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A scouting report on Burnett

A.J. Burnett delivered a lot of victory pies in 2009, when the Yankees won the World Series. (Photo: AP)

A.J. Burnett delivered a lot of victory pies in 2009, when the Yankees won the World Series. (Photo: AP)

I’ve been calling around to folks I know in the industry to piece together a scouting report on current Yankees and probably-soon-to-be Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett. As I was crawling toward the Squirrel Hill tunnel this morning, a long-time American League scout buzzed my iPhone.

From the perspective of Pirates fans, the scout’s news was mostly good: “Burnett still can pitch. Can he win 10 to 12 games this year for the Pirates? Sure. Being back in the National League will help him a lot. His fastball plays at 92-95 mph and when his curveball is on, it’s very good.”

But there’s some bad news, too: “His breaking ball is easy to read when it comes out of his hand … so he’s pretty much a two-pitch pitcher. When things go south on him, he kind of throws his arms up and gives up. And he’s got to be coddled by the pitching coach and the manager. Some of his antics wore thin in the Yankees’ clubhouse, I think.”

In 2009, Burnett began smooshing a whipped cream pie in his teammates’ faces to celebrate walkoff wins. The act was a hit when the Yanks won the World Series, but may have gotten stale the past couple of years. The scout also pointed out that Burnett can be feast-or-famine on the hill. He’ll be dominant and throw a two-hit shutout one start, then get shelled in the first three innings in the next. “He doesn’t give you enough of those middle-of-the-road games — the ones where he gives up three, four or five runs in six or seven innings — to give you a shot.”

The scout’s bottom line: Burnett would improve the Pirates’ rotation, but not enough to make the team a contender for the NL pennant.



  1. Thunder says:

    Better player than what they have now. Spend some money.

  2. John Lease says:

    If he was a sure thing, the Yankees wouldn’t be dumping him. One man’s trash…

  3. Paul says:

    I saw Brad pitch a couple times last year and he was awful. Got rocked and couldn’t get anyone out. Can’t we do better, especially if we are spending $13-$15 million?

  4. shoelessjoe says:

    Not sure how the scout can conclude AJ will win 10-12 games for the Pirates in 2012. We’re talking about a team that scored two or fewer runs in 64 of their games, so even if he pitches shut-out ball he’s not guaranteed a win. In thoses games that he blows up and “throws his arms up in the air”, he will almost certainly lose.

    Having good starting pitching is an admirable goal but without decent offensive output it simply leads to frustration. Just ask Mariner’s, Padre’s, and Giants fans.

  5. Jay Walker says:

    Boys and girls, can you say D-E-S-P-E-R-T-E? The Yankees can’t find anyone else to take this overpriced underachiever, so why not the poor, ol’ Buccos?

  6. Fred says:

    Great, Burnett will give us five No. 4 starters. Huntington is an idiot.

  7. CDBrewer says:

    Don’t we need to spend this on a 1st baseman more than a headcase pitcher?

    I would prefer the money spent on Kotchman…or trading some real prospect and paying for Kendry Morales (logjam out in Anaheim).

    I get it is just money, but then give me a report we went after a 1B (other than Lee) and were rejected before we spend it on AJ. I don’t love Lincoln, but he is depth.

    I hope it works…

  8. Piglegs Robinson says:

    Hey Rob, Just because I called you out last year on your ridiculous assertion that Steve Pearce had played so many games at second base two years ago is no reason to disallow my posts. Get over it.
    I don’t hold it against you.

  9. rick says:

    I think the article written about him yesterday was right on. If we’re going to pick up someone like him, we should’ve just kept Maholm at a lower cost. I hope he proves us all wrong.

  10. chris says:


    Kotchman already signed with the indians I think.

  11. Dejan Shortpants says:

    Here’s the sad part: Even if Burnett won 15 games, the Buccos would still be no better than a fourth-place team.

  12. Van Man says:

    Forget Burnett. The Pirates should open another new bar. When it comes to them, booze trumps baseball.

  13. Ron says:

    Another Bucco blunder in the making. The Yanks achilees heel was their SP, so why do you think they want to trade/dump Burnett?

  14. Paul says:

    Burnett can not win 10 to 12 games as suggested and it’ll be a long shot for any other pitcher on the staff to do so either. Not because of anything the pitchers do or don’t do mind you, the best pitchers in the league can’t win with any frequency when the offense is consistently failing to put even one or two runs up most games as this one will. The failure to address the gaping holes in the offense and instead squander money on stop gaps like Barmes, Barajas and McLouth will keep most of the starters from being winners regardless their ERA’s

    The offense with Barmes bunting and Tabata making outs at a frantic pace in the one and two spots in the order should be an easy lock for worst in the majors this season, even if Alvarez has a good year and it’ll be a major accomplishment if anyone can rack up double digits in wins.

  15. chris says:

    This is a good move, anyone who is complaining is simply doing so because they assume every move the pirates make is terrible.

    John Lease- the yanks don’t want him bc they have better options and he is overpaid, that doesn’t mean he’s trash. Reports have said 4 teams had interest in burnett including the Angels who definitely wouldn’t be looking for trash.

    Paul- he also had some good outings so you can’t just toss those out completely. And we can’t do better, we just offered edwin jackson 30 mill/3 years. That 13-15 we’d spend is over 2 years.

    Shoelessjoe- karstens, morton, correia, and mcdonald each had at least 9 wins last year. Predicting 12 wins for a guy with better stuff than any of them is not crazy.

    Jaywalker- the yankees did find others interested. Some were on no trade clause like the angels.

    Van man- every park in america has a bar. Who cares.

