A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh Pirates: Let’s Make A Deal


We have no idea

how Pittsburgh wasn’t on A.J. Burnett’s 10-city no trade list, but I would like to thank whoever the hell made that happen.

It’s not often that a pitcher that has made 32 starts in each of the past four seasons is mentioned in a breath with the city of Pittsburgh.  Burnett has just enough positive attributes that despite battling pneumonia the past several days, I felt I should give my two cents.

I guess that since Burnett is viewed as a struggling pitcher and seems pretty much hated in New York should make me feel bad for wanting to see if a few million can get A.J. some starts at PNC Park.  I don’t feel bad at all.  Sure his fastball velocity has declined in each of the past four seasons, but he still brings it.  Burnett can still get swing and miss action on some of the best hitters in the game.  I’m trying to put my mind around what he could do in the NL Central.

The one thing that Burnett can do is pitch.  It’s something that is needed in Pittsburgh where Kevin Correia is coming back from injury after pitching 154 innings,  Charlie Morton is coming back from hip labrum surgery after pitching 171.2  innings, Jeff Karstens pitched 162.1 innings,  James McDonald pitched 171, newly signed free agent Erik Bedard pitched 129.1 innings.

When you look at the Pirates staff it seems to me that having a right hander who can throw 200 innings in 2012 is a necessity.   When I look at Correia, Morton, Karstens, McDonald, and Bedard there isn’t a starter that jumps out and screams I can go 200.  Maybe you see one, I personally can’t.  Maybe if I squint enough at JMac, but I’m still not convinced.

Now we can’t pretend that A.J. Burnett is going to be stoked to pull up out of his New York digs and head to Pittsburgh either.  He could do wonders for a Pirates staff that has shown an inability to go deep into games, but trying to gauge Burnett’s mental state around a possible move to Pittsburgh will be his to make.   Maybe he views it as an escape, or perhaps he feels disappointed that he couldn’t have done more in New York.

In the end, it seems to come down to this:  The Yankees want Burnett and his contract off the books.  The Yankees need to sign a LH designated hitter which may take a bit more than the $10 million number being floated about.  And in the big picture, the NY Yankees want their payroll number below the lux-tax mark of $189 million by 2014.  Oh, it’s so hard being so rich and so thrifty these days.

The Pirates want to sign a starting pitcher that can eat up innings and A.J. Burnett is in their sights.  The Pirates won’t be worrying about a $189 million dollar payroll number in 2014.   That’s more like a tally sheet of the past several years, but if the Bucs are able to sign Burnett,  the time between when the talented arms arrive and the winning starts just might pick up the pace.

But why should the Pirates stop there?  We think this is where the deal started going today.  The Pirates want more.  We can’t blame them either, taking on this Burnett contract is a monster, so build in something for the future, like a young Yankees catcher?

Why not?  Or one of those talented arms in that rich system the Yankees have.  Hell, I would be happy with just a little something to make this deal have a bigger upside down the road.  Ten million–maybe more?  That’s a huge number to have hanging around for two years.