Burnett’s BFF: Rod Barajas?

The Pirates’ ongoing talks with the Yankees regarding right-hander A.J. Burnett are inspiring the cynicism of a lot of Bucs fans. Many don’t get the interest.

What could be behind it? Or, who: Rod Barajas.

The best of Burnett’s 13 Major League seasons, by a longshot, came in 2008. He won 18 games, five more than in any other seasons. He led the American League with 231 strikeouts. He logged 221 1/3 innings. All career highs.

Guess who was his “designated catcher” with the Blue Jays that season?

Yep, Mr. Barajas, the Bucs’ new receiver.

In 10 starts with Gregg Zaun as his batterymate, Burnett was 4-4 with an ERA of 6.05.

In 24 starts with Barajas behind the plate, Burnett was 14-6 with an ERA of 3.27.

This information can be critical, given Burnett’s well-known history for catcher-dependence. He performs better in a comfort zone, in which his relationship with a trusted catcher is paramount. A.J.’s acrimonious relationship with Jorge Posada undermined his performance with the Yankees, everyone recognizes that.

You know that Neal Huntington had to consult Barajas before getting into this — and that the Pittsburgh GM had to like what he heard.

8 Comments

this could end badly.

Great research. I’d be willing to bet this could factor into the decision. Both from the club’s and AJ’s perspectives. I’m not aware of anyone talking about this link to the past. Great work.

I hope the trade goes through, but that the Pirates don’t give up much in the way of prospects. In fact, I would say pay more salary to get AJ and a prospect from the Yankees instead.

AJ becomes, for better or worse, the staff ace upon arrival.

Thanks for pointing that out. Great info! I agree with you a lot Jimmie John. I think Bedard would be the ace all things being equal and everyone staying healthy but that is a huge if. But if what they are talking about is money plus two prospects that aren’t on the 40 man roster… I think it would be a great trade.

Not sure I agree that Burnett would come here because of Barajas but I do think there is an upside to Burnett , On another topic I want to welcome you to pittsbirgh and hope to see you in Bradenton . My wife and go to Spring training every year . Tried to welcome you before but for some reason it never posted . Good luck in your new job , GLASSES

I was kinda looking at it the other way — that Barajas probably put in a good word for A.J.
Hey, thanks for the greeting — and do hope we meet.

Hey……..Posada didn’t catch Burnett last year and his ERA was still about 5.15…….you can’t blame this on Jorge!

Didn’t intend to — just making a point of how a catcher with whom he feels comfortable can help Burnett — as it can many other pitchers.

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