The Burnett debate

By Jon Lane
It’s one more and done for the Yankees, who can accomplish the mission that’s been on Joe Girardi’s back as soon as tonight. I haven’t been in Philadelphia, but Chris Shearn, Joe Auriemma and Kim Jones have done a nice job keeping you plugged in. The crew – along with My YES – are in Philly one more night to either help celebrate a coronation or meet me in the Bronx for Game 6 Wednesday night.

There’s been debate on whether Joe Girardi made the right decision by going with A.J. Burnett tonight in Game 5 on three days’ rest, instead of Chad Gaudin with a 3-1 series lead and the luxury of having a fully-rested Burnett for Game 6 and Andy Pettitte for Game 7 if needed.

This afternoon on WFAN, Mike Francesa said he was against the idea and suggested Gaudin be the guy who gets the ball, telling his audience that Girardi’s message must be, “Hey this is a free game, just have fun,” while adding that Burnett ought to be sent back to New York tonight.

Fans have a problem with that, and they’re right.

Here’s my problem, besides telling Burnett, go home and miss out on a potential World Championship celebration with your teammates. Gaudin hasn’t pitched since working a mop-up inning October 20. He last started a game September 28, pitching 6 2/3 innings of an 8-2 win over the Royals. He’s pitched well since becoming a Yankee (2-0, 3.43 ERA in 11 games, six starts), but before that went 4-10, 5.13 for the Padres and owns a career record of 34-35, 4.50.

Let’s see, Gaudin is someone who you want to trust with a potential World Series-clinching game, especially one who isn’t fully stretched out, over someone you’re paying $82 million, who electrified New York with seven superlative innings in Game 2?

Here’s why you go with Burnett, and (if needed) Pettitte and CC Sabathia all on short rest:

? In four career previous starts on short rest – none in the postseason – Burnett is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA.

? Jose Molina will likely catch with Jorge Posada on the bench, which means a Yankees lineup without Posada and Hideki Matsui will have to break through against Cliff Lee. Not ideal, but the battery isn’t broken, so don’t break it. Besides, Posada won’t be sitting the entire game, not by a longshot.

? Phillies closer Brad Lidge pitched for the first time in 10 days in a pressurized spot in Game 4. No further explanations are necessary.

? Still worried about Burnett crashing emotionally? If he bombs tonight it won’t be because he imploded. It’ll be because his location is terrible, and Philly’s prolific boppers will awaken and pounce on it. And from where I sit, Burnett’s been at his best when everyone has bet against him.

? Burnett, Pettitte, Sabathia and the rest of the Yankees will have all winter to rest. This is the World Series and in this case you don’t worry about Game 6 unless you have to. You defeat or get beat with your best.


  1. chriscsg

    I’m with you Jon (and Joe) regarding Burnett. After game 2, the guy proved to me that he’s mentally tough enough. I’ll take my chances to see if he can hold the Phillies to 2 runs over 7 innings and hope the Yanks bats can get Lee’s pitch count up so we can get into their bullpen in the 7th or 8th inning. If we don’t beat them tonight, I’m more than confident that Andy or CC can beat whoever Manual throws out there in the last 2 games.

    Last night was HUGE and I’m glad Joe’s sticking with the 3-man rotation.


  2. tempny

    That’s critical and a good point, Chris, about making Cliff Lee work. Even if you don’t dent him right away (though that would bury the Phillies alive), you make him work and send a message that it won’t be as easy as it was in Game 1.

    Big win last night indeed. Let’s see if they can get that one more.

    Thanks for reading,



    If Cliff Lee stops the Yankees from hitting for 2 or 3 innings I would suggest the Yankees consider a bunting attack. Pass this on to whoever can get it to Joe Girardi.

    Why a bunting attack? Because with Cliff Lee pitching deceptive changeups if the batter holds the bat out front, the ball will come to the bat and the batter won’t have to worry about the ball coming too fast or too slow, as the ball will come to the bat. Yes the batter will have to locate it up or down left or right a bit but he won’t have to worry about swinging too early or late as the bat will meet the ball. This bunting attack will also put pressure on Cliff Lee and the rest of the team.

    I have rooted for the Yankees for 52 years.

