A.J. Burnett Finds New, Mediocre Home

A.J. Burnett‘s been real good for two years, and he was better last year than he was the year before, so there’s good reason to believe he’ll be an effective pitcher in 2014. On paper, he was one of the best pitchers available this offseason, but for the longest time he was a special case because it seemed like he’d either retire or return to the Pirates. Only more recently did Burnett express his desire to play, and his openness to playing elsewhere. Immediately he looked like an interesting short-term target for probable contenders. What’s happened instead is that the Phillies have signed him, for a year and $16 million.

The Phillies were long thought one of the finalists. It seems Burnett didn’t want to stray too far from home, and that eliminated plenty of would-be interested baseball teams. And I want to make it clear that one-year deals for good players are usually good deals, and for the Phillies, I don’t have a big problem with this roll of the dice. But Burnett probably took the biggest contract, and he wound up with a mediocre ballclub. Burnett probably doesn’t make the Phillies a playoff team, and an interesting question concerns what might happen in June or July.

I’ll admit I initially thought Burnett would be a better fit for the Orioles. The Orioles are also close to home — closer to home — and in my head, they’re fringey contenders, who could use a significant boost. But their rotation is filled with pitchers who are fine enough, and the Phillies, in the short term, might actually be closer to the playoffs. They also had a bigger need within the starting staff, behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

But the Phillies aren’t that close to the playoffs. At least, not according to the math we’ve got. ZiPS doesn’t think very much of them. PECOTA doesn’t think very much of them. Steamer doesn’t think very much of them. On our Playoff Odds page, pre-Burnett, the Phillies had the 13th-highest odds in the National League, or, if you prefer, the third-lowest, beating just the Cubs and Marlins. Even with Burnett, they’re sort of around the same tier as the Brewers, Mets, and Reds, where there is a chance, but not much of one. Ruben Amaro has conducted his business as if he thinks the Phillies are pretty good, and they’re by no means a dreadful team, but they’re loaded with a lot more name value than actual value and they’ve taken few steps toward addressing the need for better talent in the future.

Burnett probably could’ve done the most good for the Pirates. An interesting other option would’ve been the Nationals, who would slot Burnett in at No. 5 and switch out Ross Detwiler. The Pirates are right there on the bubble, and Burnett would’ve been a significant rotation upgrade. He could’ve helped the Nationals get some separation from the Braves. But the Pirates, presumably, couldn’t afford $16 million, and perhaps the Nationals simply weren’t that interested. And if Burnett was open to returning to Pittsburgh, his mind was made up by the difference between the Pirates’ offer and the Phillies’ offer. For him, the extra money is more than worth the lower odds of making the playoffs.

The Phillies had a lot of rotation questions before, so now this answers one of them. The front three are set, and the back will be a competition between Roberto Hernandez, Kyle Kendrick, Miguel Gonzalez, and Jonathan Pettibone. None of them are great, but now they ought to occupy two slots instead of three, at least at the beginning. On the same day Burnett signed, reports have emerged that Cole Hamels has a bit of a shoulder thing, and though he thinks it’s minor and though the training staff isn’t worried, you worry about shoulders as long as people are talking about them. Even with Burnett, the Phillies are going to need all kinds of breaks to remain active in the hunt, and that includes health for their best players.

The Phillies got better, at very little long-term cost, and that’s a good thing. If they had this money to spend, they spent it on a good player, and their shot of making the playoffs has gone from once per some number to once per some smaller number. Perhaps, say, one out of 10 to one out of eight, or even one out of seven. There’s value in adding wins, even if your team isn’t all that good, and Burnett will help the Phillies be decent. But odds are they still won’t be decent enough, so you turn your attention to the trade possibility.

What we don’t know about yet is any contractual ability for Burnett to block trades to certain teams. His last contract allowed him to block trades to 10 teams. His previous contract allowed him to block trades to 15 teams. Those were also five-year investments, and in this case maybe the Phillies didn’t have to include any such clauses. Or maybe they did! It would work against them if Burnett received a full no-trade clause. It would also be the first full no-trade clause of his career. One of the main ways for this to work out for Philadelphia is if they could flip Burnett for youth in the middle of the season, presuming they don’t end up in a competitive position in the standings.

