During a conference call to announce his new contract with the Yanks, Brian Cashman was asked about AJ Burnett’s role with the team in 2012. His response:
If he’s with us, without a doubt he’s in the rotation.
The fact that Cash said AJ would be in the rotation next season is not a surprise. The fact that he said IF he’s with the team is a bit strange. With a quote like that you have to figure a change may be coming.
With sub-par stats the last two seasons it’s no surprise that the team is getting frustrated with AJ. The question is what team will want a soon-to-be 35-year-old pitcher who posted a 4.77 and 4.83 FIP the last two seasons and is owed $33 million over the next two seasons?
If the Yanks are going to get rid of AJ they’re going to have to eat a lot of that salary.
For those of you scoring at home I think they should keep him. I have a feeling he is going to have a good 2012 and beyond; I really believe (hope?) that the Game 4 start gave him the confidence he needed to sac up and win some games. Plus, I don’t think it would be worth it to have to pay the majority of that salary and not have him pitch.
For what it’s worth, Cashman kind of back tracked from his earlier quote later on in the call:
He’s given us about 200 innings the last two years and there’s value in that, at the very least. He’s got a great deal of ability, he stays healthy, he’s accountable and he’s worked his tail off. Obviously, he’s had to deal with adversity because of his inconsistent performance. He hasn’t shied away from it and he still stepped up in October and secured one of our only two wins in that Tiger series…I’m still optimistic we can get all that from him and that better days are ahead.
Cashman did say that the number one priority this offseason is pitching, so who knows where AJ will end up? A lot can happen in the 155 days, or 13,392,000 seconds, or 3,720 hours until Opening Day.