December 28, 2010

Letter to Rothschild: A.J. Burnett pitching analysis

Dear Mr. Larry Rothschild,

I think you know by now that fixing A.J. Burnett will be your primary goal in your first year as the Yankees pitching coach. In the winter of 2008, the Yankees were confident enough to sign Burnett to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. But his past postseason they wouldn’t even let him pitch in the first round.

I know you’ll be visiting Burnett at his barn in Maryland in January, so I hope this letter will prepare you. 

Fastball Velocity:
As Steve S. of TYU pointed out, Burnett’s fastball velocity has steadily declined since 2007 (from 95.1 mph to 93.2). Fangraphs statistics show the pitch has been very ineffective for him with the Yankees. Burnett will be 33 years old come Jan. 3, and that seems a little too early to start losing velocity. Finding a way for Burnett to regain his velocity is the first step toward fixing him.

When the Yankees signed Burnett, he was coming off a season in which he led the majors in strikeouts (231). That number has declined dramatically. In 2009 he struck out 195, good for eighth in the American League, but his whiff total fell to 145 this past year (25th in the AL).

Stolen Bases Allowed:
Burnett led the majors in stolen bases allowed last year (37), more than one per start. That’s no good, even for Burnett. His previous season-high was 31.

Make sure he doesn’t see this cartoon I made of you two. It can only hurt his confidence.

Thank you for reading, and best of luck. You’re going to need it.

— Lenny

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