NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Yankees starter A.J. Burnett hasn’t been doing himself any favors with Yankees fans.
When Burnett was yanked on Saturday, he turned and could be seen mouthing two curse words. Initially it appeared as though he was speaking to manager Joe Girardi, but have insisted since that Burnett was directing his anger toward the umpire’s strike zone.
“It’s more a media circus,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Monday. “It’s fair to ask the question about what happened, but some don’t believe what happened, happened.”
The bigger issue for the Yankees is getting Burnett to start pitching up to the expectations set by his $82.5 million contract. Burnett was charged with seven runs for the second time in his last four starts, giving up five hits and three walks while recording only five outs against the Twins on Saturday .
He can’t have many more starts like these if he’s going to stay in the Yankees’ rotation.
“There are no guarantees,” said Cashman. “But we don’t have to make a decision right away. When we have to, Joe, Larry (Rothschild) and I will talk about it.”
The team has been using a six-man rotation recently while they search for consistency behind ace CC Sabathia. Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon are beginning to show signs of wearing down after impressive starts to the season, while Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have delivered solid outings of late.
That leaves Burnett, who has yet to fulfill the hopes the organization had for him when he signed that big contract after winning 18 games with the Blue Jays in 2008. He has yet to record a win in August in three seasons with the Yankees and is 9-10 with a 4.96 ERA this season
“He’s better than he has shown,” said Cashman. “He’s having his typical, terrible August and I wish I could wave a magic wand and change that, but I can’t. We’ll make a decision when we have to make one.”
“That was awful,” one scout told the New York Post about Burnett’s latest outing. “We always talk about turning the corner with guys like that, but how long can you talk about it? Nova and Hughes are more reliable because they throw strikes. His pitches the other night weren’t close.”
The trouble for the Yankees is he seems to be trending downward with the playoffs about six weeks away. He is 1-4 with a 6.93 ERA in his last nine starts and has a 10.70 ERA in four August outings.
“It’s about what’s best for our team as we move forward toward the postseason,” said Cashman. “Two weeks ago, everyone said Phil Hughes should go to the pen. Last week, it was Bartolo Colon. Now it’s A.J. Ultimately, the game will tell you who should go to the pen.”
Girardi refused to discuss Burnett’s prospects for the postseason rotation on Sunday, saying it was way too early to consider such scenarios. He did say that Burnett’s emotions could be playing into his performance, but said he couldn’t control the way he vents.
“His whole history is about ups and downs,” said Cashman. “When he’s up, he’s extremely high. When he’s down, it can be extremely difficult. He’s struggling. He’s just as capable of turning it around.”
What should the Yankees do with Burnett? Sound off in the comments below…
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)