Everyone Thinks the Phillies Should Sign 37-Year-Old A.J. Burnett

Voila_Capture1063Why do I get the feeling that A.J. Burnett’s agent, Darek Braunecker, who is also Cliff Lee’s agent, just planted some stories in the media?

A source close to Burnett is telling anyone who will listen right now that Burnett plans to pitch in in 2014. And the Phillies’ name just keeps coming up.

Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com:

It’s uncertain whether Burnett still has his sights on Pittsburgh or is willing to consider other suitors. The Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles are among the other MLB clubs that have expressed varying degrees of interest in the veteran right-hander, according to sources.

Matt Gelb, Philly.com:

The revelation that veteran righthander A.J. Burnett intends to pitch in 2014 will not send shock waves through the industry because many top free-agent pitchers remain unsigned. But Burnett comes with special interest to the Phillies, who have liked the 37-year-old pitcher in the past and need a mid-rotation starter.

Burnett will test the market, according to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report. He posted a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts for the Pirates last season and anchored one of the most surprising rotations in baseball. If he is signed by the Phillies, he would slot behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee to strengthen a rotation shrouded in mystery.

There are connections between the Phillies and Burnett. His agent is Darek Braunecker, the same man who represents Lee. Burnett is neighbors and close family friends with Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock. Braunecker and Proefrock have a strong working relationship.

Ryan Lawrence, Philly.com:

As a righthander, Burnett could also slide into one of the top spots in the rotation if the Phillies wanted to break up their two left-handers.

Burnett also has a connection to one of the Phillies chief free agent negotiators.

Burnett is a neighbor and friend of Phils assistant general manager Scott Proefrock; both live in suburban Baltimore. Burnett’s agent is Darek Braunecker, who also represents Cliff Lee.

Richard Justice, MLB.com, under the headline, Burnett Would Fit Right In With Season Phils:

Sure, it’s a terrific idea for the Phillies to sign free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett. He might just be a perfect fit. In fact, Burnett might make them a playoff team.

That’s a tougher call, because maybe 13 of the 15 National League teams believe they’re good enough to make the postseason. Plenty of things have to go right for the Phillies, but that’s true of a lot of other teams, too.

JESUS CHRIST. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the A.J. Burnett surrogates. Perhaps it’s just an obvious fit, but there’s a lot of fluffy fun time smoke here.

Signing Burnett, who has been very good in his last two seasons with the Pirates (3.51 and 3.30 ERAs, 389 total strikeouts), to a one-year deal would make sense, provided the Phils could stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold (they’re at around $173 million now). They’re not shaping up to be very good, so, as I wrote the other day, why not stockpile aging vets to keep the team at least somewhat competitive?

But the tone of these reports certainly makes it seems as though someone in Burnett’s camp is feeding the story. Justice wrote an entire article about how… wait for it… Burnett could make the Phillies contenders in 2014. That’s excusable enough, since just about any team can contend to make the playoffs nowadays, but these lines are just whack:

Around the game, these old guys were known not just for producing, but for competing hard every single day. In the long history of the Phils, these old guys are going to be as highly regarded as any era of the past.

And the truth is that none of us know what they have left in the tank. Howard has played 151 games the last two seasons. He hit just .173 against left-handed pitching in both 2012 and ’13.

The Phillies were a bad offensive team in 2013 — 13th in the NL in runs, 14th in walks, ninth in home runs — and they desperately need another big season from their big guy.

Let’s just say the Phils are hopeful. Howard is again healthy, and he could change the look of that lineup.

Likewise for Rollins. He’s in his free-agent year and beginning his 15th season with Philadelphia. In those 15 years, Rollins has been about as entertaining and as productive as any player they’ve had.

Rollins is also 35 years old but coming off a season in which he had 36 doubles, 59 walks and 22 stolen bases. He has batted only .251 the last two seasons, but if he repeats his 2013 numbers in ’14 and if Howard does his thing, the Phillies could be dramatically better on offense.

Translation: The Phillies try hard. They were liked. The sun came up over the tree and then it didn’t. Ryan Howard will somehow have a late career resurgence and figure out how to hit left-handed pitching. Rollins, who, at 34, had his worst season ever last year, might hit a lot of doubles because he’s entertaining. Therefore, the Phillies could be dramatically better on offense. Better add Burnett to put them over the hump.

I’d love to be wrong and eat tons and tons of crow on this. But I just don’t see it.


29 Responses

  1. If the price is right, go for it. Stop concentrating on age, he’s not our ace. If he can go 14-9 with a sub 4 ERA, it’s worth it.

