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Cutting Bases: A.J. Burnett, Erik Bedard, and Ben Sheets

I'll try this out for now, basically Cutting Bases is going to be a look around the majors at news, injuries, and rumors and what they mean. Think more general coverage and less hard-hitting coverage  for these sorts of posts.

Blue Jays 

A.J. Burnett might not be leaving Toronto after all. It seems as if the Jays will considering sweetening his deal in order to keep the underrated hurler. Burnett ranks 16th in starter tRA and has a 3.56 FIP which coincidentally is the lowest of his career since 2005. Despite having similar strikeout and walk rates Burnett has decreased his homeruns allowed total while breaking the 200 innings mark for only the third time in his career. Certainly you can argue that J.P. Ricciardi made a mistake when he signed Burnett to a 5 years 55 million dollar mega-deal prior to 2006 but Burnett has been above average each of the seasons above the border, even if they haven't been quite as good as his Florida Marlins days.

Starter Shaun Marcum received bad news following an MRI on Thursday and it appears Marcum is heading for Tommy John Surgery, bringing his 2008 and most of his 2009 seasons to an end. Marcum rated as the 47th most valuable starter in the league based on tRA (think: Matt Garza and Matt Cain levels) just behind teammate Dustin McGowan. While Marcum's injury is unfortunate to the Jays you have to feel like A.J. Burnett and his agent are doing back flips right now.


Journeyman Al Reyes was released on Thursday. Reyes was acquired by the Mets following his release by the Tampa Bay Rays in August. The 38 year old did not impress in a short stint at Binghamton despite not allowing a run. It is possible that Reyes will find himself in a spring invitee list, but for now you have to wonder if we've seen the last of good ol' Al.


Former top Detroit Tigers prospect Humberto Sanchez made his major league debut on Thursday. If you recall Sanchez was acquired when the Yankees dealt Gary Sheffield to the Tigers. Sanchez has always thrown hard despite injuries and last night against the Chicago White Sox Sanchez sat just shy of 93 while topping out a tick over 94. Of his 11 pitches thrown seven were fastballs as he struck out one and recorded a ton of zeroes in his inning of duty.


Speaking of A.J. Burnett and his impending free agency, I had a post idea that was waiting to be written. Essentially who was the safer risk for teams: Burnett or Ben Sheets? Well, Sheets derailed that when he revealed he's been pitching through pain. The 9th ranked starter in tRA, it's almost never good when your assistant general manager uses a quote like (paraphrasing): "The good news is that it's not career threatening," to describe your condition, however that is exactly what Gord Ash did. The forearm pain will likely derail Sheets nearly imminent pay day.

Odd timing for this rumor, way of Peter Gammons. There seems to be a possibility the Brewers could trade first baseman Prince Fielder, shortstop J.J. Hardy, and another player to San Francisco for starter Matt Cain. While the Fielder/Cain swap has been floated around before this is the first time Hardy's name has been included. I suppose this is one way the Brewers could replace C.C. Sabathia and keep Sheets while giving prospect Matt Gamel a position


Continuing with the injury news, Erik  Bedard, the prized off-season acquisition of Bill Bavasi, has a torn labrum in his left (throwing) shoulder and will miss the remainder of 2008 and most (if not all) of 2009. You have to feel for Mariner fans, just two weeks ago there was hope that Felix Hernandez, Bedard, and Brandon Morrow could form a solid 1-2-3 punch in the rather weak American League West, and now reality hits. Bedard speculated the injury occurred on opening day. Sadly it seems Bedard has all ready seen his last action with the Mariners.

As always, thanks to StatCorner for tRA rankingsand other statistics used.