salary in order to sign a free agent DH, like Raul Ibanez, the acquisition of Branyan might turn out to be an important move. Branyan is a 36-year old veteran that’s played for 10 teams during his 14-year career. Last season was a down year for Branyan, who hit 56 homers in the two seasons prior.

If there is any juice left in the tank I think the Yankees could have found a very productive DH who might thrive in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. For his career, Branyan has a .833 OPS against RHP. At the new Yankee Stadium he has 8 home runs in 52 at-bats; good for an OPS of 1.114! Last year the Yankees cobbled the last two spots in the starting rotation with low risk/high reward pitchers. They rounded out their bullpen in the same manner.

No one could have asked for a better return on those moves. I can’t complain if they decide to do this with a lower leverage DH position. Something tells me that Branyan might be as good as Raul Ibanez at this point in both their careers. You also could never have enough pitching, so it allows you to keep Burnett around.

 

For more from Mike Silva, visit nybaseballdigest.com

By Mike Silva
Friday, 10 Feb 2012

 

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Comments

  • Jay Weisburd said: If the Yankees trade Burnett, this could be a win-win-win deal for everyone. People like Kenny Rodgers and Carl Pavano have thrived after leaving the NYC spotlight, which is hotter than any other lights in the nation. Yes, we've been spoiled-in football and baseball. We expect championships because we have enjoyed as many championship teams. The entire NYC rat race attitude has affected every aspect of business in this area. Burnett could thrive as he did on the west coast before becoming a Yankee., as would the team that received him. The Yankees, who have seen pitchers lose entire seasons due to injury, are very aware that they can use as many arms as they can get---but they already have at least 7 pitchers including Burnett who have started for major league teams, and the one area they need support right now is at DH so they can keep a healthy bench. If A-Rod stays healthy this year, Chavez could always DH, but you can't ever have enough bats, even in a lineup like ours. If he is healthy, would you rather have a Phil Hughes of the 2010 variety or AJ Burnett? So it could be a cost savings for Yankees, and a DH pickup would solidify their batting order, yet again. On the other hand, if they did nothing, they still would be fielding a team that can win the East--as most of the additions have come in the west this year...and over the long season, an acquisition may be found for DH... 3:08PM 02/10/12
  • Jay Weisburd said: If the Yankees trade Burnett, this could be a win-win-win deal for everyone. People like Kenny Rodgers and Carl Pavano have thrived after leaving the NYC spotlight, which is hotter than any other lights in the nation. Yes, we've been spoiled-in football and baseball. We expect championships because we have enjoyed as many championship teams. The entire NYC rat race attitude has affected every aspect of business in this area. Burnett could thrive as he did on the west coast before becoming a Yankee., as would the team that received him. The Yankees, who have seen pitchers lose entire seasons due to injury, are very aware that they can use as many arms as they can get---but they already have at least 7 pitchers including Burnett who have started for major league teams, and the one area they need support right now is at DH so they can keep a healthy bench. If A-Rod stays healthy this year, Chavez could always DH, but you can't ever have enough bats, even in a lineup like ours. If he is healthy, would you rather have a Phil Hughes of the 2010 variety or AJ Burnett? So it could be a cost savings for Yankees, and a DH pickup would solidify their batting order, yet again. On the other hand, if they did nothing, they still would be fielding a team that can win the East--as most of the additions have come in the west this year...and over the long season, an acquisition may be found for DH... 3:08PM 02/10/12
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