Baltimore Orioles: A.J. Burnett, Grant Balfour, John Axford Rumors

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

While watching the Wall to Wall Baseball show on MASN today, former O’s pitcher Dave Johnson commented about how he does not like this time of the year where most of the talk is speculation about something that might happen, rather than analysis of what is happening. I fully agree with this.

Beyond that, Roch Kubatko described the scene in Florida where agents use the media and Twitter to advance rumors and speculations toward the advantage of their clients – trumping up “interest” that may not amount to much of anything.  Forgive the Biblical reference here (something I could do all day every day), but it reminds me of the story in the Book of Acts where the Apostle Paul ran into the ancient philosophers of the day in Athens of whom it says, “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.”

Well, rosters are important; and the Orioles have some needs to fill, even if they are more than a bit overplayed.

Reports are that the Baltimore Orioles might be interested in signing A.J. Burnett to a one-year contract for 2014. Burnett, at age 36, has had a solid career, with some years better than others. His three-year stint in New York with the Yankees did not go exceedingly well, but the former years in Toronto were very good, as were his most recent two years in Pittsburgh.

With a career record of 147-132 with a 3.99 ERA, if nothing else, he is a guy who can eat up the innings. Beyond that, he lives in Monkton, MD just north of Baltimore. That all sounds ideal.

Let me ask you a question?  Who had the better ERA in 2013 – A.J. Burnett or Chris Tillman? And another: True or False – Tillman gave up three times as many homers as Burnett? You might be surprised.

Here is a chart of Burnett’s 2013 numbers as compared to Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Bud Norris. And yes, pitching numbers are always a bit better in the National League, but even so, it is easy to make the case for obtaining the services of Burnett for one year.

Name

Age

W

L

ERA

G

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

WHIP

H/9

HR/9

BB/9

SO/9

SO/BB

Burnett

36

10

11

3.30

30

191.0

165

79

70

11

67

209

1.215

7.8

0.5

3.2

9.8

3.12

Tillman

25

16

7

3.71

33

206.1

184

87

85

33

68

179

1.221

8.0

1.4

3.0

7.8

2.63

Chen

27

7

7

4.07

23

137.0

142

62

62

17

39

104

1.321

9.3

1.1

2.6

6.8

2.67

Gonzalez

29

11

8

3.78

30

171.1

157

81

72

24

53

120

1.226

8.2

1.3

2.8

6.3

2.26

Norris

28

10

12

4.18

32

176.2

196

89

82

17

67

147

1.489

10.0

0.9

3.4

7.5

2.19

 

Balfour, Axford, and the Closer Situation

We all continue to wait for news of the Grant Balfour possible signing to go through. Apparently the former A’s closer wants three years rather than two. I am hoping he gets this for three reasons …

1. He is a good pitcher the Orioles could well use, and he is one who would be fun to have around.

2. He is better than other possible options at this point, especially John Axford.

3. I have an article all ready to post when this happens, and I don’t want to have to eat it.

Reason #2 above is downright frightening to me. Axford’s stats are not good in any way. I don’t care who he was a closer for in the past … and again, I believe true closers are about as common as unicorn sightings – but that is an article for another day.

Back to the Wall to Wall Baseball show today, I tweeted a question for Roch that got read on the air – asking how the Orioles could have interest in Axford when his stats were so much worse than Balfour’s. His answer was essentially that someone has to be the closer, that there are other closers out there including Axford, and that if Balfour does not work out then the Orioles are going to go down the list. NO! Please, no! Multiple in-house options are much better.

Again, here are the stats for Balfour and Axford, along with Jim Johnson

Name Tm

L

ERA

G

SV

IP

H

R

ER

HR

BB

SO

WHIP

H/9

HR/9

BB/9

SO/9

SO/BB

Johnson BAL

3

8

2.94

74

50

70.1

72

26

23

5

18

56

1.280

9.2

0.6

2.3

7.2

3.11

Balfour OAK

1

3

2.59

65

38

62.2

48

20

18

7

27

72

1.197

6.9

1.0

3.9

10.3

2.67

Axford Mil/SL

7

7

4.02

75

0

65.0

73

32

29

10

26

65

1.523

10.1

1.4

3.6

9.0

2.50

 

Topics: A.J. Burnett, Baltimore Orioles

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