Baltimore Sun

The Orioles pitching is awful. They should still take a pass on A.J. Burnett

You know that guy in your office or at your tailgate who bores everyone to tears talking about his fantasy teams? You know how he thinks every real life sports decision can be solved by looking at the fantasy sports perspective? The guy is kind of a moron.

Allow me to be that guy for a second.


I play in a fairly intense fantasy baseball league where rosters don't reset at the start of each year. We haven't had a draft in close to a decade. Everyone is a keeper until you cut them loose, and so you're forced to build your team kind of like a real franchise would. You get to know your players a little bit and make something of an emotional investment in them. A.J. Burnett has been a member of my team, The Baltimore Bums, since his rookie season in Florida, and so I feel I can say this with confidence:

A.J. Burnett is the most infuriating pitcher in all of baseball. And instead of offering him a dump truck full of money (whether it's real money or Confederate money, as Syd Thrift might say) the O's should run far, far away. Because he will break your heart. He will make your hair fall out. He will spend five years teasing you with one good start in every four, and spend more time on the DL than Amy Winehouse spends in detox.


It's a bad idea, and I wish the Orioles wouldn't even bother. (He'll likely just use them anyway, trying to land a better offer somewhere else.) Burnett is the kind of pitcher who has an electric arm that is made out of balsa wood and held together with chewing gum. He probably has Dr. James Andrews on speed dial. When it's time to pitch for a new contract, he's like a young Pedro Martinez blowing away batters and painting the corners. But when it really matters, even a little bit (and I'm talking about fantasy baseball here, since he hasn't pitched in a meaningful real life game in forever), he almost seems to sense it. Every year, right about the time my fantasy team's playoffs begin, he'll oddly find a reason to shut it down and go on the disabled list for the 753rd time of his career. Of course, I've never had the courage to cut him, because he's so ridiculously talented and is capable of striking out 18 guys if he's in the right mood. It is truly maddening. The guy has made 30-plus starts three times in his career. Guess what happened the following season? He went on the disabled list every single time.

Does that sound like someone you should give between $75 million and $100 million?

You don't have to take my word for it, though. Take the word of Adam "Sully" Sullivan, a writer for T.O. Sports Magazine in Canada, who penned this gem last year, "A.J. Burnett: Not Unlike Your Girlfriend."

A.J. is very much like your girlfriend in many ways: Indecisive, inconsistent, easily distracted, whiny, and prone to being hurt by even the slightest agitation. Your girlfriend probably doesn't cry as much so that's one thing she has going for her. Although she deserves it every bit as much as Burnett, your girlfriend doesn't have a World Series ring. So maybe they aren't so similar after all. Or are they? Enjoy these bullet points outlining how it is entirely possible that your significant other is A.J. Burnett in disguise:

-- both have at least one utterly pointless tattoo

-- both would be more than willing to participate in even the most ludicrous of television commercials if it would just get them some damn attention

-- both have been known to throw you a curve ball or two on occasion

-- both don't cheat, but sometimes, man ... you just wish they would


-- both have, or have had, SWEET blonde highlights

So there you have it. Burnett is also 32 years old. The player he compares most favorably with at this age, according to is Pete Harnisch. (Come on, Pete Harnisch!) Harnisch went 16-10 at age 32 and was out of baseball two years later. I'd rather see the O's throw twice as much money at Mark Teixeira than watch them give Burnett cab fare. (He would just sprain his elbow climbing into the cab anyway.)

Seriously, Orioles fans. Caveat emptor.

Photo: AP