The jays start a critical road trip tonight in Milwaukee, with the A.J. Burnett soap opera still in full swing. this morning, The Star’s Richard Griffin (maybe Toronto’s best baseball analyst) provides a detailed and analytical
break down of how this situation might play out. You should read the whole thing, but the upshot is this: Ricciardi will be looking to trade AJ, but only if he can get a big league bat and a couple of prospects in return, and that will require the other team to be able to negotiate an extension with Burnett in advance.
And that’s where things get a little sticky – especially for the talk radio crowd who just want to see Ricciardi dump AJ out of spite.
This is one of the great misconceptions of Toronto baseball fans: anyone who tells you AJ Burnett is wildly overpaid isn’t looking at the market for youngish starters with fastballs in the mid-90s. Griffin breaks this down brilliantly. If you think AJ’s overpaid, how about Barry Zito? Jason Schmidt? Mike Hampton? (all making as much or more as AJ’s $12 million a season). The bottom line is this: AJ Burnett has been a huge disappointment, but he could probably sign for the same amount of money again if he were a free agent today, because on those occasional starts when he has his best stuff, he is virtually unhitable
The thing is the very fact that we’re talking about a pitcher at all is a diversion from the Jays’ real problems, which are 100% all about hitting. If you have a strong stomach, take a look at the numbers. Among the starting nine, not a single hitter is batting over .285, and the team leader in home runs is Matt stairs, with 8. that puts him on pace to hit 18 for the year. Team leader in RBIs, Vernon Wells, is on pace to drive in 64 runs.
At what point do we stop saying “this team isn’t hitting as well as they can” and start saying “this is an awful offense that can’t get the job done”?