Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cashman protecting or pitching Burnett?

Is Brian Cashman back to protecting AJ Burnett or is he trying to drum up interest in his erratic right-hander?

The general manager of the New York Yankees was ostensibly trying to give the embattled Burnett a vote of confidence at a recent event. But his use of the word comfortable several times in his comments has me thinking Cashman is actually less than comfortable with the fact that he will probably go into spring training with Burnett still on the Yankees roster.

I suspect Cashman’s positive comments about Burnett’s talent, effort and accountability are actually designed to try to drum up interest in AJ. I think the Yankees have finally come to the realization that Burnett will not have the success they envisioned for him in New York and are trying to move him, even if they have to swallow the vast majority of his salary.

Could I be reading too much into Cashman’s comments? Absolutely. Plus, I wasn’t there to get a feel for the tone and context of his words. It’s entirely possible that Cashman truly meant it when he said he will have AJ’s back, as long as the frustrated Burnett does not give up on himself.

But I can’t help but think that there has been too much damage done to Burnett’s psyche and reputation for him to remain in New York much longer. Plus, I don’t think his relationships with Cashman or manager Joe Girardi is particularly good these days, as they both have taken some of their harshest hits for defending Burnett, something they must be sick of by now.

Of course, if the Yankees are stuck with Burnett, they will put the most positive spin on it that they can come spring training. But I think Cashman is doing his best to spur even the slightest interest from other baseball teams so that someone else can become Burnett’s defender. 

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