Maybe Cashman Should Let Us Pick The Players

We may not be GMs or professional scouts, but we fans talk to each other and we hear pretty much everything there is to hear about a player. For example, when the Yankees were looking at free agent starting pitchers prior to the ’09 season and ended up signing A.J. Burnett, here’s what several Toronto fans told me:
“He’ll frustrate the hell out of you. One minute he’ll look like the best pitcher you ever saw. The next he’ll break your heart. He’s the definition of inconsistency.”
I remember saying to myself, “Oh, that’s just sour grapes because the Blue Jays can’t afford to keep A.J.” But those fans were right, and I wish the Yankees had listened. Not that Burnett hasn’t been spectacular on occasion, and let’s face it – we won a championship with him last year. But how does a guy seem to be cruising and then give up seven runs in one inning?
Well, sure. He wouldn’t have given up seven runs if Girardi had pulled him sooner. But that’s beside the point. The bigger question is why hasn’t he become a more consistent pitcher – an elite pitcher – at this stage of his career? Is he uncoachable? Is he a head case? Or does he just have too many tattoos on his arms?
I don’t know, but tonight’s game was disheartening. Yes, it was fun to watch Swisher hit two out and for Tex to go deep. And yes, it would be nice if A-Rod would get back on track, even if it means cranking out a few measly singles. And big round of applause for the pen – Robertson, Logan and Joba were great. But it all comes back to A.J., who didn’t cut his hands on the glass door again but made my eyes bleed.


  1. Jane Heller

    I’m pretty speechless too, A.J. Everybody has a bad outing here and there, but he’s such a puzzle.

  2. YankeeCase

    I don’t think he’ll ever be a consistently good pitcher. People want to point the bad month he had when Eiland was gone, but he had plenty of bad starts the year and a half before then too. And people say how much of a positive influence Roy Halladay was on him in Toronto, but it was the same issue up there as well.
    It may sounds mean to say this, but I think he’s starting to be seen now as an average pitcher who every now and then has astounding games. If you look around, the best pitchers are consistently good, with a bad start here and there. There are no consistently bad pitchers, because the teams won’t allow them to stick around. Average pitchers turn in a decent performance or let one get out of hand, and so a team will take the good with the bad, hoping for more of the former. Burnett’s starts just happen to be all about the extremes. Either really good, or really bad. In the end, that averages out to…average.

  3. beckers46

    AJ reminds me of Randy Johnson. All the hype, and nothing. He is very inconsistent. I was surprised to see Jorge behind the plate. I thought Cervelli was AJ’s personal catcher. Maybe AJ can’t handle change. It’s hard to say. And now we’re tied for first with the Rays. The Yanks need to regroup big time! I
    did love all the hrs last night. Swish and Teix are on a roll. Have a great day fans! :0)

  4. lenn23

    What I’m starting to look forward to now is the Yanks signing Cliff Lee next year. For a bunch of years, before CC, I thought they didn’t have a clear ace #1 pitcher. Now I’m convinced that they don’t have a solid #2 starter. I remember last year that he was great in game 2 of the LCS and the World Series. The thing is that he was awful in game 5 of both series. If the playoffs started today I have no idea if and when he’d start. Andy, Javy, and Hughes are all more reliable than he is right now. Girardi should know now to pull his *** as soon as signs of the slaughter begins. This didn’t bite us last year but I’m afraid it might this year. It would be ironic if they lose to Lee and Texas in October after missing out on him earlier this year and signing him before next season.


    Only caught the end of the game on the radio coming back from our town’s free concert but it appears I didn’t miss much. Only one bad inning but it was B-A-D. So frustrating, but then Toronto is always tough on us for some reason. Sterling and Waldman were saying the experts were saying in the spring that Toronto was going to be at the bottom of the AL east but for some reason (mostly their home runs) are over 500. So now we’re tied for first – we need to take the rest of this series and stay where we are. My husband thinks that A.J. just doesn’t have enough pitches and the batters pretty much know what’s coming and where its going to be. I think he just gets frustrated because of bad plays behind him, bad calls by the umps or just a couple of bad pitches on his own part, and he loses it from there. Anyway, onward and upward. GO YANKEES!!!

