It’s been quite the exciting day here in Charm City. As the clock ticked on the non-waiver trade deadline, the Orioles reached out and grabbed Bud Norris from the Astros. Norris was originally supposed to start last night’s game, but he was scratched a few hours before first pitch. There is no word yet on when he will be making his first start in the orange and black.
Bud Norris is the classic case of a half-decent pitcher pitching for a deplorable team. This year, he is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. The WHIP seems to be a small concern, especially given the division he is moving to. As is the nature of pitching for the Astros, Norris has never pitched a game at the professional level which he needed to win. That will change, and quickly, as he crosses the long hallway over to the Orioles clubhouse.
Whenever a pitcher moves into the AL East, where the “dog-eat-dog” mentality is as strong as can be, there needs to be questions about how a pitcher’s talents translate. The difference between the AL East, where Bud Norris is now head, and the AL West, where he was, couldn’t be greater.
In the hitter-friendly park that is Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Bud Norris isn’t a fly-ball pitcher. His percentage of fly balls (40.1) is nearly identical to his percentage of ground balls (39.3). He primarily throws a four-seam fastball and a slider, but also mixes in some off-speed pitches.
But the acquisition of Bud Norris speaks perfectly to what the Orioles have to do as they head down the home-stretch of this 2013 campaign. Jason Hammel has had ample opportunities to prove himself, but he has yet to reach his 2012 form. With the trade, it’s easy to say Bud Norris will replace Hammel’s spot in the rotation, while Hammel goes to the DL.
One large impact that this deal will have for the Orioles involves what happens if the Orioles were to appear in the Wild Card game. If the Orioles end up having to play the Wild Card game, which is very possible, whoever starts that game wouldn’t be able to start again until at least Game 3 of the ALDS. In a series where three wins advances you, you can’t afford to have any liabilities, and as of right now, Jason Hammel is absolutely a liability.
Norris gives the Orioles flexibility in the rotation come post-season time. During the regular season, at least for the moment, it allows Buck Showalter to feel a bit more confident in the starter he throws out every fifth day.
The Orioles also acquired Bud Norris at a considerably low price. L.J. Hoes, despite some promise, is one of many young outfielders in the Orioles system. Some have already been in Baltimore, most notably Henry Urrutia. Plus, Bud Norris isn’t eligible to be a free agent until 2016, and the Orioles will likely be able to find another young outfielder before then.
The other piece that the Orioles gave up was Josh Hader, whose 2.65 ERA in low-A Delmarva was the highest of all pitchers in the Orioles minor league system. The left-handed pitcher has a live arm, and some scouts felt good about his ability to make his way up to the big leagues, but the Orioles have many of those arms.
All in all, everything points to this trade going in the Orioles favor. But as with all trades, and especially those which go down on July 31, you never know who can come out as the winner. It may take years to figure that out. But we know one thing: Bud Norris has a heck of a bigger chance of making an impact here in Baltimore than anyone going to Houston has.