In the waning hours before the MLB Trade Deadline at 4 p.m. ET, pitcher Bud Norris walked across Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He'll be wearing a different jersey tonight, traded from the Houston Astros to the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder L.J. Hoes, pitcher Josh Hader and a draft pick.
Twitter users have fed off of the deal, and not just the Will Ferrell-wannabees making weak jokes involving the words “Boats and Hoes.” Norris was trending almost instantly after Ken Rosenthal’s announcement.
With the Red Sox nabbing Jake Peavy Tuesday, the O’s had to make a move to shore up the rotation, and Norris was the best arm on the market. No one is mistaking him for a star, though.
The general consensus is that prior to the trade, the Astros had three decent players: Norris, catcher Jason Castro and second baseman Jose Altuve.
Players on losing teams typically don’t get much love, but four seasons in Houston left Norris as one of the only identifiable Astros. His relatively high profile caused Norris’ market value to swell, despite not having the stats to back it up.
Baltimore jumped at Norris because of his 3.93 ERA this season, not caring that it was 4.65 last year or that his career mark is 4.33.
When pitching away from Minute Maid Park, Norris has been beat up more times than Tyler Durden. He better figure something out before facing the AL East’s potent offenses.
More stats reveal Norris to be a mediocre pitcher, like his 1.41 WHIP and .277 Batting Average Against this season. His career Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is 4.14, which Fan Graphs classifies between “average” and “below average.”
The biggest thing Norris does for the Orioles is banish Jason Hammel to the bullpen or minors. Hammel has been rocked to the tune of a 5.20 ERA and 1.51 WHIP this year, and “coincidentally” went on the disabled list right after the trade.
I see Norris as a poor man’s Matt Garza: a No. 3 or 4 starter who could help a team that already has a shot at the playoffs.
Houston, who also dealt center fielder Justin Maxwell on Wednesday, has been rebuilding for a few years now. There’s no chance the Astros will contend before 2016, if that, but Hoes should be a starting outfielder down the road.
The move makes sense for both sides, but it's only being regarded as a blockbuster because most other teams stayed put. If the Orioles make the playoffs this year, they can thank Norris for being a minor contributor.
Update: Okay, this one is actually pretty good, and totally unexpected from a Sabermetric.