Monday, January 3, 2011

AJ Burnett's birthday wish for rebound year

What do you get for a guy who has everything? Well if it’s AJ Burnett, that’s a tough one since his biggest birthday wish is probably to put a hellacious 2010 season behind him and put forth a better performance in 2011.

Aside from wishing media phonies like ESPN's Colin Cowherd would stop speculating about the state of his marriage, Burnett probably wants nothing more than to have a rebound year and prove that he can be a dependable pitcher for the New York Yankees, to show that Brian Cashman didn’t just throw away $65 million on him. Burnett seems to take it badly when he thinks he let his team down, which he did in 2010 and likely desperately wants to reverse that stigma.

I’d like to believe he can do it. Remember, this guy started off last season like gangbusters, looking like a legitimate ace while CC Sabathia was still looking for his groove. More importantly, Burnett was a pivotal performer in the 2009 playoffs, helping the Yankees secure critical Game 2 victories in three different series. But first he has to deal with whatever mental issue handcuffs him out on the mound.

Cashman and Joe Girardi have expressed confidence that Burnett can be a reliable pitcher for them again. They have no choice but to believe that, especially if Andy Pettitte walks away for good. They need Burnett to show that he can harness all that talent and finally become a stud pitcher befitting his potential. Burnett probably wants that too.

Happy Birthday, AJ. Blow out your candles and hope your birthday wish comes true.

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