The Mockingbird

Checking in with Burnett

with 18 comments

With various A.J. Burnett trade rumours flying around, it’s time to check in with his quest to achieve Type A free agent status again. In short, A.J. has to outperform his 2006 numbers in these categories to make it:

Year Appearances IP W W% Saves ERA WHIP K’s K/BB
2006 21 135.2 10 .555 0 3.98 1.30 118 3.02
2008 Pace 33 200 15 .533 0 4.74 1.48 203 2.04

Why do we care? Because other teams certainly will. Even though you can’t literally trade draft picks, that’s what is happening because it’s pretty obvious Burnett will opt out of the remaining years on his contract at the end of this year. When he does, whichever team he walks on will get a supplemental pick, and a first round pick from the team who signs him – if and only if he is a Type A free agent.

So every start A.J. makes from now until the trade deadline quite literally affects his trade value. Not in the “hey, this guy might finally have pulled his Cy Young stuff together and boy does he throw hard” sense that has sent GM’s hurling themselves like moths into his for years, but in a much more real and tangible one.

In addition to a rent-a-pitcher who teams might be reasonably interested in for the idea he could have a month like he’s capable of and/or shut down any offense in the playoffs on any given day, the Jays are either throwing a first-round pick into the mix or they aren’t. The difference is huge- either a team is taking a huge gamble by sending the Jays a real blue-chip prospect for an mercurial pitcher, or they’re just trading someone who’s ready for a couple of high-end guys a few years from now.

As you can see, it’s still touch and go. Burnett is killing his 2006 numbers in appearances, wins, innings and K’s – but still way, way behind in ERA, WHIP and K/BB. It’s gotten a little better since about a month ago, but is still too close to call- a tough spot to be forced into for either side of a potential trade. J.P. could easily be lowballed and not get enough than he would just holding on to A.J., or some other GM could wind up with egg on his face if the pick evaporates with a meltdown on Burnett’s last start of the season.

A.J. has finished strong the last couple of years, but then there was the Marlins debacle the year before when he lost his last 6 starts and was told to go home before the season was over. All personal feelings of disappointment aside, do you gamble on or against A.J. with a first-round pick hanging in the balance?


Written by halejon

July 3, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Posted in Seriousness

18 Responses

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  1. Great post, dude. Do you have any free time on Sunday night to come on the Podcast and talk shit for fifteen minutes or so?

    dustin parkes

    July 3, 2008 at 5:41 pm

  2. Hey Jon, how does the comparison to the 2006 numbers work out?

    dustin parkes

    July 3, 2008 at 6:13 pm

  3. Sadly, this is all much more interesting than anything that’s happening on the diamond. And even more so still once AJ starts chirping about a trade in the coming weeks.

    johnny was

    July 3, 2008 at 7:48 pm

  4. The only thing JP can do is wait for the offers to come in and see if there is anything he likes. I would like to see him willing to deal anything not nailed to the floor (Halladay better be untouchable).

    brent in Korea

    July 3, 2008 at 7:53 pm

  5. Parkes: Sure, I think I’m good for this weekend. Whaddya mean about the comparison? It’s just a rough guess, but every year the numbers from this season replace those from two years ago, and he was a type B last year so he has to improve. It also depends on the rest of the league, but that’s way too much work to figure out (although pitching is better this year in general so you can guess that he has to be significantly better).


    July 3, 2008 at 9:57 pm

  6. Brent: Who’s really worth trading, though? Other than Stairs, everyone’s either not worth much or at their lowest value because they’re massively underproducing. Eckstein would be a salary dump. Nobody’s going to give anything for Zaun. Maybe a lefty bullpen guy, but at most we get a pitching prospect back.


    July 3, 2008 at 10:00 pm

  7. I see. I didn’t realize he was considered Type B last year. I just read that the Orioles are actually interested in Eckstein. Like JW said, at least there’s something interesting happening.

    Cool on the podcast front. I’ll fire you an email tomorrow for your digits and send you something in the way of an outline on Sunday. Talk to you then.

    dustin parkes

    July 4, 2008 at 12:44 am

  8. I guess it’s something…I would guess that would be a pure salary dump, though. I’d take 2.5 million and a warm body for Eck in a snap.. Going to be a post eventually, but his D has been even more brutal than it was last year. A 30something not getting his glove back after a big downturn – who knew?!?


