The New York Yankees spent $82.5 million on A.J. Burnett before the 2009 season, and are currently in the throes of buyer’s remorse. After another awful start on Friday night, Burnett could be headed to the bullpen.
Against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday Burnett lasted five innings while allowing nine runs, on nine hits, while walking two and striking out five as the Yankees lost 12-5. It was just the latest in a line of bad starts for the 34-year-old Burnett. In 27 starts this season, he is 9-11 with a 5.31 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP and an American League-leading 20 wild pitches. In 161 innings he has surrendered 160 hits, 101 runs, 25 home runs and 72 walks.
In five August starts, Burnett is 1-2 with an 11.91 ERA. In 22.2 August innings he’s allowed 30 runs on 44 hits, five home runs, and nine walks with just 17 strikeouts.
That follows a season in which Burnett went 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in 33 starts.
After backing Burnett for months, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said that Burnett’s salary won’t have anything to do with any rotation decisions the team makes. On top of that, before Friday’s outing, manager Joe Girardi said “He needs to pitch better, plain and simple.”
That’s um, that’s not good for Burnett’s future in the team’s rotation. When your manager and general manager both refuse to commit to you this late in the season it’s a big problem.
Burnett is making $16.5 million a year through 2013. That means he is still due $33 million over the next two years, and no one would take him via trade.
We’re all but sure Burnett will be in the bullpen when his next turn in the rotation comes around, and there is a chance that after the season the Yankees will have a tough decision to make regarding his future with the team.