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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jack Curry: It’s simple: A.J. Burnett needs to sit

But…but…how’s he supposed to catch Tim Wakefield on the active Wild Pitch list?! He’s only 15 behind in 1,267 less innings! NO FAIR!

If the Yankees took Posada’s job away from him, they should be able to take Burnett’s job away from him, too. Even if it’s a temporary move, the Yankees could tell Burnett that he’s being bypassed in the rotation for one turn to work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild to improve. The Yankees can tell Burnett that he’s important to their success, so they want to get him better now, not later.

After Burnett was effective in five of six innings, Girardi didn’t sound like a manager that was contemplating any type of move with Burnett. But, if Burnett struggles in his next start, can the Yankees continue to start him in critical games? If the Yankees didn’t have any viable options, they would have to wobble along with Burnett, but they have options because they have an extra starter in Nova or Hughes.

When Burnett was asked if he thought he would start in the postseason, he said the Yankees had to first qualify and he’d answer that question. “Next question,” he said. But, actually, how Burnett fits in to the rotation isn’t a question for the future. It’s a question for the present. And, if the Yankees want to field their best team right now, they already know the answer to the question.

Repoz Posted: August 10, 2011 at 10:44 PM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: projections, sabermetrics, yankees

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   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: August 10, 2011 at 11:48 PM (#3897492)
If Hughes can string together a few good starts, then I agree. Burnett belongs in long relief at this point.
   2. Mash Wilson Posted: August 10, 2011 at 11:56 PM (#3897496)
Is there really such a job as long relief anymore?
   3. ecwcat Posted: August 11, 2011 at 12:05 AM (#3897505)
Not sure what a temporary move would do for someone under contract thru 2013.

Curry is usually fantastic, but comparing Jorge to AJ is not the same.

AJ pitched OK last night- almost a quality start.

Pretty weird that Hughes becomes a savior again.
   4. ray james Posted: August 11, 2011 at 12:06 AM (#3897506)
Is there really such a job as long relief anymore?


Yes there is. When a starter gets knocked out early the long man is expected to pitch several innings to bridge the gap until normal bullpen usage is possible.
   5. 1k5v3L Posted: August 11, 2011 at 12:34 AM (#3897526)
This headline doesn't even rhyme. Editors really aren't trying hard these days.
   6. 1k5v3L Posted: August 11, 2011 at 12:36 AM (#3897530)
Is there really such a job as long relief anymore?
If you are a goat at Shea Hillenbrand's farm, it is...
   7. True Blue Posted: August 11, 2011 at 12:56 AM (#3897547)
The Yankees currently have a 6 game lead in the wild card and if they hold to their 6 run lead over Anaheim, it will be 7. Would it hurt that much if they gave Burnett a few more starts in the hope that he turns it around? In 2000 St Joe gave David Cone 29 starts despite having a 6.91 ERA.
   8. Dock Ellis Posted: August 11, 2011 at 01:11 AM (#3897561)
Alfredo Aceves would qualify as a long reliever, I think.
   9. Buzzards Bay Posted: August 11, 2011 at 01:22 AM (#3897575)
OK, so what may be the value of innings eater -in a wildly chaotic context- any innings, as you head to the final turn
because this is where this is leading
how much does the O mean to the D with AJ and how Cash is thinking
   10. Mash Wilson Posted: August 11, 2011 at 01:31 AM (#3897585)
I can't imagine Burnett is much (if any) worse than the available alternatives.
   11. Barnaby Jones Posted: August 11, 2011 at 01:34 AM (#3897590)
Cristhian Martinez, who pitched 6 IP in the 19 inning affair, would be the long man on the Braves, for instance.
   12. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 02:04 AM (#3897628)
His BB rate is a little up as a Yankee, his K rate a little down, his HR rate a little up. Yes, he's been a bit worse as a Yankee, but not a disaster. A 95 ERA+ averaging about 200 innings a year. That seems clearly worthy of a spot in the rotation.

I don't get the vitriol against him.
   13. Mash Wilson Posted: August 11, 2011 at 02:16 AM (#3897649)
There's such a disconnect between Burnett's perceived talent and his results. People just can't get their minds around the obvious fact that Burnett is not, and never was, as good as he looked. But he's still pretty damn good. It's hard to pitch in the major leagues.
   14. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 11, 2011 at 02:17 AM (#3897650)
I don't get the vitriol against him.

He's slow to work and he's wild. In general, he's just not fun to watch.

I'm sure plenty of people hold his salary against him as well, although that's not really his fault.

There's such a disconnect between Burnett's perceived talent and his results. People just can't get their minds around the obvious fact that Burnett is not, and never was, as good as he looked. But he's still pretty damn good. It's hard to pitch in the major leagues.

