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Yankees and Struggling AJ Burnett Need to Part Ways

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Yankees and Struggling AJ Burnett Need to Part Ways
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The struggles of AJ Burnett have been one of the Yankees' biggest issues since 2010

$16,500,000 is more than the 2011 salaries of New York Yankees All-Stars Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. Also, it's exactly twice the salary of Curtis Granderson. The only Yankees making more are Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira.

Yet, $16,500,000 is the 2011 salary of AJ Burnett. With a salary like that, you would anticipate a stud, a pitcher who every five days is almost a guaranteed win.

Instead, the Yankees are paying the seventh highest starting pitcher’s salary in baseball for a guy who is 9-9 with a 4.61 ERA.

Despite his horrid numbers (32-33 with a 4.61 ERA in 91 starts as a Yankee), Burnett is a fixture in the Yankees rotation. Manager Joe Girardi has stated that Burnett’s spot in the rotation is safe.

I don’t know the everyday workings of the Yankees, nor do I know what happens in the clubhouse. The only thing that I see is what happens on the field. And for that reason, Burnett needs to go.

His large salary does not make him immune to being put in the bullpen or benched, just look at Jorge Posada. I concede his stuff is arguably the best on the Yankees roster, but if he has not been able to put it all together, why is he still pitching?

What Should the Yankees do with Burnett?

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Girardi may be the best manager in baseball in terms of positively affecting a player’s mentality. He believes that he can help the fragile Burnett realize his potential as a pitcher. Girardi believes that by throwing Burnett every five days, building up his confidence, that Burnett will magically flip a switch and live up to his talent.

Instead, Girardi is trotting a sacrificial lamb out for slaughter once every five (or six) days. Dating back to July, Burnett is 1-3 in eight starts with an ERA over 5..

The Yankees currently have five men who are capable starting pitchers: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon, Phil Hughes, and Burnett. Once Freddy Garcia comes back from a finger injury acquired during a "kitchen accident," the pitching staff will be even more confusing.

So far, the only locks to stay in the rotation are Sabathia and Burnett.

However, the Yankees must realize that the $16,500,000 investment they made on December 18, 2008 is a sunk cost. The Yankees need to do one of two things: Either send Burnett to the bullpen, or part ways with the 34-year-old underachiever. 

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