Jim Palmer on A.J. Burnett and the O's rotation

He hasn't thrown a pitch in a game for the Orioles in nearly 30 years, but Hall of Famer Jim Palmer remains one of the most popular people in the organization with O's fans.

As you may have heard, he knows pitching pretty well, so it was worth hearing his opinion about the O's current pitching rotation and particularly their pursuit of free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett, the current hottest O's topic.

What does the three-time Cy Young winner, eight-time 20-game winner, MASN broadcaster and greatest pitcher in O's history think of Burnett?

"Well, he had a nice year with Pittsburgh," Palmer said at FanFest on Saturday. "I was talking to Dom Chiti who is going to be our bullpen coach. He goes, 'Entirely different leagues.'

"Now that doesn't mean ... at least he's a groundball pitcher. Maybe command is not where you want, at least when he was with the Yankees. But he's got experience and has stayed healthy.

"I would imagine he'll be expensive, but that is to be determined. He might be better than what you have, but then again, maybe not. Certainly, (Burnett has a) better track record. We know how difficult it is to pitch in the AL East - just one pitcher's park, that is down in Tampa. But he does bring a lot of experience to the table."

So does Palmer think that would be a good move?

"It could be. He'll give you some options. As long as he wants to come here. He lives in Monkton. Looks like it would be a perfect fit," he said.

Burnett went 21-26 with a 5.20 ERA for the Yankees over the 2010-11 seasons. The last two years, with the Pirates, he went 26-21 with an ERA of 3.41.

Some feel Burnett has reinvented himself somewhat as a pitcher. His groundball-to-flyball ratios in those two years with New York were 1.20 and 1.52, not bad at all. But he took it to another level the last two seasons, throwing more sinkers and his 2.34 ratio ranked third in the majors.

"Part of reinventing yourself is just to be a little more aggressive early in the strike zone," Palmer said. "Dave Wallace (the new O's pitching coach), that is one of his basic premises of pitching. He has a track record of getting guys to understand what they need to do to be successful. The stuff is still pretty good (for Burnett)."

If not Burnett, does Palmer feels it's pretty important for the Orioles to add at least one other starting pitcher before opening day?

"Most likely, but not necessarily. I still think there are guys here that ... whether it's Miguel Gonzalez, who had windup issues last year but still pitched well enough. Wei-Yin Chen needs to get better to his arm side, same with Brian Matusz.

"Zach Britton, there is no reason in the world, stuff-wise, there are other reasons, shouldn't be a guy that won like he did before, 10 or 15 ballgames.

"If you can upgrade and you know you can improve your ballclub, go for it. But I still don't think it's out of the question that one of our young guys steps up. They probably have more options than people want to give them."

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