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  • Has the clock run out on Jared Burton?

    The Twins fell to the Blue Jays on Tuesday night due in large part to the wheels falling off the Phil Hughes strikeout express in the 6th inning. After cruising through five innings, limiting the Jays to four hits while striking out five batters, Hughes suddenly couldn’t retire a single batter and was forced from the game clinging to a 2-1 lead with two runners on and no outs. Those runners went on to score (plus one more for good measure), which left Hughes with a disappointing stat line of 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5K and left his ERA at a far too high 7.20.

    I’m not here to talk about Phil Hughes, however. In my opinion, these "one bad inning" outings are just something Hughes needs to work through (or the team needs to be ready for). With as poor as the pitching has been over the past three seasons, we’ll take the bad with the good when it comes to Phil Hughes and hope he figures it out in the meantime.

    My bigger concern from last night’s game comes from the ninth inning when Jared Burton entered the game. Burton retired the first two Blue Jay batters relatively quickly before walking the next three batters in just as rapid fashion. Brett Lawrie stepped to the plate and well…

    I thought about linking the video, but I don't want to subject Twins fans to THAT again. Let's just say it was 9-2 in short order.

    Tuesday was Burton’s fourth appearance of the season and it continued a frightening trend for the righty set-up man, one that dates back to 2013. To put it simply – he’s been crushed. (All numbers that follow were obtained from Fangraphs on 4/16/14)

    Burton finished 2013 with 2-9 record with an ERA of 3.82. For comparisons sake, Burton finished 2012 with a record of 3-2 with an ERA of 2.18. That should raise a red flag immediately. While relievers are prone to up and down years, Burton’s 2013 was so much worse than 2012 that the Twins management and front office had to be concerned about the righty heading into 2014, even if they never publicly said anything.

    Delving a little deeper into the numbers doesn't make things look any better for Burton. He finished 2013 with a xFIP of 3.94, showing that his inflated ERA wasn’t the product of bad luck or a few bad outings – rather it was an accurate measurement of his performance. With an opponent batting average allowed of .240 (up from 2012’s .183) and a BABIP of .294, the writing was on the wall. Burton may just be out of gas.

    I think Twins management was influenced by Burton’s outstanding 2012 numbers and therefore were willing to take a chance that he could turn in numbers closer to his careerbest season – rather than 2013’s effort. Early season indicators seem to show that as a mistake. While the season is young and sample sizes are extremely small (especially for relievers) Burton has done little to show that 2012 Jared Burton will ever be coming back.

    He currently boasts an ERA of 14.40, with a xFIP of 6.94 (That’s depressing. It means Burton has been somewhat unlucky and that his ERA should ONLY be nearly 7…), opponents are hitting .300 off him and his BB/9 has risen, while his K/9 has been cut in half.

    In short, he’s walking more batters, striking out fewer batters and then letting everyone else hit .300 off of him.

    Ouch.

    With a plethora of young arms in AAA that look to be ready for the show, I hope the Twins don’t let Burton flap in the breeze much longer. Michael Tonkin or Casey Fien could easily take over Burton’s role as the 8th inning bridge to Perkins, and Deolis Guerra, Ryan Pressly and Logan Darnell are all just a phone call away.

    Things like this happen with relievers. Sometimes their stuff just stops working - for whatever reason. In reality, the Twins were lucky to get a career best season from a minor pickup in 2012.

    Whether Burton is hurt or simply out of gas, the choice remains the same. Something must be done with Burton and I believe the sooner the Twins make a move, the better off they'll be.
    Comments 42 Comments
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      I do think I'd like to see Tonkin get a good long look as the eighth inning guy.
    1. CK's Avatar
      CK -
      Always sell high. Let him string some good outings together. I don't have faith in the Twins doing so given their history, but I also think the market is a lot lower than we all hope. Unless it's Drew Butera
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      At first I thought this said time to trade Buxton.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      At first I thought this said time to trade Buxton.
      Boo! You scared me.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Trade? Who would take him? DFA or release? Sure. He's toast.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sconnie View Post
      Trade? Who would take him? DFA or release? Sure. He's toast.
      Poor guy, what a cold and heartless thing to say about a human being... That said, he serves up BP in games, he can't figure this stuff out in games.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I thought the Twins made a mistake extending him. They had him under team control for 2013.

      http://twinsdaily.com/entry.php/1968...Old-Set-Up-Man

      Teams should use caution extending any one 32 and beyond. Too often they decline and stay on the roster while younger players are not given the opportunity to grow.
    1. iTwins's Avatar
      iTwins -
      You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.com/content.php/28...n-Jared-Burton
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by CK View Post
      Always sell high. Let him string some good outings together. I don't have faith in the Twins doing so given their history, but I also think the market is a lot lower than we all hope. Unless it's Drew Butera
      I don't want to see him on the mound right now. It's not worth it. Let someone else sacrifice major league games to try to help him snap out of it.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I linked this in the other thread but this is a better fit. The article was written after a strong 2012 season in fear that the a Twins would extend him through 2014.

