"I look back on it and I'm not saying A.J. Burnett is the reason we didn't win the World Series, nothing like that," Burnett said Monday. "But without being cocky and arrogant, I think if I would have pitched up to my par it would've been a lot smoother going into the postseason and we'd have had a lot better chance. I really felt, damn, they really could've used A.J. For the first time in my career, I really realized how much I meant to the team."(Please stop referring to yourself in the third person, it makes you sound cocky and arrogant.)
"I think in '09, people saw me. But last year, it wasn't me they saw. Just be yourself. I'm the one out there doing it. I've done it before. Pay a little more attention and focus a little more and realize you mean a lot to this team. You're not just a big contract, good stuff guy. You're a part of this."
While some have theorized that Burnett's crash was caused in part by the 25-day absence of ex-pitching coach Dave Eiland, who was away from the team for personal reasons around that time, Burnett doesn't buy it.He also spoke about some of the work he's done with Larry Rothschild. Apparently, he's given Burnett a few techniques to help the right-hander keep his lift leg settled, which, according to Burnett, is when things get rough for him on the mound.
"I know a lot of things were made of when Dave left and I crapped the bed," Burnett said. "I had a pretty good '08 without Dave. It ain't nobody's fault but A.J.'s. Dave being there or not, that's irrelevant, I think. No knock on Dave - he was great with me, we worked well together - but him going away wasn't the reason."
Burnett said he "let a lot of things escalate" and listened and tried to implement the multiple suggestions he was getting when he was struggling. "After a while, you have to do it yourself," Burnett said. "You can't listen to a million people and then try to change things. I've been pitching for 10 years and I have three bad starts and then try to change everything.
"But then again, you've got people around you who know the game so well - Tony (Pena), Skip (Joe Girardi), (Mike) Harkey, Dave, they're all helping me and you want the input. By the end of the day you're like, 'Dang, that's a lot. Is it really that complicated?' It can be."
Anybody out there confident in a comeback year for AJ?