A.J. Burnett's addition makes the Philadelphia Phillies relevant again. Yes, this veteran's right arm might be enough to help propel Ryne Sandberg's team into the playoffs this fall.
Allan James Burnett had a solid 2013 season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He posted a 1.125 WHIP, which was his best sabermetric mark in that category since he was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2007 (1.189). He also led the National League by striking out 9.8 batters per every nine innings and had the best ground ball-to-fly ball ratio (1.43) in the major leagues.
The then-36-year-old (who turned 37 on January 3), only threw into the third inning of the Pirates first playoff start since the 1990s last October. The St. Louis Cardinals, who were on their way to a World Series appearance against the Boston Red Sox, tagged him for seven earned runs during the first game of the National League Division Series.
The 6 foot 4 inch, 225 pound right-hander spent three seasons (2006-2008) with Roy Halladay while both were wearing Blue Jays caps. It was during that time in his career that Burnett truly became a dominant major league pitcher.
Ruben Amaro, Jr. essentially replaced Halladay with Burnett (who will also wear number 34 for the Phillies) as a result of this one-year, $16 million free agent deal that includes a mutual 2015 option and a limited no-trade clause.
Of course, everyone knows that no one is likely to replicate what 'Doc' did for the team during his first two seasons in Philadelphia. But, as long as Burnett can generate approximately 30 effective starts this season, it's realistic to believe that his newest employer can be postseason contenders once more.