Whew – The One That got Away

A.J. Burnett (2012 Season). Image courtesy of the Associated Press and msn.foxsports.com

Thank goodness!  I’d been hearing rumors for about a week now that the Washington Nationals (Nats) were talking with pitcher A.J. Burnett about coming to the Nats to be in the starting rotation.  Though I know A.J. is a very good pitcher (gritty, tough, lots of “heart”, etc), I was hoping it would not happen.  Well, today the MLB XM radio station reported he has signed with the Phillies, so I can exhale!  I’m happy for Philadelphia, they need him and he can help them a lot.

A.J. pitched for the Pirates in 2012 and played a key role in helping them make the playoffs.  I watched him pitch several times and he really had everything working!  I have no idea why he did not stay with Pittsburg, but he made it clear he only wanted to play for a team as close to Pennsylvania as possible, and he preferred to play in the National League.  That meant he didn’t want to play for Baltimore.

So why was I hoping AJ would not end up with the Nats?  Because of the shockwaves it would send through the Nats system that prides itself regarding the excellent job it does in developing talent from WITHIN!  Though the Nats have their top four starting pitchers (Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzales, and Fister) all set, they have a healthy competition going for the fifth spot from among several young arms who have come up through the Nats minor-league system.  I’m talking about Ross Detwiler, Tanner Roark, and Taylor Jordan.  All three had stretches in 2012 as the fifth starter where they performed like they truly BELONGED in that role.  Roark was arguably the best pitcher on the team over the August-September period!  So while the above “drama” was going on I was thinking “don’t mess with success.”

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