Burnett, Lowe or Conway?

Reflecting on a recent discussion I had with the Statistician Magician concerning whether the Jays would be better off signing A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe, I stumbled on this article over at ESPN.com  – Scroll down, you’ll see the pertinent section.

I was never comfortable with the large contracts JP Riccardi offered to the likes of Burnett, Troy Glaus or BJ Ryan just a few years ago.  Burnett especially worried me; a fire baller with a tendency towards injury.

What did we get from AJ? One year as a good number two starter behind the wizard like Roy Halladay and two injury plagued years in which AJ’s committment to baseball was questioned by everyone in Toronto including the GM.

Based on his production from last year, however, many experts are citing the relationships that AJ has built as reason for Burnett to be seeking a return to Toronto.  I’m going for Lowe in 2009 (with the infactual assumption that Toronto will get one or the other) for three main reasons.

Lowe does not need to rely on the heat to get batters out.  In nights where AJ’s fastball is lacking a little or his big, hooking curve isn’t hitting its spots AJ becomes susceptible to the homerun.  On the other hand Lowe is a sinkerballer with a tremendous ground ball to fly ball ratio of 2.60.  With Toronto’s consistently excellent defense you can expect Lowe to be the perfect fit in Toronto as long as Lowe is given run support.  At a 5 million dollar discount (I argue) over Burnett how could you say no?

Relief Experience:
Lowe has closed before and may close again.  Think of an aging Lowe vs. an aging Burnett.  Burnett is likely to break down at a younger age than Lowe will, due to the way they pitch, making the age difference argument void.  So at the end of a four year contract I’d rather see the well preserved, experience reliever coming out of the pen as opposed to a Burnett whose confidence is shot due to a fastball that has lost its zing. 

This case should be over right now.  Burnett has been injured in some way or another in nearly every season but 2008.  Lowe has never been on the DL.  Some may say that Lowe is due for a stint, all things considered, while I say that Burnett is likely to hit the DL four times in four years.  We simply cannot tolerate such inconsistency here in Toronto.

On a totally unrealted note… Just yesterday I witnessed my first OHL game of the season.  For those of you in America who may not be familiar with the Ontario Hockey League, its where a large number of NHL players come from, making it the equivalent to College Football in terms of preparing players for the next level.

In this game the home town Oshawa Generals beat the visiting Barrie Colts by a score of 5-0.  What was most notable about this game was the slick goal tending of one Neil Conway who faced more shots than the opposing goalie but kept the Generals in the game via a series of excellent saves.  Watching this player I opined last night that with a glove hand as solid as Conway’s, he may have missed his true calling as a slick fielding shortstop for his hometown Cleveland Indians.

Seriously, MLB scouts should check this guy out!



One comment

  1. welikeroywelikeroy

    It is a great comparison you make, and a notable one for the Jays. Burnett catches the hype and the eye of pitching scouts everywhere because of his amazing stuff. What scouts don’t see, is the turbulant injury status and the inconsistancy throughout his career. His jaw-dropping stuff is sometimes just not there.

    Lowe is the opposite. Steady, as far as injuries, with not amazing stuff (his sinker is one of the best though). He realizes and proves that to have sucess as a SP, you need to get ground balls.

    Burnett is the sexy pick. Dropping the curve, firing the heat, and piling up the K’s. Lowe is the steady contributor, that knows how to pitch and how to win.

    I really like Burnett, but I’d agree and take Lowe, for the simple reason that I fear another Burnett injury. Rare that you can get a full season out of him.

    Looks like it might not be financially relevant to go after either, without dealing some contracts. I think we are are capped at 100 mil this season. The top tier free agents might be off limits. Great post.

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