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Quote Of The Day: A.J. Burnett

When asked why he had so much success against the Boston Red Sox as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, but not as a member of the New York Yankees, a very frustrated A.J. Burnett responded:

I’m not in Toronto, so I’m tired of hearing about all that. That’s just retarded. If anything was different I made pitches when I was with Toronto, and I didn’t make pitches tonight. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

I’m sure Burnett will take some heat for using the term “retarded,” because as we all know, as soon as a word is used by the Black Eyed Peas in their lyrics, it becomes offensive.

And for the record, against the Boston Red Sox as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Burnett’s ERA is 2.56. As a member of the New York Yankees, he’s given up 40 earned runs in 41 and a third innings against Boston, which translates into an 8.71 ERA. Of course, that’s far too small of a sample to draw any real conclusions.

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees

Ryne Sandberg inherited a tough job. After taking over from Charlie Manuel towards the end of the 2013 season, the former second base great must now confront a roster lousy with two things – veteran players and expectations.

Veteran players tend to be expensive players, drawing huge paychecks after prosperous careers. Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and the rest certainly earned the spoils of their spectacular early careers. But with big money comes an expectation of a winning product. The Phillies might have a great new TV deal but they don’t trot out this expensive roster for fun.

This is a team expected to win. Rather than break up his underachieving group, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. doubled down this offseason. The Phils added veterans Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett in addition to Cuban pitcher Miguel Gonzalez.

So Sandberg must do what he thinks he must to wring all the wins out of roster presented to him by Amaro. His chosen method for getting the most out of his guys? Needling and benching starting shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

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MLB: Spring Training-Seattle Mariners at Los Angeles Dodgers

Spring Training is the opposite of memorable. It happens and then the real games begin. Hopefully nobody gets hurt. That’s the ultimate goal for most players and fans – keep everybody on the field. As such, it makes very few spring moments unforgettable.

Spring Training lolls like a ship in a gentle current, listing side to side until the season begins and real excitement spills over for most fans. It takes a lot for spring memories to persevere.

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MLB: Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays

Is Ron Washington a good manager? His 611 – 524 career record suggests yes, he’s pretty good. He claimed consecutive AL pennants for the Texas Rangers in 2010 and 2011. Of course, the Rangers fielded some very strong clubs those years, with MVP performers and excellent players around the diamond.

And if we’re dolling out credit to their manager for succeeding, we should probably offer some scorn in equal dose. It was, of course, Ron Washington who oversaw the Game Six collapse against the Cardinals as the Rangers went from one out from a World Series title to Game Seven losers.

The same manager who watched his 2012 club – the one that began the season with “best team ever?” hype – fold up like a lawn chair down the stretch, losing the division lead to Oakland on the final day of the season. The Rangers spent more than 180 days in first place that season. The only day they looked up in standings? The final one. The one that matters most.

2013 was not much different. The Rangers sat with a 97% chance of making the playoffs on August 31st, according to They held a two-game lead over Oakland in the AL West as the calendar turned to September, only to miss out on the playoffs completely.

It’s the manager’s lot in life – they receive undue praise and too much blame. Ron Washington gets more than his share of flack but he gets the one thing that really matters: job security. In the face of growing criticism, the Rangers extended the contract of their field boss through the 2015 season.

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at New York Yankees

Few players can claim as a trophy case as crowded as Derek Jeter. A sparking 20 year career with the same team, five World Series titles, one of the best shortstops in baseball history.

He’s an iconic player and the author of some of the most iconic moments in recent history. Even if the Derek Jeter mythology outgrew the Derek Jeter reality, his role in baseball history is well deserved.

Here are six of the most iconic Derek Jeter moments from his Hall of Fame career, which draws to a close at the end of the 2014 season.

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MLB: New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates

It wasn’t even a month ago when the Pittsburgh Pirates called A.J. Burnett‘s “bluff”, stating their plans to open Spring Training without him. At the time, this space interpreted that message as one of leverage. The Bucs weren’t about to let the enigmatic right-hander dictate terms between them. So they made a bunch of noise about moving on.

After Burnett agreed to a one-year deal (with an option for a second) with the Philadelphia Phillies, it looks like the Pirates made the right decision. At least they made a decision – they were out of the A.J. Burnett sweepstakes. A report from Pirates beat writer John Perrotto suggests the Pirates were never actually in the Burnett sweepstakes.

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers

There is more than one way to skin a cat. There is no single formula for success as a starting pitcher in the big leagues. Some pitchers are great strikeouts pitchers, some pitchers possess pinpoint control, some just have a knack for keeping runs off the board.

The last zillion years of baseball research shows that walks are bad and home runs are bad, too. Strikeouts are good because they minimize damage. For a while, we considered strikeout to walk ratio to be the mark of a good pitcher. Upon further reflection, maybe a greater strikeout differential is better than a ratio. A guy who strikes out nine and walks three batters per nine innings gets my attention more quickly than somebody who strikes three out and walks one.

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