It’s not exactly a glowing endorsement, but when speaking at an event at Sacred Heart University on Tuesday, Brian Cashman told Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com that he is comfortble with often erractic pitcher A.J. Burnett.
“I am comfortable with A.J.,” Cashman told Ehalt. “He’s extremely talented and has been inconsistent, but I can tell you I’m comfortable with the effort he’s giving, I’m comfortable with everything that he does, the accountability that comes with him. Obviously, we signed him to have more success than he’s having, but it’s a competitive industry and as long as he’s not going to give up on himself, then I’m going to have his back the entire way.”
“This year we have a whole bunch of starting pitchers, knock on wood, and so we’ll see how it all shakes out, who plays in what role and where” Cashman said. “But if we have the ball in his hands I believe that he’ll do well for us. He won one of our playoff games against Detroit and we only won two, we were trying to win three. He stepped up big in Game 4 and pushed us back to New York to give us Game 5. It’s in there and the ability is there and he does care, so I’m going to stay with him.”
The Yankees have seven starters battling for five rotation spots this spring leaving Burnett to battle with Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia for the final spot in the rotation. Cashman recently told reporters that he doesn’t view Hughes as a reliever so at least headed to spring training it appears that they will give all three a chance to win a rotation spot.
Hughes might have an advantage because he is young and might have some potential left, but Burnett is owed $33 million over the next two years that could compel the Yankees to try to salvage some of his value. If the Yankees traded either of the three pitchers it could solve this problem.