There's No Place for A.J. Burnett in Yankee Rotation

Burnett awful while Hughes and Nova thrive in Minnesota.

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Aug 22, 2011  |  Updated 8:53 AM EDT
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Brian Cashman treated Yankee fans like idiots last week when he told them to smoke the objective pipe and realize that A.J. Burnett has been a solid starter for the team this season.

If Cashman plans to make another speech in support of Burnett this week, let's hope he's smoking something stronger than objectivity.

After Saturday night's awful pitching performance and petulant tantrum as he was coming off the game, Burnett has no place left in the Yankee rotation.

Burnett might have been cursing at the umpire instead of Joe Girardi when cameras caught him hurling expletives when Girardi took him out of the game in the second inning, but that's not really any excuse for his behavior.

In fact, it is a sign of why he should be collecting his paycheck while watching baseball games the rest of the season.

There are two ways for a pitcher going as poorly as Burnett is going to react to his performance. He can try to get better or he can blame others for his misfortune.

Burnett chose the latter and his competition chose the former. In a nutshell, that's why Burnett needs to get bounced.

Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have both also gone through periods of intense struggle this season, but each of them has found a way to adapt their game so they can get better. Hughes allowed two hits in 7.2 innings on Friday and Nova shut out the Twins for seven innings in Sunday's 3-0 win, a pair of starts that served to make Burnett look even worse when the dust settled on the Yankee weekend.

How can Girardi say with a straight face that continuing to start Burnett serves anything but Cashman's desire to salvage something from his $82 million investment? He's a company man -- his childish, insulting rant after being asked about Burnett's exit on Saturday night seemed designed to make Cashman's own shameful showing look good in comparison especially after Burnett admitted Girardi came to ask him why he was cursing his way to the dugout -- but at some point you have to go with the guys who actually give you a chance to win games on a regular basis.

It is hard to take Girardi seriously as a manager when he lets Burnett show him up on the mound and then defends his behavior by deriding men and women doing their job after the game. It has to stop.

Thanks to Hughes and Nova, Girardi doesn't even need to make the decision about Burnett. Burnett's been clearly outpitched by two other pitchers for a month now and both Hughes and Nova provide the promise of better things to come.

Burnett provides only misery, yet he remains an overprotected flower of the team's management. It is time for that to change and time for the Yankees to admit what everyone else realized a long time ago.

A Yankee rotation without A.J. Burnett is better than a rotation with him. It doesn't get more objective than that.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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