June 17, 2008

Burnett's As Good As Gone

A.J. Burnett is the talk of the town and, once again, for all the wrong reasons. Here's the one reason why Burnett's comments about accepting a trade to the Chicago Cubs don't matter: Carlos Silva.

First of all, in regards to A.J.'s comments, if they took you by surprise, you're an idiot. It's A.J. Burnett. You should expect nothing less to come out of his mouth. He came to Toronto with the reputation of a clubhouse - I don't want to use the word "cancer" - nuisance and his relationship with the media, the fans, and management has been rocky throughout his two and a half years with the Blue Jays. He is just a "talented bonehead" after all.

Think about it. We're talking about a grown man who has sported arguably the worst mohawk in the history of mohawks, and whose hand-picked introduction music is "Hanging Tough" by New Kids On The Block. Clearly we're not dealing with a highly intellectual individual here. He's a 12-year old trapped in a man's body, with one hell of an arm.

Anyway, you're probably wondering what the hell the rotund Carlos Silva has to do with A.J. Burnett. Allow me to take this opportunity to tell you. We're all aware that Burnett has an opt-out clause in his 5-year, $55 million contract. Burnett can walk away from the Jays at the end of the season, leaving $24 million on the table, and make his services available to the highest bidder (even the Jays if they were so inclined).

Here's where Silva comes in. Carlos hit the free agent market this past winter after putting up these numbers in 2007 with the Minnesota Twins: 13 wins, 14 losses, a 4.19 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP, 89 strikeouts, and a .287 opponents batting average.

As you can see, not exactly Cy Young type shit. Not even close. With career numbers that scream out mediocrity, he'd be a fourth or fifth starter on most teams. But along came Santa Claus the Seattle Mariners on December 20th, 2007, offering Silva a monster 4-year, $48 million contract. Now I'm sure Silva thought it was all a big joke. I'm positive he thought he was getting Punk'd, and that Ashton Kutcher was going to come running out and rip up the contract, and point out the cameras. I mean, come on. Twelve million dollars a year...for Carlos fucking Silva? What his this world come to?

Of course, Silva signed on the dotted line. He's still laughing, actually. And how's good old Carlos doing this season, you ask? He's won three games, lost seven, is sporting a Josh Towers-esque 5.79 ERA, and opponents are batting .315 against him. In an utterly shocking move, Seattle Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi was fired yesterday. I've got an inkling the Silva contract might, just might, have had something to do with that.

You see my point, I'm sure. If Carlos Silva got $48 million over four years on the open market, A.J. Burnett would be a fool not to opt out of his contract. Pitchers make the big bucks and just like the Toronto Blue Jays showed A.J. the money Jerry Maguire style, thinking they could finally harness his amazing potential, someone else will do the same. Burnett-type electric stuff doesn't come around often and if A.J. could only ever put it all together he'd be one of baseball's best.

Yes, the Jays could explore trading Burnett before the trade deadline next month, but the Drunks are right, it ain't going to happen. Not with that opt-out clause looming so large over his contract. If When Burnett walks, the Jays will receive two draft picks as compensation, and J.P. Ricciardi will be hard-pressed to get something better than that in return via a trade.

So enjoy A.J.'s final three and a half months in a Blue Jays uniform. Here's praying the switch somehow goes off, he finally "gets it," and he and Doc lead the Jays on a magical run to the post-season, or at least some meaningful baseball in September. If Burnett can help get this season out of the shit hole it has found itself in, it will ease the sting of his imminent departure. And so will Casey Janssen.

And A.J., before I go, did you ever think that, while this town may not be "a place where baseball is breakfast, lunch and dinner," you might help in bringing fans back to the Rogers Centre? Sure, Toronto's a hockey town, but in case you haven't noticed, the hockey team around these parts fucking sucks, and nothing would get this city more pumped up than some October baseball. Burnett really is a bonehead.

I need a drink.