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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stop The Ride...I Want To Get Off! AJ Burnett and The Yankees Rotation

If this was a boxing fight, the corner would have thrown in the towel.

New York Yankees pitcher, AJ Burnett was “bloodied” once again, this time by the last place Baltimore Orioles on Friday night. At the end of the 5th inning, Burnett’s 116 pitches yielded nine runs, nine hits, two home runs, two walks, three wild pitches, and a crowd full of boos!  (By the way, the Yankees were on the road playing at Camden Yards in Baltimore.)  In the second inning, when Burnett was at his “best,” the Yankee starter gave up six runs as the Orioles had six extra base hits in a row.  And Yankees manager Joe Girard left this guy in for another three innings!!!  What was Girardi thinking?  In his last start, on August 20 versus the Minnesota Twins, Burnett allowed seven runs in one and two thirds innings, and was sent to the showers. (not before he had a few choice words for manager Girardi. Or did he…) How much longer can the Yankees watch this horror show unfold and still have confidence in Burnett? 

During the month of August, Burnett’s era is 11.91.  The guy is averaging almost 12 runs a game, and you still send him out there every 5th Day!!!  In his last ten starts, dating back to July 4th, Burnett is 1 and 5 with a 7.79 era.  That includes the game against the Chicago White Sox on August 7th, where Burnett imploded in the 4thinning and gave up five runs. He was pulled before the end of the fifth inning with the Yankees leading 13 to 7.  The Yankees went on to win the game 18 to 7, but Burnett didn’t get the decision.  Can you imagine what the Yankees clubhouse must be like every time Burnett’s name is listed as the day’s starting pitcher?   

Many of us realize that the Yankees are into Burnett for a lot of money- he is in the third year of a five year, $82.5 million contract.  But at some point you’ve got to admit to yourself it’s just not working out.  Putting this guy out there on the mound is not good business.  I can understand the thought that Burnett will work himself out of the slump.  We’ve all been there. But how long do you wait before you take action?  I can understand the desire for management to want to back “their guy.” Afterall, they’re the one’s who decided to bring him to New York.  But you can be penny wise and dollar foolish.  What are you hoping to prove?      

If you’re a Yankees fan, you have witnessed this type of behavior before.  Over the year, the New York Yankees have collected a star studded rotation of pitchers who seem to fade under the bright lights of New York.  Ed Whitson, Carl Pavano, Javier Vazquez, Andy Hawkins, Kenny Rogers – all are perfect examples of what happens when you throw money away. The Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race, trailing the Red Sox by one game, and the general conclusion is that the Yanks will make the playoffs in some capacity.  (But we’ve seen collapses before…)  Making the playoffs is great for some teams, if you’re wearing the pinstripes it’s just not good enough – not for the players, not for ownership, and certainly, not for the fans.  

I always thought in business, leadership had to demonstrate patience with one eye on potential, and the other on results.  In today’s business world, I am sure we have first hand experience with leaders who were too quick to pull the trigger… “you have three months to prove yourself…or else,” and the “what have you done for me lately” mentality.  The pressure is on to perform and the threat of someone breathing down your back is always there.  I get it.  It's business.  We live in a world where results are expected, and if we don't get it done, they will find someone else who will.  But somehow, that doesn’t apply to sports.  Somehow, a guy who gets paid millions of dollars to perform to an expected standard gets a “hall pass.”  I don’t get it…and I guess I never will.  

1 comment:

  1. Steve - I didn't see the postgame comments from Gerardi, but my thought when I saw A.J. still pitching in the 5th is that Gerardi wanted to see him deal with the mess he created. He's been bad nearly every time out recently, so it's really as if there is this unspoken acknowledgement by the Yanks that they understand & are OK with the fact that they WILL lose when he pitches.

    Let ME off too!