There could also be some other doors open, at that point. It stands to reason, during the offseason, Burnett wouldn’t want to commit to a full year far away from home. A midseason trade’s different, though, because you’re only talking a few months, and you’ve got a good chance of playing in October. The bigger point is that Burnett immediately seems like a midseason trade candidate. And he could be one of the better pitchers available, a cheaper alternative to trying to trade for Jeff Samardzija.

If the Phillies aren’t good, but if they’re able to move Burnett for a prospect or two, that’ll be a positive outcome. That would’ve essentially made for an $8 million or so investment in youth. Incidentally, there’d be a decent chance that come June or July, the Pirates would be interested in an upgrade, so it’s not impossible that Burnett could still return to Pittsburgh, just later than expected. Maybe the Orioles will be in the hunt. Maybe the Nationals will be more interested in Burnett than they have been. Several teams every year want to find a pitcher for the stretch run, and Burnett seems like he could be a capable one. The Phillies aren’t the Cubs, in that they wouldn’t want to admit they signed a guy just so they can flip him when they’re out of the race, but that’s a very possible result of this, if not a probable one. It would be the second-best outcome, behind the Phillies actually playing well.

It’s hard to go wrong with a one-year contract for a good player. Burnett probably improves the Phillies by two or three wins, and he didn’t cost them any long-term resources. It’s not like they could’ve just poured that $16 million easily into the future and there’s value in getting better today. The issue for the Phillies is that they still aren’t a good baseball team, and they’re probably going to drop out of the race. But should that happen, Burnett ought to become available on the market, and then he could fetch a good young player if his contract doesn’t block a transaction. And then that’s a new good young player in the Phillies’ system, which is what they need more of. There were better fits. But this is a fit. Just about any one-year contract for A.J. Burnett anywhere would be a fit.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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nsacpi
Guest
nsacpi
2 years 6 months ago

Help the Nationals get some separation from the Braves? I think that should be re-phrased help the Nationals close the gap with the Braves.

darkwatch34
Member
darkwatch34
2 years 6 months ago

No I think Jeff has it right.

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 6 months ago

That wouldn’t be re-phrasing, that would be changing the expression of Dave’s previously stated opinion that prefers the Nationals to the Braves by a little.

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 6 months ago

Jeff, rather.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

I agree, but the analysts have their favorite, again. When the Braves are stepping on the Nationals’ necks and dashing their slim playoff hopes again this September, no one will care how it looked on paper before the season began.

nobleisthyname
Member
nobleisthyname
2 years 6 months ago

It really seems like the Nationals leapfrogging the Braves for the division in 2012 really got to Braves’ fans. Both teams are projected to be good, deal with it.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

Fair point: it did get to me! That rank disrespect can be easily expiated by another 13 years or so of the Braves crushing the Nationals, though.

Frediot
Guest
Frediot
2 years 6 months ago

Braves fans are always edgy and prone to take offense, at least until the annual uncertainty about whether the Braves will have either a late season collapse or a postseason disaster is resolved.

Will
Guest
Will
2 years 6 months ago

Braves fans are as touchy as their players

Pirates Hurdles
Guest
Pirates Hurdles
2 years 6 months ago

Jeff missed the memo that you can’t, even indirectly, insult the Braves or one of their players on the internet without the super fans going batsh*t.

I’m sure he is referring to the win projections hosted on this website, to which Jeff was speaking of when considering AJ’s impact on Philly’s chances.

Lighten’up Braves fans, McCann is a Yankee now.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

The win projections hosted on this website think the Braves are a slightly better bet than the Nationals to win their division and make the playoffs: http://www.fangraphs.com/coolstandings.aspx

Pirates Hurdles
Guest
Pirates Hurdles
2 years 6 months ago

Yes and Jeff said it would help them separate from the Braves.

Are you really making a beef about the 0.4 win difference in that projection?

coldseat
Guest
coldseat
2 years 6 months ago

….this coming from a guy who thinks the Mariners win 82 games & stick around a bit…

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 6 months ago

Why can’t the Mariners be about .500? Looks plausible to me.

Go Nats
Guest
Go Nats
2 years 6 months ago

I’d put money on the Mariners beating 81 wins. It only takes one of the two highly traded pitching prospects to reach expectations this year for that to mostly happen.

