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Pirates pitching coach expects A.J. Burnett to retire

Jan 9, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT

A.J. Burnett Getty Images

Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage was interviewed on 93.7 radio in Pittsburgh and indicated that he expects free agent A.J. Burnett to retire, saying:

I’m on that percentage point where he’s not going to come back. Right now I’m leaning that way, where he’s going to retire.

Burnett was one of the best pitchers in the National League last season, throwing 191 innings with a 3.50 ERA and 209 strikeouts at age 37, but he’s dropped some pretty strong hints about retirement all offseason and is apparently willing to pass up a big payday to call it a career.

That would be a tough blow to Pittsburgh’s rotation, which already has a big health-related question mark in Wandy Rodriguez and is hoping to turn around Edinson Volquez‘s career. Of course, with a front two of Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole the Pirates are still in pretty decent shape.

  1. unclemosesgreen - Jan 9, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    They are in good shape, plus they have Jameson Taillon & a whole host of young power arms on the way.

  2. magicrat13 - Jan 9, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    curious if he will look to sit our first half of season and come back for second half if he has the “itch” or the pirates have a need…if not, i expect him to retire for good….doubt we will see aj for a full season in pittsburgh or anywhere else…

  3. sfm073 - Jan 9, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    His career has been so up and down that he needs to retire on a up, because I don’t think he has another up left in him.

    • gdobs227 - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      Good point. However, I think he has another up left in him.

      • genericcommenter - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        I don’t know. He just might not be as passionate as Maddux and might not be able to get up for another season.

  4. sportsfan18 - Jan 9, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    Good for him if he retires. So many chase the money today. He isn’t trying to hang on, there are many teams that would gladly take him.

    He’s only 37, with a family and there are many years ahead of them and several more million would be a benefit.

    He was a decent pitcher, a bit above average. His adjusted ERA, his ERA+, was 105 (which is what Jack Morris’s ERA+ was for his career by the way). He was 15 games over .500 for his career.

    A.J. had a .514 winning percentage in his 9 NL seasons and he had a .541 winning percentage in his 6 AL seasons.

    Of course many had better careers, but so many more were never able to make the big leagues, or only had a cup of coffee there or didn’t fare nearly as well as he did. 15 seasons, over .500 is a pretty good career.

    I’d take that career myself if I could have and I’d certainly take the over $120 million he’s earned in his 15 yr career.

  5. gdobs227 - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    “Of course, with a front two of Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole the Pirates are still in pretty decent shape.” – and Charlie Morton making that a solid trio, and with adding Taillon as mentioned above. They’ll miss AJ, but they can take the hit.

  6. benrob99 - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    Why would we give AJ Burnett fair market value, when we could sign Edison Volquez for ONLY 5 million? — Pirates “management”

    • steelpenbucs87 - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      I think you’re connecting two dots here that shouldn’t be connected. Remember that “fair market value” for Burnett was supposedly in excess of $10M for the one year, so there’s a $5M gap between those two that will allow/has allowed them to address other needs for the team. In addition, timing plays a role here. Burnett was (and still is) wavering back and forth about his decision, and the Pirates decided that they couldn’t risk waiting for AJ to make up his mind and then have no one left to fill the #4 spot in the rotation (assuming Wandy’s healthy). So I don’t know that its as simple as “We don’t want to pay AJ so let’s go pay Volquez.”

      Also your quotations appear to be an indicator of sarcasm, and while in the past its been very fair to criticize the Buccos management, you have to acknowledge that the Huntington regime has done a phenomenal job not only building a team that made the playoffs and hung with the NL pennant winner last year, but also is going to continue to rise behind one of the best (and some have said THE best) farm system in baseball. I think they’ve earned the benefit of the dougt.

      • steelpenbucs87 - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:47 AM

        Holy comma splice in the second paragraph Batman.

  7. missingdiz - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Burnett gave up 14 runs to the Cards in 138 innings last year. Do svidaniia, A.J! Have a great rest of your life! Here, let me hold the door.

    • missingdiz - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      Ooops, 138 PA. I’m too old to be double-tasking–better get back to work.

  8. cackalackyank - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    This gives me some respect for him. If he knows he doesn’t want to do it anymore and will push away a tidy pile of cash and stick to that feeling that’s a pretty rare conviction these days. I wish him well. Obviously a good competitor, just one of those “not in NY” guys.

  9. musketmaniac - Jan 9, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    Tailon that guy wont start 5 games. we have pitching just like last year. Nine guys will get the job done over the course of the season

    • steelpenbucs87 - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Why don’t you think he’ll start? He’s more or less on the same trajectory as Cole was a year ago. Admittedly the groin injury in fall league may have slowed him down a bit, but I think a July call up is very much in play.

  10. musketmaniac - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    lets put Tailon in Cole’s place last season. 70 innings of minor league ball all the way(carefully) thru including his play-off starts. Tailon is two years younger and my opinion not nearly as strong. my point is that we don’t need his starts. more importantly we shouldn’t be counting on them

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