The first and most obvious result of ditching Burnett is the change this makes to the 5th starter competition. At this point, I think it’s clear that the rotation shapes up as follows:
In my view, this is a tough decision. If you choose Garcia, you know about what you’re going to get; 150 innings of average pitching. With Hughes… well, I he’s kinda got that whole A.J. Burnett thing going for him in terms of being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In 2010, Hughes had a great first half but then fell off in the 2nd half. He’s either completely healthy or injured beyond the point of pitching through pain. When he’s in the bullpen, he’s great – when he’s a starter, it might be OK and it might be a huge embarrassing failure.
From a win now standpoint, I think you go with Garcia; he’s a known quantity and you know you can put Hughes in the pen (although it’s fairly crowded out there), he’s likely to succeed. In terms of the Yankees long term success, you probably want to give Phil Hughes the chance to blossom as the starter you always hoped he’d become. You’ve seen flashes of it, and Garcia is only under contract for 2012 whereas Hughes could be a member of the team for years to come. This is a tough decision and if I’m the Yankees, I go with Hughes and… I don’t know, have Garcia serve as the long man and emergency starter until someone gets hurt or sucks. If Nova, Hughes and Pineda are in the rotation, that’s a lot of youth, unknowns and possible injury concerns, so you’re probably going to need another starter at some point for two weeks or so.
The other thing that changes with Burnett leaving the Yankees is the salary relief it provides, which will help the Yankees fill out their bench this year and who knows next year. At this point, we’re all waiting to see who the Yankees grab as their left handed DH; I still think they’re going with Johnny Damon.
But the point is, the A.J. Burnett saga is finally over, and I love it. He seems like a good man, but beyond a few glorious moments, I don’t think I’ll miss Burnett’s stay in pinstripes all that much.