Phillies “Very Much In” On AJ Burnett

Posted: February 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates

 

In his quest to turn the 2014 Philadelphia Phillies into baseball’s version of “The Expendables,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is reportedly in discussions to acquire 37-year old right handed pitcher AJ Burnett. The free agent starter was said to be prepared to choose between returning to the Pittsburgh Pirates or retirement back in November. However, Pittsburgh’s lack of perceived interest in a reunion has led Burnett to seek out other alternatives. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that the Phillies are “very much still in the running” to land the former Marlins and Yankees pitcher.

The move would serve to make the Phillies’ already aging roster even more gray haired. But, that doesn’t make it a bad decision to go after the 147 game winner. Burnett, who has never been an All Star in his 15-year career, is coming off a strong campaign in 2013. He went 10-11, 3.30 with the Pirates with an impressive 209 strikeouts to just 67 walks. Burnett seemed to run out of gas towards the end of the season, especially during his woeful appearance in game one of the NLDS vs. St. Louis. In that game, Burnett lasted just 2 innings, surrendering 6 hits and 7 earned runs to the eventual National League champions.

The Phillies’ current rotation consists of lefthanders Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels as well as righties Kyle Kendrick, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, and Roberto Hernandez. Youngsters Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin also figure to be in competition for the #5 spot if the team doesn’t acquire Burnett. Some would argue that going with the youth movement is the wise move for Amaro and the Phillies. But, the team’s GM has to be a little bit skeptical about going down that road. After all, another poor record could result in a pink slip being slid under Amaro’s office door come October.

Burnett’s not the pitcher that he used to be. But, he’s still a very capable middle-of-the-rotation arm that would only serve to boost the depth of a once powerful staff. In the worst case scenario, he provides experience and innings behind Lee and Hamels. Few should have any problem with that, especially if he only costs $5-8 million on a one year contract.

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