On paper, AJ has the kind stuff pitchers dream about. At 6-4 and 230 pounds, he looks like a horse on the mound – a power pitcher, and before his Tommy John surgery his fastball had been clocked at triple digits. Combine that with the pinstripes and you’re looking at virtuosity.
However, in the real world, as is with many pitchers, AJ is true to his well-known pitching character: dominant for three to four innings before his pie falls apart. It’s always that one inning where the pastry has a bad taste. This of-course is not breaking news about AJ and has been a familiar pattern for most of his career. At first glance, the perception is that he could handle the success of a great three innings, but he can’t get a grip on the one inning failure - which in turn haunts him the rest of the game. AJ has great ability but no “cojones.” He has no competitive fire and can’t seem to separate distraction and channel the energy more positively on the mound.
His in game inconsistency can drive any fan nuts. Imagine that? He pitches really well for several innings but still gives up five runs due to the bad one inning. What a roller coaster of baseball emotions. Plenty display of dominance, followed by a temporary sabbatical to another planet and then (Earth to AJ) right back to being overwhelming. At times, I would rather watch paint dry or even better – take a seat on the “Old Sparky” electric chair and be jolted onto the next world. My Harley performs better under 90 degree heat. Frustrating! Ok, maybe not the electric chair but some alcoholic fortification.
I know judging a pitcher on wins and losses has flaws, but how else do we judge AJ. The numbers are obvious: 1-4 with a 6.93 ERA since the beginning of July and a 10.70 ERA in August. And since becoming a Yankee in 2009, he has 1 win with a 7.62 ERA and 1.74 WHIP in August. That’s three years – outrageous. The only thing consistent about AJ is that his ERA has constantly headed northbound. To make matters worse, he’s getting paid more money to be an inferior pitcher. In 2010, AJ pitched to a 10-15 record with a 5.26 ERA. This was the worst season by a starter in Yankees history.
In New York a player will be judged on the value of his contract and rightfully so. AJ will be considered along with other good pitchers who have come to play in New York and aren’t able to perform. In Gotham City, We are more vociferous about losing and don’t absorb it to well.
The rage I have about AJ is not a personal one; rather it’s directed toward AJ the pitcher. It’s an easy maneuver to stomp on someone when they’re down and trust me; I have been guilty of doing so. But, sometimes it’s tough to identify with players who make exorbitant salaries and remain in the position of a front line player because of it. It’s time the New York Yankees remove the barriers holding back the homegrown talent for the overpriced and inconsistent players.