ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted his speculation that the Pirates may trade Garrett Jones for A.J. Burnett. The Yankees have need of a left-handed bat and are looking to move Burnett. The Bucs have shown a willingness to take on payroll to acquire another starter. So it makes sense as far as that goes.
It would appear a Jones departure would create a hole at 1B. Some may consider it would be filled by Casey McGehee, which would mean Pedro Alvarez finally starts to produce at the Major League level. It could be the Bucs think 26-year old Matt Hague is ready for a shot at the bigs and are already looking to clear room for him. In his first season at Triple-A Indianapolis, he led the Pirates organization in games played with 141 and ranked 3rd in RBI with 75. He finished the year with a .309 average, .372 OBA, 37 doubles, and 12 HRs.
UPDATE – It has been further reported that the Yankees are pushing for this trade, but the Pirates are not willing to budge on Jones. I certainly believe that Burnett would eat some innings for the Pirates and I don’t fear losing too much in Jones.
But, Burnett has not had a sub-4 ERA since 2007 with Toronto when he as at 3.75. When one considers that maybe his ERA has been so high in the last three seasons is because he played in New York, his road ERA was actually higher each of the three years. He has proven durable and can get some strikeouts, but he does little more than provide starting pitching depth. Jones on the other hand has had two consecutive seasons that tell the same story. Mediocre power, low BA and low OBA.
Jones, however, would provide better numbers in a Yankees lineup and prove more valuable to them then I think Burnett or Jones would for Pittsburgh. I would like to see a deal reached here, but not in it’s current straight-up format. The Bucs need to get a little more in the deal before pulling the trigger.
UPDATE #2 – Danny Knobler’s blog on CBS Sports cites some scouts’ views that Burnett would be a bad pickup for the Bucs and the scouts would not waste the roster spot on him. As a Pirates fan, I suppose you sometimes just want to be involved in trading for a name you recognize, but when you pause to look at it, the deal probably does stink. If the Yankees want to move him, chances are it is not to the Pirates’ benefit. No sense doing the Yankees any favors. I hope they find another route to acquire a starter. Preferably someone with upside.