Here's a collection of reactions to Friday's signing of A.J. Burnett. There aren't actually a lot of great ones, since many writers take the weekend off.
-P- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes that Burnett is more of a back-end-type pitcher than he was before, but that shouldn't stop Burnett from being a good value at $8.5 million.
They’re getting the same name, but probably not the same performance, and because the Yankees aren’t footing most of the bill this time around, he’s actually going to cost them even more. But there’s nothing wrong with paying more than a hilarious bargain, as long as you’re still paying less than market value, and $8.5 million for roughly a +1.5 WAR pitcher comes out to about $5.7 million per win, a bit less than last year’s average price, and almost certainly less than what the cost will be this year. Worse pitchers are likely going to get more money and more years than Burnett just did; this is the kind of deal you can sign when a player directs his agent to only negotiate with one team.
-P- Here's the ZiPS projection that "+1.5 WAR pitcher" comment is based on.
-P- Joe Starkey at the Trib explains why Burnett should have more success back in Pittsburgh than he did in Philadelphia.
Now consider Burnett pitched through a sports hernia last season but answered the bell to the tune of 34 starts (tied career high) and 213 innings (most since 2008). He didn't have Martin framing his pitches. He didn't have an infield shifting as often or effectively as the Pirates did. And he had to deal with a band-box ballpark in which he allowed 11 home runs — matching his total, home and away, from 2013.
Burnett's average fastball velocity was down a tick from 92.4 mph to 91.7 mph, according to Fangraphs.com.
"There were so many games where he showed he still had quality stuff," manager Clint Hurdle told The Fan.
Incidentally, we've come a long way when a columnists at a major paper correctly points out the importance of pitch framing, defensive shifting and park factors to evaluate a transaction -- and all in the same paragraph, too. A column like this that argues based on a number of key sabermetric innovations would have been a real novelty a decade ago.
-P- ESPN's David Schoenfield lists media pressure as one possible reason Burnett didn't do well in Philadelphia (or New York). The Pirates have, in the past, gleaned an advantage from acquiring players who had worn out their welcome in larger markets, like Burnett the first time around, or Mark Melancon with the Red Sox. But those were probably cases where the media drumbeat affected the team, not necessarily the player. Toronto isn't a small market, and Burnett did well there. I also don't recall seeing tons of vicious comments about Burnett from the Philadelphia media, although I'm sure there were a few. The other differences between the Pirates and Phillies (which Schoenfield and the other writers above mention) were probably far more important.