The Pirates in the market for a pitcher making $16.5MM a year??? Has Bob Nutting lost his.....
Anyway, yes, all signs are pointing to AJ Burnett heading to Pittsburgh. Reports are that the Pirates most recent negotiations have had them picking up anywhere between $10-15MM of Burnett's $33MM contract over the next two years.
The Pirates also apparently offered two "bleh" prospects to the Yankees along with some cash. Oops, not "bleh" prospects, they were "blah" prospects. My guess is that description of the Pirates' offered prospects made Neal Huntington very angry!!!
So why is spending anywhere from 10 to 15 million dollars on a 35 year old pitcher who has been awful over the course of the last two season a good idea? Here's why...
-Good stuff: Burnett's curveball still has some serious snap to it. His fastball may be declining, but it will still stay in the low 90s...Burnett isn't down to Wakefield velocity quite yet.
-AL East: If the Pirates played in the AL East, they would have lost 145 games last year. If the Pirates played in the AL East, Kevin Correia's ERA would have been 732.5 last year. If the Pirates played in the Al East....yeah you get the idea. The NL Central put two teams into the playoffs last year and won the World Series, but still may be one of the weakest divisions in baseball.
Yankee Stadium/PNC Park: Moving from the launching pad that is Yankee Stadium to the pitcher's haven that is PNC Park will bring good fortune to the 35 year old hurler. Pirates fans have argued that AJ Burnett has been worse on the road than he has at home during his time as a Yankee. My response to them? Look at my above argument. You expect Burnett to have better numbers in places like Fenway Park? I wouldn't.
Change of Scenery: Simple as that. Away from the bright lights of New York, Burnett can take comfort in knowing that there really isn't a whole lot of accountability in Pittsburgh. Yeah, the die hard fans get pretty angry...but the fact of the matter is when the Pirates tank, most folks in Pittsburgh favor the "Well, it was coming eventually" approach. While this isn't my best argument for why Burnett will be successful in Pittsburgh, it certainly should be considered.
Bottomline- Bring him in Neal. Give them $16MM if you have to. As it stands, the Pirates are slated to have the lowest payroll in the 2012 season. Fans were constantly told that there was room to expand the budget. Show us. Burnett could throw down a sub 4 ERA this year, at 8 million bucks that is a bargain. Of course he could suck....but let's not get all depressed before the season even begins.
The more money the Pirates send, the weaker the prospects will be. Give them the cash and keep the future, it's the perfect opportunity after being shrugged off by Roy Oswalt and losing out on Edwin Jackson.