Give A.J. Burnett credit for this much: Few players give a more honest self evaluation than he does.
“I leave the pen every five days feeling the same,” he said. “Great warmup, (feel) strong. I’m just not taking it to the field. Enough’s enough.”
Joe Girardi seemed to agree last night. At least, he hinted that he agreed. Girardi strongly hinted that he will consider skipping Burnett the next time through the rotation. It would be hard to blame him.
Burnett’s fastball has good velocity, but it’s getting hit: “I’m leaving the ball over the plate,” he said.
Burnett’s curveball doesn’t seem nearly as reliable as in the past: “I always want to throw my hook for a strike, but it seems the ones I throw for strikes are getting hit too,” he said.
It’s hard to blame Girardi for considering the alternatives, but two facts stand out: 1. Burnett still has three years left on his deal. It’s one thing to give up on a guy like Javier Vazquez who’s in his walk year. It’s another to give up on a guy who’s going to be here for a while. 2. The alternatives are largely unknown. It’s a group headlined by Vazquez himself, a guy who was just bumped from the rotation because of a string of ineffective starts — a string even longer than Burnett’s.
Girardi might very well follow through on his vague threat. It would be hard to blame the guy for preferring Vazquez or Sergio Mitre or Jason Hirsh at this point, but at it’s very best, the Yankees rotation includes Burnett. It doesn’t include the version we saw last night, but it includes some version of him, and it’s probably going to have to include him for a while.
Here’s Burnett after last night’s game.
Associated Press photo of Burnett