Keep AJ.

That’s right. I said it. The Yankees should keep AJ Burnett and it would be stupid to just give him away like many suggest. In Joel Sherman’s column in the NY Post, Sherman states that the Yankees are shopping Burnett, in hopes of unloading him and a small part of his contract obligation in order to finish off their bench/DH needs. Sacrificing a starting pitcher and $20 million of free money to finish off the bench? Just think about how silly that sounds.

For as much heat as he takes, Burnett wasn’t AS BAD as everyone thinks and here’s why:

AJ BURNETT!

On the surface, AJ Burnett had a horrible season in 2011. Burnett went 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA, which was a slight improvement from 2010’s ERA of 5.26. Burnett gave up 31 home runs, allowing 1.5 HRs per nine innings. Not pretty. However, Yankee fans can take a few positives away from last season.

Compared to 2010, Burnett saw his K/9 jump from 7.0 to 8.2, which is more inline with his career average. In addition, Burnett’s home run-to-fly ball rate was 17 percent, which greatly exceeds the league average of 11 percent. Fans can expect a home run-fly ball regression and a more relaxed ERA in 2012. Let’s not forget about Burnett’s curve ball, which registered over a whiff rate of over 35 percent. Finally, Burnett can rack up the innings and stay off the disabled list. Burnett has thrown over 186 innings in each of his first three season with the Bombers. Having a pitcher that can eat innings is invaluable for a team with two young, promising pitchers in its rotation.

The Yankees owe the 35-year-old Burnett $33 million over the next two seasons. Given the Yankees frugal philosophy and cost conscious approach, it’s silly to think they’d just give Burnett away. Having ‘too much’ starting pitching is never an issue and as we’ve seen, injuries pile up and players fail to meet expectations. Burnett, who has won 121 major league games, has shown us throughout his career that he has the ability to be great. Say what you want about 2010 and 2011, but giving Burnett and $20 million away for a middling prospect and ‘roster flexibility’ may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

Yes, the Yankees have adopted a more cost conscious approach, but don’t think a million or two million dollars will stand in their way of making an impact. And I sure as hell don’t think they’ll just give away the enigmatic Burnett. 

At the end of the day, Keep AJ.