It seems that no matter how far they try to run, controversy refuses to escape the Baltimore Orioles. Over the course of the off season the Birds had been tied to A.J. Burnett. For much of the winter Burnett wasn’t sure if he wanted to play in 2014, but if he did the Orioles were definitely interested in the Monkton, MD resident. And it also appeared that Burnett might have been interested in the O’s, however as time went on it became evident that he wanted to stay in the National League – so last week he signed with Philadelphia. (For the record, it’s to his credit that he actually followed through with staying in the NL as opposed to suddenly popping up in NY or Boston with a massive contract.)
Burnett indicated that the Orioles didn’t show much interest in him, which is something that directly contradicts what almost everyone
had been saying for weeks. Heck, at various points one could have argued that Dan Duquette was negotiating with Burnett through the media! However Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal sent out this tweet on Monday, which in effect seemed to set the record straight.
This means one of two things; either Burnett was flat out lying when he said the O’s didn’t show much interest in him, or his agent never let on that the O’s weren’t showing much interest. Cynics would throw in a third possibility in that the O’s could have been low-balling him, however I don’t think that was the case. They wouldn’t have even been in the discussion if they weren’t in the same neighborhood in terms of salary. It’s hard to say which of these is true, although it’s very possible that Burnett said he wanted to stay in the National League so his agent didn’t really bring up the Orioles’ offers to him because they’re in the AL.
To be honest, I think that’s a very plausible possibility. In no way do I want to accuse anyone of lying, especially when we have no evidence that suggests such a thing. However Burnett did say that part of his reasoning for going to Philadelphia was due to the fact that the park is close in proximity to his home in Monkton. Obviously Monkton is much closer to Baltimore, and even Washington (it was rumored that the Nationals might have had interest in him also), than it is to Philadelphia. So in that sense it might well have made sense for Burnett to invent a story that might have been somewhat believable.
Perhaps controversy isn’t the right term, but one way or the other it does seem like people seem intent on painting the Orioles in a certain light. Granted some would argue that they don’t always do much to prevent that from happening or to clear themselves, however in this case the commentary that was made appears to be completely untrue. If anything, Pittsburgh is the team that should feel jilted at the altar. Burnett pitched fairly well there the past couple of years, and not only does he not go back (after they went to the playoffs) but he goes to their cross-state rival. That’s kind of a tough sell in a sense for Pittsburgh fans.