  6. yankeefansarah

    All throughout the game last night I really thought the Yankees would make a comeback. But, they just couldn’t make up for all the runs A.J. allowed.
    And what do we do with A.J.? I really don’t know. I want to like the guy.. but every time he goes out on the mound he makes me crazy. I have no idea what needs to be done, or if he will ever become a more consistant pitcher. The thing that bugged me yesterday was he was great the first few innings. But then he just broke down. It’s not just start to start he’s inconsistant, it’s inning to inning!

  7. Jane Heller

    That’s the sad part of the situation, YankeeCase – the “average” label for a guy with much better than average stuff. It would be one thing if he was at the end of his career and didn’t have much left in the tank. But he’s still young enough to be in his prime. And yet, as you say, the inconsistency thing has dogged him for a long time. Really hoping he’ll make some kind of leap forward this season.

    By the time the Yankees got Randy Johnson, Becky, he was practically at the end of his career and his back was killing him. So yeah, he was inconsistent and a disappointment in pinstripes. But A.J. is healthy, supposedly, so what’s his excuse? Loved the homers, especially the two by Swisher. He’s really crushing the ball lately.

    I don’t know why Joe didn’t pull him earlier, Len, except that sometimes pitchers can pull themselves out of jams and gain confidence. A.J. was able to do that in July. Not last night. The wheels came off, as they say, and there was nothing he could do. Like watching a car wreck, wasn’t it? I can’t pin my hopes on Cliff Lee. Sure, he’s good, but there’s no guarantee we’ll get him.

    He does seem half good, half terrible, Babu. Maybe he has multiple personality disorder!

    You’re right, Jeff. How do you teach mental toughness? Still, I would have thought that after all his years in the majors, working side by side with guys like Halladay and CC, he would have learned a thing or two.


    So true, so true, O She-Fan…AJ has, does, & will drive us Nuts. Knew enuf about him when we got him to be very underwhelmed…but thought it’d be more an injury issue, say like Nick “China Doll” Johnson, than anything else. So, round & round we go…hate to waste a 6-run multi-HR outing from the batz, but I guess it still IS the Slo-Pitch Softball part of the schedule with the tater-happy Jays and you know who comin’ to town…let’s do hope that the Formerly Red-Hot Twins can crank it back up, now that The Fabulous Carl F. Pavano has shown HIS true colors last nite!
    I read that we were thiiis close to dealing for Mike Lowell, in maybe some 3-way deal? True dat? Hey, can we offer up Austin Kearns and Nick Johnson? Throw in Chan Ho No Mo Park’s Sausages, Mom? “Dreamin’…I’m always dreamin’…” (Johnny Burnette, 1960)

  9. Jane Heller

    I thought there might be a comeback too, Sarah. We had chances! And I agree about how A.J. looked good at first, then got rocked. In fact, I was on Twitter saying, “A.J. is really dealing tonight.” So much for that tweet!

    Dave, I do remember thinking A.J. would be more about injuries and whether he’d stay healthy than inconsistencies and whether he’d give up seven runs in one inning. Yeah, Pavano did us no favors last night. Figures. As for Mike Lowell, I think Scott commented on that yesterday (or maybe it was on his blog – can’t remember). My response was that while I like Lowell as a player, I can’t imagine Cashman wanting to sub one guy with a hip problem for another guy with a hip problem. Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  10. southernbelle

    Jane: A.J. has been way too inconsistent. And I am frustrated with him. But I don’t want to say I wish we never got him….I know, I’m going too easy on him…but I feel bad. He doesn’t want to suck, he just does sometimes…I wish he would get himself together, because I really don’t want to hate him…I can’t hate him 😦

  11. Jane Heller

    Pitchers get frustrated with bad calls, bad defense, etc. all the time, Diane. It’s the pitchers who don’t let outside stuff derail them that end up being the great ones. A.J. just isn’t in that category. But yes, onward and upward. Hoping for better tonight.

    Thanks anyway, Paul. LOL.

  12. Jane Heller

    I don’t hate A.J., Virginia. I reserve “hate” for players on opposing teams. But he’s trying my patience. I’m tired of the whole “good A.J./bad A.J.” discussion.

