If A.J. Burnett was a pair of shoes instead of a right-handed pitcher, the Philadelphia Phillies would have returned him a long time ago. Sadly, that doesn’t work for bad signings.
He has not been a good fit and he was overpriced to begin with at $16 million this season. It now appears that, of all the offseason acquisitions GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made, this was indeed the worst — and maybe the worst of all time. For some reason known only to him, Amaro falls in love with the old guys well past their prime rather than projecting an up-and-comer whose statistics figure to point upward.
The sad numbers for Burnett: Six wins, 14 losses, a 4.42 ERA, 27 starts and just one complete game. Now Burnett appears ready to retire, as he should, and the Phillies will be looking for another pitcher or two in the starting rotation. If they were smart — and it appears they are not — they also jettison the equally horrible Kyle Kendrick in addition to giving Burnett a retirement watch.
The alternative would be to promote part-time starter David Buchanan to full-time status and giving a guy like Cuban signee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez a chance to earn another rotation spot in spring training. The Phillies look like they have to keep Cliff Lee since no team is going to want his damaged goods. Cole Hamels appears to be another keeper unless the Phillies are knocked off their socks in the offseason.
Burnett, though, was supposed to give the team a solid No. 3 starter and he hasn’t been anything but a bad No. 5. In the annals of bad Amaro moves, this qualifies as one of the worst.