First off, I hope everyone is okay after these storms. They continue in a lot of places so please just be safe.
A.J. Burnett was possibly the All Star of the Pirates team last year. He epitomized leadership. How? By being a great clubhouse guy AND performing on the field. I am a proponent of leadership being important. I know it’s not a stat or whatever the SABR guys want to say, but it’s real.
It’s real in any job. Sports is no exception.
That said being a clubhouse guy isn’t as important as performing on the field. In fact if you aren’t good at what you do I don’t think your leadership abilities are even really that important. If you can’t do what has to do be done who is going to follow you?
|FLA (7 yrs)||49||50||3.73||134||131||853.2||719||395||354||66||377||753||111||1.284||7.6||0.7||4.0||7.9||2.00|
|NYY (3 yrs)||34||35||4.79||99||98||584.0||587||332||311||81||258||513||92||1.447||9.0||1.2||4.0||7.9||1.99|
|TOR (3 yrs)||38||26||3.94||81||80||522.2||480||250||229||56||191||525||112||1.284||8.3||1.0||3.3||9.0||2.75|
|PIT (1 yr)||16||10||3.51||31||31||202.1||189||86||79||18||62||180||106||1.241||8.4||0.8||2.8||8.0||2.90|
|NL (8 yrs)||65||60||3.69||165||162||1056.0||908||481||433||84||439||933||110||1.276||7.7||0.7||3.7||8.0||2.13|
|AL (6 yrs)||72||61||4.39||180||178||1106.2||1067||582||540||137||449||1038||100||1.370||8.7||1.1||3.7||8.4||2.31|
A.J. Burnett had quite possibly the best season of his career with the Pirates. At age 35. He was two wins away from tying his career high, and had his fourth best ERA. At one point in time A.J. won eight consecutive starts. The Pirates won twelve consecutive at one point in time, and were 17-2 when Burnett started, between May 8th and August 16th.
Those numbers are great. In fact they are nearly unbelievable.
I loved the trade for Burnett. He exceeded my wildest expectations and probably became my favorite Pirate last season. That said what will the Pirates get moving forward?
I think a regression is almost guaranteed. I doubt he goes back to his Yankees numbers, but I think that ERA will work it’s way back up into the 4.00 range. He will still be an above average pitcher, still win 10+ games, and still will be one of the best pitchers on the team.
He also won’t be enough. The Pirates will need at least one more starter and a bounceback by James McDonald to even consider a playoff run.
Or they could just sell high on A.J. Burnett.
I think that while trading Burnett is interesting in theory it would be a complete disaster from a PR standpoint and probably a clubhouse standpoint. This is where the cold view of SABR guys usually fails. Trading Burnett would definitely be selling high. It was also be a huge shock to the team and it’s fans and would do more harm than good.
So you have to keep Burnett.
I’d also consider seeing what another year or two would cost. If he is willing to sign at a discount you extend him. If not you take the one year and thank him for his service.
Either way A.J. is one of the keys to the season.