I don't know if that explains why people dislike him so much. I doubt people would hate him if he pitched as well with the Yanks as he did with the Jays. He had a 112 ERA+ with the Jays, 17 points higher than it is with the Yanks. The last two years have been by far the worst of his career. He's good in the sense that he's a Major League pitcher, but compared to other Major League pitchers, he hasn't been good, or average or even all that close to average for nearly two seasons. And that's likely to get fans to hate you, regardless of what your stuff looks like.

I personally think there is reason to have patience with AJ. His swinging strike percentage is the highest he's had as a Yankee (though not as high as he had with the Jays and still lower than his career average) and that change up he's throwing more often seems to be a really useful pitch. On the downside, his fastball looks like its losing life fast.
   15. Bruce Markusen Posted: August 11, 2011 at 02:18 AM (#3897651)
One of the big problems with Burnett is his inability to avoid the big inning. He's sailing through the first five last night, and then BOOM, he gives up four runs in the sixth. It's hard to win games when you're giving up three or four runs in your worst inning.

With Burnett, once things go bad, they snowball, and he seems to have no idea how to stop it. And this is not a onetime occurence. It happens a lot with him.
   16. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: August 11, 2011 at 02:30 AM (#3897662)
I don't get the vitriol against him.

it's the tatoos...
   17. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:00 AM (#3897712)
I don't know if that explains why people dislike him so much. I doubt people would hate him if he pitched as well with the Yanks as he did with the Jays. He had a 112 ERA+ with the Jays, 17 points higher than it is with the Yanks.


I think that's pretty obviously it for most Yankee fans. The dislike is really just disappointment. Not only is the performance below his previous level, but his "stuff" is as well, and that's a bitter pill to swallow when you were expecting a mid-rotation starter at a high price. Bad results and diminished velocity are bad enough, when you're biggest asset has been health that just means the fans get to see more of it.
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:15 AM (#3897731)
In better news, this is in the wrapup of today's win over the Angels. Thank you once more, Ivan Nova.

The victory was the Yankees' first against a pitcher making his Major League debut since May 1, 2004, when they defeated the Royals' Eduardo Villacis. New York had lost its last six meetings with starters in their first big league games.


That is truly an astonishing nugget of information, even though some of us Yankee fans might have thought it was 1984 rather than 2004.

---------------------------

I can't imagine Burnett is much (if any) worse than the available alternatives.

That only makes sense if you're referring to Hughes, who's only had that one good start followed by a quick loss. Nova is clearly way above Burnett in his performance, and has been for most of the year.
   19. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 04:39 AM (#3897783)
I think that's pretty obviously it for most Yankee fans. The dislike is really just disappointment.


So the answer is that Yankees fans are spoiled brats?
   20. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 04:41 AM (#3897784)
That only makes sense if you're referring to Hughes, who's only had that one good start followed by a quick loss. Nova is clearly way above Burnett in his performance, and has been for most of the year.


I'm not seeing a whole lot of difference between them, other than W-L record. Nova is "clearly way ahead"? His peripherals are mediocre, and his ERA isn't _that_ much better, especially when factoring in unearned runs. I'll bet he's gotten better run support, though.
   21. ptodd Posted: August 11, 2011 at 04:47 AM (#3897787)
AJ Burnett in 2010-2011 is like Beckett in 2010 and Lackey in 2011. Lackey and Beckett had the good grace to go on the DL for 1-2 months and save fans more of their awful starts. AJ keeps trucking along, asking for the ball every 5 days, and thinking 6 IP and 4 ER against awful hitting teams is a quality start in the year of the pitcher when the league average ERA is 3.8 for starters.

Unfortunately for the yankees, CC is only an ace against teams who can not hit, and they have five #4-#5 SP'ers, none of whom match up well against their chief competitor in Boston.

They can remove AJ from the rotation but Hughes will prove he is no better since he has a labrum tear (per ESPN announcer -I forget his name-he had a labrum cyst removed in April. These are associated with labrum tears and was likely responsible for his dead arm and his still reduced velocity post DL).
   22. Dr. Vaux Posted: August 11, 2011 at 05:09 AM (#3897795)
The reason everybody wants Burnett gone from the rotation is that they have five other starters who are pitching better than him at the moment, four of whom have been all year long. Whether those starters are going to pitch better in the remainder of the season is immaterial to the perceived unfairness of Ivan Nova, who has gotten significantly better results--results, not peripherals, which is what gets wins for teams--being pulled from the rotation again in favor of leaving Burnett in. (And it will be Nova who's pulled, not Hughes.) If Burnett wasn't making so much money, he would go to the bullpen at this point.

