Tuesday, December 06, 2005

49 Career Wins + 42 Career Saves = $102 Million

The Blue Jays have signed Starting Pitcher AJ Burnett to a 5 year, $55 million deal to compliment their brand new closer.

As the title of this post indicates, the Jays have now committed to $102 million over the next five years to be payed out to a pitcher with 49 career wins (to compliment 50 career losses and 1 major reconstructive surgery on his pitching arm), and another pitcher with 42 career saves, and only one year of experience as a full-time closer.

I still have generally positive feelings about the BJ Ryan signing, but think that the AJ Burnett signing is a terrible move. If he averages 15 wins and an ERA under 4 over the next five years, I'll admit I'm wrong, but I don't see him doing that. His history of injuries, inconsistency, and mediocrioty leads me to believe that this signing will be considered as much of a bust as Texas' signing of Chan Ho Park, which the espn.com story points out was the last time a starting pitcher received a five-year deal in free agency.

As for the Jays, they've (arguably) overpayed to acquire the starting pitcher and closer they desperately wanted. While I still think they would have been better of holding out on starters until next year's crop, or at least pursuing a trade for Barry Zito, you have to hand it to JP Ricciardi for doing what he had to to acquire 2/3 of his off-season shopping list. If Burnett and Ryan perform, and the Jays make the playoffs (or go farther), these moves will be a success. If they don't, JP has just sunk a lot of his payroll into 2 unproductive players. And unlike his AL East rivals in New York and Boston, he can't afford to completely write them off and keep spending. He'll also need to give raises to their young players down the road, making it difficult to pursue any more high-ticket free agents.

The Jays still need to acquire a power bat, preferrably from the left side. They can now dangle a package of 2B Orlando Hudson and former closer Miguel Batista, but the pickings may be slim at this point. Taking a flier on a head case like Milton Bradley or Carl Everett may be the only course.

I'm not a Jays fan, but if I were I think I'd feel a lot of uneasiness heading into the 2006 season. If their GM knows what he's doing, they'll be a playoff team this year. If not, these moves could prevent them from getting over the hump during the next few years. If that happens, we'll likely be pointing back to this two week stretch three years from now when discussing the termination of JP Ricciardi in Toronto. He's made a couple of big moves, now let's see if the gambles pay off or not.


At 10:32 AM, Blogger Greg said...

This truly is a gamble. Of course, when you consider the fact that Millwood is rumored to be getting $44M for four years, signing Burnett is a bargain.

I'm not sure I understand all these awful contracts.

Burnett could turn out to be a great signing. Although, 5 years is a bit much.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Millwood has a better track record than Burnett, and is only about 2 years older. But $11 mil a year for 4 years would still be a terrible signing.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Avi Schaumberg said...

I want to believe, but it feels like Gord Ash Round II.

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Avi Schaumberg said...

Great quotes:

"This is going to be a fun five years." -- AJ Burnett

"We used to just drive by Tiffany's. "Now we can stop and we can buy a bracelet every once in a while." -- JP Ricciardi

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Alex said...

JP received a 3 year extension today too, a nice reward for freely spending his owner's money.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Bad omen: isn't Burnett's contract identical in duration and $$ to Darren Dreifort's w/ the Dodgers?

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Yup. Five years, $55 million. Eerie.


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