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City
2 years 6 months ago

Ouch. Bucs looked like a marginal playoff contender with Burnett, but if we replace him with Jeff Locke or Brandon Crumpton I am not as optimistic. This is how you go from an 86 win team to an 84 win team with the stroke of a pen. I’ll hold my breath and wait for Jameson Taillon, but we all know TINSTAAPP.

Robert
Member
Robert
2 years 6 months ago

Last two seasons Burnett’s numbers against WAS are a lot better than those against ATL. Small sample, but if anything this is neutral viz. WAS/ATL separation.

I do like the idea that this could be a trade-for-prospects sign, let a team with a deep system that has a chance and is a pitcher short sweat and maybe overpay.

What I’m a little confused by is Burnett’s motivation. First he seemed indifferent to money, contemplating retirement. Then decides he’d like to come back, I’d think it would be for a chance to win. The NL preference gibes with that, but signing with the Phils seems mostly like a mercenary decision, unless he also assumes a trade to a contender, (while pitching in that park may not help him in that effort, lots of games v. FLA and NYM should). I can understand not wanting to jump the AL, so if he limited himself to the NL it’s possible that the Phills just offered way more than anyone else.

Still with the value of one-year contracts, I can’t understand why there wasn’t more competition for this guy, such that he ends up in that stadium with that team.

coldseat
Guest
coldseat
2 years 6 months ago

Philly is pretty close to Md, where AJ resides. He is also neighbors & good friends with the Philly Asst. GM. Finally, pitching in a rotation with Cole & Lee is not the worst set up?

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

I think you mean “vis-a-vis” WAS/ATL separation. “Viz.” means “i.e.,” which of course means “that is.”

Robert
Member
Robert
2 years 6 months ago

Anon21, absolutely right and I’m mortified for making that error. Good catch!

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 6 months ago

Last two seasons Burnett’s numbers against WAS are a lot better than those against ATL. Small sample, but if anything this is neutral viz. WAS/ATL separation.

I wonder if I can create a browser plugin that will automatically block all comments that contain “Small sample stat therefore conclusion drawn from admittedly small-sample

Hason Jeyward
Member
Hason Jeyward
2 years 6 months ago

Or you could accept that speculating, while clearly saying you are speculating, is completely OK in comments.

If he were to state this as a fact, there might be some contention. But he’s not. Let’s lighten up.

JS
Guest
JS
2 years 6 months ago

I think it was a pretty big blunder by the Pirate’s to not offer Burnett a qualifying offer.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

Apparently they didn’t feel they could afford it and were worried he’d take it. Given that he took this long to sign, I’d say that was not an irrational worry.

Iron
Guest
Iron
2 years 6 months ago

He would have been a bargain at the price.

Robert
Member
Robert
2 years 6 months ago

It’s also possible that the Pirates saw something in his August and September when they really needed to win the division that worried them, or they know something about his arm the rest of us don’t.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

Bargain or no, if they couldn’t afford him, they couldn’t afford him. It would be a bargain if I could convince Mike Trout to join my rec softball league for $5,000 per game, but that doesn’t mean it would be a good idea on my salary.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 6 months ago

@Robert:

What would they have seen that would spook them? On a first-pass look, this assertion has no evidence.

His velocity was constant throughout 2013.
His pitch-location was constant throughout 2013.
He actually struck out more batters, walked fewer batters, and allowed fewer homeruns across august/September.

The only bad statistic that was different in august/Septemeber was his LOB percentage, which suggests that the increased ERA was unaffected by some drop in pitching ability.

Iron
Guest
Iron
2 years 6 months ago

They are a major league team, not a rec softball league. If they can’t afford a bargain with a team salary currently at what, $73M, then they were never serious about getting him at all. Remember, they have been pretending they were trying to sign him. What did they think they were going to sign him for? twenty bucks?

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

Initially, I think he had said or intimated that he would only play for the Pirates or else he’d retire. In that framework, I can see how the Pirates really did think they had a chance at signing him at a price they’d be comfortable with. Obviously, that didn’t pan out.

BMarkham
Guest
BMarkham
2 years 6 months ago

They reportedly offered him $12 million. They were the epitome of being cheap by not giving him a QO, and probably no one else would have signed him had they given him a QO.

Remember, we’re talking about a 4 WAR pitcher here. Being where they are on the win curve and that their fans are more excited then ever, it was a colossal mistake not to extend him a qualified offer. If I was a Pirates fan I would be pissed at ownership.

