A tip to aspiring sports writers. A good way to ensure that Event X occurs in some Immediate Future Y is to write a Story Z that is only relevant if Event X does not occur in Immediate Future Y.
Case in point: the blog post I filed five minutes ago, discussing the Phillies' negotiations with A.J. Burnett and Burnett's ability to make a case for a two-year contract. You'll find it on the David Murphy B-Sides in a couple of decades. According to a local television reporter from A.J. Burnett's hometown in Arkansas, the Phillies have signed the righty to a one-year, $16 million deal. Hayden Balgalvy is his name, and he works for TVH 11, and I have little doubt he is correct, even though I am on an airplane.
I've spent much of the offseason writing about how woeful the Phillies' rotation appears, so it's safe to say that the signing makes sense from my perspective. Now, with Cole Hamels saying that he expects to miss all of April with a shoulder issue, Burnett now might be the only thing standing in the way of the team's season being over before the All-Star Break.
I'll be very interested to hear whether Burnett's deal includes a no-trade clause. I will assume that it does because of how important it is for him to play near his Maryland home. How that no-trade clause is structured is important because if the Phillies live down to our expectations for them this year, Burnett could become an extremely valuable trade chip come July, or even earlier. I've written before that it makes long-term sense to eat money if it means landing a blue-chip prospect, and the Phillies may have positioned themselves to do so. Of course, if Burnett turns back into the pitcher he was in his final years with the Yankees, the situation becomes lose-lose. But I think the odds say that as long as he stays in the National League and stays healthy, he should be, at the very least, a capable No. 3 starter.