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Thursday November 20, 2008 9:30 pm

Bidding On Burnett

A.J. Burnett

The latest news from the owners’ meetings is the bidding war between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for Toronto Blue Jays hurler A.J. Burnett. No one needs to be reminded that there’s no love lost between Boston and New York and this is one deal that’s shaping up to be a no-holds barred free-for-all. No word yet on what each team has offered Burnett, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Hank and Hal Steinbrenner will not allow Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein to outbid them for Burnett’s services.

A quick look at Burnett’s career stats tells an interesting story. A.J. started his career with the Florida Marlins making an inauspicious debut of 4-2 with a 3.48 ERA. Subsequent years didn’t show much improvement - 3-7 in 2000, 11-12 in ’01, 12-9 in ’02, 0-2 in ’03 and so on. With the notable exception of 2008 where Burnett posted an 18-10 record with a 4.07 ERA, Burnett has been pretty average with a career record of 87-76 and a combined ERA of 3.81. In all fairness, Burnett has pitched for Toronto and Florida - good, young teams with lots of potential, but seem to be missing that extra oomph to get them over the finish line and into the playoffs.

The two unanswered questions are where does Burnett want to pitch in ’09 and which team will profit more from his presence every fifth day? The first query is a toss up. Every player wants to sign with a winner and over the last few seasons that team has been the Red Sox with two baseball crowns and coming within one game of going to a third World Series this year. Burnett would join a staff of Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling (possibly, as he may retire), Bartolo Colon, and Tim Wakefield.

On the other side of the coin, the Yankees seem to be in a rebuilding stage. The Bombers’ Mike Mussina took his final bow today. The Moose’s retirement leaves the Yanks with some pretty big spikes to fill as Mussina led the Bombers with 20 wins.  Chien Ming Wang is coming off an injury-plagued season making his effectiveness at best a chancy proposition. Andy Pettitte wants to come back for another season in pinstripes and it looks like Joba Chamberlain will be back in the bullpen next season. Where does that leave the Yanks? A starting rotation full of question marks and a desperate need for Burnett. Look for the Yankees to keep upping the ante on Burnett - they need him in the worst way.

Still no word about C.C. Sabathia who has a mondo contract waiting for him with the Yankees. With Christmas a few weeks away, chances are that Sabathia’s agent is shopping around to fill his client’s stocking with a nice, fat multi-year contract.

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