I imagine that Nova will blow up, but at this point he's earned the opportunity to do so.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 12:30 PM (#3897849)
Whether those starters are going to pitch better in the remainder of the season is immaterial to the perceived unfairness of Ivan Nova, who has gotten significantly better results--results, not peripherals, which is what gets wins for teams


Unearned run average:

Burnett: 4.96
Nova: 4.32

WAR
Burnett: 1.2
Nova: 1.7

Run support:

Burnett: 4.80
Nova: 6.61

W-L Record:

Burnett: 8-9
Nova: 10-4

Nova has simply gotten lucky with that W-L record. Apparently, Nova knows that what "gets wins for teams" is to induce your offense to score more runs for you.

(And while I'm at it, the sainted Sabathia's run support is 6.16.)
   24. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: August 11, 2011 at 12:41 PM (#3897852)
Unearned run average:

Burnett: 4.96
Nova: 4.32


I may not be good at math but damn, that looks like a pretty big difference to me.
   25. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 11, 2011 at 01:15 PM (#3897868)
That only makes sense if you're referring to Hughes, who's only had that one good start followed by a quick loss. Nova is clearly way above Burnett in his performance, and has been for most of the year.

I'm not seeing a whole lot of difference between them, other than W-L record. Nova is "clearly way ahead"? His peripherals are mediocre, and his ERA isn't _that_ much better, especially when factoring in unearned runs. I'll bet he's gotten better run support, though.


Forget the W-L record. From the beginning of June, Nova's ERA is 2.92. Burnett's is 5.11. If you'd been watching these two pitch in the last two months you wouldn't need to be reminded of it. Burnett still has great stuff, but at least once a game his command deserts him and he implodes. Nova's stuff is equally dominating, he's been steadily improving as he gains experience, and so far he's been far less prone to those implosions. Neither of them have been as consistent as Sabathia / Colon / Garcia, but at this point there's a much bigger difference between them than their season totals might lead you to believe.
   26. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 01:15 PM (#3897869)
Sorry, Nova is 11-4 now with last night's 9-3 win

Support Neutral W-L records:

Burnett: 8.7-9.0, .492 SNWP
Nova: 5.5-7.1, .439 SNWP
   27. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 01:18 PM (#3897874)
Andy, you said Nova has been clearly way above Burnett "for most of the year." Now you're talking about "from the beginning of June."
   28. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 11, 2011 at 01:37 PM (#3897882)
Andy, you said Nova has been clearly way above Burnett "for most of the year." Now you're talking about "from the beginning of June."

The first comment was made before I checked their respective game logs, the second comment was made after that.

And to repeat: From the beginning of June, Nova's ERA is 2.92. Burnett's is 5.11. That's got nothing to do with W-L records, which I haven't even mentioned, and which haven't entered into my judgment. And the plain truth is that for the past two months, Nova has been a much better pitcher than Burnett.
   29. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:04 PM (#3897936)
And the plain truth is that for the past two months, Nova has been a much better pitcher than Burnett.


Yes, and? I don't know why we would focus on the last two months. I'm quite serious.
   30. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:14 PM (#3897942)
And the plain truth is that for the past two months, Nova has been a much better pitcher than Burnett.

Yes, and? I don't know why we would focus on the last two months. I'm quite serious.


Tell you, what, Ray. You focus on whatever you want to focus on. This isn't exactly an overnight development with Burnett, as he's been erratic and unreliable since the beginning of 2010. I'd much rather give Nova the opportunity to keep improving as he has been, and let A.J. compete with Hughes for the fifth spot. This isn't 2009.
   31. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:14 PM (#3897943)
Whether those starters are going to pitch better in the remainder of the season is immaterial to the perceived unfairness of Ivan Nova, who has gotten significantly better results--results, not peripherals, which is what gets wins for teams--being pulled from the rotation again in favor of leaving Burnett in. (And it will be Nova who's pulled, not Hughes.)

Nova's peripherals are better too! He's got a 4.27 FIP compared to Burnett who has a 4.68 FIP. Rest of the season ZIPs still thinks Burnett is the clearly better pitcher.

Yes, and? I don't know why we would focus on the last two months. I'm quite serious.

The argument, which I don't think will interest you, is that Nova has added a new cutter/slider (slutter?) that has significantly boosted his swings and misses and K rate. Of course, he didn't strike out a single batter last night, so those numbers may not even be all that different any more (although he still had a good number of swings and misses). Obviously it will be years before we know in the statistical sense whether the league will adjust to the new pitch, or if this does make Nova a different pitcher. But new pitches do occasionally change a pitcher's ability and this new one certainly seems to have helped Nova since he developed it. Like I said, I doubt this will convince you and I think that's a fair point of view.
   32. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:16 PM (#3897946)
I'm quite serious.

You're often serious. It's never had any correlation to your being right.
   33. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:31 PM (#3897967)
Yes, and? I don't know why we would focus on the last two months. I'm quite serious.