Seattleslew
Guest
Seattleslew
2 years 6 months ago

Isn’t 16 million a lot of money for a guy who only had 1.7 WAR last year?

Even if they could get a prospect for him at the deadline. He is 37 years old. You can not expect him to improve much if at all.

Omar Daal
Guest
Omar Daal
2 years 6 months ago

Then they could have traded him to any number of teams to clear the whole salary and pick up a prospect, too.

Well, not any number. 29, Probably.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

Nope. Sign-and-trade isn’t allowed.

David
Guest
David
2 years 6 months ago

Ah the old lets violate the CBA strategy and see what happens. Something tells me that doesn’t end up working out too well.

Omar Daal
Guest
Omar Daal
2 years 6 months ago

Hah! Oh, right. Clearly having a flashback to the “old” days when it was an arbitration offer that was attached to draft pick compensation (and thus, tradeable)

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 6 months ago

I do enjoy that you made me think about Omar Daal, though. Props for that.

Sloppy Joe
Guest
Sloppy Joe
2 years 6 months ago

According to spotrac, the Pirates payroll for 2014 is just under $66 million. I have no idea if that is accurate, but if it is, then I think it’s crazy that the Pirates couldn’t afford AJ at 1/14mil. After a year of excitement, I would think you’d want to keep that momentum and fan interest up by making high-profile signings (especially of your own players). This is the exact wrong time for the Pirates to start pinching pennies.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie
2 years 6 months ago

Start? I’m 35 years old and I honestly cannot remember a time when the Pirates weren’t pinching pennies.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 6 months ago

Yeah but they play in Pittsburgh, which is a small market team.

Worse, they had this 20-season below .500 streak, which depressed their value further.

Even worse, they have other regional sports (e.g. the Steelers) that perform much better by comparison, making the pirates even less marketable.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 6 months ago

err…makes them a small market team. Sorry.

Iron
Guest
Iron
2 years 6 months ago

The Reds are in a smaller market with a $100 Million team.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 6 months ago

@Iron:

I disagree. The Reds have a slightly larger market for several reasons:

(1) Though the metro population is roughly the same size (within 5 percent of one another), the reds have a larger regional market than the Pirates. The Pirates are sandwiched between New York, New Jersey, and Virginia (nationals/mets/phillies). The reds are the only national league team in Ohio and are adjacent to three states without a major league team.

(2) The reds have been more successful than the pirates over the past 20 seasons, which makes their current actual market a bit larger than the pirates.

(3) Ohio has no other strongly competitive non-baseball teams over the past 20 seasons. The cavaliers never built around LeBron, and the Bengals are…well…the Bengals (up until the last year, that is). The Pirates competed internally with the steelers and the penguins.

Yes the Indians are an exception to this, but if you count the Indians as a strong point, then you need to count the Phillies more since (A) the difference in distance is only 50 miles. (B) Cincinatti is closer to three states that have no major league team, and (C) Phillies are far more popular than Cleveland.

Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cincinatti’s payroll stagnate over the next decade or so.

dl80
Member
dl80
2 years 6 months ago

Given that no player has ever (yet) taken the qualifying offer, I think that was unlikely. Even if he did, he’s still a bargain. Couldn’t he be traded if he did accept?

I think they didn’t offer because they were giving Burnett time to think about what he wanted to do. It’s like they forgot that this is a business.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

See above re: bargain. No, he couldn’t be traded. I think it’s probably a bad idea to extract broad, sweeping conclusions from “never”s based on two years’ experience and an N of about 35. Clearly, 1/$14 was pretty close to Burnett’s asking price, so it’s not at all clear that he would have preferred testing the market to simply having the security of knowing early in the offseason where he would pitch next year.

