Cashman defends Burnett's performance

Cashman defends Burnett's performance

NEW YORK -- A.J. Burnett may be winless in his last seven starts for the Yankees, but he can count on one important voice being in his corner: the one belonging to general manager Brian Cashman.

Cashman launched into an impassioned defense of Burnett's season on Friday, opining that the level of criticism being heard about the 34-year-old right-hander hasn't been warranted by his pitching.

"The stuff on A.J. is well overblown," Cashman said. "A.J. has been solid for us this year. I just think the way it's playing doesn't necessarily reflect the way he's pitched. Let's put it that way. The public outcry recently is all emotion rather than actual."

Burnett is 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in seven starts since beating the Brewers on June 29, with the Yankees going 3-4 in those games, prompting speculation that Burnett -- and not Phil Hughes -- could exit the rotation when the Yankees plan to go down to five starters on Monday.

While Cashman said that decision still has not been finalized, he pointed to Burnett's run support over those outings and said that his last seven starts as a whole were "not bad."

Cashman acknowledged that Burnett has not lived up to his billing as a No. 2 starter behind ace CC Sabathia, but said that Burnett is still a serviceable starter in the American League East.

"A.J. Burnett is not pitching anywhere close to as bad as people reflect," Cashman said. "They've got him pulled out of the rotation, and I just think it's a stupid reaction."

Burnett was pleased by Cashman's comments, saying, "That's awesome. One thing about Cash is, he's always had my back."

Cashman added that Burnett's contract -- he's earning $16.5 million this year, the third year of a five-year, $82.5 million deal -- is playing a part in public opinion.

"I think he's being treated differently because he has money attached," Cashman said. "So forgive him for saying yes to a contract. If you want to blame somebody for the contract, blame me. But the man can still pitch, the man is a starter, he can still help us significantly."