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.