Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hey Yankee Fans, Go Easy On A.J.!

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It must be tough being A.J. Burnett (9-10, 4.96 ERA) these days.

The New York Yankees starter had another rough outing last night, further putting him in the Yankee fans' doghouse. The buzz words surrounding Burnett around Yankee Nation are inconsistent and unreliable.

In a nutshell, here's what unfolded last night:

With the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning-- already trailing 4-0 against the Minnesota Twins-- Yankee manager Joe Girardi pulled Burnett from the game and apparently Burnett wasn't too happy about it because as he was leaving the mound, he turned back and said something to Girardi. That got the media buzzing as everyone wanted to know what was it that Burnett said. To spice up the story, a disgruntled Burnett went straight to the locker-room, breaking a rule that a pitcher must stay in the dugout until the inning is over. Girardi is caught on camera following Burnett to the locker-room and a few minutes later both men come out. Burnett sat in the dugout until the runners he left on base eventually scored, making the score 7-0. That's when he got up and left again, still breaking the stay-in-the-dugout rule because the inning wasn't over yet.

See video here.

Obviously Girardi was asked about the mini-drama after the game. But it's as if he was ready for it because he quickly gave the media a tongue-lashing. When the question came up, a pissed-off Girardi immediately barked back, “I’m tired of people looking for something between me and A.J.! Me and A.J. have mutual respect for each other. I cheer for this guy. He cheers for me, and we cheer for this team. I want the guy to do well.” When further pressed about going into the locker-room after A.J., a sarcastic Girardi said, "We had a fist fight!". And then dismissed the question by saying he went to look at video of A.J.'s last pitch which was a questionable ball four call.

There's no question all the problems Yankee fans have with A.J. revolve around his contract. At 5-years, $82 million, fans expect this guy to put up Cy Young-caliber seasons but that hasn't been the case. But in A.J.'s defense, the two voices that matter, Girardi and GM Brian Cashman, are still on his side. Both men are still supportive of A.J. and it doesn't seem he's going to be pulled from the starting rotation any time soon.

And as is always the case, all Burnett needs to do is have a clutch pitching performance in the playoffs and all will be forgiven and forgotten. Just like he did in 2009.

People can say what they want about A.J. but he still has wicked stuff. Once he starts locating his pitches better, he'll be the toast of the town again. No doubt.

If you want a sample of how die-hard Yankee fans feel about A.J. and his pitching performances, click here, to read what a Yankee blogger had to say about last night's situation. Parental discretion is advised. 

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