    Ron- they want to dump him bc they want to use his money to sign a DH and they signed other pitchers. Last time I checked, pretty much any guy in a yankee uniform would be an upgrade over most of the pirates players

  16. Paul says:

    “Don’t we need to spend this on a 1st baseman more than a headcase pitcher?”

    First base or RF doesn’t matter, the money spent on Barmes, Barjas, McLouth and Bedard (15.5 million) would have gone a long way to making a can not refuse offer to a Carlos Beltran or someone similar.

    While I like some of what NH has done in two regards he’s just like each of his recent predecessors; he’s far to focused on acquiring pitching absent an offense capable of supporting it and still a believer in the small ball approach which hasn’t worked in two decades and won’t ever work.

    3.5 runs a game isn’t going to cut it in this day and age and nothing Pedro Alvarez can do by himself is going to change that from being the outcome.

  17. JoeBucco says:

    “would move Karstens to long relief”. No way. He was our best pitcher last year, no way Karstens moves anywhere.

  18. Paul says:

    “Paul- he also had some good outings so you can’t just toss those out completely. And we can’t do better, we just offered edwin jackson 30 mill/3 years. That 13-15 we’d spend is over 2 years.”

    As I stated, his efforts and good outings won’t alter the outcome when the offense can’t support them and this offense can’t… can’t even get close really.

    The evidence was there for everyone to see last year when the pitching staff was on fire the first half of the season and the team was still struggling to stay at .500 because they were losing as many games after being shut out.

    Even if Burnett rebounds and posts an ERA closer to 3 than 4 he still won’t win 10 games with Clint Hurdle laying waste to every scoring opportunity that presents itself with his caught stealing, bunt crazy, we don’t pay you walk offensive menagerie.

  19. Ernest says:

    Come on people. The question was CAN he win 10-12 games for the Pirates this year. Can. Sure, but that’s not the guy saying he thinks that is highly likely. Just, it is possible.

  20. chris says:

    Again, Burnett is definitely capable of getting 10-12 wins this year. Maholm was the only regular starter to not get at least 9 wins last year.

    They all got those 9+ wins despite an offense that included matt diaz, lyle overbay, michael mckenry, and brandon wood/josh harrison/(bad version of)pedro alvarez for large portions of the year.

  21. chris says:


    The pirates inquired on beltran last year at the deadline and he said he didn’t want to be traded here bc he didn’t see them as a serious contender. 15.5 million for beltran would not have gotten him in a pirates uniform. He signed for 13 mill/yr with the defending ws champs because he wants to WIN.

    So we either spend 15 mill on barajas, bedard, and barmes, or we start the season with mckenry, brad lincoln, and cedeno/d’arnaud in their place

  22. CDBrewer says:

    Thanks – Feb. 3rd Kotchman signed – not sure where I was…

    While I completely agree it is just money and he can win 12 games, I think Burnett’s meltdown short outing will tax the pen a bunch. Would rather see a 1B with the money…Maybe some of the pitchers we have would get more wins with an offensive player.

    This is to say nothing of Burnett in the clubhouse, which is a wild card…I hope Barajas was consulted long and hard about this.

  23. CDBrewer says:

    Oh, I don’t want any piece of Beltran…I lived in New York. He goes into operation shutdown when he gets a hangnail, and man, he is quiet to the point of bordering on unintended petulance. Beyond that, look past the one big post-season and there is very little clutch.

    I DO NOT like Beltran. Age and injuries are too big a risk for a team he would have to be the lead for (with Cutch, of course).

  24. Dejan Shortpants says:

    Here’s what Bowden and Olney said about our Buccos today: “Well, even their lack of bucks can’t change the fact that they have only one superstar to show for all of those years drafting in the top five.”

    And they’re including McCutchen as a superstar, which is a stretch to say the least.

  25. Jay Walker says:

    If you don’t include the 11 HRs, 19 RBI and .366 BA that Beltran has in 101 postseason at-bats, he hasn’t done a damn thing in the clutch. (LOL)

  26. Jay Walker says:

    Chris: I’ll be you Burnett finishes the season with fewer than 12 wins and 4.00-plus ERA. Name the price.

  27. Van Man says:

    Sure, the Yankees had other interested parties, but none amounted to much. We made the only offer worth anything out of sheer desperation as usual.

  28. chris says:


    Deal, Five american dollars!!! If I had to predict, id say he gets 11 wins and his ERA is 4.1. So sure, five bucks.

    Also, I don’t know why we are debating about his win total anyways. The win-loss statistic is the worst measurement tool in baseball

  29. Dejan Shortpants says:

    I was thinking more like $5,000. You sounded like someone who was convinced Burnett was worth it.

  30. Van Man says:

    No contract for Dmitri Young?! Great — there goes our season!

  31. Marc says:

    Why is it that the Yankees always seem to get their way? Everyone in baseball knows they are trying to dump Burnett’s salary and they don’t have room for him in their rotation, but yet they will hold out and get the Pirates to both pay more of his salary than they want and give up better prospects than they should. Just watch.

  32. Van Man says:

    Marc: Don’t you know the Pirates (and about a dozen other teams) are farm clubs for the big boys?

  33. Harry says:

    Smile, Rob, exciting Buccos baseball is back, baby!

  34. Jim says:

    Here’s my Burnett scouting report: Grossly overpaid. Has been in a free-fall since the 2008 season. Baserunners ‘R’ Him. Lacks command, not to mention attitude and testosterone. He’s a No. 4 or 5 starter everywhere else, which means he could be Buccos ace.

  35. Dejan Shortpants says:

    Jim: LMFAO

  36. Lady Di says:

    Yeah, I can’t wait for the first time that Burnett flips the ball to Hurdle then tells him to f-off on his way to the dugout.

  37. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    He’ll be gone by the trade deadline……….

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