May 25, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) reacts as he leaves the mound after being removed from the game against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
There is no doubt that the Pittsburgh Pirates got worse this offseason. Losing Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau, Garrett Jones, Michael McKenry, and John Buck to free agency hurt to varying degrees. Replacing those players with backups and minor leaguers from other teams sends a clear message that the Pirates are going to grow this team from within, and not do any splash trades/signings that would compromise the Pirates over the 3-7 year run.
The problem is, when you have veterans like A.J. Burnett, the clock is ticking. He is 37, and can’t wait for the Pirates to get their house in order. He wants to win, and wants to win now! It is becoming more clear that A.J. Burnett took so long to make any announcements this offseason, to not only consider his own retirement, but also to see what the Pirates were going to do in the offseason. When he saw the Pirates be cautious (and get worse), it became clear to him that it was time to move on. So, his reported signing with the Phillies doesn’t come as too much of a shock.
A.J. Burnett did a lot for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He will be greatly missed, and one can only wish him well. You cannot begrudge him the decision to sign with the Phillies, it makes all of the sense in the world for him and his family.