Most around the Braves blogosphere are very against the idea of bringing Pat Burrell to Atlanta. He’s in his thirties, he has had a poor year and a half outside of Philadelphia, and he is simply awful defensively.
Not much has gone right for Pat since his departure from the NL East. He hit just 16 home runs in almost 600 plate appearances while with the Rays. Simply put, he was a wasted free agent signing for a team that has a limited payroll.
Burrell was recently released by the Rays, and the team who signs him, if any, will only have to pay a pro-rated league minimum contract. With the season nearly a quarter of the way through, it would be roughly $300,000 if a team wants to take a flier on him.
Pat is far from a team or offensive savior, but with Matt Diaz recently put on the disabled list, I simply ask why not? Sure, Burrell has looked awful in the past year and a half there are many claims about his bat speed slowing drastically. Even so, at such a small price he could bring value to a lineup which has struggled against left handed hitters, and which has no current platoon partner for Eric Hinske.
Prior to signing with Tampa, Burrell posted four straight seasons with a wOBA over .374. His lowest home run total in those three seasons was 29, in a season in which he played just 144 games. He was at the peak of his career, and most of all he was consistent.
He, for whatever reason, hit a wall once he left Philadelphia. This is eerily similar to the fall of Andruw Jones as he had an abysmal 2007 season in Atlanta followed by an even worse 2008 in Los Angeles. The following year the Rangers decided to stick their neck out and give Jones a chance without giving him a starting role and he was relatively productive. Prior to this season, he signed with the White Sox and appears to be back to being a productive hitter.
Of course, this is just one player of the thousands that have eventually fallen off in their early thirties, but good things have come out of making these low risk and high reward moves.
I’m not vying for Burrell to get every day action or even to be the regular platoon partner with Eric Hinske, but with a bench spot open for the time being and Pat Burrell available on the market, he could end up hitting some homers, drawing some walks, and killing the Mets as he did in Philadelphia. If Burrell fails and his at bats look awful, then simply release him and we are back to where we are now. If he reverts back to his form prior to his days with the Rays, then the minimal risk we took has paid off.
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