Another Mets playoff connection

The name A.J. Burnett may incite all sorts of feelings in New York, Toronto and points between, but rarely does it elicit thoughts of the Mets. Perhaps it should. It was the Mets who originally drafted Burnett in the eighth round of the 1995 First-Year Player Draft, and it was with the Mets that he first forged his reputation of wildness.

Over three seasons pitching for Mets affiliates, Burnett walked 120 batters and struck out 157 over 147 innings, before the Mets traded him, Minor Leaguer Robert Stratton and pitcher Jesus Sanchez to the Marlins for Al Leiter and Ralph Milliard. Burnett went on to enjoy a rocky career with the Marlins, Blue Jays and Yankees, pitching a no-hitter, struggling mightily at other times and taking the mound for Game 4 of tonight’s American League Division Series. Stratton, Sanchez and Milliard all did little of note in their new organizations, while Leiter established himself as a rock in New York’s rotation for seven seasons, going 95-67 with a 3.42 ERA and 1,106 strikeouts with the Mets.

Compare that to Burnett, who went 37-38 with a 3.83 ERA and 555 strikeouts over the same span. He earned just over $6 million from the Marlins over that span, while Leiter took in more than $53 million from the Mets. But Leiter won 16 games with a 3.20 ERA in 2000, leading the Mets to the National League pennant in one of his best professional seasons, while Burnett was still just establishing himself in the league.

In sum? It was one of those rare trades that turned out to be a win-win.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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