A.J. Burnett will pitch for Pittsburgh in 2012. (AP)The New York Yankees aren't likely to agree, but that was a really fun three years they just spent with A.J. Burnett.
Yes, it was a disaster from a baseball perspective. The best you can say about Burnett's time with the Yankees is that it opened up a fascinating debate on whether his one clutch victory in the 2009 World Series was worth the $69.5 million the Yankees paid him — a figure that includes all three years in New York and part of the next two seasons he'll spend in Pittsburgh after Friday's completed trade.
The worst that you can say about Burnett's tenure in pinstripes is that he utterly failed at becoming the No. 2 pitcher the Yankees were expecting when they signed him (and CC Sabathia) after the playoff-less 2008 season, leading them to sacrifice Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners this offseason in exchange for Michael Pineda.
But mercifully for the Yankees, it's finally all over. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Yankees will get two prospects in return and that the Pirates will pay $5 million of Burnett's 2012 salary and $8 million in 2013. (Burnett is owed a total of $33 million over the next two seasons.)
Yankees fans may not miss him, but from a Stew perspective, Burnett in the Bronx was blogging gold. Consider the following "achievements" we were able to document:
• The time he showed up to a pitch with a big ol' shiner and refused to explain.
• His oh-so-hilarious cream-pieings of Yankee teammates who had actually contributed to victories. Looking back, it's amazing that he didn't set another eight-figure contract aflame by injuring someone during a postgame interview. (We even called for a ban.)
• Claiming his stuff was "nasty" when it was really anything but.
• Setting records for wild pitches thrown.
• His attempt to start a new fad among Williamsburg hipsters by sporting a Dennis the Menace haircut was one of our favorite Fashion Ump posts in 2011.
• Being bad enough during the 2011 season to make Rob Iracane laugh at the prospect of Burnett saving the season Game 4 of the ALDS. But somehow just good enough to make Iracane eat all of his words the next morning.
Burnett surely must have inspired even more Big League Stew material over the years, but our Internet search functions are acting rather limited right now. But we're confident that he's sure to write a few more at PNC Park as the Steinbrenners hope he forgets to send them the forwarding address for the $20 million worth of paychecks still due.
Yeah, yeah. Sore subject. But we'll miss the guy.
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