No one in the Yankees’ clubhouse will speak openly about it, but a grassroots movement in Tampa helped make the trade of A. J. Burnett to the Pirates earlier this week a reality.
A Pirates cap discreetly made the rounds in the locker room, collecting fat checks from the players to soften the nearly $20 million blow the Yankees’ front office absorbed with the trade of the enigmatic righty. Some players are said to have donated multiple times, but insist there were no hard feelings fueling their generosity.
Though the issue was not openly discussed, a few players shared their thoughts on the condition of anonymity:
“Playing third — I mean, playing the infield — behind him was like taking sniper fire,” said one source who wrote a $1 million check on his own. “This [trade] was a matter of self-preservation.”
Said another: “You got your cardio with A. J. on the hill. I know Minka — I mean, my significant other — appreciated the shape I was in after trying to shag down all the line drives A.J. gives up.”
“He has electric stuff, but he’s also a head case,” said another source. “And as the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.”
Some refrained from donating, preferring to see Burnett remain in pinstripes.
“He’s still an innings eater,” said an unnamed Yankee who refused to donate. “I’ll miss the visits to the mound … him handing me the ball in the fifth inning, cursing his fate … ”
“I wish we’d kept him,” said a bullpen member. “Wherever he goes, job security for long relievers will follow.”
The movement to rid the Yankees of Burnett wasn’t only internal as a Facebook page picturing Burnett in a Pirates cap garnered well over two million “Likes” before crashing Facebook’s servers and putting the company’s highly anticipated IPO in jeopardy.