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New York Yankees Pitching: Is AJ Burnett Worth $82.5 Million?

Barking CarnivalAnalyst IMarch 15, 2010

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  A.J. Burnett #34 of the New York Yankees poses for a photo during Spring Training Media Photo Day at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 25, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

I shave with one of those three blade disposable razors that are popular with the masses. They work pretty well, but they’re expensive to replace. Like girlfriends. So I end up using them more than is recommended to prolong their life. And if you use them this much, they don’t shave as well as they should.  
 
Why am I telling you this? I’ll get to that.
 
New York Yankees pitcher AJ Burnett is working on adding a changeup this spring to go along with this fastball and curve. “I don’t feel like I’ve had the success I should have,” Burnett said. “I’m a .500 pitcher and there’s a reason for that.”

While I’m sure I admire his candidness much more than his agent does, I want to focus on the reason that Burnett is a .500 pitcher.
 
Is it because he doesn’t have a third pitch? Maybe. Maybe not.

Ron Guidry pretty much used only a fastball and slider throughout his career, and he was very successful with it. His career didn’t take off though until he added the slider. Mariano Rivera basically throws three variations of a fastball, but only one of them actually has any movement. So maybe there’s another reason.
 
Burnett has played for some bad to average teams before coming to the Yankees. The Toronto Blue Jays were a few games above .500 when he was with them, but they never made the playoffs. He got to the Florida Marlins after their fire sale in 1998, played for some terrible teams and when they finally made it to the World Series he was injured. So his teams really didn’t do him any favors.
 
Burnett’s been injured multiple times throughout his career, and he’s only had over 30 starts in a season four times. He’s already had Tommy John surgery, and he’s been on the disabled list because of elbow, arm, and finger injuries. So this is a guy who has broken down often during his time in the majors.
 
And last year he had problems with catcher Jorge Posada. So he’s not doing himself any favors either.
 
But he seems to think that the reason he’s been a .500 pitcher is because he doesn’t have a third pitch. Occam’s razor. The simplest solution is usually the correct one.
 
If that is correct, then the Yankees just spent $82.5 million on a razor.

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