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Philadelphia Phillies in hot pursuit of free agent A. J. Burnett

Burnett's WHIP mark has been descending since 2010.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. is believed to be in the running to sign veteran free agent starting pitcher A. J. Burnett. Another 'old man' acquisition would be panned by the baseball world and that portion of Philadelphia's 'fans' collectively known as the 'Philly unfaithful'. But, this pitcher's descending WHIP line would reveal all detractors as a reactionary bunch.

Yes, the Phillies surely haven't made an off-season splash. And it's completely fair for all media members, baseball followers and jaded fans to believe that the sporadic Phillies' offense will leave Ryne Sandberg as wanting as Charlie Manuel used to be. When a team simply can't score consistently, the pitching staff can't be expected to make a playoff push on its own.

Burnett has thrown 2,353.67 regular season innings through 15 big league seasons. At 37, it's unwise to think that he'll be able to generate multiple effective seasons on the mound. But, how about just one in 2014?

This imposing right-hander was a member of the New York Yankees' staff that defeated the Phillies in the 2009 World Series. Burnett posted a 1.401 WHIP mark during that regular season.

After posting a 1.511 WHIP mark in 2010 in New York, Burnett's sabermetric baseline trickled to lower statistical dimensions: 1.434 (2011 in New York), 1.241 (2012 in Pittsburgh) and 1.215 (2013 in Pittsburgh). Burnett has a 1.315 career WHIP mark, which includes his days with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays.

Adding a seasoned arm to a rotation that starts with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee would increase Sandberg's odds of potentially making a playoff push, even considering his offensive challenges. If 'Ryno's' collective roster falters, than Amaro could opt to swap Burnett for other inventory at mid-season. Of course, that assumes a no-trade clause, or a limited no-trade option, won't be a major consideration in any completed contract.

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