Saturday, January 29, 2005

Burnitz Rumors Won't Die

The Pirates are apparently still interested in Jeromy Burnitz. I respond by clenching my fists, raising my arms, making sure no one's looking, smelling myself a little bit, putting my arms back down, shrugging, and saying, "Eh." On the one hand, I'm all for the Pirates spending money, and the acquisition of Burnitz would likely send Daryle Ward and/or Tike Redman to the bench. On the other hand...

Burnitz probably isn't a good player anymore. He hit 37 homers last year, but he did it in the mother of all hitters' parks. There is some theoretical possibility that he'll keep some of that improvement going forward, but he wouldn't be the first hitter to leave Denver and vanish into thick air: see Jeff Cirillo, Chris Stynes, Jay Payton, Jeffrey Hammonds, Brent Mayne and Vinny Castilla. Add that to the facts that Burnitz is as old as the Rockies and that he was downright bad in his two previous seasons (even though he somehow managed to hit 31 homers in 2003), and you've got a lot of signs that Burnitz is in for a disappointing year.

Defensively, I'd have trouble trusting center field to a guy heading into his late thirties who has never had great speed, but Burnitz' defensive stats weren't disastrous last year, and he might be an improvement over Tike Redman anyway. The Bucs' outfield defense is going to be a mess next season, and I don't see any obvious way to avoid that at this point, with or without Burnitz.

If the Pirates want to sign Burnitz to a one-year contract, that's fine with me. Again, I must reiterate that a smarter course of action would have been to pool all this money being used to sign the likes of Burnitz, Benito Santiago, Jose Mesa and the like in order to sign an actual good player, but the Pirates appear to be past the point where that's possible anyway. The only ways signing Burnitz would be an actively bad move for the Pirates is if they gave him more than one year or used the acquisition to push Craig Wilson to a platoon role or the bench. Unfortunately, I wouldn't put those things past the Pirates.

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