Hitting The Objective Pipe

The New York Yankees have six viable starting pitchers for five slots (#richteamproblems) — at least viable in the sense that all six are above replacement level.

Here are their Wins Above Replacement as calculated by both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, calculating how many wins each pitcher has been worth to the Yankees so far in 2011:

  1. C.C. Sabathia: 4.9 (BR), 5.5 (FG)
  2. Freddy Garcia: 3.0 (BR), 2.3 (FG)
  3. Bartolo Colon: 2.2 (BR), 2.2 (FG)
  4. Ivan Nova: 1.3 (BR), 1.3 (FG)
  5. A.J. Burnett: 1.2 (BR), 1.2 (FG)
  6. Phil Hughes: -0.5 (BR), 0.2 (FG)

That last entry comes with a caveat, because Phil Hughes was absolutely shelled in April before going on the DL with arm problems. Since his return, Hughes has pitched well, allowing two runs or less in five of his six post-DL starts. Given that the Yankees have invested untold resources and a lot of years into developing Hughes into a standard-bearer of the rotation, it seems obvious he should remain in the starting five. Ditto for Nova, another youngster who may have a bright future with the team. So, on the face of things, A.J. Burnett should be the one to go to the bullpen (or the waiver wire), particularly given that Burnett is more apt than any of the other pitchers to completely take his team out of a game by getting shelled in the first couple innings.

Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, disagrees. Vehemently.

But this stuff about A.J. Burnett is worthy of being ripped from the rotation is a bunch of crap. I think he’s being treated differently publicly because he has money attached. So forgive him for saying yes to the contract. If you want to blame somebody for his contract, blame me. But the man can still pitch. The man is a starter. He can still help us significantly.

If you smoke the objective pipe I think the coverage of it will be smoother, more accurate. I think the reaction to him is overblown.

No, he’s not pitching like a No. 2 starter. He’s pitching like a quality starter in the American League that can help.

Yo Cash, can you pass that objective pipe over this way? Lemme get a hit off that.

Oh yeah.


That’s the good stuff.

So, Cashman is obviously wrong about Burnett, but it’s not clear if his rant was motivated by obstinacy, defensiveness, or the desire to draw attention away from Burnett and onto him. But…

We should all pay higher taxes if we want to live in a fair, compassionate and productive society. Even me. Americans pay some of the lowest tax rates of any first-world citizens!

Whoa, that was weird. Anyway, where was I? Burnett is definitely overpaid, and his contract factors into fans’ anger, but…

I overrate movies and music I love based on their impact on my own life!

What the…? OK, whatever. Anyway, Cashman needs to understand that…

There is no afterlife! God is Santa Claus for adults, a fairy tale that helps us sleep at night!

Wow. Fuck. That was inappropriate for this blog post. I’m so sorry. This objective pipe is some strong stuff. I was trying to say that A.J. Burnett…

Brian Cashman is out of his fucking gourd. While he is nominally correct that people disparage Burnett more than they would if he were making $2 million a year, that doesn’t mean his contract can be ignored — particularly when said contract is the only reason Burnett remains in the rotation. He was one of the worst pitchers in baseball in 2010, and has followed that up by planting himself in the bottom 20% of American League starters in 2011 by any objective measure.

Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova might get better than they are. This is what A.J. Burnett is. Every time the Yankees allow Burnett to start a game, they are engaging in a an act of self-sabotage not only for their current season but for seasons still to come. A.J. Burnett has not delivered a quality start in eight outings — and quality starts are not exactly the measure by which elite talent should be judged (6 IP, 3 ER). 

By defending Burnett so vigorously, Cashman has shown himself to be either much stupider than we’d imagined or more Machiavellian. “The man can still pitch”? “The man is a starter”? Those statements could apply to almost anyone alive who is allowed to start a baseball game and not a quadriplegic. The Yankees’ best course of action would be to release Burnett outright, and free their rotation from the burden of his disaster starts.

Hang on, hang on….it’s starting to wear off now. That was some good shit, but the effect is fading…




Yep, back to normal.


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Filed under Sports Has AIDS, The Dilemma

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