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There’s No Way Around It, the Pittsburgh Pirates Screwed up the A.J. Burnett Situation

January 30th, 2014 at 6:53 PM
By Allan Smith

The Pittsburgh Pirates have made plenty of sound decisions over the past few seasons. These choices led to the team to the postseason in 2013, and the Bucs look poised to contend for the foreseeable future.

But no matter what possible excuse can be made for inevitably losing A.J. Burnett on the open market, there is no way to mask this major front office mistake.

While the pitcher could still return to the team, if reports of an $8.5 million offer are true, this is about as likely as the team signing Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. It's not happening.

'A.J. Burnett' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Some point to the supposed hole at first base or right field and believe that the cash will be spent better there, or at least that cash should be spent there. It won't. Here's an idea, instead of spending $5 million on Edinson Volquez, one of the worst big league pitchers from 2013, add that to the $8.5 million offered to Burnett to come to a $13.5 million offer for one year. At that rate, Burnett still would've been taking a hometown discount compared to what he could get on the open market, but at least the offer wouldn't be an insult to the pitcher who not only helped change the team's culture on the mound, but provided two years of excellent work with little sign of any regression.

Those who believe the Pirates made the right choice point to Burnett being a liability to break down this year. Truth be told, he has spent time on the disabled list in both of his seasons with the Pirates. Yet, he hasn't suffered any arm, elbow or shoulder injury that would impact his ability to pitch. Also, his delivery appears to be effortless, and Burnett looks as if he exerts minimal energy with each pitch. It just comes that easy to him. He has made more than 30 starts in each of the past six seasons while averaging just under 200 innings per year. There is little reason to believe 2014 will be any different.

Others think the Pirates don't have much use for Burnett. He flamed out in his playoff appearance and had altercations with management as well as Clint Barmes. But can the Pirates depend on Francisco Liriano repeating his performance? Can Charlie Morton be depended on for a full season? Is Wandy Rodriguez healthy enough? Can Edinson Volquez revive his career? With that many question marks in the rotation, how couldn't the Pirates utilize Burnett's services?

But, Burnett and the Bucs will both likely move on. The Pirates will come up with some sort of reasoning why they only spent cash on signing Volquez and extending Morton and Burnett will likely sign a contract in excess of $15 million with the Philadelphia Phillies or Baltimore Orioles.

The Pirates will still be a productive, competitive team in 2014, but losing Burnett isn't exactly addition by subtraction.

Tags: A.J. Burnett, Baseball, MLB, Pirates, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pirates

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