Since last week’s announcement that Chris Carpenter will not pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, some have called for the club to bring in a veteran replacement. In my recent post, “Chris Carpenter overreaction reaction,” I discussed the overall landscape of the rotation as well as free agent Kyle Lohse specifically.
One name considered by some to be a desirable trade target is Houston’s Bud Norris. Not being free agent-eligible for three years, the 27-year-old right-hander has some market appeal. Further, being the highest-paid Astro, at $3 million this season, is akin to having a bulls-eye on one’s back.
Last week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported the Cardinals were among three clubs that “expressed varying levels of interest in Norris at the winter meetings.” That event was held two months ago, by the way. (The other teams named are San Diego and Baltimore.)
Of course, we have no idea as to the level of that interest, previously or currently.
After reviewing Norris’ numbers, I hope the answer is “negligible.”
Many St. Louis fans are quite familiar with Norris’ work as a Cardinal killer. It is for good reason. In 15 career starts against St. Louis over 3 1/2 seasons, Norris has forged an impressive 2.74 ERA and earned eight victories.
However, what some fail to appreciate is the fact that if Norris pitches FOR the Cardinals, he would have to face everyone else ALL of the time. That is not a good thing.
In the National League Central, Norris has a very undistinguished record against key contenders Cincinnati and Milwaukee. His career ERA versus the Reds is a painful 5.11. Norris’ lifetime mark against the Brewers is only slightly better at 4.30. Being able to handle those two opponents is kind of important.
Being traded from the Astros also would mean that Norris has to leave behind friendly Minute Maid Park. The difference between his home and away results is a major red flag. Norris’ career ERA in the Juice Box is 3.51. Everywhere else, including St. Louis, his lifetime ERA is almost two runs higher at 5.39.
Put Norris on the road in the NL Central at the Cardinals’ biggest opponents and you get crooked numbers on the scoreboard. At Cincy’s Great American Ball Park, the Reds have hung a 9.00 ERA on Norris. At Milwaukee’s Miller Park, his ERA is 6.23.
These key NL Central rivals would seem to have reason to celebrate if Norris could remain within the division – that way, they can continue to tee off against the man Albert Pujols once mistakenly called “Chuck Norris.”
Fortunately, the Cards have in-house starting pitching options and can choose to avoid dealing prospects for rotation filler like Norris. Here’s hoping they stay the course.