• Allan James Burnett

    Posted by on July 23rd, 2011 · Comments (31)

    If I had to describe A.J. Burnett to someone, without the benefit of being able to look at any stats, etc., I would say that “Once in an infrequent while, he’s dominant on the mound. Yet, more than a few times, he implodes during a game and is terrible. And, for the most part, he seems to always pitch just well enough to lose.”

    Related, one year ago, I wrote this about Burnett:

    Hey, this is what you get with A.J. Burnett. Sure, the walk-off pies are all the rage with the under thirty crowd. But, look at Burnett’s lifetime stats. On a 162-Game Average, he’s good for 34 starts and 218 innings pitched – but, with a win-loss mark of 14-12. Yes, he wins less than half his starts and loses just about as many games as he wins. Just look at last season, in a great Yankees team year, he made 33 starts, won 13 and lost 9 games.

    And, today, I would update that to say: On a 162-Game Average, he’s good for 34 starts and 215 innings pitched – but, with a win-loss mark of 13-12.

    I do give Burnett credit for taking a regular turn. He’s done that better than I thought he would when the Yankees signed him. But, watching him now for three years, I don’t see anything special about this guy. If he doesn’t have lights-out stuff on a given day, he doesn’t tough it out on the mound. And, more times than not, his lack of being able to throw strikes and/or his frequency of throwing wild pitches gets him into trouble.

    Coming into today’s action, you could make a case that Burnett is no better than Brad Penny:

    Rk Player SO/BB ERA+ IP G From To Age W L H R ER BB SO ERA HR
    1 A.J. Burnett 2.15 107 1894.2 301 1999 2011 22-34 118 107 1701 926 843 801 1722 4.00 189
    2 Brad Penny 2.15 103 1806.0 307 2000 2011 22-33 115 94 1861 890 830 571 1225 4.14 174
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 7/23/2011.

    .
    And, I don’t think anyone would say that Brad Penny is any great shakes.

    Brian Cashman gave this guy a $82.5 million contract for five years.  Yeah, I know, the Braves, reportedly, wanted to sign him too.  But, that’s like saying “Sure, I soiled my underwear.  But, there’s a bunch of guys in the nursing home who poop in their drawers too.”  The fact that someone else either did something stupid, or was willing to, shouldn’t take you off the hook for your own asinine actions.

    In any event, Yankeeland has two more years of A.J. after this season.  That’s alotta “pitching just well enough to lose” games to come…

    Comments on Allan James Burnett

    1. LMJ229
      July 23rd, 2011 | 6:40 pm

      I posted this under your previous topic but it is more appropriate here …

      Since I find it necessary to distract myself while AJ is pitching (lest I throw the remote at the TV) I thought I’d take a look at his stats in terms of quality starts. In terms of the percentage of quality starts, AJ is 4th out of our 5 current starters with a 40% quality start percentage. I’m sure you can all guess who is 5th! Freddie Garcia is first at 71% (surprise, surprise!) and Colon and Sabathia are tied at 64% (also a surprise). So, this begs the question: If the post-season were to start today, who would be your 1-2-3? With AJ producing a quality start only 40% of the time, where do you slot him? Personally, I would make him the 4th starter. I used to think he was just erratic. Now I think he is just not that good. And he is the 8th highest paid pitcher in the majors in terms of average annual value.

    2. Garcia
      July 23rd, 2011 | 6:40 pm

      He is frustrating to watch, and a lot of the things you said I was thinking during today’s game.

    3. LMJ229
      July 23rd, 2011 | 6:45 pm

      And I’m sick and tired of hearing about how good he can be with his “nasty stuff”. It would be nice to see that “nasty stuff” once in awhile. It would be nice if he would be a shut down pitcher once in awhile to justify that ridiculous contract.

    4. LMJ229
      July 23rd, 2011 | 6:46 pm

      @ Garcia:
      Yeah, I find it really hard to watch him he is so frustrating.

    5. Raf
      July 23rd, 2011 | 7:22 pm

      Josh Beckett wrote:

      Coming into today’s action, you could make a case that Burnett is no better than Brad Penny

      You may want to throw Josh Beckett’s name in there as well.

