When Brian Cashman was asked about A.J. Burnett yesterday, he used an interesting phrase.
“If he’s with us, he’s in the rotation,” Cashman said.
If he’s with us? Cashman certainly seemed to be opening the door to trading the Yankees embattled, supposed-to-be No. 2 starter. No sooner had the opened the door, though, Cashman seemed to shut it.
“I think it’d be hard to replace his innings,” Cashman said. “Let me just tell you this. I am open minded. If anyone wants to approach me on anyone on this roster, that doesn’t have a full no-trade clause, the worst I can tell them is ‘no.’ … Some guys are more easily movable than others. I like our club. It’s my interest in just improving it. In most cases, subtracting from what we have is going to complicate the improving it side of it, for various reasons. If I’m losing 190 innings, for instance, if losing that makes us better, I think I’d be hard pressed because I don’t know how I’m going to replace it too easily.”
Ultimately, Cashman seems willing to take his chances with Burnett. There’s no denying the struggles. There’s no denying the talent. There’s no sense ignoring the fact there are two more years on the contract, which would make Burnett hard to move anyway.
“He’s almost given us 200 innings the last two years,” Cashman said. “There’s value in that, at the very least. He’s got a great deal of ability. He stays healthy. He’s accountable. He works his tail off. He’s obviously had to deal with adversity because of the inconsistent performance. But he hasn’t shied away from it, and he continues to take that ball every five days and does everything he can to continue to secure a win and be the best he can be.
“With all the pressure that builds up, that this environment can create, he was still able to step up and do what he did in October and secure one of our two wins in that Tigers series. It shows you a lot. It shows you a man who’s determined to continue to fight.”
Associated Press photo