Jeff Blair notes today that any team acquiring A.J. Burnett would be getting a hired gun. He says the Blue Jays will not allow a window for the acquiring team to potentially renegotiate Burnett's out clause. In a way, Burnett's out clause makes him less valuable than a normal impending free agent. If Burnett is injured or awful in August and September, the team could be stuck with him for 2009-10. Is there any chance Burnett pitches well from here on out but doesn't exercise the clause?
Garth Woolsey didn't like Burnett's comments, considering it a slap in the face to Jays fans. Here's a look back at Burnett's history of injuries and incidents (innings totals include minor and Major Leagues):
- 1999: Made Major League debut. 162 innings.
- 2000: Penciled in for Marlins' rotation, but ruptured thumb ligament pushes season debut to late July. 95 innings.
- 2001: Broken foot pushes season debut to May. Pitches nine-walk no-hitter in second start. 182.6 innings.
- 2002: Ranks second in baseball in Pitcher Abuse Points per start (thanks to Jeff Torborg). Threw 122 or more pitches nine times. Late in year, has DL stint for an elbow bruise. 204.3 innings.
- 2003: Burnett goes to arbitration with Marlins and loses. Forearm tightness leads to a cortisone shot in the elbow in March; starts season on DL. Has Tommy John surgery April 29th. In November, Larry Beinfest says the Marlins will be able to afford to retain Burnett after shedding Derrek Lee. 23 innings.
- 2004: A setback pushes his season debut to June 3rd. Says arm is stronger than it was before surgery, but elbow inflammation surfaces by September. Included in December trade talks with Yankees, D'Backs. 127.3 innings.
- 2005: Burnett's last year before free agency. He sought a three-year, $21MM deal, but the Marlins offered $16MM and no agreement was reached. Has laser eye surgery in offseason. Elbow inflammation in May, misses one turn. In June-July, trade rumors link him to Orioles, Jays, and White Sox. Burnett's unwillingness to sign an extension and the Marlins' insistence on packaging him with Mike Lowell nixes all deals. September: Burnett rips team and Jack McKeon and is asked to leave the team. 209 innings.
- 2006: Pursued as free agent by Rangers, Tigers, Mets, Cardinals, Nationals, and five other teams. Signs widely panned five-year, $55MM deal with Jays. Starts season on DL with elbow soreness. Makes a few starts and is placed back on DL. Returns in June. 154.6 innings.
- 2007: DL stint for shoulder strain in June. Makes one start and returns to DL. 170.6 innings.
- 2008: Broken fingernail prevents curveballs in spring, but it doesn't become an issue. Mockingly doffs cap while Jays fan boo after poor start. Admits he wouldn't mind playing for Cubs.
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