  13. santosis

    As a Red Sox fan, I was psyched when the Yanks paid for Burnett. I hadn’t been that happy since I heard the words “Kevin Brown traded to Yankees.” Well, there was that whole Carl Pavano thing. That was awesome. Oooh, oooh, oooh, and the Randy Johnson reality tour–32 million dollars and a “don’t talk back to me!” But, just think, Burnett’s only got 3 years and 49 million dollars left on that deal–it will be over before you know it.
    above the shoulders

  14. Jane Heller

    So you were psyched about the A.J. signing, the way Yankee fans were psyched when the Red Sox signed Julio Lugo? I think we could both name players that haven’t worked out as well as expected, but the Yankees won a championship with A.J.

  15. raysrenegade

    I lovethe idea of the fans naybe picking the starting line-up. Always told the Rays that during their last home game they should do an online poll to decide everything but the starting pitchers and relievers.
    Would be great to submit your own “starting 9” and see if your ideas are inline with the rest of the fan community.
    But we know that will never happen, because it is too much responsibility to give a group like the fans, and it would surely end badly with missed picks or even an odd combination or two.
    The idea has merit and a huge upside….more reasons a Manager might reject the idea.

    Rays Renegade

  16. Jane Heller

    No, it will never happen, Renegade, but the point I was making is that we fans have our own grapevine based on players we follow every day. So when they get traded, we have a good idea how things will go.

  17. devilabrit

    GM’s are like the woman that no matter how evil the guy might be, she always thinks she can change him for the better… unfortunately most times a group of fans all signing the same tune is normally right…. I love that the divisional races are close and heating up…adds to the excitement…just wish it could happen without losing…:-)


    Phillies Outside

  18. bjay_fan

    Just wanna say I do enjoy reading your blogs, they are very well written, as well as entertaining 🙂 I actually read your blogs after a Jays/Yankees game. keep up the good work!

  19. Jane Heller

    Good analogy, Peter! And yes, the divisional races are heating up. Should be an exciting couple of months as we head down the stretch.

  20. bklyntrolleyblogger

    Nice point…let’s hear it for the fans. We pay the tickets. We see with our eyes. We watch. Some of us even went to college too (massive dose of sarcasm). Media thinks they have the market cornered on opinions and analysis. I’d rely on this Blogosphere anyday. Yankee coverage starts right here.
    T’tah M’Lady.


    I see AJ has some weird chain tattoo, maybe I can strangle him with one. Him and these new guys need to go…now…to an island…that’s never been discovered…somewhere near Haataivea Bay. Oh well, could be worse, could be a Mets fan (love saying that.)

  22. Jane Heller

    Well said, Mike. We fans rock! And thanks for the tip of the cap.

    I think AJ has new tattoos since that pic was taken, seinsfeld. He does love his body art.

    You’re welcome, norm.

  23. hehe

    I do not want to hear anything about Burnett until he positively contributes. As for Cash, he sounds like what those Jays fans said. One year hes a genius and brings in the talent, the next he pulls in washouts and players who don’t deserve a cent. i.e. 2009: CC, Tex. 2010: Wood, Berkman, etc. etc.

  24. Jane Heller

    I’m not ready to write off the newcomers just yet, hehe. It’s only been – what – three games? The trades aren’t my dream come true, but they aren’t the reason the Yanks have lost the last three games.


    Awesome work Jane! I don’t know if I need to make the starting lineup but as the trade deadline came and went all I could think was Cashman was asleep at the wheel! EVERY other contender got better and the BEST TEAM in baseball got Kerry Wood? Are you kidding me?
    Cutting Park loose was LONG overdue, but Wood, Berkman and Kearns? These were an improvement? Where is a starting pitcher? Even in a 3 pitcher rotation for the playoffs- Sabathia is not dominant this year, Hughes is fading and Petite, thank God is getting some rest— this adds up to 1/3 guaranteed wins and come WS time a lot of exhaustion and a long series. Vazquez and Burnett- NO WAY! I wouldn’t even waste playoff roster space with these 2, unless they can put down a bunt! They won’t even make serviceable middle relievers! The inconsistency of these 2 is mind numbing!

  26. Jane Heller

    Thanks, e_struzik. Actually, Wood did a good job last night against the Red Sox so I guess it’s possible he could help us. Not sure about Berkman and Kearns though. Of most concern after I wrote this post was A.J. I’m really hoping he gets it together against Beckett on Sunday.

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