Why Burrell is enticing:
Burrell is the hottest name right now on the market. Already, we have seen two Giants beat writers (Hank Schulman of the Chronicle and Mychel Urban of CSN Bay Area) kibosh the rumors of the Giants having interest in Burrell, and one (Andrew Baggarly) say that the Giants could pursue him.
You can't blame the Giants for having some interest. After all, Burrell won't cost the Giants anything, he is a Bay Area kid (he went to Bellarmine Prep in San Jose), he's got some nice chest hair, and he has a proven track record.
From 2005 to 2008, the lowest wOBA he posted was .374, and the lowest BB/K ratio he had in that time span was 0.62. Add that with an average of 31 home runs a year in those four seasons, and you can see why the Rays were willing to shell out some cash for him when he became a free agent after the 2008 season.
Why Burrell is frightening:
The Burrell in Tampa Bay experiment really went horribly wrong for general manager Andrew Friedman and the Rays. Last year, Burrell's home run total dipped to 14 (his HR/FB ratio in 2009 was 9.8 percent; the lowest it was before that was in 2003 when it was 12.3 percent) and his wOBA plummeted to .304.
Burrell last year, for a lack of a better word, stunk. And, if you need more evidence of his mediocrity, check out his minus-9.6 wRAA (runs above average based on wOBA) and minus-0.5 WAR (which accumulated to negative-$2.3 dollars in value; Burrell was signed to a two-year, $16 million contract before 2009).
This year hasn't been much better. His HR/FB has actually gone down (to 7.4 percent) and his wOBA is even worse at .284. Furthermore, Burrell's strong plate discipline has been absent this year as well. He sports a BB/K ratio of 0.36 (the lowest of his career so far) and he has swung at 25.8 percent of pitches outside the strike zone (another career high).
Burrell just isn't the same player baseball fans saw from 2005-2008, and you can't blame Friedman and the Rays cutting ties with him so early in the season.
Why the Giants should pass:
I would like to believe that Burrell is more comfortable in the National League than the American League East, and if he makes the transition, would kill like Brad Penny when Penny was traded from Boston to San Francisco late last year.
He would make a great comeback story, and his Bay Area roots would resonate with the Giants faithful and media.
Yet, I just don't trust Burrell. His decline offensively the past two years has been eye-popping (especially the BB/K ratio and ISO drop), and he isn't good enough defensively (minus-44.6 career UZR in the outfield) to handle the dimensions of AT&T Park (not to mention make up for this offensive decline).
Burrell sounds good on paper, but Giants fans and management should be warned. He isn't worth the playing time he would take away from Andres Torres, John Bowker or Nate Schierholtz (Aaron Rowand would go unaffected because Bochy has a man-crush on Rowand, which explains why he still bats him leadoff though Rowand has an OBP under .300 and is 0-for-2 in stolen bases).