A.J. Burnett Sends His Love, Will Never Forget Pittsburgh

A.J. Burnett got paid by the Philadelphia Phillies.  It’s over, done, finished.  Burnett was on 93.7 The Fan for his farewell interview.   I know what you’re thinking, enough A.J. Burnett.  Yeh, I agree, but since we never expected his return to Pittsburgh, it wasn’t as difficult to listen to the gory details in Burnett’s unique perspective.  As we mentioned over and over again, Burnett was never coming back.  But how the Pirates ensured he wouldn’t return is still mystifying.

The team should have made the qualifying offer, securing a draft pick when Burnett signed elsewhere.  In their heart of hearts, Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly knew Burnett really wasn’t going to come back.  Not after the way the season ended when the team couldn’t scrap together enough offense to finish the Cardinals.

It seems to me that everyone involved let their feelings get in the way.  A healthy portion of ego-benedict was involved.  Why the qualifying offer wasn’t made points solely at cash.  The hometown ballclub should be holding a draft pick right now.  It would vastly improve their position in the upcoming 2014 draft as well as continue to strengthen the farm system for the future.  It’s a basic fundamental the team has lived by for years now.

Sad stuff.

But Pittsburgh now has closure on the A.J. Burnett offseason that wasn’t.  The former Bucs ace  joined Bob Pompeani on 93.7 The Fan this weekend.  Burnett said “it was the toughest decision of his career, hands down.”

O.K.  We’re calling bullshit on that and now mandate that someone have the rosin bag trick ready for when Burnett returns in July to PNC Park.


Regarding whether he would have accepted the Pirates qualifying offer, Burnett said, ‘Man I don’t know, fifty percent chance….where I was back in November…it would have been very hard to turn down.  They handled things professionally, they brought Volquez in, they handled things well, …it didn’t meet up.”

It intrigues me to consider that with the Burnett draft pick compensation in their pocket, how much differently would the Pirates have approached signing one of the available free agents that requires draft pick compensation?  Bottom line is that we will never know, it’s over.  It was a big mistake that makes me wonder why I am saving thousands of dollars to pay for season tickets once again.  We thought the Pirates were more savvy than this, but we were mistaken.  But that’s a topic for another day.

The Burnett interview is pretty good.  He spoke about teaching the mentality to Jeff Locke that he can win at this level.  A.J. stated that Gerrit Cole is a freak of nature.  It seems obvious that Burnett wasn’t too happy about the Bucs signing Volquez.  The former Pirates ace stayed above the line and mentions that it’s time to move on.

The word association at the end of the interview is really good.  Pompeani names Pirates players and Burnett responds with one word answers regarding the player.

Pompeani:  Andrew McCutchen.

A.J.:  Humble.

Pomp:  Gerrit Cole

A.J. Fierce

Pomp:  Jeff Locke.

A.J.:  Oh, he is gonna kill me for this….crafty.

Pomp:  Pedro Alvarez

A.J.  Power

Pomp:  Clint Hurdle

A.J. Good manager…and chews more gum than any human.

Go check out the interview for the rest including Burnett saying he considered himself a Yinzer, fans are entitled to believe what they want and sending his love to Pittsburgh.

Here is the complete interview


Next Pirates Game View full schedule »

Tags: A.J. Burnett Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Dave

    What draft pick round did we miss out on?

    • rumbunter

      Probably a top 30 ish pick

  • John Niespodzianski

    The author is ignoring several facts regarding the AJ qualifying offer. By all accounts, the main offseason targets for the Pirates were Josh Johnson SP and James Loney 1B. Between the two of them, they were offered nearly $20 million to sign here. They ultimately chose other destinations, which is fine.

    However, if they extended the $14 million qualifying offer to AJ, their hands would have been tied. If he accepted, then they would be left with little wiggle room to do much else.

    A now-healthy Josh Johnson is highly likely to have a better 2014 season than AJ, and no one can argue that Josh Johnson + James Loney would make the Pirates a better team than just AJ. So the Bucs’ logic and decision-making was sound — it simply just didn’t pan out.

    The team is criticized for being cheap and for not being aggressive, but in this case they put legitimate big-dollar offers out there & took a chance. It ultimately backfired, but let’s view the entire situation in the proper context.

    I wish AJ the best and bear him no ill will, but let’s all remember that it’s a business, and the Pirates had what they felt was a better direction for their business. They took a chance and lost; it happens.

    • rumbunter

      The author is me. I ignore nothing. Johnson was never, ever coming to Pittsburgh. Do you know where he lives? You should check it out. Loney was a more realistic target. Bottom line is you can continue believing the Pirates PR hype machine if you like, we choose not to.