The long goodbye: Yankees trade A.J. Burnett to Pirates


With A.J. Burnett's departure to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who will take over as the New York Yankees' pie-to-the-face guy? (Ron Antonelli/Daily News)

It seems like it took forever, but the Yankees and Pirates finally agreed on the details of a trade sending beleaguered hurler A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh. The pinstriped pie man will become a Bucko once Bud Selig gives his blessing to the deal and Burnett passes his physical.

The Pirates will pay $13 million of the $31.1 million remaining on the righty’s hefty contract. They will also send New York a couple of middling minor leaguers: right-handed reliever Diego Moreno and outfielder Exicardo Cayones.

Burnett’s tenure in the Bronx has been a roller-coaster ride. The pitcher was signed to an $82.5 million deal before the 2009 season and went 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA during his three seasons in pinstripes. He also led the league in wild pitches twice and hit batters once during his Yankee tenure.

Those numbers attest to why many of his performances were pure frustration. One that comes to mind: pitching just 1.2 innings against Minnesota, where he gave up four runs before loading the bases for Justin Morneau. When manager Joe Girardi came out to give him the hook, he appeared to turn around and say, “This is f$#@ing bull@#$%!” (Which, of course, is just how Yankees fans felt about his pitching.)

But love him or hate him, the Bombers probably would not have won their 27th championship in 2009 without his masterful start in game two of the World Series. After the Yankees lost the series opener against the Phillies at the Stadium, Burnett pitched seven innings of one-run ball to lead the team to victory. In pure Burnett fashion, his game five start was a debacle. He was pulled in the third inning with nobody out after giving up five runs.

Now that the Yanks have freed up a little money, they will be putting the final pieces of the 2012 roster in place. They are in the middle of negotiations to sign outfielder Raul Ibanez to be their left-handed DH and bring back third baseman Eric Chavez to spell Alex Rodriguez (which is kind of funny given that Chavez seems to be perpetually on the DL).

While both of those signings are important, it does not address the Yankees most pressing need now that Burnett is gone: Who will step up to face teammates with whipped cream pies after walk-off wins? My money’s on CC. He looks like a man who knows his way around a can of Reddi-Wip.

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