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Ask Cito What Is Wrong with AJ Burnett?

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Ask Cito What Is Wrong with AJ Burnett?
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Blazing Fastball: check.

 

Sweeping curveball: check.

 

Two-cent brain: check and double check.

 

Allan James Burnett has been the same guy since the day he entered the league, a live arm with a knee-buckling curveball and not enough sense to know how to use it.

 

After yet another loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night manager Joe Girardi was making excuses for the big right hander from Little Rock Arkansas.

 

The Yankee manager was saying all the right things to pad the ego of a faltering star. Joe stated that Burnett going on extra rest was his problem and his fault.

 

I know that the Yankees have a lot of pull, but for the manager to insinuate that he has any control over their game getting rained out and thus pushing the starter back seems a little egotistical to me.

 

Joe then went on to explain that he was not yet ready. If that is the way that Joe prefers to disillusion himself with that kind of thinking, who am I to judge?

 

Unfortunately for Joe, the facts are what they are.

 

In Miami when Burnett was young and raw, he was 49-50 with a 3.73 ERA. Before the arrival of Cito Gaston in Toronto he was 26-23 with a 4.22 ERA. It wasn’t until Cito started guiding the good ship Blue Jay that Burnett showed he had what it takes to live up to this massive unrealized promise.

 

Last season after Gaston began managing the Blue Jays again Burnett went 12-3 with an ERA of 3.12. To put that into perspective, in 2008 BC (before Cito) AJ was sporting a record of 6-7.

 

So, if he “got it,” as he claims, by learning at the alter of Roy Halladay, why was he 6-7 after almost three month in 2008? Why was Allan James a combined 20-16 the two years previous? Did it suddenly click, as AJ claimed?

 

AJ is currently on pace to go 10-8 with 202 innings and 181 strikeouts. To compare and contrast that, for his carrer he is 91-79 in 11 seasons or 12 games over .500 (he was a plus eight in 2008 in Toronto and plus nine under Cito Gaston from June through September).

 

Do the Yankees have a superior offense to the other teams that Burnett has pitched on? Sure they do.

 

Is Burnett is a little older, a little wiser and a little more mature? I don’t think so.

 

That 10-8 I mentioned is based on his current pace and him making 32 starts and pitching 202 innings.

 

Burnett has managed to make more than 30 starts twice and threw over 200 innings three times in his now 11 year career.

 

Am I blaming the Yankees? A little bit, because they are investing $82.5 million over the next five years in Burnett.

 

Are they the only team in history that continues to sign players based on potential? Certainly not, but the aggressive nature with which they went after Burnett in the offseason proves to me thar they, like Burnett, simply don’t get it. 

 

Do I understand the shield that the Yankees manager attempted to throw up with the media? Sure Burnett has proven to be hyper sensitive over the years and Girardi is looking to defuse that situation.

 

Unfortunately for Girardi, this song and dance following an inconsistent Burnett start will continue for the rest of the season.

 

Everyone is asking about what Burnett could’ve learned from Roy Halladay, whether he got it or not. With an up and down personality like Burnett, Joe might want to make a phone call to his fellow AL East skipper and see what can be learned about AJ Burnett, rather than what AJ learned.

 

Cito arrived in late June and look at the numbers for Burnett in July, August, and September.

 

  • Jul. 6 starts: 4–2
  • Aug. 6 starts: 4–1
  • Sep. 5 starts: 2–0

Maybe the Yankees should’ve signed Cito, too.  Other than that three month stretch, Burnett has been consistently inconsistent in his 11 years in the Majors. He is what he is; five days rest, seven days rest—there is no need to make excuses.

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