When A.J Burnett received a five year $82.5M contract from the New York Yankees in 2009 who would’ve thought he would wind up with the Pittsburgh Pirates before his deal was up? Burnett’s first year with the Pirates was better than expected as he posted a 3.51 ERA and won 16 games for a third-place team.
At 36-years-old this could be a make or break season for Burnett who was a rather hot commodity when he last hit the MLB free agent market back in 2009. The Pirates have been inconsistent in each of the last two seasons and have not made the playoffs since 1992 when Barry Bonds was manning right field for the Bucs.
This pitching staff isn’t very deep and they will need every inch of Burnett to pitch well if they hope to derail the Cincinnati Reds as NL Central champions this year.
Wandy Rodriguez is going to be the two starter in this staff and although he has been in the league for eight seasons he has never been on a contender like the Pirates hope to be. If Burnett can keep producing then I have no doubt his effectiveness will be contagious with the rest of the staff and give Rodriguez that much more steam moving forward.
Clint Hurdle has his hands full with the back-end of this rotation, however, he knows what he is going to get out of the 14 year veteran and Burnett could be even better in a contract season. I have no doubt that Burnett is going to be effective and if he remains an ace, he will likely be walking in 2014 as the Pirates are known for letting their best players head out of town.