Tuesday, September 27, 2005

AJ's Plastic Prize

So major-league headcase AJ Burnett has said, "Sure, I'd pitch for DC." Whooptydamndoo.

I suspect that our attention-seeking, finger-tracing-while-they-read friends at the BPG forum are working themselves into a lather. Picture the now-cliched moment when Sally Fields screamed out, "You like me! You really like me!"

Don't get excited. "But his wife's from Maryland!" you say! "But he said that this team is a good group of guys! And the fans! He pointed out that the team has fans!"

If you're thinking those, your athlete-speak filter isn't dialed to its proper setting.

What he really means is, "Sure, I'll pay for the Nationals as long as they're the highest bidder."

And that's what worries me. AJ Burnett is the prize of the free agent market. But it's going to be like when you were a kid and selected your cereal based on the exciting prize listed on the outside of the box. And, I suspect, just like you were invariably disappointed with the cheap piece of plastic that bore no resemblence to the flashy picture on the outside of the box, you'll be disappointed by Mr. Burnett.

AJ's 100 MPH pitches are the equal to that flashy picture on the box. They sure look purty. But once you get inside, it's something completely different.

Looking closer, you find a pitcher who's closer to that malformed piece of plastic you'd actually find inside. He's just 49-50 for his career -- for a Marlins franchise that's been closer to respectability than mediocrity. His career ERA is a superficially impressive 3.73. It's good, yeah, but remember that he plays in one of the best pitchers' parks in the game.

Also, he had reconstructive elbow surgery in 2003. While pitchers are better able to recover now, he's shown no ability or desire to dial things back when appropriate. Earlier this season, he was quoted as saying something to the effect of "Pain doesn't slow me down. I just throw harder."

Add that all up, and is that someone you want to spend $45 million on? He's not an ace by any definition. Yet some team is going to pay him like one. While the team that signs him is sure to get some good seasons out of him, there's a definite injury risk, and no guarantee that he'll ever be on the Cy Young radar.

But you also have to question his head. He was 'fired' this week, having been told to go home. And our friends at Fish Stripes aren't really surprised or disappointed.

In the heat of a pennant race, he helped to fold his team's chances, going 0-6 with an ERA near 6. And at the end, all he can do is complain about the team and the lack of love he gets from the management and his teammates.

Just what we need... another malcontent. If Frank's back, that'd be a marriage forged in hell. Danger, Frank Robinson! Danger!

Let some other team make a $45 million mistake. In the meantime, enjoy a nice bran cereal. Something like an Esteban Loaiza. He may not have that nifty-seeming prize in the box, but at least he'll keep you regular.


Nationals Interest, on the other hand, likes the shiny packaging. Check out their argument.


  • Here is to hoping that the Nats show some interest in him and get Angelo$ all riled up so he signs him. Call it a hunch, but Angelo$ can be baited by that sort of thing.

    IIRC, the Yankees did this with Albert Belle and I recall it worked really well for those of us who like the Yankees and hate Angelo$. Burnett could be the next Sidney Ponson!

    By Blogger WFY, at 9/27/2005 12:37 PM  

  • It'll be interesting. I'm sure that Angelos or whoever he puts in power will want to make a bit of a splash. That team needs some energy.

    But the Belle thing isn't quite accurate. The Yankees really were THIS close to signing him.

    What had happened was that they were in contentious negotiations with Bernie Williams. Steinbrenner never really liked him, and didn't want to pay him top dollar.

    So Bernie had worked out a deal with the Red Sox (while the Yankees had come to terms with Belle)

    At the last minute, Bernie offered to go back to the Yankees at a lower salary than for the Sox. Stein agreed, and they took back their offer to Belle.

    It was just a matter of time before Angelos got his hands in the pie.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 9/27/2005 12:41 PM  

  • If Jack McKeon hurt A.J.'s feelings, he's just going to love playing for Frank Robinson. Nevertheless, if Bowden is still here when the new owners show up, look for Mr. Burnett in Viera

    By Blogger Nate, at 9/27/2005 5:35 PM  

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