It was right around this time two years ago when the Yankees finally got rid of A.J. Burnett. They dumped him on the Pirates so that he could play out the remaining two years of his contract at a safe distance. And wouldn’t you know it? Burnett pitched really well. He’d pitched to an ERA over 5.00 the previous two years with the Yankees, and he promptly pitched to a 3.41 in Pittsburgh.
The league surely had something to do with it, and a change of scenery couldn’t have been a bad thing, but two years after the Yankees got rid of him, Burnett now looms as a potential problem. Not that he’s going to cause a massive power shift within the American League East, but ever since it became known that Burnett plans to pitch this year, the Orioles have emerged as an early favorite.
And Burnett’s really a perfect fit for Baltimore.
Burnett’s from that area, the Orioles have a hole in their rotation, and a short-term commitment — a one-year deal makes sense — would leave the future wide open for Baltimore’s elite pitching prospects that could be ready sooner rather than later.
The Orioles and Yankees finished tied in the American League East last season. Baltimore hasn’t added nearly as much as the Yankees, but it also hasn’t lost nearly as much as the Yankees. Burnett’s a good fit for them. It would be fascinating to see Burnett coming into Yankee Stadium with a chip on his shoulder. A situation like that could be really bad for the Yankees, or really good.