The argument, which I don't think will interest you,


You're right; it doesn't interest me.
   34. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:35 PM (#3897974)
I think that's pretty obviously it for most Yankee fans. The dislike is really just disappointment.

So the answer is that Yankees fans are spoiled brats?


Yes, because fans of the other 29 teams give homemade cookies, foot massages, and Japanese-style rhythmic cheers to their eight-figure free agent mediocrities.
   35. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 11, 2011 at 03:36 PM (#3897976)
You're right; it doesn't interest me.

You're nothing if not predictable.
   36. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 04:16 PM (#3898019)
I think that's pretty obviously it for most Yankee fans. The dislike is really just disappointment.

So the answer is that Yankees fans are spoiled brats?


I suppose people satisfied with mediocrity may regard those with high standards as spoiled brats. I know which kind of person I want piloting my airplane.
   37. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 04:45 PM (#3898045)
He's good in the sense that he's a Major League pitcher, but compared to other Major League pitchers, he hasn't been good, or average or even all that close to average for nearly two seasons.


He's at a 91 ERA+ this year. Isn't league-average for SPs somewhere around 95?
   38. nick swisher hygiene Posted: August 11, 2011 at 05:10 PM (#3898069)
AJ seems to have more unhittable/dominant periods than any other pitcher whose overall effectiveness is so meh. I mean, presumably "stuff" and "head" are equally fundamental to pitching successs and equally hard to change, but fans are not gonna blame a pitcher in the same way for failures in the former category. Episodic failures of command--those Andy points out--get seem by hometown fans as somehow moral in a way that lack of velocity etc don't.
   39. Cowboy Popup Posted: August 11, 2011 at 05:36 PM (#3898097)
He's at a 91 ERA+ this year. Isn't league-average for SPs somewhere around 95?

I thought it was 96, but I don't think that changes much. He's still not close enough where you can squint and say, well he's practically average. And over the last two years, which is the time frame I was referring to in the sentence you quoted, he's had an 85 ERA+.
   40. Jeff R. Posted: August 11, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3898112)
Episodic failures of command--those Andy points out--get seem by hometown fans as somehow moral in a way that lack of velocity etc don't.


Sure - it's the difference between a mental error (whoops, threw to the wrong base) and a physical error (he dives to his left, can't come up with it).

The real takeaway here is that Roy Halladay is so awesome he makes other pitchers around him better, even meatheads like AJ. It's really the Yankees own fault for not trading for Halladay when they had the chance.
   41. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 11, 2011 at 06:08 PM (#3898134)
AJ seems to have more unhittable/dominant periods than any other pitcher whose overall effectiveness is so meh. I mean, presumably "stuff" and "head" are equally fundamental to pitching successs and equally hard to change, but fans are not gonna blame a pitcher in the same way for failures in the former category. Episodic failures of command--those Andy points out--get seem by hometown fans as somehow moral in a way that lack of velocity etc don't.

I guess the reason for that is that "failures of command" often just look like the pitcher is too f#####g chickens##t to throw the ball over the plate, and he winds up nibbling at the corners, running up the counts, and walking an inordinate number of hitters. Of course if he had his command, those nibblers would be hitting the corners and he'd be Pedro For A Day.

In Burnett's case I don't see it as a "moral" failure, only a control problem that seems to feed on itself, and usually winds up with an overcompensation in the form of a fat pitch that hangs up over the middle of the plate and gets whacked. Sometimes it's a problem of mechanics and sometimes it can eat away at his confidence and get compounded, but whatever the primary cause, it hasn't been pretty to watch. As I said above, he should be competing with Hughes for the fifth spot, not Nova. The fourth spot should be Nova's to lose.
   42. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 11, 2011 at 06:25 PM (#3898144)
In Burnett's case I don't see it as a "moral" failure, only a control problem that seems to feed on itself, and usually winds up with an overcompensation in the form of a fat pitch that hangs up over the middle of the plate and gets whacked. Sometimes it's a problem of mechanics and sometimes it can eat away at his confidence and get compounded, but whatever the primary cause, it hasn't been pretty to watch. As I said above, he should be competing with Hughes for the fifth spot, not Nova. The fourth spot should be Nova's to lose.


Look, he's not a top starter. We all knew that when they signed him to the ridiculous contract. But he's not bad, either. His performance is flaky, which causes fans to overreact to it, but he is one of the four best starters they have. Or, he's not clearly _not_ one of the four best. Nova's performance has not been _that_ much better unless you cherry pick your endpoints. Even Garcia had a 93 ERA+ last year, and Colon didn't have a last year. Colon is pitching in August for the first time in half a decade. You might think that as long as Colon takes the mound he's better than Burnett - fine - but is that clearly the case for both Garcia and Nova?

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