Results tagged ‘ A.J. Burnett ’
A source said this morning the Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract with right-hander A.J. Burnett.
It includes a mutual option for 2015 and a limited no-trade clause.
If everybody is healthy, Burnett, 37, projects atop the rotation with Hamels and Cliff Lee. Burnett went 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts last season with the Pirates. He led the big leagues in ground ball-to-fly ball ratio (2.62), which should help at cozy Citizens Bank Park. He also led the National League with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
“I have met him quite a few times when he was with Toronto,” Hamels said before news broke about the deal. “He’s got unbelievable talent. Unfortunately, I think he kept us away from another ring (in 2009 World Series). What he brings to the table is great. If we’re able to get him, it only helps us out. It doesn’t hurt us. He’s another veteran who has good experience and a good repertoire. I know he is pretty charismatic. He would be good for us.”
Interestingly, Burnett’s $16 million salary could push the Phillies to a franchise-record payroll following an 89-loss season in 2013. They finished 2012 at a record $174.5 million, according to figures sent from the commissioner’s office to teams for luxury tax purposes. That figure includes the average annual value of contracts, more than $10 million for benefits and extended benefits, bonuses and more.
Figure Burnett’s $16 million salary into the mix, and the Phillies payroll alone is about $174 million with the luxury tax now $189 million.
So why Burnett? The payroll actually might have something to do with it.
The Phillies already are heavily invested in players like Hamels, Lee, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins and others. The front office believes if the team is healthy it will win. If that is the case and the Phillies are all-in, why not spend more to improve the rotation?
The rotation had its share of concerns following Hamels and Lee, and now Hamels is behind schedule after feeling discomfort in his throwing shoulder around Thanksgiving. Hamels said he is not worried, is pain free and expects to be pitching in a regular-season game in April, but players often put on rose-colored glasses when speaking about their health.
But Kyle Kendrick had a 6.45 ERA in his final 14 starts last season before finishing the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Roberto Hernandez signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December, but has a 5.19 ERA over 67 appearances (59 starts) the past three seasons. The No. 5 job projected to be a competition between Miguel Gonzalez and Jonathan Pettibone. The Phillies have tempered expectations for Gonzalez, who signed a three-year, $12 million deal last summer.
But sources said tonight the Phillies are very much still in the running for free agent right-hander A.J. Burnett.
It is unclear if the parties are close to a deal, but the chances have improved since Friday when Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, “It’s more likely we’ll go (into Spring Training) with what we’ve got.”
If the Phillies and Burnett agree to a deal – the Pirates seem to be their top competition — he would become the rotation’s No. 3 behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Kyle Kendrick also has a spot in the rotation. Roberto Hernandez signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December. Entering camp Amaro indicated Miguel Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others would fight for the No. 5 spot.
Ruben Amaro Jr. said this morning he will continue to look for ways to improve the Phillies roster, but with pitchers and catchers holding their first workout at Carpenter Complex in six days any significant additions seem unlikely.
“It’s more likely we’ll go in with what we’ve got,” Amaro said.
The Phillies have been talking with free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett, but the Pirates and Orioles also are top suitors.
But the Phillies will be one team watching former closer Ryan Madson throw today in Arizona. Madson has not pitched since 2011 because of Tommy John surgery and complications following the surgery, but when he has been healthy he has been one of the top relievers in baseball.
“There are several guys in that boat,” Amaro said. “We’ll have our eyes on these guys who are working on coming back from an injury or surgery.”
It is unclear if Madson is looking for a guaranteed Major League contract, and if so if that would scare away the Phillies.
The Phillies also have been looking for a backup center fielder. Currently, John Mayberry Jr. and Tony Gwynn Jr. are two top candidates for that job.
“There aren’t a chock full of opportunities,” Amaro said. “It’s a possibility, but as I said we’ll probably go with what we’ve got and see what happens over the course of the spring.”
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.
Cliff Lee threw his fifth shutout of the season last night at AT&T Park. If that seems like a lot, it is. He is one of just four pitchers since 1998 to throw five or more shutouts in a season:
- A.J. Burnett: five in 2002.
- Dontrelle Willis: five in 2005.
- CC Sabathia: five in 2008.
If Lee can throw one more shutout before the end of the season, he would be just the 12th pitcher in the last 30 seasons to throw six or more shutouts:
- John Tudor: 10 in 1985.
- Tim Belcher: eight in 1989.
- Roger Clemens: eight in 1988.
- Dwight Gooden: eight in 1985.
- Orel Hershiser: eight in 1988.
- Roger Clemens: seven in 1987.
- Steve Carlton: six in 1982.
- Danny Jackson: six in 1988.
- Randy Johnson: six in 1998.
- Tim Leary: six in 1988.
- Jack Morris: six in 1986.
A.J. Burnett pitched great last night. Sure, there were a few opportunities to score, but he mostly dominated.
Pedro Martinez pitched good enough to win. He has allowed three runs in 13 innings this postseason. The Phillies have scored just two runs for him in those two starts.
The Yankee Stadium crowd? I considered it a non-factor. I wasn’t alone. Jimmy Rollins was asked about the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium compared to other ballparks.
“It’s really more of a different atmosphere at our ballpark compared to the others,” he said. “Our ballpark is so loud and rowdy. I was really expecting some of that here, but it was very tame and civilized actually.”
In New York?
“Yeah,” Rollins said. “You only heard one big cheer and that was on the home runs. Other than that … those expensive are running the loud fans out.”
Rollins later was asked if this feels more like a World Series compared to last year’s series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“When we get to Philly it will,” Rollins said.
Here are a few things from today’s workout at the Bank:
- Charlie Manuel expects to see CC Sabathia three times if the World Series goes seven games.
- Raul Ibanez is going to DH Game 1, which would allow Ben Francisco to play left field. Matt Stairs or Greg Dobbs could DH Game 2 against A.J. Burnett.
- Robin Roberts spoke about the 1950 World Series. He said back then he hated four things: Notre Dame, Michigan, the Yankees and Russia. That might be one of my top five answers to a question all year.
- Manuel would not say who will pitch Game 2, but he sounds more and more like it’s going to be Pedro Martinez. Martinez went 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in five starts at home this season. He went 3-1 with a 5.66 ERA in four starts on the road, not including the seven shutout innings he threw in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. He is 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA in his last five postseason appearances against the Yankees. But Martinez has experience. He won’t be intimidated. “We weigh all that,” Manuel said. “We try to weigh everything possible. I guess that’s the good part about my job. I’ve got quite a few people around and we discuss everything about the game. We discuss everything that you’re supposed to cover. There’s not a whole lot that we’re going to miss as far as what we want to do. But when I look at Pedro, Pedro has been in the big environment. He’s pitched about everywhere you can pitch. I don’t think nothing is going to really bother him or get him upset. I think we can pitch him in either ballpark, really. I don’t think it matters at all.”