About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

26 thoughts on “Cashman still has A.J.’s back

  1. Inertia – or just trying to make things look good fiscally. If I have three guys on the payroll and they're all equally good or bad, I guess I'm going to send out my guy making 15 mil. Not that he's any better, or deserves it, but wth – he's being paid anyway. There's a better chance of him figuring things out on the job, instead of sitting around.

    And if I'm trying to move him – maybe a month of not sucking would raise his stock – heaven knows it can't go a whole lot lower.

    • AJ Burnett is the beautiful acquaintance that you dream about sleeping with. The one who always leads you on JUST enough so that you actually think there's a chance of it happening. You've known her for years and you've never truly gotten that far with her. You resign yourself to the fact that it will never actually happen. But then, every once in awhile, she will flash you that look. It's a look that may or may not have substance or intent behind it. A look that you've seen plenty of times before. A look that has never previously lead to anything significant. But invariably that look will rekindle your lost hope, and you'll spend the next several weeks/months anxiously awaiting what happens next.

      And inevitably that look only leads to a 6-run, 4-inning performance against Boston. But that look is why he'll continue to have a shot in the rotation as long as he's on the roster.

      • Nailed it in one. While Freddy is the girl from auto mechanics who'd love to do anything with you, but never gets the grease out from under her nails. And poor Phil – sadly, he has the baseball equivalent of mono for much of the season.

  2. "I'm going to have his back the entire way."

    /fart noise.

    That sentiment rings a bit hollow after all that's gone down over the past few months with regard to the 2012 rotation. I think it's clear the Yankees don't want A.J. to be a part of the rotation, whether they trade him or not, and I think it will take really poor performances from both Hughes and Garcia in ST to justify giving A.J. the spot over them.

  3. Yes AJ has stunk the last two years. Yes he is overpaid. But lets be thankful that hes not Lackey, who goes out gives up 6 runs in 3 innings and then says he had great stuff today. AJ is accountable for his lack of production, he always says the right thing. It is absolutely correct to get on AJ about his performance, which stinks. AJ knows that, Giradi knows that, Cashman knows that. The fans know that. I would still take AJ over Lackey these last two years, soley based on the accountability factor.

    • Hey, don't get me wrong, I *like* A.J. just fine. Heck, going just on what we've seen from him publicly in the last three years (his work with HOPE week, the way literally everyone around the team swears by his work ethic and the amount of time he's put in to trying to figure things out, etc.) I'd be happy to nominate him for the Good Guys in Sports Hall of Fame right now.

      But being a good guy doesn't help your team win games.

      • And though I wouldn't say this site represents this attitude especially (indeed, often it's the antithesis), this theme and some of its comments, albeit relatively moderately expressed, touch on everything that makes me hesitant to identify fully with the Yanks and Yankee fans.

        Sport, and winning in sport, does not matter. It is essentially meaningless. Its only value is in its ability to expose and, if you are lucky , develop character. There was a nice article on HardballTalk by Craig the other day about fan booing that, to my mind got to the heart of the same thing. If someone is trying their absolute best, by their lights, what on earth would possess you to be critical of them ( regardless of their salary which, after all was offered them to try their best for you rather than another team)?

        • Staying in New York the summer of '88, I still remember Dave Righetti in the middle of a tremendously difficult period of being unable to put away the third out as the closer. I went to, say, a dozen games that year and more than once he struck out the first two guys, got two strikes on the next and then walked him and the next guy and gave up a game-winning hit to the next. It was bizarre and painful to watch, particularly to me as a sensitive 18 year old. But if it affected me that was nothing to how it so clearly affected him. He obviously was trying his heart out each time he went to pitch and felt each failure as I did, shoulders slumping more each time. Yet "fans" booed him remorsely even as he came IN to pitch. I remember being so moved that I stayed outside the stadium after the game just to call encouragement to him as he left. I needn't have bothered since my quiet English tones were drowned by the chorus of spite uttered at him by the other people who took time from their lives to stay behind to try to make him feel even worse.

          • If AJ is really trying his best, as seems to be the general consensus, then let's not be even slightly critical of him because the outcomes are not as we would choose them to be. Maybe one way in which modern life has changed is that, because of our greater access to media, it has made us a more vicarious people. Or maybe New York has always been a place slightly lacking perspective or generosity of spirit. What have you done for me lately only works as a song title.

          • I don't know, isn't that kind of what *professional* sports are all about? And let's not understate the point here; we're not just talking about someone who hasn't played to his salary, but someone who's been really bad for two straight seasons. I can appreciate that he's trying hard but, well, *anyone* can do that. Granted sports are just sports and all, but one fairly obvious principle of professional anything is that merely trying your hardest isn't good enough if the results aren't there. Certainly you wouldn't dare entrust your next medical procedure to me on the promise that I would do my very best to succeed at it.

            Also, there's the not minor issue that A.J. doesn't exist in a vacuum on the team. This isn't just about cutting a loss for the sake of catharsis, there's a possibility that there simply won't be a place for him on the roster. If the Yankees end the spring with 12 pitchers they want to keep plus A.J., what are they supposed to do, send Nova down to the minors and make Hughes a reliever just to make room for him?

          • Professional sports means someone pays you to do your best and that you thus have more time than an amateur in order to try and perfect your skills. It doesn't mean you will necessarily succeed (especially when the guys you are playing against are also playing on the same, professional, terms as you) and it still doesn't mean that it matters.