    July 4, 2008 at 12:51 am

  9. who knew, indeed…

    i can’t believe the orioles are above .500 and we’re sitting like bitches in last place. fuck.


    July 4, 2008 at 2:47 am

  10. Jon, he doesn’t HAVE to improve. Simply pitching a full season and racking up more W, K, IP, and APP could help mitigate any peripheral regression. Also, as you said, there’s the rest of the league to consider.

    I think if AJ makes 30 starts he will be a type A.


    July 4, 2008 at 3:06 pm

  11. How so? Last year he was a type B by something like 6 spots. So assuming the league’s starters stay about the same (and they haven’t- they’ve been a LOT better in terms of ERA and WHIP this season) then he has to improve on 2006 to move up.

    If he gains ground in those categories you mention and tanks it in ERA/WHIP/K/BB like he’s doing right now at the very least it’s too close to call. As it stands right now, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t qualify (although he should pitch better from here on).

    Pitching a full season is also a pretty big if…


    July 4, 2008 at 4:17 pm

  12. He doesn’t need to improve on 2006 to move up. Simply pitching a full season at or near his career levels will do that for him. So while that may be the big “if”, it’s still the condition most likely to affect his Type status. His YTD has been fine, and his FIP should show an impending improvement in his peripherals from here on out.


    July 4, 2008 at 4:56 pm

  13. Well, pitching a full season at his career levels would by definition be an improvement on 2006…my point is that he’s not doing that right now.

    I know his BABIP says that he’s been unlucky- so I guess it would be more correct to say that his numbers have to improve rather than he has to start pitching a lot better. But what’s YTD? If it’s year to date, at least in terms of results I think fine is a stretch.


    July 4, 2008 at 5:07 pm

  14. Just out of curosity, what does a type B free agent net for compensatory pick(s)? One in the supplemental round?

    johnny was

    July 4, 2008 at 11:13 pm

  15. Yep. As opposed to one in the first (unless it comes in the first half) and a supplemental as well.


    July 5, 2008 at 3:06 am

  16. Jon,

    Just wondering where you heard that they use K/BB and WHIP in the formula? What I found had those omitted.

    Dan W

    July 7, 2008 at 2:50 pm

  17. Hmmm, yeah I see that Law/mlttraderumours has all those categories for starters/relievers. That’s good news. But also, apparently pitchers are pro-rated for time spent on the DL?!? That’s really bad news.

    I guess there’s no way of knowing, but there was a flap about Gagne being called a type A because he had only pitched 16 innings or something in the last two innings but got a lot of points for credit for 9 saves in that time. If Burnett already was getting prorated innings (how the heck does that work?!) in 2006 then the whole raw accumulation of W/IP/K’s this season isn’t going to do anything. But then why the heck wasn’t he a type A last year? Just W and W%?!

    What an archaic system.


    July 7, 2008 at 6:05 pm

  18. Thanks for the quick reply Jon.

    Archaic indeed.

    The MLBTradeRumours thing is the only place I’ve found mention of pro-rating for time spent on DL, and I just don’t see how it would make sense to do that when you’re using counting stats so heavily. I mean, if starters are all going to have their numbers expanded, what’s the point of the Games and Innings categories? Everyone would end up pretty much the same in those categories.

    In the case of Gagne in ’06, he had only pitched 15 innings… but reliever is the one position where rate stats actually count a fair bit. His ERA, K/BB, and H/IN ratios were outstanding over those 15 innings, then hrow in the Saves+Wins of 10 to put him middle of the pack in that category as well, and voila… A type A reliever.

    Plus last year with Burnett, I really don’t see how he could’ve been left out if his numbers were adjusted. The guys ERA was tons better than a lot of people on the list, and his Win% wasn’t bad by any means. Then all his counting stats wouldve gotten significant bumps and I don’t see how he would’ve been outside the top 10.

    I’ve emailed Tim Dierkes and a couple others to try and get to the bottom of it. If I don’t find any evidence that the stats are prorated for DL time, I’m going to run with an article I did that goes into detail on Burnett’s chances, breaking down his numbers vs all of the other starting pitchers in the AL. If they are prorated for DL, what I did won’t hold up.

    Dan W

    July 7, 2008 at 7:07 pm

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