Mar 4, 2013; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) throws against the Philadelphia Phillies during the top of the first inning of a spring training game at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Imagining An Email From Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington To A.J. Burnett

Jul 31, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) does a network interview before playing the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

What if City of Champions gained access to Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington’s email account and discovered a message for free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett?

OK, we didn’t. But you could imagine if we did. Just play along.

Dear A.J.,

I figured I’d reach out to you personally, because the way things are going between us just isn’t healthy.

You know, we’ve changed a good bit since we first got together two years ago. You have, too.

We were depressed after an awful finish to 2011, and you weren’t having much fun in New York. It wasn’t exactly a marriage of convenience, but let’s just say we could both assist each other with our needs. You helped us feel good about ourselves again, and we helped you feel like an ace one more time.

Sure, we had our bumps along the way, but your unique personality was exhilarating most of the time. We were used to being one of the most boring franchises in major pro sports, so we were desperate for some excitement. You brought that to the mound every fifth day and to the clubhouse around the clock.

But something started to feel wrong last summer. We helped you resuscitate your career with our defensive shifts, and you complained about them when a bounce didn’t go your way. After all we did for you! Maybe we wouldn’t mind seeing you flail against the AL East again, just for spite.

Hold on…I’m letting my emotions get the better of me. I don’t want it to be like this. We had our big blowup in October, but it seemed like we had an understanding: we weren’t going to give you the qualifying offer, out of respect for your retirement decision. We didn’t want to presume anything; moreover, we had some other players to sign, too.

Then you started to drag things out. We were willing to be patient, and you knew our terms. Now, everyone knows what we’re willing to pay you and the whole situation is getting embarrassing. You’re shopping around; we say we’re moving on as if you won’t be back.

Here’s the truth, though: we would give you more money if we felt like you could keep up the pace for another year. I’d like to say “it’s not you, it’s us,” but I’d be lying. I don’t want to disrespect you, because you don’t deserve it.

Anyway, I hope we can move on without any more drama. You’ll always be our Batman, but here’s the great thing about pitching prospects: I keep getting older, but they stay the same age.

We’ll always have STFD,
Neal



Tags: A.J. Burnett Neal Huntington Pittsburgh Pirates

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