      Set up relievers don't age well into their 30s.

      http://twinsdaily.com/entry.php/1968...Old-Set-Up-Man

      The Twins need to stop extending players into their 30s. Why fear arbitration? They have the money to pay should the player take a step and become among the better players. Extending middling players leaves no room for decline. They end up carrying mediocre players with no upside.

      Moves the a Twins could make this year to continue the cycle of mediocrity.

      They might extend Kubel or Suzuki or Correia when they should trade them.

      They might extend a Dozier into his 30s when they have several years of team control. They need to keep him hungry. They should happily pay his due reward in arbitration if he becomes an all star level player. The same goes for Plouffe.
    1. adjacent's Avatar
      adjacent -
      I remember his fastball being around 91-92 mph. Yesterday, if the radar was accurate, he was reaching 89 mph. For a guy that relays in his change-up, losing those 3 mph could be a serious problem. May be he is hurt?
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      What timing for a trade! Why not wait until July or August when players like Burton are normally traded? G.L! Gardy has his 13 pitchers (anybody surprised?) there are plenty of others to pitch. Also, consider the timing of Burton's blow-up--Twins down by 3 in the 9th on a crummy night--they were going to lose anyway, so Burton's disater didn't cost a game.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      A fine example of someone tradable mid-season last year that the Twins didn't move.
    1. KOHG's Avatar
      KOHG -
      Ryan Pressly should be up. He was really good last season and hasn't done anything not to deserve a 25 man roster spot. Tonkin, Pressly, Perkins, Theibar... That could be a really nasty bullpen....in a good way.

      I will say this about contracts and extending... Don't the Oakland A's go year by year with their players. If you produce your paid if you don't produce your may not have a job next season simple as that. I would do this with bullpen guys, bench players, and position players who are average or replaceable. Job security is a great thing, but it can lead to complacency. The pressure of fighting for a job and your next big paycheck can be a real motivator ask just about every american. Alot, of this also depends on the individual as well. Oswaldo Arcia I would never until I had too give a multi year contract too. I would very rarely give a multi year contract to any player 30 and above.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      A fine example of someone tradable mid-season last year that the Twins didn't move.
      If I recall he struggled for a stretch mid season. I think a terrible month of June losing his 8th inning role. Setup relievers have little trade value. Too many teams have one too offer. Struggling set up men are worth very little. I wouldn't think he was too tradable with the extra year of commitment an additional anchor.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      A fine example of someone tradable mid-season last year that the Twins didn't move.
      Exactly, and it's pretty frustrating. Now . . . good lord what to get for him. If I were in charge I would trade him and pay most of this year's salary for any mid-tier prospect. Fien and Duensing next.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      A fine example of someone tradable mid-season last year that the Twins didn't move.
      Indeed. And add Fien and Thielbar to that equation. The Twins never sell high. They wait for players to bomb and then they release them...
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      I am mostly disappointed with his performance because, in my master plan, he (along with Corriea and Willingham) would be moved at the trade deadline for whatever they can get for him. I don't think reliable bullpen pitchers are as easy to find as some, but the Twins appear to have some depth in their bullpen so they really should be moving on from Burton. I guess the question really is what is the best method to do it.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Well I must have missed the widespread demands to trade Burton over the past year. I can't recall a single one in fact.

      Burton tanking is no big deal as long as the Twins don't let it become one. Demote him, cut him, whatever. They have backups.

      Just don't continue to play him if he stinks.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      If I recall he struggled for a stretch mid season. I think a terrible month of June losing his 8th inning role.
      Yup. Actually, June 6-18, 2013, Burton pitched 5 games and allowed 8 runs, same as 2014 so far. Actually, June 6 thru July 1 last year, he had 10 games, 12 runs. Followed it up with a stretch of 19 games, 6 hits, zero runs. (We won't discuss how he pitched after that -- suffice to say, he closed out the season in classic 2011-2013 Twins fashion. )

      As to the extension, Burton's $3.25 mil isn't hurting the team in the least bit. Heck, his roster spot isn't even under that much pressure -- Tonkin is it, really, and they've already got him on the roster thanks to another guy on the DL.

      If his poor pitching continues over the next few weeks, we can think about cutting him loose. Otherwise, try to get him back to general 2012-2013 levels, and if he gets on a roll again, maybe someone will want a flyer on him for August/September (or 2015 with his $3.6 mil team option). Not that he will bring back much in trade, or provide us with a whole lot performance-wise in the intervening months, but it wouldn't take much to justify his modest salary.
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