Francisco Rodriguez
Guest
Francisco Rodriguez
2 years 6 months ago

No player?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 6 months ago

Burnett may have taken the offer because his free agent value would be much lower, because he would have a compensation pick attached. No way he get 16 million with that pick attached, so 14 on a one year deal is probably the most he’d be able to hope for in that situation. Also, since he’d obviously be ok staying in Pittsburg, that would be another reason he would likely take it.

stan
Guest
stan
2 years 6 months ago

He didn’t take long to sign at all. He only started negotiating with other teams two weeks ago.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

Well then, he took a long time to decide he was interested in playing another season. I don’t think I expressed it very clearly in the comment you’re replying to, so here’s why I think the Pirates were right to worry that Burnett would accept the qualifying offer: because unlike most guys who reject it, he wasn’t thought to be seeking a multiyear deal; because his market price, given his geographical constraints, ended up being pretty close to the value of the QO; because his ambivalence about returning for 2014 may have made him willing to trade off salary for certainty and comfort (e.g., returning to play with the same teammates). So if they weren’t willing to pay $14 million for his services, it’s not clear to me that the Pirates made a mistake by declining to offer him that much.

dl80
Member
dl80
2 years 6 months ago

Anon21: You make very good points in your reply here. I guess my question is why wouldn’t the Pirates want to pay him $14m? Are they really right up against their budget?

Aren’t they right at the point on the win curve that they need every 2-3 wins they can get? Plus, their historical ineptitude means this is a crucial year for them if they want to try to rebuild their attendance and fan base, isn’t it?

I guess maybe you are right about them being worried about him accepting. But man that makes them look awful.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 6 months ago

Maybe it’s better to put it this way: it seems like the Pirates’ owner made a mistake by not increasing payroll to give them a better chance to repeat in 2014. Even if all he cares about is his own bottom-line, I think he stands to gain in the medium term by building a team that contends enough to draw good crowds. But taking that mistake as given, it’s not clear the Pirates’ front office made a mistake by passing on Burnett at $14 million.

ESimon
Member
ESimon
2 years 6 months ago

Sure it would. Who needs to pay for food and rent? Think of all the groupies following you around.

Robert
Member
Robert
2 years 6 months ago

2012 v. WAS: 1GS, 8IP, 6H, 2ER, 1BB, 10K, ND;
2012 v. ATL: 2GS, 11.2IP, 14H, 6ER, 5BB, 18K, 2L;
2013 v. WAS: 2GS, 14IP, 14H, 2ER, 2BB, 14K, 1W, 1ND;
2013 v. ATL: 1GS, 5IP, 8H, 6ER (3HR), 3BB, 5K, 1L;

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
2 years 6 months ago

…and? What does a six game sample size over two years tell us? About anything?

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 6 months ago

That AJ Burnett performs pretty close to his career average against ATL/WAS?

Honestly, I’ve no clue what his point was.

MajorDanby
Guest
MajorDanby
2 years 6 months ago

if you squint long enough at those numbers, a picture of delmon young dropping a fly ball emerges.

Egregious and mystifying use of small samples
Guest
Egregious and mystifying use of small samples
2 years 6 months ago

Aha! BUT:

8/26/11 @ BAL: 5 IP, 9 H, 9 ER, 2 HR, 2 BB, 5 K
6/02/09 v TEX: 7 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 8 K

Case CLOSED. *Drops mike*

Robert
Member
Robert
2 years 6 months ago

He’ll definitely need to keep his recent GB/FB trends consistent. I just got the sense that he really fed off the winning energy last year in a way that revitalized him.

Also, not just the stadium, but Burnett benefited from a very good Pirates defense. By most measures, the Phillies were pretty slow and poor team defensively.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 6 months ago

The Phillies ARE a poor team defensively. However, the poor defensive play is limited to the outfield and first base (I’m ignoring the catcher for obvious reasons).

Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley show no indication that they will be below average defenders next year. It’s a good fit for a groundball heavy pitcher. By subtracting Michael Young from third base, it is very likely that the Phillies infield defense will be above average next year.

More importantly, AJ Burnett has a problem with homeruns. Over the past five seasons, he’s been under the league average once (2013). I don’t know the park factors off the top of my head, but I recall that the Phillies park is much smaller than Pittsburgh’s. If his homerun rate spikes (~15%), he may underperform his xFIP.

bobby
Guest
bobby
2 years 6 months ago

on Rollins defense. He has had negative DRS 4 of the last 5 years and while UZR seems to like him more over his career, he even had negative UZR last season. Its entirely possible its just a season thing (those defensive stats are weird sometimes), its also quite believable that the 35 year old’s best defensive days are behind him.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 6 months ago

Oh, Rollins is definitely worse than he used to be, however, its unclear to me that he’s a below average defender.

UZR and DRS rarely agree when it comes to Rollins. The fans scouting report (SSS problems, I know) has rated him as above average every year.

