Ed Eagle reports. No surprise here. Burnitz gets 700K to just go away. Now DL wants to look at anybody else:
"When we originally signed Burnitz, we felt that we wanted to sign someone to a one-year contract -- in his case with a club option -- with the idea of giving some other players time to see how they developed. Right now, our feeling is that we're going to look in another direction, whether that's internal or through a trade or maybe through another free agent."Which is to say, those other players were either given away by Chief Littlefield, didn't develop quite as hoped, or maybe never even existed in the first place.
In hindsight, DL should've read the writing on the wall. There was no reason to think Burnitz would bounce back from his lousy 2005 .258/.322/.435 year. BBTF's Dan Szymborski wrote this upon the JB signing:
"Horrible, horrible move by Dave Littlefield. If the jury's still out on Littlefield, it's only because the jury asked for their Chinese food to be poisoned so that they wouldn't have to watch this team. I strongly suggest that Pirate fans really make an effort to do what I do with the Orioles - vote with your wallet. Say no to David Littlefield and his Tall Fetid Devil Id. OK, I couldn't think of a better anagram."
At the time, DL rationalized the cockblocking of CW:
"Whether it's media or fans, everybody has to realize that, if we are going to get better, part of it is having better backups," Littlefield said. "Through ownership, we've been able to increase payroll, so you're going to have the opportunity to have quality backups."
Not too surprisingly and despite DL's hopes, JB crashed and burned with a disappointing .238/.289/.422 line. For these struggles he came to epitomize everything that was wrong with the organization and invoked the hatred of the fanbase, culminating in "Buck Furnitz" shirts. At times I felt bad for JB, the 2006 whipping boy, as he took beatings that the front office deserved. He took it all in stride, though, as one would expect from a $6,000,000 man. My favorite JB quote was the one Billy called JB's reflection on the essential inscrutability of reality:
"I realized a while back that the world doesn't make a lot of sense, so trying to understand it doesn't make sense," Burnitz said. "I'm not judging it. It just is what it is."Best of luck, JB, to you, your family, and your Maltese named Fluffy.