      SO/BB: 3.07
      ERA+: 115
      IP: 1647.2
      G: 267
      From – To: 2001-2011 (11 years)
      Age: 21-31
      W-L: 120-77
      H: 1504
      R: 758
      ER: 700
      BB: 504
      SO: 1546
      ERA: 3.82
      HR: 178

      “Coming into today’s action, you could make a case that Beckett is no better than AJ Burnett” ;-)

      Cashman gave Burnett $82.5M over 5 years, Beckett got $68M over 4

      Burnett’s AAV: $16.5M
      Beckett’s AAV: $15.75M

      Given that the Braves were in on Burnett, the extra year and the bump in salary is negligible. Also, it says the Burnett signing wasn’t as horrible as it’s being made out to be, since he’s comparable to Beckett. :-D

    6. July 23rd, 2011 | 7:39 pm

      Taking his 2008 18-10 walk year record out of the equation and A.J.is 100-98. I know there are folks here who don’t like to measure starting pitchers by wins and loses, but I’m old school. A.J. is a .500 pitcher and not even a good one at that. Cashman has a week to find a quality number 2, to me AJ is a more successful version of Jeff Weaver.

    7. LMJ229
      July 23rd, 2011 | 10:28 pm

      Joseph Maloney wrote:

      Cashman has a week to find a quality number 2, to me AJ is a more successful version of Jeff Weaver.

      Amen to that!

    8. Evan3457
      July 24th, 2011 | 1:48 am

      Joseph Maloney wrote:

      Cashman has a week to find a quality number 2, to me AJ is a more successful version of Jeff Weaver.

      There isn’t one available for anything less than a ruinous price.

    9. Evan3457
      July 24th, 2011 | 1:58 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:
      Brian Cashman gave this guy a $82.5 million contract for five years. Yeah, I know, the Braves, reportedly, wanted to sign him too. But, that’s like saying “Sure, I soiled my underwear. But, there’s a bunch of guys in the nursing home who poop in their drawers too.” The fact that someone else either did something stupid, or was willing to, shouldn’t take you off the hook for your own asinine actions.

      We keep having the same discussion on this point over and over…

      You have said that you regard the Braves organization as a much better judge and developer of pitching talent than the Yankees, especially Cashman.

      They looked at AJ and came to the same judgement that the Yanks or Cashman did: he was the 2nd best starter on the market, and they offered him $16 million a year for 4 years, with an easily attainable 5th year option.

      So there are basically two possibilities here:

      1) The Yankees’ judgement on Burnett was valid, and then he pitched to a level of value much less than both teams thought he was worth, as most big money free agent pitchers do.

      2) The Braves are no better judging big money free agent pitchers than the Yankees are.

      In the actual event, the Braves spent their free agent money on Derek Lowe, who hasn’t been very much better. Lowe was the Yanks’ other option, by the way.

    10. July 24th, 2011 | 7:58 am

      @ Raf:

      Burnett is half the pitcher that Jush Beckett is, see stats before yesterday:

      Pitcher                         RSAA      IP     
      1    Josh Beckett                101   1647.2   
      1    A.J. Burnett                 55   1894.2   
      
    11. July 24th, 2011 | 8:01 am

      @ Evan3457:
      So, you’re saying “Since the Braves are/were stupid, it’s OK for Cashman to be stupid too.”

      That’s fine, if that works for you. But, I hold a bar higher than the “stupid” level for my GMs.

      BTW, FWIW, the Braves, while they whiffed on Lowe, have a much better track record at DEVELOPING pitchers than Cashman does. It’s not even close in that department.

    12. Raf
      July 24th, 2011 | 9:27 am

      @ Steve Lombardi: I applaud your use of advanced metric. My next question would be what’s Penny’s RSAA as compared to Burnett? I’m sure the gap’s a little closer, given their WAR totals. Then again, They’re all pretty close together; Beckett, Penny & Burnett…

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      That’s fine, if that works for you. But, I hold a bar higher than the “stupid” level for my GMs.

      Yeah, that’s the thing, Mssrs Watson and Michael also have luminaries such as Mike Witt, Hideki Irabu, Katz Maeda, Xavier Hernandez, Terry Mulholland, Brien Taylor, Kenny Rogers, Matt Drews, Bobby Ojeda, Jeff Reardon, etc, etc, etc on their resume. Michael squeezing those busts in over the span of 5 years as GM. Though I’m happy he was able to acquire Frank Tanana back in 93, he has always been one of my favorite pitchers. :D

      You’d be hard pressed to find a GM that doesn’t have pitching busts on their resumes, especially when you don’t like to count “obvious” moves like David Cone, Kenny Rogers, Jimmy Key, Mike Mussina, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Roger Clemens, Carl Pavano, etc, etc, etc.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      BTW, FWIW, the Braves, while they whiffed on Lowe, have a much better track record at DEVELOPING pitchers than Cashman does. It’s not even close in that department.

