Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 25 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.
AJ Burnett had a dominating year with Toronto last season going 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA and 231 strikeouts in 221.1 innings. The biggest concern with Burnett has been his inability to stay healthy. He's pitched 200 innings 2 times before, and he followed both of those seasons with DL stints. The question is how well his body will hold up to this past seasons career high of 221.1 innings. He says that he's learned to take it easy on his arm and that will save him some time on the DL, but I'm not sold. The good thing about Burnett, which was different from Pavano, is that even though he's had injury problems, he's never missed an entire season, and has typically given his teams at least 120 innings in his injury years. The exception being the 2003 season where he lasted just 23 innings. Still, that's more than Pavano gave us in 2006.
My Fearless Prediction:
Burnett will stay healthy and give the first back-to-back 200 inning performance of his career. The third injury-prone Marlins pitcher from that era, Josh Beckett, was able to post 200 innings back-to-back for Boston, so there is hope.
Little Known Burnett Fact:
While pitching together in Florida, Burnett, Beckett, and Pavano all took a magical elixir that was meant to make them play at Derek Jeter's level. However, their bodies weren't built for that level of play, and thus started their legacy of DL and rehab stints.