Whew, it’s over…
On one hand, I do feel bad because there’s no denying the talent in A.J. Burnett’s arm, even if it has lost some of its zip over the past couple of seasons. If he had the mental fortitude of his good buddy, Roy Halladay, there’s no telling what he could have done with his extraordinary gift. But it was the mental lapses in difficult situations, magnified on the big stage in New York, that led the Yankees to make the only move they could have made. So, it’s exit Stage Left, or I guess Stage Right in Burnett’s case, as he moves on to the Steel City.
I am hopeful that the new and less-pressurized environment will allow Burnett to pitch more like the guy he was in Toronto with the Blue Jays. If that happens, it will be a win-win for both the Yankees and the Pirates. Granted, the two “prospects” the Yankees acquired in the Burnett trade (pitcher Diego Moreno and outfielder Exicardo Cayones) are considered low-level, but the salary relief for the Yanks (Pirates absorbing $13 million of what’s left on Burnett’s remaining $33 contract) is a positive. Even for the almighty Yankees. If neither Moreno or Cayones ever develop into major league talent, it was still a good trade for the Yankees. So, anything out of either of those players would be a bonus.
Of course, the haters will come out in full force if Phil Hughes fails to seize the opportunity and Freddy Garcia proves he overstayed his welcome by one year. But even in that worst case scenario, I’d prefer to see the talented arms in the farm system get the audition.
The Yankees will apparently sign both third baseman Eric Chavez and outfielder Raul Ibanez once the Burnett trade is finalized. Those are two good pieces for the 2012 squad. I like the idea of an Ibanez-Andruw Jones tandem at DH, with occasional time for Alex Rodriguez. Ibanez may not be the slugger he once was, but with 20 homers in Philly last year, he proved he can swing it on occasion. For sentimental reasons, it would have been nice to see the return of either Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui, but Ibanez is clearly the better choice.
He did it the RIGHT way in more ways than one…
Pitcher Tim Wakefield has been a long-time nemesis as the member of the Yankees’ arch rival, but it was still sad to see him call it a career. I know, it was time, and there’s always the chance the Red Sox call his number later in the season if they need help, but he leaves the game as a champion. The city of Boston and the Red Sox organization are very privileged to have one of baseball’s most charitable and classiest individuals in the game as one of their own.
Both Wakefield and David Ortiz proved that anything can happen after they were both released by their previous organizations but flourished with the Red Sox in the major leagues. It gives me hope for guys like Preston Mattingly and others. Wakefield makes for an incredible role model, and hopefully, he’ll continue to be a fixture in baseball in some capacity.
The Los Angeles Vikings didn’t really sound very good any way…
Finally, the Minnesota Vikings have a tentative stadium deal. Like the Burnett trade negotiations, this has been drawn out through eternity. I know, there are still many hurdles to be cleared before actual construction begins, but at least it was the first positive move forward for the Vikings. As a Vikings fan, there’s always been the fear in the back of one’s mind that the team would decide to move to greener pastures in Los Angeles (much like the Minneapolis Lakers did years ago). The tentative stadium deal would keep the Vikings in Minneapolis, as opposed to a suburban area like Arden Hills. Hopefully, this deal will get passed by the city and state, and will ensure that the Vikings are in Minnesota…and Minneapolis…for the long haul.