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It's Carl Pavano All Over Again

By: Andrew Mindzak

On Friday, the Yankees made yet another move to help bolster their pitching staff by signing A.J. Burnett to a 5 year deal worth $82.5 million dollars. On paper, the Yankees are now the World Series favorites, but in reality, are they really? Looking at the Burnett deal brings back a very recent nightmare called Carl Pavano.

The Yankees signed Pavano before the 2005 season after Pavano won 18 games for the Florida Marlins in '04. The Yankees graciously donated $39.95 million over the next 4 years to Mr. Pavano who was kind enough to start 26 games for the Yankees over those 4 years. If you're doing the math, he made $1.5 million per start. Considering his ERA never made it under 4.50 in any of his seasons in New York, maybe the Yankees just paid him to not play.

A teammate of Pavano's in Florida, Burnett cashed in the year after Pavano. Burnett signed a 5 year deal with the Blue Jays worth $55 million that included an opt out clause after 3 years. Well folks, that 3rd year was 2008, when Burnett won 18 games for the Blue Jays, and also shut down the Yankees every time he faced them going 3-1 in 5 starts with an ERA of 1.64. If that wasn't enough of a selling point, maybe the Yankees saw what he did against the Red Sox, going 2-0 in 4 starts with an equally stingy ERA of 2.60. Looking at those numbers would justify shelling out $82.5 million to someone who won 18 games the year before, and shut down your offense and the offense of your most bitter rival. However, we might be looking at one of the bigger free agent busts this year.

2008 was certainly a career year for Burnett, as his previous high for wins in a season was 12. More importantly, in his 10 seasons in the pros, he has only made 30 starts in a season twice. 'When was the last time he did that' you might ask? Your answer is 2005, which was his last contract year before he signed with the Blue Jays for $55 million. His career ERA is a respectable 3.81, however he has averaged slightly over 21 starts per year during his career. When you do the math, he would miss 14 starts per year, or a little over 2 months of every season. As bad as that sounds, that is still an improvement over Mr. Pavano.

The Yankees have a scary rotation as of now, with Sabathia, Burnett, Wang, Chamberlain, and whoever they sign to be their #5 (as of now, it is looking like either Derek Lowe or Andy Pettitte). Whether they live up to those expectations or not, will remain to be unseen.

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