            On the medical analogy, I would entrust my care to a medic who was properly trained and had experience of that which ailed me and all that might relate to it. Notwithstanding his training and expertise, he might not have the answer to every possible scenario that could arise in my or any other case. That's not unprofessional – that's life.

            Expecting someone to produce the result you desire or in proportion to the amount of money you decide to pay him is, frankly. insane. If it worked that way, the Yankees would win every year.

          • I'm not sure I buy that. The try-your-best principle works fine in the amateur ranks, but once you become a professional anything it seems reasonable to expect you to be at least passable at your job. And while it's fine to feel bad for someone that isn't performing, I'm not sure that needs to go so far as to thinking it appalling if they lose their job for the reason of not being very good at it.

            And to go back to the keeping sports in perspective angle, A.J. doesn't necessarily deserve any *sympathy* for his plight either. The middle aged working class guy who lost his job through no fault of his own because his company had to cut back in the face of an economic downturn? Sympathize with him. Even if Burnett gets released outright tomorrow, he's going to make every dime of the $33 million he's owed over the next two years. And don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge him what he made, I'm just saying let's not pretend that he's behind the eight ball of life in the grand scheme of things. I tend to think booing professional athletes (on your team) is somewhere between stupid and pointless, but if booing someone who pulls down in one ball game what your household makes in a year (or more) brings a little catharsis to your life, A.J., A-Rod, or whomever can deal with it, in my opinion.

            And if nothing else, this answer still doesn't square away the question of what to do with A.J. if there isn't any room on the roster for him at the end of the spring.

          • Tend to agree with most of what you say. No problem not picking AJ to play for the team if he' not worth the place (and I tend to think he may certainly not be in the best five starters right now) and not either for a moment suggesting that his position is the most difficult that any himan could ever be in.

            But if booing someone else gives one catharsis then I suggest, as I did at the start, that sport (even to one as a spectator) has revealed something about one's character that has nothing to do with the guy one is booing.

          • To reiterate, I do not mean to suggest that it would be appalling for AJ to lose his "job" and nothing I say relates to any reasoned discussion on the question of who should make the 25-man roster and the respective merits of the contenders, during which discussion it is perfectly fair to refer to past performance, good or bad.. I suggest that, presupposing as we seem to be that he is trying his best, it is crazy, and almost certainly counter-productive, to criticise him for the outcomes of that effort . In the way that Cash describes AJ as being accountable, I completely agree and respect him for it and will not denigrate the bloke just because his performance levels have been way below what I hoped for.

  4. While I appreciate your sentiments and agree that A.J. has handled himself well, I wish we didn't have to choose at all between the two. Being a great guy doesn't put wins on the board.

    • I agree, All I am saying is that if he were a whining, annoying malcontent, then Cashman and Giradi probaly would have thrown him under the bus a long time ago/

  5. He helped win us a world series, he's accountable for his stuff and he does has helped with the chemistry in a way (pies in the face, championship belt). Besides that though, he hasn't brought constant results.

    But I actually think Cashman is still holding out hope for A.J. He went 4-0 last april and has shown flashes late in the season and even in the playoffs of still being a legit starter. That's not to say he's counting on A.J this year, but i think this is more than Brian just simply saying what he's expected to say.

  6. Burnett just needs to grow up and not worry about the umpire's corners being too small around the plate.
    He has fallen into the habit of being more concerned about called strikes than getting hitters out with flies, force and ground outs. His obsession with throwing everything in his repertoire for a strike has cost him dearly the past two seasons. I got to see him throw live the past three years several times and he has not been the same aggressive hurler he was in 2009. The OLD AJ would throw inside on a first pitch to establish his fastball on a heavy hitter. His breaking stuff used to be so nasty with late action that he would induce swings that boggled the imagination.
    The Yankees pitching coach had better find a way to get inside Burnett's head and get him to relax more and allow his defense behind him to help him win a few more games this season.

  7. I think it's rarely a good idea to publically throw one of your players under the bus.
    Cashman et al have plenty of time to talk to AJ and get their thoughts across. And as AJ has been left off the PS SP roster before, it seems Cashman is not totally hypnotised by AJ's contract.
    The situation sucks, but I believe Cashman will do what's best, taking all things into consideration.

  8. The more this gets hashed over, the more I lean towards putting AJ in the rotation. On the proverbial "short leash." Our choices are Freddy, Phil, and AJ – right? Obviously, Phil would be your upside choice for 2014 and on. Freddy, at best, is insurance for this year.

    Whereas – think about it – of those three pitchers, which one would be the most dominant, IF he were to pitch to potential, and to past performance? Yup – AJ is a lot closer to being a #2 than the other two; if Freddy is #3 in our rotation again this year, we have serious problems. Phil had a good record for the first half of 2010 – a record bouyed by the best run support in the majors, over that time period. That's it. While AJ was a proven dominant pitcher with injury questions when he was hired.

    You might as well put AJ back in the rotation – he has far more immediate, win-now upside than the other two. Should it turn out that bad AJ is the guy that shows up – there's an entire season to let the Freddy fill innings and Phil try to reinvent himself.

    • I think I probably agree with this as a starting premise, at least until one of the others muddies the waters by throwing 20 great spring training innings.