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November 18, 2008 at 12:36 pm ET
A.J. Burnett: Buy, or beware?

In their search for starting pitching, the New York Yankees are apparently ready to make offers to A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe.

Buster Olney lays out the Burnett argument today — stating both the case for signing him and the reason teams should be way of giving him a long-term deal.

Here’s the stuff that would get you excited, if you worked in the front office of the Yankees or the Braves or one of the other interested teams:

Burnett ranked third in the majors in strikeout ratio among starting pitchers, at 9.39 per nine innings.

After the All-Star break, Burnett was one of the best pitchers in the majors, going 8-2 with a 2.86 ERA, while striking out 105 batters and walking just 29 in 94 1/3 innings. In other words, at the end of the ’08 season, he was throwing better than he has for any extended period in his career.

Burnett made 34 starts and 35 appearances and threw 221 1/3 innings, all career highs.

Among starting pitchers who threw at least 20 innings against the Red Sox — and there weren’t many of them — Burnett was better than anybody other than Roy Halladay against Boston,going 2-0 with a 2.60. He had a 3.15 ERA against the Rays, with a record of 1-2. And he completely dominated the Yankees. In other words, the Yankees know he can handle the stress of pitching in the AL East.

Burnett, who turns 32 in January, made 34 starts and 35 appearances and threw 221 1/3 innings, all career highs. Some stuff that would scare you: He’s had three seasons in his career in which he pitched more than 173 innings. He’s had five seasons in which he’s thrown fewer than 173 innings. Burnett’s overall numbers from 2008 are excellent, but he ranked 75th in the majors in quality-start percentage, just ahead of Jeff Karstens.

Personally, I’m not a big Burnett fan. I would rather see the Yankees try to snag Lowe for a two-year deal, than hand the oft-injured Burnett a contract for say, five years and $70 million. My gut feeling is there is no way the Yankees get their money’s worth out of a deal like that.

Your thoughts, Yankee fans?

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6 Responses to “A.J. Burnett: Buy, or beware?”
  1. B.E. Earl says:

    I hate Burnett and always have. Don’t trust him to stay healthy.

    Plus the way he pitches with that angry face of his makes me think of Randy Johnson and we all know how that turned out (despite the wins).

  2. FrankDiscussion says:

    It’s a tough call, given his injury history. He is pretty dominant against the AL East, but that’s off little use if he spends the bulk of the season riding the DL. It’s a calculated risk, but one I think I’d avoid at this time.

  3. Jeff says:

    I think that if they can get away with a two or three year deal it might work out, and I’d be OK with it. If he wants more than that let someone else take him. I seem to remember him saying something about not wanting to be a Yankee last season though, so I don’t think it will happen.

    I think the Yanks would be better off if they land CC, Lowe, and Teixeira than if they get CC, Lowe, and Burnett, but it’s wishful thinking to assume that they will get either of those trios.

  4. Jake says:

    Eerily similar to the Pavano debacle. Injury-prone, inconsistent, career record not much over .500, questionable attitude. Yes, he has better stuff and strikeout numbers than Carl, and the fact that he’s been putting up numbers in the AL East makes it quite tempting. No more than 3 years please Cash!

    You know what Lowe will give you on a consistent basis, but he got hit pretty hard his last couple of years in the AL. Maybe he figured some things out after 4 years in the NL, but he’s a lot like Wang in that if the sinker isn’t sinking then the ball will be flying. If I had a choice I’d take AJ for no more than 3 (with options and or incentives?), if he’s not biting that then 2 or 3 for Lowe would suffice.

  5. Jeff says:

    Oh wonderful, the rumors are 4-5 years and 60-80 Mil. Awesome.

  6. Michael says:

    My thoughts: No way Lowe gets “snagged” with a two year deal…

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