The options for a deal for AJ Burnett has gotten more narrow – despite his recent success and the fact that the Marlins seem to be leaning towards taking Lowell out as part of the attachment for any deal. It seems the Red Sox and the White Sox are in a bidding war, right now, for Burnett. But the only piece of laundry that AJ should be wearing is a jersey that has “Marlins” written across the front.
I know, I know. You are probably thinking why I had a change of heart. I haven’t. I always have liked and respected AJ’s talent; it was just his inconsistency that drives me crazy. And his seemingly poisoned tongue that looks to slash at this organization. But winning and hope can change things – or at least put them on hold.
AJ is gone after this season. No doubt. The Marlins know this, AJ knows this, the Yankees know this. The debate is or has always been, should the Marlins trade AJ and at least get something for him in return? To lose Pavano for sandwich picks in the amateur draft is ok; but to do it two years in a row? And for a talent like AJ Burnett? Not exactly capatilizing on his value for this franchise.
Of course, there is another way to define value. If the Marlins can pull it together and get into the playoffs, they have a very good chance of winning the whole gosh-darned thing with AJ and Beckett taking the ball. Just ask the DBacks how Randy and Schilling fared for them in the playoffs a few years back. Or even the Cubs when Wood and Prior are healthy. The fact is, teams that excell in the post season have fireballers in their rotations and in their pens. I see the Braves nodding in the back of the room.
So yes, to keep AJ means you will lose him for basically nothing at the end of the season. But to keep him means you risk winning it all. You are in a better position to do so with AJ here than by trading him – no matter how successful you think Jason Vargas will be or any other call up. And with Dontrelle hitting a rough patch, this may be the most approriate time to hold onto AJ.
For the Marlins, standing pat is the best situation. It only assures a greater possibility of winning for this team and there really isnt a knock down deal for AJ out there. And when the Marlins attach Lowell’s contract the focus is less about talent but more about contract flexibility. This means the talent that will be netted in return is less likely to contribute at the current level already in-house. As for Lowell, I dont think dealing him may be in the best interest from a PR perspective let alone he is starting to hit the ball again (over his last 7 games he is 8/25 with 1 HR and 7 RBI).
With the Marlins moving up in the wild card standings while only going 5-5 on this road trip and the recent offensive explosion, it seems both Jack McKeon and Bill Robinson have managed to secure their jobs for the meantime.
Maybe all of this is a sign. Maybe it is just dumb luck. Maybe, it is time for the Marlins to finally rise to the occasion. Either way you look at it, standing pat keeps the possibility for it to continue in place.