Phillies Need Burnett
They should be, and if the price is right they should jump on it.
Here is the thing: the Phillies already have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to players like Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon and Carlos Ruiz. You spend that kind of money because you expect to win and fill seats at Citizens Bank Park. But this rotation has question marks following Hamels and Lee. Kyle Kendrick had a 3.22 ERA after his first 13 starts last season, but posted a 6.45 ERA in his final 14 before finishing the season on the disabled list. They certainly need the first half Kendrick to return, or at least something close to it. The Phillies signed Roberto Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5 million deal, but he has a 5.19 ERA over 67 appearances (59 starts) the past three seasons. He pitched so poorly last year the Rays bumped him from the rotation to the bullpen, but at the moment he is a lock for the rotation.
Hernandez was the Phillies’ most puzzling offseason move, in my opinion.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Jonathan Pettibone currently are the top two candidates for the No. 5 job. Gonzalez is a mystery. The Phillies and Gonzalez agreed to a $48 million deal in July, which meant Phillies scouts and executives believed he was at worst a No. 3 starter. But after an issue with his physical he signed a $12 million deal. And ever since then the Phillies have hit the brakes on any expectations for him. From $48 million to $12 million to competing with Pettibone, Ethan Martin and Chad Gaudin for the fifth spot. He is a huge wild card.
But back to Burnett. If the Phillies have committed hundreds of millions of dollars because they think they can win, why not bring in Burnett? Why not spend a little more? He would stabilize the rotation as a solid No. 3. Kendrick would fall behind him at No. 4, and then you can figure out the No. 5 spot with Hernandez, Gonzalez and Pettibone. The only reason not to pursue Burnett would be if the Phillies recognize they need numerous things to break exactly right to have a chance to win, therefore consider whatever Burnett might cost to be too much of a risk.
In other words, Burnett only makes a difference if A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I and J go right this season. And what are the chances of that happening?
But if the Phillies truly believe Howard is healthy and will be effective, Rollins will be more motivated and bounce back, Papelbon can be effective despite diminished stuff, etc., then Burnett will help. And they should get him into camp.