  2. Fuck Amaro. Thanks to his complete boobery I am assuming this is a done deal already.

  3. I say do it. They have nothing to lose this year because, no one thinks they can contend. If you throw a right handed pitcher with Burnett’s pedigree in the mix in moves Kenrick down closer to where he belongs (wishful thinking is off the roster). Of course that deal wouldn’t help the offense but, the top 3 in the rotation would be a lot better than it is now.

  4. As incompetent as Amaro seems to be, I believe he is working under a mandate from above to stay competitive and to keep the stadium filled. Thus his reluctance to blow it up and go through a couple of hopeless seasons with young players. And if you’re trying to piece players together to keep your head above water, Burnett fits the bill.

  5. I think it would not be a terrible move. It would make them more competitive and even though Burnett is older he is still a better option than the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmono and probably is better than Kendrick too.

  6. I don’t hate it, assuming Rube doesn’t give him more money and years than he’s worth at this point in his career. This would be considered a solid pick-up if it happened at the beginning of the free agency period. Unfortunately, Rube’s other moves wouldn’t give this one it’s proper credence.

    1. Yeah, and that’s just as retarded an idea as it was yesterday when you last said it. Now get back to your desk at CBP before your boss-man Amaro busts you down to towel boy.


  7. Why would any Phillies fan want this team to be competitive? That would just prolong Amaro’s tenure. The best thing they can do this year is crash and burn from Day 1.

  8. Hello Kyle,

    While I appreciate that you are trying to build consensus for us with your headline:(“Everyone Thinks the Phillies Should Sign 37-Year-Old A.J. Burnett”), it’s quite unnecessary. Ruben and his fine staff of scouts, talent evaluators, and contract experts have the situation well in hand, and as the owners’ representative, I can say with complete certainty that we are pleased with the direction that the ballclub is heading (vis-a-vis our relationship with our media partners) and predict great things for the coming year and beyond.

    To borrow a phrase from one of my counterparts, we are well on our way to achieving Gold Standard levels of entertainment value, coverage, leverage, ROI, and any number of datapoints as is customary to measure success in our industry. Ruben has more than satisfied the goals of ownership, and as such, will be rewarded with a multi-year contract extension in the very near future.

    As fans, we are all fortunate to be on the pivotal edge of quantum accomplishments as we embark on yet another successful season. As we all know, in baseball (as in all areas of life), success does come at a cost, therefore our ticket packages will be adjusted to be more in line with the expected growth of our organization and its accomplishments. To help ease the transition, we are offering an application whereby the consumer can supply their credit card number to our organization, and we will set up a budget payment system at no additional cost to the consumer. After all, the fans are our most valuable resource!



    1. Burnett may be a little young for this roster. Ruben is certainly endeavoring to put together a Titanic of seasons. Can’t wait for the over/under win number. If above 73 wins, bet the house. Agree with previous poster that absent the sarcasm, the Phil’s management is saving money as no one wants the three wise men at 1st, 2nd and short and they have to pay them.

      To the geezer owners, Montgomery, Buck, Middleton and Giles. I never saw a Brink’s truck in a funeral line.

  9. Doesn’t matter either way if they do or dont sign him. The Phils are so old and empty in the farm system that they will be irrelevant for minimum 5 years. Sad but true.

  10. absolutely no problem with this move. Especially if it is one year deal or 2 year deal. Fact is, the team wont contend and burnett will be a huge trade commodity by the deadline. you could pay half the 15 mill itll take to sign him, then trade him for decent prospects. If the phils contend, then you have a very very good pitcher with postseason experience, high strikeouts and high groundball rate.

    besides the obvious (and wrong) “too old” comment, can anyone tell me what the risk or problem is to signing this guy?

  11. ^The reason you can’t trade a player in the final year of his career for decent prospects is because I can’t find a job anywhere…except with Ruby of course. That being said this guy has long term deal written all over him.

  12. Every team can contend to make the playoffs? That’s twice you’ve said in a round about way that too many teams make the playoffs, it’s 5 teams from each league. The fuck are you talking about?

    It’s not like hockey and basketball which both need to cut the number of teams, 8 is way too many. But all hockey die hards think hockey is perfect in everyway. Baseball is still tough as hell to make the post season, you’re dumb.

  13. Keith Law, Who hates The Phils, ranked their farm 14th in the mlb. So they’re not empty in the farm despite what the clueless media thinks.

    Back to Burnett, I’m all for the signing. Bumps down KK and gives them a legit WC chance.

  14. Hell, why not? Burnett certainly can’t be any worse than Double K, The Pitcher Formerly Known As Fausto Carmona and that mystery Cuban who’s name eludes me at present. Yo, Rube! Git r done!

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