We’re still one day away from the official start of Spring Training, and already reports of Yankees showing up to camp early are coming in. And thank goodness, because another morning of Goddamn snow in New York today is about a million percent not what the doctor ordered.
According to AM New York — which doesn’t appear to post its sports stories online because they are mostly an amalgamation of (behind the pay wall) Newsday pieces, and so I don’t have a link — Curtis Granderson, A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, Boone Logan and Chad Gaudin are already in camp.
Burnett really sticks out to me more than anyone here. Everyone else in that group of pitchers is young and has no guarantees, each hoping to establish themselves in a particular role with the team. Burnett is the owner of an $82.5 million contract as well as the #2 slot in the rotation, not to mention a newly minted World Champion. Yet he’s already down in Tampa working out.
For better or for worse, I’ve long been a Burnett fan, and was more than on board with his signing last year, as divisive as it was. As Yankee fans in 2009 we all witnessed his enigmatic mixture of struggles and outright dominance, perhaps best underscored in a postseason in which he ranged from pretty good to horrible to flat-out brilliant.
I think Burnett is poised for a breakout year in pinstripes. While it’s somewhat hard to quibble with a 106 ERA+, I can argue with a 4.33 FIP. I expect more from our #2 starter, and Burnett has the stuff to be a better pitcher than that. Burnett’s always had difficulty harnessing his electric repertoire, but given that he already has a year in New York under his belt — a year in which he won the World Series — I expect very good things from A.J. this season. I don’t think a sub-4.00 FIP is out of the question.