A.J. Burnett has been a major disappointment as a New York Yankee.
Let's just get that out of the way now, shall we?
While disappointing, it's unfair to say it couldn't have been expected. Burnett did nothing to make himself worthy of the five year, $83 million contract that he received in December of 2008. He's always allowed a ton of base runners, and you needed to expect that to balloon in the hitters paradise that is Yankee Stadium, along with his ERA.
His ERA was 4.07 in 2008, the year prior to the Yankees throwing boatloads of money at this risky investment.
2009 was an average year for Burnett, his ERA steadying just above four. His playoff performance left much to be desired, allowing 16 earned runs in 27.1 innings.
All's well that ends well, of course. The Yankees won the World Series in 2009, which obviously overshadowed Burnett's poor overall postseason performance.
The 2010 season made Burnett's deficiencies shine. His ERA was a career high 5.26, and after much controversy over Burnett even deserving a postseason start, he allowed five runs in six innings against the Texas Rangers in a series that the Yankees ultimately lost by six games.
Fast forward to today, and there's yet again questions of whether Burnett deserves another postseason shot. When Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was asked whether Burnett was in the team's playoff rotation plans, he didn't hesitate to let everyone know that Burnett starting in the playoffs was anything but definite.
"There are no guarantees," Cashman told WFAN's official website. "But we don't have to make a decision right away."
This is true. There's still roughly five weeks remaining in the regular season, which means Burnett should have about seven starts to back up his case for getting a slot in that playoff rotation.
But as of right now, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Phil Hughes are all better postseason options than Burnett. To even get a glimpse of the mound in October, Burnett is going to have to beat out two of those options, barring any injuries.
Cashman also made a point that Burnett's contract would have no leverage in whether or not he would get a rotation slot in October, which is believable. Money is merely an object to the Yankees, who wouldn't mind at all paying Burnett to sit on the pine.
Better that than let him pitch and hurt the team's postseason run.
At the moment, it's hard to picture him not hurting the Yankees if he pitches in the playoffs. In his last nine starts, he has just one win and his ERA is 6.94. In the month of August, his ERA is nearly 11.
While Cashman gets a lot of heat, he's right on this one. Burnett doesn't deserve the guarantee of being a starting pitcher in the postseason. He hasn't earned it through his performance nor in his attitude on the mound. He reacts like a child when he's pulled out of a game early.
Burnett received a monster contract he didn't deserve. Will he receive a playoff start he doesn't deserve? Only time will tell, but if he continues to pitch as he has this season, it might be impossible for the Yankees to give him another chance.
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