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The Phillies have a lot of problems. When general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. went to bed last night, he probably thought his pitching staff was the one thing he could count on in 2014. Sure, there are always injury concerns (as the bicep troubles of Cole Hamels indicate) but with Hamels, Cliff Lee, Cuban import Miguel Gonzalez, and low cost flier Roberto Hernandez

Maybe some outfield depth or viable backups for their aging infielders represent higher priorities. Maybe stripping down and rebuilding a little bit, using Cole Hamels as the future face of the franchise.

Clearly, none of us are familiar with the way RAJ thinks. Ruben Amaro Jr. doubled down for 2014, signing A.J. Burnett to a one-year contract with $16 million. Only the Phillies.

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Not sure what A.J. Burnett was doing on this one, but his natural reaction must have taken over after he caught the ball on the mound on Russell Martin’s attempt to throw out Jon Jay.

Here’s A.J. Burnett modelling an A.J. Burnett t-shirt, which will be given to all fans in attendance for Friday’s Reds vs. Pirates game in Pittsburgh. A.J. Burnett poses in the exact manner you should expect him to. I’m not going to refer to Burnett as a douche bag or anything, as I’m sure he’d give you the A.J. Burnett shirt off his back. The Pirates’ opponent tomorrow night is Mike Leake, who would probably steal the shirt off YOUR back.

I won’t be attending this game, but if there’s a reader out there who plans on going and has no desire for an A.J. Burnett t-shirt, I wear a large. The Getting Blanked crew will re-enact this .gif while wearing the shirt.

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates starter A.J. Burnett, who will enter the 2013 season in his final year of his five-year, $82 million contract, is mulling over retirement following the 2013 season.

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The Winter Meetings remain quiet in regards to the bigger name free agents, although a few left-handed relievers have reportedly found new homes.

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed Randy Choate to a three year contract. The 37-year-old pitched for the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers last season, posting a 3.03 ERA / 3.25 FIP and 3.64 xFIP in 80 appearances. The lefty specialist had a 62.1% ground ball rate in 38 2/3 innings. The club still has left hander Marc Rzepczysnki on their projected roster for 2013.

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Update: Burnett Requires Surgery

Yesterday, I wrote about what seemed like a funny occurrence at Pittsburgh Pirates camp when A.J. Burnett bunted a baseball into his own face. Unfortunately for Burnett and the Pirates, the bunting drill mishap has become a little more serious than was first anticipated.

Immediately following the incident, Burnett went to Pittsburgh to be examined by team doctors. They diagnosed the starting right hander with a fractured orbital bone and scheduled him for surgery tomorrow.

We haven’t received any word on how long he might be out for, but the injury is disappointing news for not only the Pirates, but also Burnett, who must have been looking forward to facing NL Central competition after six years in the AL East.

A.J. Burnett has made 320 plate appearances in his career. He somehow managed to avoid getting out in 17.3% of those times at the plate. Since leaving the National League in 2005, Burnett has made only 20 plate appearances. He’s collected a single hit from those opportunities.

Now that he’s moving back to the National League to pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he’ll have to step into the batter’s box more regularly. At Pirates’ camp today, he was practicing just that, when a bunt attempt resulted in a foul ball hitting him right in the kisser.

Momentarily dazed, Burnett dropped into a crouch at the plate after the ball struck his face. As he was examined by an athletic trainer, Burnett joked, “Where did the bone go?”

We can laugh primarily because it happened to A.J. Burnett, but also because the injury wasn’t serious.

Of note is Burnett’s 2000 season when, despite his career numbers, he led all pitchers in baseball (with at least 20 plate appearances) with a .376 wOBA. He even hit a home run that year.