The way word has got around about A.J. Burnett's boycott of the FAN 590 -- the Rogers-owned flagship of the Rogers Blue Jays -- is kind of curious.
It sort of points up one major misgiving some Jays followers have with the mostly awesome Mike Wilner. Stoicism is something he hasn't learned -- and maybe that's not a bad thing, since too many sports media types accept shabby or careless treatment. Inquiring minds had a right to know that Burnett wasn't talking to anyone from the radio station. Still, why even bring it up on-air when no one has asked about it? It just veered a little too close to airing dirty laundry. Granted, everyone in a vocation that has its share of easily bruised egos will do it eventually. (Present company very included.)
(As for Shannon Stewart's release, don't waste your beatiful mind, or try to play expert after-the-fact and say they should have kept Reed Johnson. You're arguing over very, very little.)
The other odd part is that no one else seems to think it's a big deal. No one's speculating that this is a sign that it's slim-and-none Burnett won't become a free agent after this season.
Stewart vs. Johnson: Baseball Prospectus 2008 projected Stewart to hit .271/.328/.374 this season in Oakland, where fly balls go to get damp and where foul balls that go out of play in any other park become outs. Johnson, who as you know was cut and is now on the National League-leading Chicago Cubs, was projected to hit .261/.322/.385 in a better hitter's park in Toronto. That's five points of OPS, with about a 10- or 20-point margin for error due to the park factors. Basically, it's nothing.
There's no difference between the two. Stewart is older and more injury-prone, but neither he nor Reeder rated 500 at-bats. That doesn't really, matter, though. The Jays have Adam Lind to play left field, who's matured very well this season. Travis Snider has jumped two levels in the minors this season and there will need to be a corner-outfield slot open for him at some point by early 2010 at the latest.
The only argument is that the Jays shouldn't have assumed everything was going to be OK with Vernon Wells, coming off shoulder surgery. Johnson might have been able stanch the bleeding defensively in the outfield a little bit better than Brevin Milkerson. Point being though, it does little good to second-guess, even if this is the third big J.P. Ricciardi move that's turned out not so well (Scott Rolen's on the disabled list and the Jays are living with McGlovin at shortstop instead of David Eckstein).