  4. yanksfaninboston

    Looking at this realistically, the Series is most likely headed back to the Stadium, no matter who pitches for the Yanks tonight. A far weaker lineup than the one he saw in Game 1 will be facing Lee, who, at this point, looks like he’s pretty well locked in. While AJ has a better chance of beating Lee than Gaudin does, it’s not much of a chance. And he has a far better chance of beating Martinez in Game 6 than does Andy on 3 days rest. So, in the worst case scenario, you have Game 7, CC again on short rest, and one damn shaky bullpen before Mo, along with some serious momentum for the Phillies, and the Yanks looking at the ghosts of 2004. This pitching move makes no sense whatsoever. It’s the sort of move you make down 3-1, not up 3-1, because, if you lose, you now have a rotation that’s in serious trouble the rest of the way. One of the things we’ve learned in the last 6 years is the importance of pitching. This, to me, flies in the face of those lessons.

  5. yankeexx

    There’s so much ying and yang to this debate ie with Burnett pitching and Molina catching the lineup becomes weaker….but then good pitching stops good hitting so who knows if AJ’s pitching is needed with a LITTLE help from his friend..aka teammates.

    I still think the dream would be to clinch in front of the Yankee fans but that is secondary to tonight’s outcome. Whatever is going to happen will happen and maybe…just maybe everything will align with the Phillies tonight and Rollins will sneak into the Yanks clubhouse for a sip of champagne..hopefully not from sour grapes.

    btw the Honolulu Advertiser posed the question…is Shane Victorino going to go from the Flyin Hawaiian to the Cryin Hawaiian…sorry…I thought that was funny even from a fellow Hawaiian who cheers….GO YANKEES!!!

  6. mark7ent

    Go for the throat tonight. Do not let the Phillies get up off the mat. It doesn’t matter WHERE you pop the cork, as long as you GET to pop the cork. Anything can happen in a short series at any time. Yankees got very lucky that they came away with a win last night, so when you have the opportunity to get it done…… get it done. Yes, their lineup is weaker tonight, but they also have Posada, Hinski, Matsui, Hairston on the bench, and Posada will be in the game sooner rather than later. It just depends on whether good AJ or evil AJ shows up at game time.

  7. yanksgrlinphx

    This was a horribly managed game. I’m happy that I’ve already decided that I will no longer purchase the MLB package. I can’t stand the bad umpire calls anymore, it’s out of control. But most of all, I really don’t think Joe manages this team correctly. Yes, they won 103 games but that was inspite of him. This game made me sick to my stomach. Again. Again Joe leaves AJ the mental midget in longer than he should have, which added two more runs on the board. Then he brings in Coke, who has a higher ERA against lefties than righties. Then to top it off, with Jeter up, who hits into so, so many double plays, leaves Matsui in the game and doesn’t pinch run for him. And what happens, Jeter hits into a double play which really impacted the inning. I can’t stand him over managing when he shouldn’t and under managing when he should. I can’t do it anymore. I have too much of my heart invested to watch him manage the team into losses at this time of the year. I know everyone thinks he’s doing a fabulous job, I don’t. I want be watching my Yankees beyond this year. Can’t do it.


    Thanks Joe…or should I say Capt. Panic. You were 1 of the only people in the world that felt that A.J. should go on 3 days rest, and than have him go toe to toe with the hottest pitcher in baseball. Now the entire starting pitching staff for the Yanks, is all messed up and EVERYONE will be pitching on short rest.

  9. tempny

    Hey Everyone,

    It’s not fair to blame Joe Girardi and A.J. Burnett for Game 5. Girardi’s over-managed at times and has made some strange moves, but I stand by him in this case. You win and lose with your best and I’ll take Burnett and Andy Pettitte on short rest over Chad Gaudin anytime. Burnett didn’t lose that game because he pitched on three days’ rest. He lost because he’s an enigma and the Phillies were bound to bust out.

    I also refer to what Robin Roberts told a Philly reporter before Game 5: In his days starting on as little as 24 hours rest was nothing.

    The Yankees took two of three in Philadelphia against the defending champions and have two chances to win it at home. Before the series, you’d take that.

    Chat with y’all during Game 6. Thanks for reading,


  10. yankeexx

    Ita Jon 2 out of 3 in Phillie! Who expected that? Wished for it maybe but expected? I think not! Now destiny awaits them in the Bronx… Mo got will have 3 days rest and might be good for 2 innings! Deja vu all over again as Yogi says! Same possibility as what happened to the Angels after coming back to Yankee Stadium… Oh yah and who was pitching?? Dandy Andy

  11. yankeexx

    Ita Jon 2 out of 3 in Phillie! Who expected that? Wished for it maybe but expected? I think not! Now destiny awaits them in the Bronx… Mo got will have 3 days rest and might be good for 2 innings! Deja vu all over again as Yogi says! Same possibility as what happened to the Angels after coming back to Yankee Stadium… Oh yah and who was pitching?? Dandy Andy





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