I wonder if part of the drop last year had to do with Michael Young and his terrible defense at third.

In any case, the Philly infield defense is likely improved with Michael Young gone. Their reputation for being slow and poor defensively was largely driven by their corner outfielders and Ryan Howard.

Finally, the more troubling factor, I think, for AJ Burnett is the move to a smaller park, not the fact that he’s a groundball pitcher.

RetireNutting
Guest
RetireNutting
2 years 6 months ago

Weren’t the Phillies 30th last year in DRS? Pirates were 6th. Burnett benefited a ton from the shift … while throwing a fit about it constantly.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
My echo and bunnymen
2 years 6 months ago

“I’ll admit I initially thought Burnett would be a better fit for the Orioles. The Orioles are also close to home — closer to home — and in my head, they’re fringey contenders, who could use a significant boost. But their rotation is filled with pitchers who are fine enough, and the Phillies, in the short term, might actually be closer to the playoffs. They also had a bigger need within the starting staff, behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.”

Wow… I had to reread this 3 times just get your point.

tylersnotes
Member
2 years 6 months ago

That says more about you than it does about Jeff.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
My echo and bunnymen
2 years 6 months ago

Talking about one team and then making an immediate shift towards another. It is more confusing than a normal paragraph format, no reason to get snarky about it.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
My echo and bunnymen
2 years 6 months ago

Immediate shift without transitioning that is.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 6 months ago

Meh.

I got the point on a first read, but to be fair, I thought the post could use a revision or two to clean up the language.

Then again, it is a blog post, not an article.

Pennsy
Guest
2 years 6 months ago

So you’re volunteering to be the fangraphs unpaid editor?

jruby
Member
Member
jruby
2 years 6 months ago

When I saw this headline, I knew it was with the Phillies before I clicked on the link. I am thrilled not because I think this is really a significant baseball move but rather because I’ve always liked Burnett and will now get a chance to see him in person.

I hope he does well, although my expectations are somewhat tempered.

RJ
Guest
RJ
2 years 6 months ago

You missed Game 2 of ’09 World Series?

jruby
Member
Member
jruby
2 years 6 months ago

“In Person: an appearance carried out in someone’s physical presence.”

So, umm, no, I wasn’t in Yankee Stadium for Game 2 of the ’09 World Series. Something tells me it’ll be a little easier to get a ticket to, say, a Phillies-Marlins game in May of 2014…

AndreM
Guest
AndreM
2 years 6 months ago

Yes, but I was in Detroit to see Babe Adams beat Wild Bill Donovan in Game 7.

fred
Guest
fred
2 years 6 months ago

“Ruben Amaro has conducted his business as if he thinks the Phillies are pretty good”

Has he? I don’t really see it that way. It seems like he’s built a team that will be just competitive enough to keep some of the fairweathers in the seats, and he’s done so without splurging on big-name long-term deals or without gutting the farm system even further. An 80-ish win season will keep a fair number of casuals engaged while shaving a long year off of some of the absurd deals he has handed out during his tenure. All of his moves have been waiting moves.

I hesitate to praise RAJ for his off-season since every decision of his has been forced at gunpoint by the ownership group, as penance for literally every decision he has ever made as a GM, but to be perfectly fair he has had a decent off-season.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 6 months ago

A team that is quite good may want to improve here and there, without making any big moves. The Dodgers this offseason did that; they made no big moves, but no one is saying they had a bad offseason, because they were already good. They just made a few minor deals to fill holes.

A team that is alight should probably go all-out. If a team is at about .500, that team will need to make major improvements to contend. The Yankees are kind of like this, an ok team in a tough division, and they definitely went all-out. The Mariners too, to some degree.

The Phillies are basically a bad team, and they behaved more like a good team. A bad team should probably secure their good, very young players to long-term, affordable contracts, trade away most players who have only short term value, like Lee, and collect all the prospects they can. Burnett is an ok signing if they intend to use him like the Cubs would, but I’m not sure that’s how they see it.

question time
Guest
question time
2 years 6 months ago

So when the Phillies turn this 16 MM investment into prospects they sorely need in July, this move will be…criticized?

The Phillies have financial resources. They’re using them to acquire talent in an indirect and laudable way. What’s the difference between the (roundly praised) Scott Feldman signing/deal and what is going to happen with Burnett?

