The Reinvention of A.J. Burnett

Following the 2011 season, A.J. Burnett wasn’t looking so hot. Three years into a five-year deal signed prior to the Yankees’ 2009 World Series-winning campaign, Burnett had provided the Yankees with 584 innings of 4.79 ERA (92 ERA+) and a K/BB ratio under 2.0. With two years and $33 million remaining on the deal, Burnett was shipped out to Pittsburgh for minor leaguers Exicardo Cayones and Diego Moreno and 60 cents on the dollar (New York paid $20 million of the remainder).

It was there, in Pittsburgh, that Burnett turned things around. In 393.1 innings, Burnett provided the Bucs with a 3.41 ERA (107 ERA+) and a K/BB ratio of 3.02. What’s more, his home run rate was drastically reduced, going from 81 allowed in those 584 Yankee innings (1.2 per 9) to 29 in 393.1 (or 0.7 per 9).

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Phillies Avoid Arbitration with Ben Revere

The Phillies closed the books on their arbitration season Friday, reaching an agreement with center fielder Ben Revere on a $1.95 million deal for the 2014 season. This is Revere’s first year or arbitration eligibility.

Revere, 25, was acquired last offseason for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May, and played in 88 games before breaking his right ankle fouling a pitch off it in July. Revere was in the midst of a two-and-a-half-month-long rebound from an abysmal April before the injury, hitting .347/.380/.404 in 240 PA from May 1 on.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 87: Blizzard Shopping with Ruben Amaro

Hey, hey hey, interrogate me hey…

@mdubz11: “your hall of fame ballot, opinions, etc etc”

I’m shocked that nobody asked me this before now, but I guess there’s a certain point past which nobody cares about my opinion. Anyway, I answered this last year, and nobody got in, so a lot of my answers are the same…actually, look at that, it was Dubs who asked for my hypothetical Hall of Fame ballot last year too, the sneaky bastard.

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A Bullpen Without Papelbon

The news is starting to come out: Jonathan Papelbon is on the block, and the Phillies want to move him. Whether they’re able to is one question, whether they should is a question answered before Pap even signed with the Phillies.

Because the contract never should’ve existed. That’s what I’m getting at. Bad deal. Bad.

But reality is reality, and Papelbon is still owed at least $26 million through 2015, with a 2016 option lingering. It makes sense to move him from a financial standpoint, even if the club has to absorb some of what’s left. It also makes sense to move him from a personnel standpoint, because this team can (and should) handle the 2014 season without the ninth inning role being a foregone conclusion.

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Robinson Cano and Chase Utley

At the time of my writing this, Robinson Cano is almost definitely a member of the Seattle Mariners, the club just hasn’t confirmed it. He’s jumping aboard for a 10-year, $240 million or so contract, a massive statement by the Mariners that could just be the beginning of a huge offseason in the Pacific Northwest.

All of this is fascinating, especially as it relates to the Phillies, because it further illustrates the immense bargain the Phillies got with Chase Utley.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 83: I Am Easily Shamed

Let’s start things off with a furious bout of wishful thinking.

@asigal22: “Is there a record this season that gets Amaro fired? If so, can he get the Phillies there?”

I don’t think so. Well, let me rephrase–there is such a record, but it’s like 36-126 or something ridiculous and bad as I think the Phillies are going to be, they won’t be record-settingly bad. I’m pretty sure the Phillies’ win total this season is going to start with a 7, and if it doesn’t it’ll be because Cliff Lee falls off a cliff, not because of anything Ruben Amaro‘s done recently. This has been inevitable since 2010, and that we’re just now feeling the effects of the decisions that killed the Phillies’ chances at contention doesn’t mean that they’re fixable in the short term. A few weeks ago I set an over-under date of something like December 9, 2015, more or less out of the blue, and asked around whether people thought Amaro would be gone before or after that date. I’d take the over, just because I can’t imagine what would change between now and then to change the mind of ownership. Continue reading…

Phillies Acquire Brad Lincoln, Wil Nieves

In the midst of some very hilarious pre-Winter-Meeting developments, the Phillies have made two negligible acquisitions. As Jim Salisbury reports, the Phillies have traded Rob Rasmussen and Erik Kratz to Toronto for reliever Brad Lincoln. The fact that this trade was officially announced by Phillies personnel prior to any rumor or leak should clue you in to its significance.

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Ryan Howard and 30 Home Runs

Thirty homers. It’s a nice, round number. It’s a decent benchmark for power during the season, and it’s a level Ryan Howard used to reach regularly. And he thinks he can do it again.

His contention is that injuries have kept him from being full strength (understandable) and that age is really just a number (less so). There’s no arguing the injury point; Howard’s missed tons of time over the last two seasons, and even when he was in the lineup, he generally produced – much less just slugged – far below his career averages.

But in baseball, age isn’t always just a number. Sure, now and then you get guys who defy the odds, who put together solid-to-good-to-great seasons well into their 30s (from Raul Ibanez on up through Barry Bonds and Randy Johnson), but this isn’t the norm, especially when the most accessible examples are Hall of Fame-level talents. Howard is not a future Hall of Famer, but he was an elite slugger at one point. That point wasn’t recent, but at least it exists.

So, on its face, the claim that Howard could hit 30 homers isn’t a silly one, but there’s enough to leave one dubious.

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2013 Phillies Report Card: Carlos Ruiz

It’s sort of arbitrary, but I always figured mid-2009 for the time when Carlos Ruiz turned it around at the (side of the) plate. Through games played on July 19th of that year, Ruiz had posted a .688 OPS, following a rough 2008 season (in which he nevertheless provided some choppy World Series heroics). That doesn’t sound too bad, I know, but this is 2009, when the league as a whole was still hitting baseballs.

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