A.J. Burnett: So There Still Is A Chance?

AJ2k

Clint Hurdle went to the Capital Grille on Friday with 93.7 The Fan.  The Bucs manager had a lot to say including the tidbit that some times A.J. Burnett wants to come back and play baseball, and then other times he looks around at his wife and kids and says he’s good.

So there you have it Pittsburgh.

Hurdle said there is a deadline set between the Bucs and Burnett, but it’s not one that he would share.  Hurdle mentioned that an announcement would be forthcoming…soon.  

We will know about Burnett soon.

Soon.

One more time…soon.

Yeh.  It’s been painfully long thus far and now we will know soon.  Back way back when, when Burnett spoke with Colin Dunlap, he said he wouldn’t drag out a decision.

So much for that.  (Maybe he was thinking about retiring then?)

When Neal Huntington was on the podcast, he mentioned the Burnett deal.  (Maybe he was talking him out of it, or Burnett was talking his wife into it?)

When Clint Hurdle was on the podcast he mentioned after Thanksgiving.  (Well, that is actually correct now isn’t it?)

But anyway.  Here we are.  So what does the word soon mean to everyone?  When I asked my ten year old son what the word soon meant to him, he said twenty minutes.  I loved that answer.  When I asked my wife what the word soon meant she said, “Use the word in a sentence.”  I responded with “we will know soon.”  My wife said three days.

So there is that I guess.  We will know soon whether A.J. Burnett is coming back.

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AJBurnettTurnBack

One of the great things about FanSided is the amount of people who monitor the site and push for more opinion.  Recently, an ad was posted on the site for new writers.  This sample article was submitted by Daniel.  I really like it and trust he joins us, until he makes a decision check out his work and leave a comment below as feedback for us.

 

A.J. Burnett : So there still is a chance?

Word comes out that all might not be lost for the Pirates when it comes to A.J. Burnett. During an interview with local radio station 93.7 The Fan manager Clint Hurdle insisted the two sides are indeed talking and there’s still a chance #34 is brought back for the 2014 season. Great! Dialog is always a wonderful thing.

You get the impression from this off-season GM Neal Huntington hasn’t been doing much of anything. The fact that he’s at least still answering his text messages from A.J.’s agent is a sign of life. The other piece of news Hurdle dropped in the same interview is that the Bucs have an internal deadline and if Burnett doesn’t accept their offer they’ll move on. These statements are for PR purposes only my friends. The club has already moved on from Burnett and this is nothing more than a face-saving measure they’re doing because quite frankly, the natives are getting restless.

Nobody expected the Pirates to be throwing around wads of money this off-season. Even the most delusional fan wasn’t disappointed they weren’t players in the Jacoby Ellsbury “sweep-stakes” much less the Robinson Cano circus that finally ended this morning. Most Bucs fans were, however, looking forward to the team improving in some capacity and as of December the 6th, that hasn’t taken place at all. Gone is Marlon Byrd, gone is Garrett Jones, gone is Justin Morneau, and gone is the good will capital the franchise earned with their terrific 2013 campaign.

Folks, when your payroll is lower than the local hockey team’s and the Miami Marlins are buying away YOUR players, the last thing in the world you need is more bad press. The fans just started to pack the building, a terrible off-season is a sure fire way to kill that momentum.  Acquiring Christ Stewart from the Yankees did next-to-nothing to energize the fanbase, although it was at least an addition of some kind. In fact, most of them were bummed Tony Sanchez essentially lost his job as the 2nd catcher.

Burnett is a well-liked guy not only in the clubhouse but in the city. Since coming here two years ago he’s brought swagger and attitude. Two things sorely absent from the Zach Duke – Ryan Doumit era. Saying “audios” to A.J. because they aren’t willing to give the man a living wage would be disastrous for the Pirates brass and will surely hurt ticket sales. Making it seem that it’s HIS idea not to return, and HE’S the one that’s not returning phone calls gives them in their minds a safe landing when one of two things happen. He either really is retiring or he’s going to sign elsewhere. My guess is the latter. Somehow I just see him in an Orioles uniform next year. Just my opinion I have no inside knowledge.

With that said, the team will need to replace Burnett’s production. They won’t be able to replace his leadership so let’s not even go there. There are two schools of thought on how Huntington will fill this gap.

One, look for another reclamation project on the cheap like Liriano, or two, promote from within. Looking at the list of current free agent starters I don’t see a lot there that won’t cost 10 million a season. Think I’m exaggerating, Scott Feldman just got 10 mill per by the Houston Astros. Yes, that Scott Feldman.

Bronson Arroyo and Bartolo Colon won’t be on the open market for long so that leaves just a few guys I think that could be headed to the Steel City.

Johan Santana is intriguing, but comes with a huge injury red flag. Santana can either be one of baseball’s best comeback stories next season or never pitch another major league inning. Other than Johan, what else is truly plausible?

Daisuke Matsuzaka<http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/28631/daisuke-matsuzaka> looked decent the final month of the season for the Mets and Edinson Volquez wasn’t horrid in his few starts with the Dodgers in September. Remember, though, they pitched against AAA batters and major leaguers who already had the u-hauls packed up and were playing out the string. Nobody else out there has the ability to come close to matching Burnett’s 2013 season except these guys. Volquez is only 30; he has proven in the past he can bring it.  Dice-K at the very least can be an innings eater, and heck perhaps he can continue to fool National League hitters for a full season because the American League has surely figured him out.

And that leads me to what I truly think the Pirates will do to replace A.J. Burnett this coming season. Forget about dishing out dough to high risk hurlers who nine-times-out-of-ten disappoint. Neal Huntington might have the solution to this problem right under his nose.

A.J Burnett is the man.

A.J Burnett is the man.

Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Brandon Cumpton.

Look, I get it. Brandon Cumpton isn’t going to be a star. He has average stuff and like Jeff Locke, the more people will see him the less effective he will be. With that said, he is the one to fill the A.J. void come April if you really think about it.

The Bucs don’t need Cumpton to come in and look like Doug Drabek. All they need him to do is give them about fifteen starts and then get out of the way come late June when it’s time to bring up Jameson Taillon. This was the plan all along.

2013 you bring up Gerrit Cole half-way through the season and in 2014 you do the same with Taillon. These two guys are the future of the organization. They were top picks and for now, they are dirt cheap. Cole at the end of last year looked like a staff ace; some people around baseball believe Taillon will be even better. If Cumpton out performs expectations and you can’t take him out of the rotation, awesome! If he looks terrible and Taillon isn’t ready, they can always go out and trade for a stop-gap guy.

Or, you can always bring back James McDonald. Just kidding.

Topics: Pittsburgh Pirates

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