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Happy Birthday A.J. Burnett

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A.J, Burnett turns 39 today.

A.J. has had a pretty nice career, 17 seasons, 164-157 record, with a 3.99 ERA in 435 games, 430 starts. He started his career with the Marlins, played there for 7 seasons, had a 49-50 record with a 3.73 ERA

Then, in the winter before the 2005 season, J.P. Ricciardi signed A.J. to a 5-year, $55 million contract, that included a rather famous opt out cause, that came up after the third season.

Burnett was very good with us (when he wasn't injured), making a nice 1-2 top of the rotation with Roy Halladay. He went 38-26 with a 3.94 ERA in 80 starts. His best season, working out very nicely for him, was the 3rd year of the contract, when he went 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA in 34 starts, going 221 innings.

Surprising no one, except maybe a couple of Toronto beat writers, who thought, that he shouldn't want to be a number 1 starter somewhere else, he should be happier in Toronto being the number 2 guy to Doc, and forget about the extra money he could get.

Not surprisingly, Burnett choose to opt out, and he signed a 5-year, $82.5 million contract with the Yankees. I couldn't blame him in the least for taking more money, but I did very much enjoy when the Jays, behind the pitching of Doc beat the Yankees 5-1, on May 12, 2009. Halladay pitched a complete game, allowing just 5 hits. Burnett wasn't terrible, 7.2, 7 hits, 5 earned, 4 walks and 7 strikeouts (he also had a win and a no-decision against us that year).

I'll admit, I loved every time we beat him (but then I love every time we beat the Yankees no matter who is pitching). I even remember us laying a beating on him in spring training, the year I went to Dunedin to watch some games, and very much enjoying that.

In all, against the Jays, he was 3-5, with a 5.94 ERA in 11 starts.

Burnett didn't have a great time with the Yankees, going 34-35 with a 4.70 ERA. The Yankees traded him to the Pirates, after his 3rd season (and his second in a row with an ERA north of 5 in pinstripes). They didn't get much for him (and the pile of cash they sent along with him), they just wanted to be rid of him. He did get a World Series ring with the Yankees, but it turned out to be a pretty good thing that he left us for New York.

With the Pirates, he reestablished himself as one o the better pitchers in baseball, going 16-10 with a 3.51 ERA in 31 starts in 2012. In 3 seasons as a Pirate (with one poor season with Philadelphia mix breaking up the 3 seasons) he was 35-28 with a 3.34 ERA.

Happy Birthday AJ. I hope it is a good one and I hope you are enjoying your retirement.

It is also Luis Sojo's birthday, he turns 51 today. He spent 2 seasons of a 13 year career with the Jays, not getting much playing time, hitting .205/.255/.268 in 52 games. Most of his career was with the Yankees.

And Gary Lavelle turns 67 today. Gary spent 2 of his 13 season career with the Blue Jays. With the Jays, he had one good year, 3.10 ERA, 8 saves in 72.2 innings, and one bad year 5.53 ERA, 1 save in 27.2 innings before getting his release in August. That was pretty much (other than 4 innings with the A's) the end of his career. He had a pretty good one. He was a good lefty reliever, spending most of it with the Giants, often pitching 70 games or more and over 100 innings in a season.

Happy Birthday to both.