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Archive for August 26th, 2011

Albert Einstein is widely believed to have said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. He must have had the Yankees’ handling of A.J. Burnett in mind when he made that observation.

Even Burnett has found it hard to look when he takes the mound (Photo: AP).

For two seasons, A.J. Burnett has been a terrible pitcher. Unless he can whittle his ERA below 5.00 before the end of the season, he will go down as the only Yankees pitcher in franchise history to have an ERA above that mark in two seasons of more than 110 innings. What’s more, among all pinstriped hurlers with at least 160 innings pitched, Burnett’s 2010 and 2011 each rank among the top-three worst seasons in terms of ERA. The anecdotes that illustrate Burnett’s futility are almost as limitless as the frustration he has inspired over the last two seasons, so it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the time has come to remove him from the rotation.

Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have instead preferred to remain willfully ignorant. Not only have the Yankees’ brain trust shoe horned the struggling right hander into a six-man rotation, but they have taken every opportunity to defend his performance. If the Yankees had no other viable options, perhaps the decision to keep running Burnett out to the mound would make some sense, but the Yankees actually have too many starters, not to mention several minor league/bullpen options that would also provide a superior alternative.

Yankee Pitchers with an ERA of 5.00 or Higher (minimum 160 innings), Since 1901

Player Year ERA IP W L ERA+
A.J. Burnett 2011 5.31 161 9 11 ~79
Bump Hadley 1937 5.30 178.1 11 8 85
A.J. Burnett 2010 5.26 186.2 10 15 81
Roy Sherid 1930 5.23 184 12 13 83
Melido Perez 1993 5.19 163 6 14 80
Snake Wiltse 1902 5.10 164 7 11 74
Dwight Gooden 1996 5.01 170.2 11 7 100
Randy Johnson 2006 5.00 205 17 11 90
Richard Dotson 1988 5.00 171 12 9 80

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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Lost amid the power explosion in yesterday’s 22-9 victory over the Athletics was another three-hit game by Derek Jeter, which momentarily vaulted the short stop over the .300 mark for the first time since the second game of the season.

Game-by-Game Progression of Derek Jeter’s Batting Rates

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Even though his status as a .300 hitter only lasted for one at bat (he struck out in the ninth to drop back down to .299), simply attaining the mark stands out as a remarkable accomplishment when you consider the depths to which the Yankees’ Captain had sunk. When Jeter went on the disabled list in mid-June with a strained calf, he was hitting a paltry .260./.324/.324. At the time of his sabbatical, there was rampant speculation about a lineup demotion, and even suggestions that the Yankees gradually replace him with Eduardo Nunez. In fact, for some, the countdown to 3,000 hits was more like a clock ticking away on Jeter’s time as a prominent member of the team.

Derek Jeter’s Overall Performance Over Given Periods
Source: Baseball-reference.com

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