Devil’s Advocate

Who wants this pitcher?

  • He's 21st in innings pitched among American League starters over the last three years — ahead of Chien-Ming Wang, Tim Wakefield, Cliff Lee, Scott Kazmir and Jose Contreras.
  • He's made 80 starts, the same number as C.C. Sabathia.
  • He's first in pitches per game started, just ahead of Sabathia.
  • He averages nearly 6.2 innings per start.
  • He's 15th in ERA, ahead of Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and Josh Beckett.
  • He's also 15th in WHIP, tied with Wakefield and ahead of Wang, Verlander, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester.
  • He's fourth in K/9, ahead of Sabathia, Matsuzaka, Beckett, Hernandez and John Lackey.
  • He's 14th in K/BB, ahead of control artists like Paul Byrd and Andy Pettitte, as well as Kazmir, Hernandez and Mark Buehrle.
  • He's fifth in opponents' batting average, ahead of Roy Halladay, Danny Haren, Lackey and Sabathia.
  • He's 10th in OPS+ against, tied with Jered Weaver and ahead of Dustin McGowan, Verlander and Wakefield.
  • He's thrown quality starts 60 percent of the time, a higher rate than Pettitte, roughly equal to Wang and just behind Beckett.
  • He's sixth in average game score, tied with Lackey and Matsuzaka, ahead of Becket, Jeremy Guthrie, James Shields, Haren, Hernandez, Mussina, Verlander and Wang.

He's clearly not first-tier. But maybe he's a little better — and a little more durable — than advertised.

16 comments… add one
  • If the Sox conservatively figure that Burnett will only make 22-24 starts next year, they simply have to add the cost of Bowden or Masterson to the equation (or whoever fills his spot in those other 11-12 starts) to see if the contract value plays out for the slot for which they are considering him. That’s not to say that Burnett himself will be worth what he is being paid, but that spot in the rotation would need to approximately generate the value of the pitchers occupying that slot.
    This may be fuzzy math, but 33 starts with a blended performance of (Burnett*.67) + (Masterson + Bowden *.33) may very well be worth what Burnett wants all by himself. In essence, Bowden and Masterson are nearly free as financial considerations, seeing as their salary might be perhaps 3% of a guy like Burnett.

    SF November 21, 2008, 11:26 am
  • Conversely, the Sox may figure that a Bowden/Masterson tandem might provide 60% of the value of Burnett at 3% of the cost, so why bother with AJ…

    SF November 21, 2008, 11:45 am
  • Forget that. I take him every day of the week.

    Brad November 21, 2008, 12:01 pm
  • He’s had DL trips every year but this year. He’s only made more than 30 starts twice. He’s 31. There’s NO way the team who eventually lands him will pay “good” value. I just hope that team isn’t the Sox.

    Eric Hanson November 21, 2008, 1:38 pm
  • Your Digging Your Own Grave
    [Link removed. Unsolicited advertisement and bad grammar. — P.]

    Justin Brindger November 21, 2008, 1:50 pm
  • There’s NO way the team who eventually lands him will pay “good” value.
    Why is “good” in quotes? No one used that word. It sounds like you’re rebutting an argument that wasn’t made.

    Paul SF November 21, 2008, 2:32 pm
  • 9 DL trips since 2000 say a shit load more about durability than all that noise.

    310ToJoba November 21, 2008, 2:40 pm
  • This is unbelievable, but for once, I think Brad and I agree! (I kid). I much prefer Burnett to Lowe, for instance, especially for the Yanks, considering they’re contracts are going to be quite similar and considering upside and age.

    Nick-YF November 21, 2008, 2:53 pm
  • I think about it like this – It’s not my money – it’s easy to poke fun of the GM who gives Burnett the money if it works out like everone suggests it will, but it’s even easier to poke fun at that same GM if Burnett does exactly the opposite of what everyone thinks he will (ie: an average of 25 starts a year).
    Neither Cashman or Theo can afford to let Burnett be brilliant in the other’s city.
    On any given day, Burnett can throw 8 scoreless (against NY, no less), and strike out 15 batters.
    He strikes fear into batters, and I firmly believe that if he has something to pitch for, he’ll do just that.

    Brad November 21, 2008, 3:21 pm
  • Let’s look at these DL trips:
    1999: Makes MLB debut in August
    2000: Ligament tear in thumb during spring training PFP requires surgery. Begins season July 20.
    2001: Toe fracture diagnosed in February delays season debut until May 7.
    2002: Suffers “acute right bone bruise. On DL, Aug. 19-Sept. 14.
    2003-04: Undergoes Tommy John surgery on right elbow April 29. Returns 14 months later.
    2006: Scar tissue from surgery breaks off during spring training. Burnett begins the season on the DL, is removed after 15 days, makes two starts, and is returned to the DL for the next two months, April 1-June 22.
    2007: Shoulder strain lands him on the DL, again for two trips, this time separated by one start made exactly 15 days after he was initially placed on the DL, June 13-Aug. 12.
    So those nine trips are a bit misleading.
    Two of those are for the same surgery, in 2003 and 2004. Two more in 2006 are a direct result of the surgery and a poorly managed return from an initial DL stint.
    The same can be said of one of his 2007 trips. He clearly wasn’t ready to return after just 15 days on the DL, as evidenced by the need to return him right back.
    So “nine” trips is really six, still not a good number. But given that two of those six are related to the same surgery, that’s not entirely fair either.
    Likewise, a torn thumb ligament and broken toe are about as fluke as you can get. Likewise, a bone bruise seems likely to have been caused (without doing research) by being hit by a batted ball, so that’s a fluke injury as well.
    So that leaves the 2007 DL trips with a “shoulder strain.” It’s the lone incident that is not caused by an isolated event or career-altering surgery (that appears to have had no negative effects otherwise). The fact that it occurred in 2007 is a little more disconcerting than if it had been in, say, 2002, before the surgery.
    There’s still plenty of room for concern — moreso than a more durable pitcher like Sabathia, certainly. But I can’t help wondering if Burnett’s reputation for injury isn’t a bit overblown.

    Paul SF November 21, 2008, 3:21 pm
  • Tex.
    Burnett/Sheets to a lesser extent.
    Trade for catcher.
    Start season.
    Get it done, Theo

    Brad November 21, 2008, 3:22 pm
  • It’s the same argument as was used for Drew, and that’s worked out fine for Boston so far.
    Yeah, his kid was super sick, and took up most of his time last year, and he hurt his back (but played when he could) this year –
    But when he’s in, he’s raked, and has singlehandedly put Boston in games that they had no right winning.

    Brad November 21, 2008, 3:24 pm
  • Is singlehandedly one word?

    Brad November 21, 2008, 3:26 pm
  • I think it’s single-handedly, Brad ;-)
    The more I hear about it the more I’m convinced that Burnett wouldn’t be a bad signing. I’m still concerned about his health, but I don’t see him as the Pavano 2.0 anymore.

    Atheose November 21, 2008, 5:23 pm
  • The point that I’m making about the DL trips is that of them caused him to miss months out of whole seasons. Not exactly the type of return you’re looking for from a 15-18MM/year pitcher. Neither the Sawks or the Yankees need another Carl Pavano. June 13-August 12 is a long,long time for someone to be counted on to hold down a rotation spot.

    310ToJoba November 21, 2008, 6:57 pm
  • *many of them caused him to miss…
    I love leaving out words.

    310ToJoba November 21, 2008, 6:58 pm

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