Would you pay $75 million for Pete Harnisch?

Of course not, but the Braves might actually spend that much — over five years — to land A.J. Burnett. The oft-injured righty has become the team’s primary target, according to several sources.

I’m opposed. Damn, damn opposed. Burnett has topped 200 innings three times out of seven complete seasons. Two of those times came on the eve of his walk year. Until winning 18 in ’08, Burnett had never topped 12 wins. His career ERA: 3.81.

Yes, his stuff is fantastic, and he was dominant in the second half last season, compiling a 2.86 ERA with 105 strikeouts in 82 innings. But the risk is too great, and signing him for five years would be asking for trouble.

What about me?
What about me?

The last Braves pitcher to sign for five years? Greg Maddux. A.J. Burnett is no Greg Maddux. Obviously. Hell, Zane Smith had a better career ERA than the flaky former Marlin.

Why not take a chance on Ben Sheets instead? No one seems that interested in the Milwaukee ace, who’s nearly two years younger than Burnett and has better career numbers. He’s not asking for five years, and seemingly won’t get anything close to what Burnett appears poised to receive.

Granted, he suffered a muscle tear near his elbow that hindered him down the stretch, but there’s no ligament damage. Sheets pitched over 200 innings three times, and he would’ve accomplished his fourth such season had he pitched two more innings in ’08.

If you’re going to take a chance on an oft-injured starter, go with the more affordable option.



4 thoughts on “Would you pay $75 million for Pete Harnisch?

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  1. Yeah, I agree there are some bargains on the market, because people have seemed to put blinders on in regards to anyone not named Lowe, Burnett, or Dempster, who’s taken.

    Ben Sheets could well be one. Another is Jon Garland, who is not a frontline starter, but I’d feel good about his odds to give us 200 innings of solid work. He’d slot in at a solid #2 or #3, giving us depth (His career ERA+ is 104, Burnett’s is 111 – on second thought, I’m sure that Garland is the most undervalued guy on the market, we should make him the #1 target). Last but not least, might it be worth it to look at Pedro Martinez? Yeah, he sucked last year, but you have to be intrigued by his resume – he could be an interesting target.

    In any case, signing Burnett would be a tragedy – even when he’s healthy, he’s more mediocre than people realize. BTW, Jon Garland’s best season (’05) beats Burnett’s best season (all the way back in ’02). In conclusion – why the hell aren’t we talking about Jon Garland!?

  2. But, Burnett threw a no-hitter. Didn’t he?

    That really doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Agree with the Office that signing Burnett would be a colossal mistake. He has potential, that is why he can ask what he’s asking. The thing is he is always injured and has never lived up to his potential. Sheets is solid and has always seemed to the Braves fits. If we can sign him for less, I say go!

  3. I still think Peavy should be our number one priority. Imagine having a healthy Smoltz, Peavy, Hudson, Glavine, and Jurrgens. That rotation would rival the Big 3 of the nineties. We get Peavy if we don’t overvalue our current prospects (Hanson, Flowers, et al).

  4. There’s no overvaluing Hanson. He could be the best pitching prospect in baseball, and you just don’t trade those guys. If replacing Gorkys with Flowers is what’s required to net Peavy, I’d do that.

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