Friday, December 5, 2008

Yanks may dodge Burnett bullet

It looks like A.J. Burnett may not be in the Yankees' plans after all.

The pitching-starved Braves are making a big play for the talented right-hander. According to Jayson Stark of, Atlanta has offered a four-year deal with a "easily vesting" option on a fifth year. Burnett has been chasing a five-year pact since he opted out of his contract with the Blue Jays and Atlanta is said to be willing to guarantee that fifth year if it will get it done.

Let's assume this deal goes down. First off, congrats to Allan James Burnett, who went from being the Great White North's answer to Carl Pavano to signing the richest free-agent pitcher deal this side of CC Way over the course of 12 months. Bravo. Secondly, this is great news for the Yankees. Admit it ... you weren't looking forward to holding your breath every time Burnett through a pitch for the first Obama administration. The guy was a walking M.A.S.H. unit for two seasons in Toronto before last season. You're not getting consecutive seasons of 34 starts, you're just not.

On top of that, a deal with the Braves would mean Burnett wouldn't be re-signing with the Jays and he wouldn't be going to the Red Sox. In fact, he wouldn't even be in your freaking league anymore. This dude kiiiillllls the Yankees, going 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts against New York in '08. With the exception of one Interleague series next June -- a likely three-hit shutout, of course -- Burnett would be out of the Yankees' lives. Praise Jesus!

My wish when free agency kicked off last month was that the Yanks would sign Sabathia and Derek Lowe. Well, Mark Teixeira as well, but that's a whole other story. While Sabathia continues to take his sweet time -- hey CC, no one else is giving you $140 mil, get over it -- you still have to figure he'll end up in slimming pinstripes. Lowe is more of a longshot at this point and there's talk that he may return to Boston. If he does end up back at Fenway, bring back whatever's left of Pettitte and head into 2009 like this:

  • LHP CC Sabathia
  • RHP Chien-Ming Wang
  • LHP Andy Pettitte
  • RHP Joba Chamberlain
  • RHP Phil Hughes/RHP Alfredo Aceves/RHP Ian Kennedy
That would potentially be the best 1-2 punch in baseball, but the rotation as a whole looks dangerously thin to me in this scenario, with a innings-limited Joba coming off a scary DL-stint, Pettitte on the decline and Hughes/Kennedy reprensenting huge question marks. Burnett isn't the right fit for the Yanks, but general manager Brian Cashman should remain committed to making a splash that goes beyond Sabathia. If I'm in charge, I lock up CC and lock up Lowe, even if I have to overpay for the playboy sinkerballer. Sabathia gives you your ace, Lowe provides you peace of mind.

It's just money, Cash. Spend it.

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