When the Yankees stop payin’, A.J. stops playin’…in Pittsburgh, anyway.
RHP A.J. Burnett got paid $33 million to pitch for the Pirates over the last two seasons. But his previous employer, the New York Yankees, picked up $20m of that. Now that it’s time to pay full freight or part ways, the Pirates don’t want Burnett.
That was made all but official when the Pirates signed RHP Edinson Volquez to a one-year, $5m deal. That’s about $9m less than Burnett probably wanted.
Volquez is no bargain. The Pirates will likely get exactly what they paid for.
Volquez, 30, led NL pitchers in earned runs allowed last year. In 2012, he led NL pitchers in bases on balls.
Volquez has had one good year, 2008. He went 17-6 for Cincinnati, posting a 3.21 ERA. It’s his only big-league season with an ERA under four.
Volquez went 9-12 with a 5.71 ERA last campaign, splitting it between San Diego and Los Angeles. San Diego's Petco Park is the best pitchers' ballpark in MLB. Volquez made 15 starts at Petco last year. His ERA there was 5.38. Not too good.
Volquez is said to have good stuff. Volquez gets strikeouts. But his control is poor, and his stats suck.
The primary reason the Pirates signed Volquez is because he’s cheap. For owner Bob Nutting, money is still the name of the game. Low payroll = more profit.
Volquez isn’t the kind of player a small-market team signs upon reaching its window of opportunity. Volquez will be passed off as this year’s Francisco Liriano. He’s not. The Pirates needed better than a far-fetched gamble.
Witness the trickledown: The Pirates talked about re-signing Burnett. Then Josh Johnson was on the radar. Management talked to Bronson Arroyo. Rumors circulated about trading for Tampa Bay’s David Price or Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox.
In the end, the Pirates got Volquez. A low-rent bum. Classic bait-and-switch.
Fascist propaganda has nothing on the Pirates’ PR methodology. There’s not much to believe in, but the suckers believe anyway. Nutting gets richer and richer.
Volquez replaces Burnett in the rotation. You understand that, right? The Pirates’ rotation will be Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez, Charlie Morton and Volquez. Jeff Locke could reclaim his stuff and his spot, but probably won’t.
Burnett is gone. If he signs with another team, the Pirates (and their fans) will make Burnett the bad guy for going back on his word. Burnett fell fast and hard in Pittsburgh's eyes.
If you can’t see where this is headed, you’re even stupider than I thought.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
The first line for Canada's Olympic hockey team should be Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Chris Kunitz. Three Penguins, each playing his regular position. Great quality, max familiarity.
Crosby, obviously, is a lock. Kunitz should be, too. But many otherwise knowledgeable hockey observers think Kunitz doesn’t merit consideration. Why? Because he’s not a "name player"? Kunitz was NHL First-Team All-Star just last year.
What are the criteria for picking Canada's team? Is it performance, or how you look on a hockey card?
The statistics are undeniable:
*Kunitz has 17 goals. That ranks second among Canadian-born wings and among Canadian-born players, trailing only Anaheim's Corey Perry.
*Kunitz has 31 points. That ranks second among Canadian-born wings (Perry again) and sixth among Canadian-born players.
Detractors of Kunitz say, "That's only because he's playing on a line with Sidney Crosby." How convenient. Crosby is also Canadian, so they can play on the same line for Canada at the Sochi Olympics.
Kunitz is a straight-line player just like Crosby, a perfect fit. I see Kunitz getting a lot of points playing on Crosby's line as a good thing. A reason to pick Kunitz, not a reason to not pick him.
Yo, Canada…do you want to win, or not?
Saturday night’s Pittsburgh-Boston game was a disgrace to hockey.
But here’s betting the aftermath shames the sport equally.
Boston’s Shawn Thornton should be suspended 10-15 games for slew-footing and sucker-punching the Penguins’ Brooks Orpik. Really, Thornton should be arrested.
But despite being a career no-talent bum, Thornton does not have a prior disciplinary history. Prediction: Thornton gets banned six games.
James Neal of the Penguins kneed Boston’s Brad Marchand in the head while Marchand was prone on the ice. The Neal and Thornton incidents were not related, but were proximate time-wise. That proximity gives the occurrences a tit-for-tat feel, increasing the perceived severity of what Neal did while “justifying” what Thornton did – not in my mind, but in the mind of old-school hockey types.
Prediction: Neal gets banned three games. If Thornton gets more than six, Neal may get more than three.
The whole scene was horrific, ruining a game between two of the NHL’s best teams and making the result moot.
Orpik angered the Bruins by hitting Loui Eriksson with a clean bodycheck, concussing the Boston forward for the second time in five weeks. Thornton tried to engage Orpik in fisticuffs. Orpik declined. So Thornton went criminal.
Former Penguin Andy Brickley works for NESN as a color commentator on Bruins telecasts. Brickley said that Orpik should have fought Thornton because that would have spared Orpik what happened after. That’s crazy talk. Feeble-minded rationalization. Adherence to a Neanderthal code.
No player is under any obligation to fight. Revenge should not be sought for a legit bodycheck. Eriksson needs to keep his head up.
The notion that certain situations in hockey mandate pugilism is a microcosm of the mentality that takes a great game and warps it. Orpik did absolutely nothing wrong. He made a good play and got attacked for it.
No town is better at martyrdom than Boston. They justify any atrocity perpetrated on their behalf. They do the death scene from “Camille” after any perceived injury. #BostonStrong? No. #BostonWrong...most of the time.
What Neal did is indefensible. He should be suspended. What Thornton did was worse.
The Miami Dolphins bullying story sure went away.
For the NFL, that was always the goal: To let the situation burn out. Dissipate.
That's why the Dolphins had to ditch Richie Incognito, the main culprit. If Incognito is around, he's the primary story every week.
Now, it's like it never happened. Shameful, but true. The media has moved on. The mainstream media found something else, and the NFL owns those who cover football. Every news outlet did its feature, and now it's done.
Jonathan Martin will play for another team next year. That team will treat him with kid gloves, turning Martin's story favorable.
Incognito will play for another team next year. He will be presented as "reformed." But he won't be "reformed." You can't "reform" a farm animal.
The Dolphins will make some management changes.
The NFL's locker-room culture won't change. It will just be even more closely guarded.
That's it. Story over. The media stops digging.
The Dolphins visit Pittsburgh this Sunday. The Dolphins should send Mike Tomlin a thank-you note. The Tomlin two-step is this week’s issue. Forget bullying.
Photos Courtesy of Getty Images