Pittsburgh Pirates Find Second "Kitchen Sink" Pitcher in A.J. Burnett
Last night, another newly-acquired Pirates pitcher gave up 12 runs in two innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. That's only a slightly better ERA of 54.00. That was A.J. Burnett, about whom a Yankees fan might say, "we told you so."
The good thing is that a team can lose only one game at a time. A loss is a loss, and it's better to have those 10 or 12 runs concentrated in one bad game, rather than spread out over a number of lost games.
That's what we mean by "kitchen sinking" runs in one game. Then what counts in the long run is the other 161 games, or, more to the point, the other 30 or so games that the same pitcher will start in the season.
Morton turned out to have a nearly average ERA, despite having the occasional terrible outing (three of them) in 2009. That actually means that his ERA was quite good for the remainder of his games. He does have a good fastball, augmented by filthy off-speed pitches. On most nights, that repertoire can be very effective.
Burnett has been very a good pitcher from time to time in the past. He pitched a no-hitter early in his career against San Diego in May 2001. In 2002, he led the National League in shutouts, and in 2008, he led the American League in strikeouts.
This past suggests a much better profile over the course of a whole season than we saw last night.
Perhaps Burnett wasn't fully recovered from his eye injury in spring training. But he actually had a brilliant outing in his first start against the same St. Louis Cardinals team, which was encouraging.
After two admittedly weak seasons with the Yankees, New York picked up most of Burnett's salary when trading him to Pittsburgh for only two long-shot Minor Leaguers. The Pirates are paying him only $6.5 million a year.
If Charlie Morton, who is still under club control until 2015, had been a free agent, he would have been worth that kind of money in 2009 and 2011 (forget, for a moment, his horrific 2010 season). Burnett looks to match or better that level of production in 2012-2013. If so, the Pirates will have made a shrewd deal.
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