      You forgot to add “Michaels and Watson” too. They even outspent Michaels on Greg Maddux. But of course, overall the Yankees GM’s leveraged the Steinbrenner Family Checkbook, better than the Braves GM’s leveraged the Turner Family Checkbook. I’m sure you didn’t mind in 1996 as Free agents Cone, Rogers, Key, Boggs, Duncan, etc, and salary dumps, Fielder, Tino, Wetteland, etc beat the Braves and all their homegrown talent ;-)

    13. July 24th, 2011 | 9:51 am
    14. 77yankees
      July 24th, 2011 | 10:02 am

      It’s frustrating because he has the stuff as evidenced by Game 2 of the ’09 WS where he was lights out in a must win situation. But even that was tempered by his no-show in Game 5 four days later with the trophy in sight.

    15. July 24th, 2011 | 10:09 am

      Some Phillies fans think the home plate ump helped him a lot on that 2009 WS Game 2.

    16. 77yankees
      July 24th, 2011 | 10:19 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Some Phillies fans think the home plate ump helped him a lot on that 2009 WS Game 2.

      Wonder if it’s the same ones who booed Mike Schmidt for years?

    17. Raf
      July 24th, 2011 | 10:22 am

      77yankees wrote:

      It’s frustrating because he has the stuff as evidenced by Game 2 of the ’09 WS where he was lights out in a must win situation.

      It may be frustrating, but with 13 seasons in the bigs, he is what he is. I’m just surprised that he has been as durable as he has been given his injury history.

      I figured this season would be better than his previous, but not as good as 2009. That seems to be the case so far.

    18. Raf
      July 24th, 2011 | 10:31 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      More good stuff on AJ:
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/13079

      Very good stuff. I enjoy reading some of the stuff published @ B-R.

      Looks like someone else had a similar thought about the Penny, Beckett, Burnett & Pavano comps.

    19. LMJ229
      July 24th, 2011 | 10:48 am

      77yankees wrote:

      It’s frustrating because he has the stuff as evidenced by Game 2 of the ’09 WS where he was lights out in a must win situation. But even that was tempered by his no-show in Game 5 four days later with the trophy in sight.

      That’s what I’m talking about in my previous post. We need to stop getting frustrated by his “potential” which is clearly the exception to his norm. Heck, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile.

    20. LMJ229
      July 24th, 2011 | 10:51 am

      @ Raf:
      Raf, your comparison to Beckett was so surprising to me that I thought you were joking.

    21. LMJ229
      July 24th, 2011 | 11:16 am

      We really can’t beat up Cashman too much for signing guys like Pavano and Burnett. They were the best, or the next best, starting pitchers on the market in years where we were desperate for pitching. And that is the problem right there. We are always desperate for pitching because, as Steve pointed out, we don’t develop pitchers.

      In 2009 we needed to sign 2 starters (CC and AJ). In 2011 we needed to sign 2 starters (Colon and Garcia). In 2012 when CC opts out and Colon and Garcia are free agents we will be in the same boat yet again. We need to start developing some pitchers or trade for some good young pitchers, guys that we can have locked up for several years.

      Cashman does not seem to have the ability to pull the trigger on big trades. I think he values his chips too much.

    22. ken
      July 24th, 2011 | 11:26 am

      LMJ229 wrote:

      We really can’t beat up Cashman too much for signing guys like Pavano and Burnett. They were the best, or the next best, starting pitchers on the market in years where we were desperate for pitching.

      mega-ditto’s!!!

      And developing pitchers is much more difficult than it may seem. I think it was Billy Beane who said that you need 3 good pitching prospects to get one decent MLB pitcher. And of course, you don’t really know which one of those 3 is the guy until you either have him or have traded him.

    23. Raf
      July 24th, 2011 | 11:42 am

      @ LMJ229: I’ve seen them compared quite a few times over the years. Most often when Burnett signed.

      LMJ229 wrote:

      We are always desperate for pitching because, as Steve pointed out, we don’t develop pitchers.

      This isn’t anything new. It isn’t that the Yanks are desperate for pitching, it’s just the way it works. More often than not, they try to bring on a pair of starters.

      Dave LaPoint and Andy Hawkins were bought on board for the 89 season. Tim Leary and Pascual Perez in 1990. Scott Sanderson & Mike Witt in 91. Melido Perez in 92. Jimmy Key and Jim Abbott in 93 (losing out on David Cone & Greg Maddux). Terry Mulholland in 94. Jack McDowell in 95. Cone, Gooden, Rogers in 96. Irabu & Wells in 97. Duque in 98… So on and so forth. They were stacked with starters and they still brought Duque, Weaver and Contreras on board.

      LMJ229 wrote:

      Cashman does not seem to have the ability to pull the trigger on big trades.

      I dunno about that; the Clemens trade was a pretty big one. The Cliff Lee trade was reported as done until it fell apart at the last minute. Randy Johnson, Granderson, Abreu and Weaver were pretty big trades.

