Time to accept it: Pat Burrell is back

I will not enjoy one second of writing this post.  However, the fact that Pat Burrell is suddenly
raking as the Giants everyday left fielder needs to be addressed.  

I am reluctantly buying into the reemergence of the Greatest
Mets Killer of All Time, thanks to San Francisco rescuing him from the waiver
wire on June 4.  After going deep on
Thursday, Burrell is now averaging a homer every 12.75 at-bats with his new
club.  He’s batting .314, with four long
balls, 10 RBIs and a .987 OPS in 17 games as a Giant. 

Part of the reason Burell is one of my least-favorite
players of all time (other than 42 homers in 536 career at-bats against the Mets), is
also part of the reason I am on board with believing his revival is
legitimate.  He’s notorious for having
some character issues, and part of that is the fact he needs to be seriously
motivated to perform. 

hKNulvV6.jpg

Rewarding him with a big contract clearly has a negative
impact on his motivation.   After putting up a gaudy .282-37-116 line as a
25-year-old in 2002 — his best career season to date — the Phillies reasonably
though they had a budding star on their hands and rewarded him with a lucrative
six-year, $50 million extension.   Bad move. 
Lacking the drive to land big money, Burrell suffered through an embarrassing
.209-21-64 campaign the very next season.

He proceeded to labor through five up-and-down seasons in
Philly, getting just enough incentive from the desire to be served in local
bars and not have things thrown at him on the field by the Philly faithful to
put up respectable power numbers.  In his
last season with the team, a contract year, Burrell launched 33 homers, coincidentally
the highest total since his previous contract year.

This led the Rays to inexplicably reward him with another
hefty contract.  Didn’t they learn?  After signing a two-year, $16 million deal in
2009, Burrell fell flat on his face in Tampa Bay.  Playing in a mostly empty Tampa Bay stadium after getting used to raucous sellouts in
Philly could not have had a good impact for a guy who needs to have a fire lit
under him to perform.  Struggling to
adjust to American League pitching, dealing with injuries, and not having the
Mets to pad his numbers 19 times a year, he posted a .221-14-64 clip last campaign.  

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Character issues — not his bat — had to have been the reason the Rays
sent Burrell packing on May 15 despite owing him about nine million dollars,
considering Tampa is not some big-market franchise who can sweep bad contracts
under the rug easily.  A 2-for-25 slump
through sporadic playing time in early May was a convenient excuse to let him
go and claim he was washed up.  In actuality, Burrell drove in 13 runs in just 59 at-bats in April — about a 117-RBI pace
over a full season — so it’s not like his performance had been so
terrible. 

So now Burrell’s back in the National League with a fresh
start at age 33, playing in front of a packed house again every day and batting
in the fifth slot for a contender.  We’ve
already seen the wonders a change of scenery can do for other 33-year-olds this
season in Troy Glaus and Burrell’s new teammate Aubrey Huff.   Burrell is healthy, and still clearly has
pop left in his bat.

Also, it’s important to consider that Burrell has been a strong second-half producer.  He has more career RBIs in July
and August than any other months, with August also being his favorite month to
go deep. 

So now would be a good time to grab Burrell while he’s available in virtually all leagues and expect solid
power production the rest of the way.  And here’s
the biggest supporting argument for that suggestion:  He’s about to finish out
the last three months of another contact season.

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