Friday, February 10, 2012

A New AJ Burnett Trade Possibility Appears

Being borrowed from our friends over at Yankees Fans Unite

KC's Clint Robinson

AJ Burnett trade rumors are in no short supply. We’ve heard Pittsburgh and Seattle as possible scenarios but Dan Martin of the NY Post brought up the Kansas City Royals today. Martin says ”the Pirates and Royals among the teams most actively looking into acquiring Burnett.”

To me the Royals are an intriguing possible trade partner because they have what the Yankees are looking for in return – hitters, more to the point young hitters. We know the Yanks sought lefty DH/OF Garrett Jones from Pittsburgh and were supposedly re-buffed, so who would make sense to get back in return from KC?

I wrote about the perfect fit Billy Butler would be a couple of weeks ago, but he would require much more than AJ (think Betances and more) and there is no way KC would part with their young lefty hitters, 1B Eric Hosmer or OF Alex Gordon. However, the Royals have a player in AAA ready for the big leagues but is blocked by the aforementioned Butler, Hosmer & Gordon – his name is Clint Robinson.

Robinson, 26, is a 6’5″ 235 pound lefty hitting 1B/DH who has nothing more to prove in the minor leagues. In 2010, he won the AA Triple Crown with a .335-29-98 line that included a .410 OBP & .625 SLG. Promoted to AAA in 2011, he kept hitting, posting a .326-23-100 line with a .399/.533/.932 OPS. He was drafted in the 25th round in 2007 and is not considered a big time prospect because of his draft position, relatively modest stats in A ball and lack of defensive skills. But through hard work and back to back monster years, he’s ready for prime time. I should temper the expectations a little with the disclaimer that the numbers put up in 2011 were in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. However, the guy can obviously hit.

KC Director of Minor League Operations Scott Sharp was quoted on regarding Robinson:“An offensive force,” Sharp said. “Left-handed power with tremendous ability to use the entire field. He has patience at the plate and good strike-zone discipline. He continues to improve defensively and has taken some reps in left field.”

That is what clinched it for me. He’s not just a masher but a guy with power who uses the whole field, has patience and knows the strike zone. He struck out just 88 times in 561PAs in 2011 and 86 times in 535 PAs in 2010. Robinson would be a great candidate for Left-handed DH platoon as he destroyed RHP last yr to the tune of a .330 batting average and .418/.561/.979 split.

I think if the Yanks ate $23-25M of Burnett’s salary, they could definitely expect to get Robinson in return. KC has floated his name around this Winter in trade talks since teams know he can hit but they simply don’t have a spot for him. They do however, have a glaring need for a veteran pitcher who can eat innings. The Royals have a lot of talented young pitchers but they will be babied and can’t be counted on to supply 180-200 IP. AJ could soak up innings while the kids grow and would probably be more comfortable in Kansas City since it’s close to his native Arkansas.

Some fans have mentioned the Yanks should give Jorge Vazquez a shot at the DH for his performance in AAA. Problem is JoVa’s right-handed, strikes out a ton, doesn’t walk or hit for average and is 30 yrs old. Robinson is 26/27, lefty, controls the zone and hits for average and power. I really think he would be a good fit. What do you guys think?

I am actually totally in love with this idea. As a lot of you probably do not know I am the biggest AJ Burnett fan that there ever was. There is just something about throwing a no hitter with 9 walks that really peaks my interest in a player. I was ecstatic when the Yankees signed him and even more ecstatic when he was a huge piece in us winning the 2009 World Series. While I would absolutely hate to see him go, and so would both my jersey's of his which would essentially become dust collectors, I understand and want what is best for the team. Make it happen Cash, and soon.

Please Mr. Cashman, trade AJ Burnett

There’s nothing imminent, but there’s apparently hope that the Yankees and Pirates can strike a deal that would send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh. Jon Heyman adds that while the teams are “a few million apart” in negotiations, they were still talking.

The Yankees’ goal is to convince a taker to pay part of the $33 million remaining on Burnett’s contract over the next two years to help them sign a designated hitter. Heyman tweeted the Yanks offered to pay the Bucs less than one-third of the salary, something closer to a 50-50 split, but that wasn’t enough. The Pirates also turned down the Yankees’ request that lefty-swinging Garrett Jones be part of the deal.

The Pirates’ plan is to platoon Jones, 30, with Casey McGehee at first base. Jones has some pop, but also batted .243 and struck out 104 times in 423 at-bats to go with 16 home runs and 58 RBIs. He’s also a .199 career hitter against lefties, which clearly makes him half of a platoon situation.

Speaking of DH targets, the A’s have interest in either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui, but both are considered long shots.
Mr. Cashman! Get a deal done! Honestly, if Burnett were to be the 5th starter for the Yankees I wouldn't be upset. Although evidence over the last two years shows otherwise, I still believe that AJ could be a viable starter... especially at the bottom of the rotation. I just don't believe a pitcher that had a bWAR of 8.3 from 2007 to 2009, would really only be worth -0.5 wins like he was in 2010, or even 1.1 wins in 2011. Somewhere in that twisted mind of AJ's there's a good pitcher. We've saw it pop up here and there in 2011, like on September 25th when he went 7.2 innings, giving up 2 ER with 6 Ks, against the Red Sox.

But the fact is, the team has better options. I really want to see what Phil Hughes could do in 175 innings this season as a starter. Phil still has plenty of upside. It may not be as an ace like some thought he'd turn out as when he was still in the minors in 2006, but a good middle of the rotation pitcher is still well within reason. And although I don't expect another season with an ERA of 3.62, I fully expect Freddy Garcia to be able to give the team a good chance to win in a majority of his starts.

As for the last sentence, with Matsui not being able to play the field, I don't think Hideki's chances of being in New York are good at all. And I really hope Oakland signs Johnny Damon, because I don't want him on the Yankees (I think I've mentioned that before). I'm sure, if Damon is signed by Oakland, he'll say something like "2001 was a great year as I loved playing in Oakland, so I'm so happy to be back". You know... some sort of bullshit like he gave Tampa, New York, and Boston.