It's not my money. You want a slogan for the McCovey Chronicles t-shirt? That's what would be on the winter line if there were seasonal apparel. Or, you know, any shirts at all. Getting caught up with how much certain players make is an easy trap to fall in around this time of year. But it's not my money. A.J. Burnett wants 6 years, $80 million? Whatever. He'd help the Giants win. Burnett wants $80 million, a rotating harem of comely stewardesses, and a cockatoo that can recite the screenplay for Sophie's Choice? That's tough, Ned, but you have the whole winter to work on it. Let me know if you need help. And I think they're called "flight attendants" now.
The Giants do care about the money, however, and their budget is most certainly finite. I don't give a second thought to how much Edgardo Alfonzo has in his bank account, but I do cringe at how his salary affects other personnel decisions. This is why I'm so conflicted about A.J. Burnett. I don't care in the slightest about his won-loss record. His ERA, especially considering his home park was Joe Robbie Stadium, isn't something you throw tens of millions at, but I have little doubts about his ability to improve. He has rumored attitude problems, but the Giants are going to need a jackass for the future with Bonds not getting any younger. And I really, really don't care about how much money he'll end up getting. In theory, that is.
I just can't reconcile the idea of a hurt or ineffective Burnett taking up 15% or more of the Giants yearly budget. The Giants need a frontline pitcher, and I'm pretty convinced Burnett could be that guy. The window to win with Bonds is closing, if it hasn't done so already, and Burnett would give the team a quick injection of talent. A front three of Schmidt, Burnett, and Lowry would be as good as the Giants have seen in decades, and that's ignoring any possible contributions from Matt Cain or Brad Hennessey.
The injury history is a concern. Burnett's had elbow surgery in the past, and he was worked hard as a youngster who had trouble throwing strikes. But any pitcher is going to be a concern, at least when discussing a multi-year contract. I can overlook the injury history, just as I can look past the sticker shock.
It's too hard for me, however, to ignore the catastrophic potential of the deal. The Giants don't have much salary committed beyond next year, true, but they're going to need to overhaul the roster. The team could sign Burnett if they feel a lot of the team's production is going to come from the farm system at a bargain rate. Counting on Giant prospects is as good a plan as any. Well, as good a plan as any if you define "any" as "waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear in a Half Moon Bay pumpkin patch on Halloween, handing out pre-arbitration superstars as if they were three-inch Nutrageous bars." You have to assume the Giants are going to need to fill a lot of holes with proven players, and proven players cost money. Even if Burnett is a perennial All-Star, that isn't going to leave much money to kick around.
Teams that have interest in Burnett: Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Phillies, Mets, Braves, White Sox, Indians, Orioles, Twins, Ghastly Monsters, American Dreams, and Cleveland Spiders. Also, there are some WNBA teams that haven't been created yet, like the San Antonio Fyre and Denver Kaboom, that have some cursory interest. The Giants don't really do bidding wars, so the chance they're even one of the finalists is miniscule. If it came down to the Giants paying Burnett $13M a year for four years, I'd pretend the future didn't exist, and just be ecstatic about the coming season.
I'm still not sure if that's something I really want or not. I have a different answer each day.