Is $69.5 million too much to pay for one win?
What if without that one win, you don't win the World Series? And with it, you do?
I asked basically that question, boiled down to 140 characters, on Twitter Friday morning. And Yankee fans overwhelmingly answered that yes, the ridiculous amount of money they spent on A.J. Burnett was worth it.
And I agree.
The maddeningly inconsistent Burnett was more bad than good in his three years in the Bronx. His ERA for the three years (4.79) is the highest in Yankee history for anyone allowed to make 80 or more career starts.
And while I'll agree that win-loss records don't tell the entire story about starting pitchers, Burnett's 34-35 Yankee record (for a team that was 104 games over .500 during that span) tells a lot.
His postseason numbers (2-2, 5.08 in seven starts) are really no better, and the Yankees' reluctance to allow him to start in the playoffs is more telling than anything else.
But about that one win . . .
It came in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, against the defending champ Phillies. Without it, the Yankees go down two games to none, heading to Citizens Bank Park for Games 3, 4 and 5.
Without it, you could easily argue that the Yankees don't win in 2009, and that they go into spring training this year still having won no World Series since 2000.
Burnett pitched well that night, and he had to. He allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings, with nine strikeouts, and handed the ball directly to Mariano Rivera, which is the formula for success for any Yankee starter. Here's the column I wrote on Burnett that night.
It was a shock to many, including the Phillies.
"He never got outside of himself," Jimmy Rollins said that night. "That's very untypical of A.J."
Burnett had other good games as a Yankee, but you could argue for the rest of his New York career, he was no better (and often worse) than any pitcher the Yankees could have signed for a lot less than $82.5 million for five years.
Or $69.5 million for three years, since the Pirates have agreed to pay Burnett $13 million in exchange for taking him off the Yankees' hands.
The Pirates originally hoped to do the deal for just $10 million, leaving the Yankees on the hook to Burnett for $72.5 million.
Apparently, they decided that was too much for one win. But $69.5 million wasn't.