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It doesn’t sound as though A.J. Burnett is bullpen bound

Aug 12, 2011, 6:52 PM EDT

A.J. Burnett Reuters

Yankees GM Brian Cashman came to the defense of beleaguered right-hander A.J. Burnett on Friday amid speculation that the $18 million-per-year pitcher could get sent to the pen.

“The stuff on A.J. is well overblown,” Cashman said. “A.J. Has been solid for us this year. I just think the way it’s playing doesn’t necessarily reflect the way he’s pitched. Let’s put it that way. The public outcry recently is all emotion rather than actual.”

Cashman noted that Burnett, who last won on June 29, hasn’t received the same kind of help Yankees starters typically get.

“If you peel the onion, if he hasn’t won in two months, look at his starts,” he said. “He’s got one of the least amounts of run support. If you break down his start by start scenario and you look at those starts, it’s not bad.”

But it’s not good either.  Burnett has allowed more than four earned runs just three times this year, but he hasn’t turned in a Quality Start (at least six innings, no more than three runs) since that last win eight starts ago against Milwaukee.  By any measure, he’s been the least effective of the Yankees’ six starters.

Still, I’m with Cashman here: it’s worth leaving Burnett in the rotation to see if he can turn it around, in large part because Phil Hughes seems likely to be more useful in the pen come October anyway.  Burnett has never pitched in relief, and it seems unlikely that he’d make a quick adjustment to working out of the pen.

  1. uyf1950 - Aug 12, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    I have to say I’m getting just a little tired of the general comment “leave Burnett in the rotation to see if he can turn it around”. Can anyone remember the last time Burnett strung 3 quality starts together. I’m not going to swear to it but it wouldn’t surprise me if you had to go all the way back to the 2009 season. If Hughes pitches well on Saturday he deserves a shot to stay in the starting rotation. He shouldn’t be relegated to the “bullpen” because AJ hasn’t never pitched out of the pen. Clearly AJ is being kept in the starting rotation because of his salary let’s call a spade a spade. The only real and just thing to do if Hughes pitches well on Saturday is to give Hughes the last starting spot. Put AJ on the 15 day DL list and then activate him again when the rosters get expanded in September and let him spot start then “as needed”. They way Burnett is currently pitching the Yankees are insane if they even contemplate putting him on the ALDS roster assuming the Yankees make the post season. I realize I will catch a lot of slack from some Yankee fans, but I honestly do see why he should be given “special” treatment.

    • uyf1950 - Aug 13, 2011 at 7:45 AM

      Two typos in my above comment.
      First one five lines down should read “…because AJ has never pitched…”.
      Second one at the end of my comment should read “…but I honestly do not see why he should be…”.

      Sorry about that.

  2. pisano - Aug 12, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    uyf1950…. The only flack from Yankee fans you’ll get is from fans that don’t realize what a liability AJ is. Long relief or mop up is the best place for him. I’m not all that sold on Hughes either, but his next start will tell the story. The Yankees are stuck with AJ and if they want to trade him they’ll have to eat a hell of alot of his salary. I can’t see any team in the AL that would want him. I would check with ST. Louis the pitching coach, Dave Duncan might be able to help him, obviously Rothchild can’t do anything with him. Personally I feel he’s a head case and when he explodes there is nothing you can do for him.

  3. Old Gator - Aug 13, 2011 at 2:57 AM

    Is that a photo of AJ? What happened to his nipple rings and nose bone?

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