Bring Burnett to Baltimore

The news that the Orioles are interested in signing A.J. Burnett has received mixed reviews, judging by the comments on this blog.

And those comments are the only ones I care about.

Could I possibly be in the minority of people who think it makes sense for the Orioles?

They won't hand out four- or five-year contracts to free agent pitchers. They're not comfortable offering three years to someone like Bronson Arroyo.

Many of us are trying to wrap our heads around Phil Hughes getting a three-year, $24 million deal from the Twins.

The Orioles need a starter to pair with Chris Tillman at the front end of their rotation. Burnett has made 61 starts over the past two seasons with the Pirates, logging 202 1/3 and 191 innings. He owns a 3.99 ERA in 15 major league seasons.

Burnett has made at least 30 starts in each of the last six seasons. He'd stick out in the Orioles' rotation like a sore thumb, which sure beats a sore arm or hamstring or oblique or intercostal.

I wasn't immediately sold on him, but the more I think about it, the better it sounds.

There isn't much risk in a one-year deal. He lives in Monkton, which actually gives the Orioles an edge over other teams. Imagine that!

Some fans are concerned about Burnett's 5.26 and 5.15 ERA in his final two seasons with the Yankees, but pitching in New York isn't for everyone. And Burnett was 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA in his first season in the Bronx.

The American League East isn't going to bring Burnett to his knees. He posted ERAs of 3.98, 3.75 and 4.07 in three seasons with the Blue Jays.

Burnett is 6-3 with a 2.43 in 11 career starts against the Yankees, and 12-8 with a 3.45 in 29 games (28 starts) against the Rays. I'll also mention that he's 8-3 with a 3.08 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) against the crosstown rival Nationals.

Burnett is 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA in four starts at the current Yankee Stadium, 6-3 with a 2.71 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) at Tropicana Field and 22-11 with a 4.12 ERA in 44 games (43 starts) at Rogers Center.

It's only fair that I point out how Burnett is 5-3 with a 5.03 ERA in 10 starts at Camden Yards, but I won't hold that against him. And yes, further proof that the won-loss stat is overrated.

When I pimp for Burnett, I'm fully taking into account how the Orioles won't spend big on a pitcher - or anything else these days - and he's a realistic and quality target for them. They don't need reclamation projects. They don't need five-inning, back-of-the-rotation arms.

Burnett, Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris would give the Orioles a solid starting five. And all the better if Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman, Steve Johnson or another candidate absolutely deals in spring training and leaves manager Buck Showalter with a pitching surplus and some really hard decisions.

You want the Orioles to make a move and stop letting the offseason pass them by as if they're sitting curbside on lawn chairs and holding sparklers? Signing Burnett and whichever free agent closer will take their money puts them in an advantageous position.

Pitching and defense wins championships, right? Get it done and then keep working to fill those holes in the lineup.

Shameless plug alert: Weather permitting, I'll be appearing on "Wall to Wall Baseball" from noon-2 p.m. on MASN. Carroll County could get hit hard by a winter storm, but I'm hoping that my car can make it to the Hunt Valley studio.

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