So A.J. Burnett fucked up in the big game. How quickly you turn your backs on such a talented player. I think you should re-think your logic. Should Burnett be allowed to test the free agent waters, the Pirates aren’t going to match the 2013 season.
The drama of the NLDS was a lot to take. What did you expect Burnett to do? Did you want him to be happy about not being allowed to pitch in St. Louis? Did you think he was going to bring chocolate chip cookies for the trip?
Do you remember what Pittsburgh was all about before A.J. Burnett rolled into town?
I do. It sucked. Bad.
And I remember what a lot you said about the move Neal Huntington, Frank Coonelly and the boys made to get Burnett in black and gold. A lot of moves have happened since Burnett, but I don’t find it coincidental that Burnett has piled up innings and strikeouts as the Bucs emerged from the cellar.
But now that losing is soooooo 2012, suddenly times have changed in Pittsburgh. The Bucs are contenders. It’s all about the future. It’s all about finding a first basemen, a right fielder, the whole drama around finding more offense, and screw that A.J. Burnett and his attitude. But let’s not forget it was pitching and defense that got Pittsburgh to the land of the promised.
But suddenly, the blackout shadow of the NLDS has Pittsburghers not caring much for A.J. Burnett and his style. It’s not a style that I particularly admire, but it’s impossible to ignore that it’s a style that has worked.
A.J. Burnett’s style has worked really well.
In April, I paid like $8 to sit right behind home plate and watch A.J. Burnett take a no-hitter into the 7th.
— Matt Bandi (@MBandi) October 1, 2013
A.J. Burnett has retired seven in a row. #Pirates head to the eighth leading, 4-1.
— Michael Sanserino (@msanserino) September 28, 2013
A.J. Burnett is fourth different pitcher in @Pirates history to fan at least 200 in a season and the first RHP to do it.
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) September 22, 2013
A.J. Burnett generated 23 missed swings with his curve Sat., tied for the most by any pitcher on any pitch type in a game in the last 5 yrs.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) September 22, 2013
Cool thing in LF right now. Jeff Locke throwing a side session under the watchful eye of Coach Searage. Jeff’s catcher? A.J. Burnett.
— Joe Klimchak (@BucsJoe) September 1, 2013
— MLB (@MLB) September 1, 2013
A.J. Burnett (7 IP, 4 H, ER, 7 K) shuts down Padres in Pirates’ 8-1 victory. Pittsburgh is 8 wins away from 1st winning season since 1992.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 21, 2013
A.J. Burnett starting for Pirates. His 44 K with his curveball lead MLB Check out this visual on his curveball K pic.twitter.com/sjJY7i9wzT
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 24, 2013
I could continue, but I will stop.
For the many of you that are anxious to send Batman out of town just how do you expect to replace the 195.1 innings he has averaged the past three seasons? With Jeff Locke? Or how about the 2.7 WAR Burnett has put up? What pitcher on the staff is going to try and replace that number? Wandy Rodriguez? Who is going to match his 4.0 WAR in 191 innings in 2013? Charlie Morton?
But the big number for me are those 209 strikeouts. Who is going to get that number? Gerrit Cole? Sure….–maybe? Hopefully Cole can do that. Franciso Liriano? Maybe.
But is that really a way to head into a season with increased payroll and growing expectations? I have to believe management feels differently about Burnett. I imagine they are pissed off about the drama, but the production on the field is sweet chin music for the bad guys.
Call it nearly a career year as Burnett enters his age 37 season, I will definently agree with you. But just who is going to try and replace those numbers? The FIP and xFIP were insane. The swing and miss. The swagger. The A.J. Burnett Internship Program has had many students over the past few years too.
Looking ahead at 2014, sure it would be nice to have someone exceed those digits, but just who is going to do that?
The idea of improving on the 2013 season starts with A.J. Burnett. Yeh, he pissed people off–from teammates to upper management, sure, without question he could have handled not pitching in St. Louis better too. But when you really think about what Burnett has done in Pittsburgh, now is not the time for fans, for management, for the media, hell, for anyone to forget.
It’s time to forgive.
The popular opinion last week was to target Burnett with accusations. The respected, at least by his peers, Bob Smizik, did his best two-plus-two smear campaign against Burnett.
The headline should have been this…
But instead it was this innocent question…
Of course, everyone piled on in talk radio too. How hilarious was it that it actually took a tweet to Burnett from a dedicated fan to clear the air? Thank God for Twitter or Smizik’s column would have been thought to be fact. Why it’s still available for reading is beyond anyone’s guess.
If the goal is to smear Burnett’s career with the Pirates because he failed to display command in the opening game of the NLDS, Bob Smizik and others in the Pittsburgh media…. you win..
Burnett sucked in St. Louis. Sucking and the drama surrounding it still sells newspapers, gets the ad buyers to line up after the hits and listeners pile up. But just ignoring the production Burnett has delivered for the Bucs is ridiculous.
Serious question, are you ready to head into the 2014 season without the hook? Without the strikeouts–go ahead and add up the strikeouts Francisco Liriano and Vin Mazarro put up over their 234 innings and that matches what A.J. did in 191 innings. Good luck finding that on the scrap heap of hopium known as free agency. I get it that it’s very unlikely that Burnett can match 2013 at the young age of 37.
But isn’t it smart to at least bring him back and give him the opportunity?