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 6 months ago

I don’t think most people are criticizing this move for the Phillies. If anything, some are wondering why some better teams didn’t sign him.

I think the Phillies overall strategy is questionable though. It seems to me they should be doing more rebuilding.

Cool Lester Smooth
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Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 6 months ago

This is how teams that don’t want to lose their fanbase rebuild.

Brad had a good piece on it a couple of weeks ago.

John C
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John C
2 years 6 months ago

He wasn’t willing to play for “some better teams.” He was more or less insistent that he would only play close to his home in Baltimore. That left the O’s, the Pirates, the Phillies and the Nats, and the Nats weren’t interested. He preferred the NL, so that ruled out the O’s. And the Phillies were willing to pay more than the Pirates, so…

ankle explosion hr celebration
Guest
ankle explosion hr celebration
2 years 6 months ago

no, this is a great move, I think. If anything, the overall strategic criticism is that they aren’t doing more of these moves. They should have signed Scott Feldman.

Jim
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Jim
2 years 6 months ago

Question: Will AJ Burnett’s “I will finish my career here” act be mimicked for years by aging players for years? I’m not *actually* suggesting he did this as an act but it did have a great effect on his FA status. Put another way, if Kendrys Morales kept insisting that he wanted to be a Mariner and only a Mariner would the Ms have felt confident enough to go for the draft pick?

Jim
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Jim
2 years 6 months ago

I just realized. I said “for years” twice. Ignore that part.

Roto Wizard
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Roto Wizard
2 years 6 months ago

Any idea if the Pirates skipping over Burnett in favor of Cole for that final playoff game against STL perhaps played a roll in turning down a return to the Bucos in favor of the Phils? Obviously $$ played a part as well, but perhaps his ego took a hit.

RetireNutting
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RetireNutting
2 years 6 months ago

AJ hated Pittsburgh’s shifts so let’s see how no longer having shifts behind him and replacing a top 10 defense with one of the worst in the league impacts his numbers this year. Hope that extra $4M is worth looking like you did against the Cards in the NLDS often, Batman.

Anon12
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Anon12
2 years 6 months ago

You’d think crapping the bed in the postseason would have got the Braves’ attention, since that seems to be a skill they value highly. Perhaps they tried to get him, but AJ didn’t want to move his family to Atlanta after seeing icepocalypse, so the Braves did the next best thing and signed a somewhat unremarkable first baseman for 15 years and $450 gazillion dollars.

Analyst
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Analyst
2 years 6 months ago

So what does it mean to say he cannot be traded? Pre-season? For the whole season?

jruby
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Member
jruby
2 years 6 months ago

Until June 15, I think. Someone correct ne if I’m wrong.

scotman144
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Member
scotman144
2 years 6 months ago

AJ Burnett’s agent is a genius: They dodged the market killing QO w/ the retirement talk and handshake agreement to only come back to Pittsburgh. Now by signing w/ the hapless Phils they’ll probably dodge another QO w/ a midsesson trade. I’ll believe Burnett is considering retirement when teams stop lining up offering him guaranteed tens of millions annually.

Seattleslew
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Seattleslew
2 years 6 months ago

I agree. I would not be surprised if Scott Baker has a better season even with past arm problems and an inferior Mariners defense.

PJ
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PJ
2 years 6 months ago

I know this was written before the contract details were known but it would be pretty stupid for a team to invest 16M on a player just to trade him midseason. Like doing that would send the terrible message that they are playing for next year. In other words, the complete opposite message a signing like this creates.

Anyways, the contract details includes a mutual 2015 option, so chances are he will remain in Philadelphia for this season.

stev o
Member
stev o
2 years 6 months ago

I dont see why his salary has any has any impact on the sign and flip for prospects strategy. If he has a good 1st half, why wouldnt a contender that needs a SP be willing to pay whatever is left on his $16M contract at that time? There can still be value there. Now that is a big IF tho.

John C
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John C
2 years 6 months ago

It may not matter if he has a no-trade clause or not. If they try to trade him to anyone but Baltimore, Washington, or Pittsburgh, he might just announce his retirement on the spot and go home. Burnett seemed dead set on playing close to home, and no one can make him pitch for a team he doesn’t want to play for.

Seattleslew
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Seattleslew
2 years 6 months ago

How much is a prospect worth? 16 million seems like awfully a lot for Burnett.

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