One of the major names in the possible pitcher free agent market is current Toronto Blue Jays right hander AJ Burnett. I say possible because Burnett is under contract for the next two years, but has the right to opt out of the contract after this past season. Coming off a 18-10 record with a league leading 231 strikeouts, Burnett is sure to have many suitors if he does opt out.
Those who want AJ Burnett to be a Yankee should check out the online picture of Burnett from Sunday’s October 12, 2008 NY Post article on Burnett/Sabathia by Joel Sherman.
Burnett’s mechanics reveal he cocks his wrist on his backswing and has his forearm down about the time when his front foot lands. This arm action is the worst mechanics a pitcher can possibly have. He, along with Jake Peavy, both have the “winged” arm action – a tremendous precursor to major elbow and shoulder problems.
When the hands are broken and the throwing hand begin to drop, a pitcher such as Burnett begins his backward rotation with the elbow instead of continuing to lead with the hand in a down, back and up motion. What then happens is that the throwing elbow gets higher than the shoulder at the point of front foot landing, leading to a timing problem. The arm then has to violently come forward very quickly to throw the ball.
This puts a big strain on the elbow AND the shoulder.
And while Burnett has had his history of elbow problems, his mechanics over the years have not changed. Burnett is destined for more elbow problems.
Other pitchers who have the same type of mechanics as Burnett include Chris Carpenter, Joel Zumaya, Shaun Marcum, BJ Ryan, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
Besides Prior who had major shoulder issues, what do all these other guys have in common with Burnett?
Arm surgeries, most had Tommy John surgery while Prior had shoulder issues.
Burnett had Tommy John surgery in 2003, and then had a “less serious” elbow injury at the end of 2004. And don’t forget how Burnett was dismissed from the Florida Marlins at the end of the 2005 season because of his ranting outbursts against the team and his poor overall pitching down the stretch.
At the end of 2005, Burnett lost six consecutive decisions, including four losses in five starts (with an ERA in that span of 5.93) during the Marlins’ failed wild-card chase that September.
Also, AJ Burnett doesn’t appear to be such a hard worker, who is willing to play hard all the time. Burnett has had three seasons in which he has thrown 200+ innings: the 2002, 2005 and 2008 seasons. All these seasons came in front of either an arbitration or free agency season. Not exactly a guy who is going all out all the time.
Burnett seems to be the pitching version of Manny Ramirez.
The only way I would take AJ Burnett on the Yankees is for Burnett to sign a one year contract and let him earn the next contract and continue with this process for several seasons. It could even be for $20 million each year and continue to go up every season. That way the injury bug won’t bite the Yankees that bad when Burnett gets shelved.
Let’s see…a history of elbow problems, a bad attitude in Florida and not exactly a tireless worker. Definitely makes him destined to be a great Yankee.
I hope Brian Cashman reads these blogs and comments and realizes Burnett wouldn’t work in New York.
Imagine Burnett having to answer repeated questions why he is the second coming of Carl Pavano?
I don’t care how many times Burnett can beat the Red Sox. He’s only 11 games over .500 for his career and has a high career ERA – not exactly a great pitcher. One good season before pending free agency is the worst time you can sign a player.
Yanks should stay far away from AJ Burnett.