    24. Evan3457
      July 24th, 2011 | 4:37 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      @ Evan3457:
      So, you’re saying “Since the Braves are/were stupid, it’s OK for Cashman to be stupid too.”
      That’s fine, if that works for you. But, I hold a bar higher than the “stupid” level for my GMs.
      BTW, FWIW, the Braves, while they whiffed on Lowe, have a much better track record at DEVELOPING pitchers than Cashman does. It’s not even close in that department.

      The decision to sign AJ is either stupid for both the Braves and the Yankees after the fact, or it’s a valid decision before the fact.

      That’s the point here. It can’t be both a valid decision for the Braves because the Yanks outbid them by $500 K a year, and a stupid one for the Yanks.

    25. Evan3457
      July 24th, 2011 | 4:38 pm

      And if it’s valid for both, it doesn’t become non-valid by the results.

      And if it’s stupid for both, then the Yanks can’t be faulted for agreeing with one of the best pitching orgs in MLB.

    26. Evan3457
      July 24th, 2011 | 4:39 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Some Phillies fans think the home plate ump helped him a lot on that 2009 WS Game 2.

      But the home plate ump didn’t help Pedro?

      And the home plate ump helped AJ in game 2 of the ALDS and game 2 of the ALCS, also?

      So if AJ doesn’t pitch well, that’s AJ, but if he pitches well, it’s the ump. I see.

    27. LMJ229
      July 24th, 2011 | 9:55 pm

      ken wrote:

      And developing pitchers is much more difficult than it may seem. I think it was Billy Beane who said that you need 3 good pitching prospects to get one decent MLB pitcher. And of course, you don’t really know which one of those 3 is the guy until you either have him or have traded him.

      I agree that it is quite difficult but the Yanks seem especially bad at it.

    28. LMJ229
      July 24th, 2011 | 10:01 pm

      Raf wrote:

      It isn’t that the Yanks are desperate for pitching, it’s just the way it works. More often than not, they try to bring on a pair of starters.

      I don’t know Raf I think they were pretty desperate in 2009 and again this past off-season. However, I wholeheartedly agree that their inability to develop starters pre-dates Brian Cashman.

    29. LMJ229
      July 24th, 2011 | 10:19 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      There isn’t one available for anything less than a ruinous price.

      I’d like to see the Yanks go after Mark Buehrle. The White Sox have an abundance of starters, they are fading in the playoff race, and Buehrle is in the last year of his contract. Buehrle has good stats. He is 7-5 with a 3.38 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and a 74% quality start percentage (that’s higher than CC Sabathia). And he shouldn’t be too expensive IMO.

    30. ctkaiser
      July 25th, 2011 | 12:05 am

      @ LMJ229:
      If the post season started today it would be CC, Colon, Garcia, Nova. Alternate would be Noesi. Nobody could tell me honestly that the stuff and execution of Hughes is better than Noesi. Noesi has better velocity, his stuff moves better and he looks more composed on the mound. The perfect description of AJ was given above. Pitches good enough to lose. The 5.68
      ERA in innings after the Yankees score is an indictment of AJ. I knew he gave runs back after the Yankees score but I didn’t realize until Saturday that it was that bad. Can’t we do AJ for Zambrano. One nut job for another! Just kidding, I think.

    31. Raf
      July 25th, 2011 | 10:02 am

      LMJ229 wrote:

      I don’t know Raf I think they were pretty desperate in 2009 and again this past off-season. However, I wholeheartedly agree that their inability to develop starters pre-dates Brian Cashman.

      The 2008 season saw them try to develop Hughes and Kennedy and Chamberlain as starters. All 3 pitched to varying levels of effectiveness. And that was the first time I’ve seen the Yankees try that since Wade Taylor, Jeff Johnson & Scott Kamieniecki plied their trade with the Yankees back in 1991.

      Signing Sabathia and Burnett wasn’t in direct response to the big 3 failing, it was in response to Sabathia and Burnett being clear upgrades over Chamberlain, Hughes, Kennedy, Giese, Pavano, Ponson, Aceves, etc, etc, etc. And had Sabathia & Burnett not signed, you would’ve seen Chamberlain, Hughes & Kennedy continue their development.

      This past offseason, same thing. It would’ve been nice had they signed Lee and if Pettitte came back, but there were other options on the market, Garcia & Colon, as well as other options in the system. Number 4-5 starters are like pen-men; fungible.

      They may have seemed desperate, but I think that was more fans projecting their feelings due to the Yankees not having any “name” starters. But if you look back, every year the Yanks have had 7+ starting options be they NRI’s, FA’s or someone in the system.

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