2010 MLB Playoffs: Benching A.J. Burnett a No-Brainer for Yankees' Girardi

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2010 MLB Playoffs: Benching A.J. Burnett a No-Brainer for Yankees' Girardi
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
A.J. Burnett takes a seat in the ALDS after a nightmare season.

It's being reported this morning that A.J. Burnett will not be part of the Yankees' plans in the ALDS against the Twins.

Not exactly shocking news, I know. Dudes who lose 15 games and and post 5.26 ERAs don't typically inspire the faith of their manager come playoff time.

The good news? After this season, Mr. Burnett only has three years left on his five-year, $82.5 million contract! God bless capitalism!

It's almost amazing to think how far Burnett has careened off the rails this season. Remember, it was only 11 months ago that the same Allan James Burnett essentially saved the Yankees' season in Game Two of the World Series.

I remember having to medicate myself with cheap vodka in the hours leading up to that Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Burnett had floundered against the Angels in his previous start, and after Cliff Lee shut New York down in the World Series opener, it almost seemed predetermined that the Yankees would have to pull out a 1996-type comeback to win it all.

Burnett stepped up, however. He struck out nine over seven strong innings in a 3-1 win that righted the ship and set the Yankees on their way to the title. But like always with Burnett, it was ultimately a tease. He was bombed by the Phillies in Game Five, leading to a post so scathing the FBI probably placed me on a no-fly list.

It's been all downhill since for Burnett, who is no doubt embarrassed that it's come to this. You can tell he cares, even if his natural demeanor sometimes seems to say otherwise. You know he wants to be more than the "pie guy" who occasionally pitches well. But at 33, he is what he is.

In a perfect world, there's no way Phil Hughes is pitching at Yankee Stadium in Game Three, a place where he often resembled a Home Run Derby pitcher this season.

Unfortunately, the Yankees are in no position to be choosy. Concessions need to be made. With the help of a forgiving schedule, the Yankees were able to maneuver their way through the playoffs in 2009 without a back-end to their rotation. It was no simple feat.

The Yankees now have to try to pull that off again. Maybe it's just me, but at some point it all starts to feel less like baseball and a lot like Russian Roulette.

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Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached at dhanzus@gmail.com. Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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