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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals, for all you do, this Bud is not for you

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.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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9 Responses to “Cardinals, for all you do, this Bud is not for you”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    I cannot help but recall all the doomsayers when Mo signed Joel Pineiro to a too year deal after the 2007 season. Pineiro had a terrific 2009.

    And all he doomsayers when Mo signed Kyle Lohse on the verge of the 2008 season. Kyle enjoyed a terrific 5 year run, except when injured. He pitched much better than the negative nellies ever foresaw.

    Oh how they boo’d when Walt signed Juan Encarnacion. But Juan helped us to a World Series title during 2006.

    Pineiro, Lohse, and Encarnacion remind me to Bud Norris. I think Buddy boy could lift him game, playing for the Birds. He pitches well at home, he proved that in Houston. Since we play 50 percent of our games in our home ballpark, Bud could make a great contribution.

    The important thing here is for Mo to make the roster decisions and do the thinking, on our behalf. Its good to disregard the views of journalists, and instead let the DeWitts and Mo shape the roster. They almost pulled out another World Series last fall.. They know what they are doing, praise the Lord.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Looking forward to the army of Bud Norris supporters out there offering their defense of him here. Maybe we will actually see a convincing case presented. Then again, probably not. The only comments on Twitter were along the theme of “well, duh” and “I’ve only really seen Norris entertained by national media who don’t know anything.”

      Interesting to know that you rely on others to do your thinking for you. I imagine it is a lot easier that way.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Brian, an interesting point you make in favor of Norris is his ERA in Minute Maid Park has been 3.51. If his home games were instead held in the less generous park of St Louis, then his home ERA could sink ti 3.2 for those games.
        Lots of pitchers have high ERA’s on the road in Cinci and Milwaukee, not just Norris.
        Also in his favor, Norris has pitched for horrendous Astros teams. Its hard to strive for excellence, when weighed down with losers. Moved to new surrounds, Norris might thrive.
        Norris played collegiate for Cal Poly, IIRC, where Ozzie Smith played.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Another positive with Bud is he has whiffed 553 in 563 ML innings, across 4 seasons. So Norris is a young, cost controlled starting pitcher, with 4 years of experience and a strikeout artist.
          The drawback with Norris is Luhnow will want 2 or 3 players in exchange. He would be prospect costly.

          • blingboy says:

            Jumbo, we already have our 4 ERA guy who gives up more than a hit an inning. He costs more than Luhnow’s guy, doesn’t strike out as many and there is zero chance he will improve over time, but he’s our guy and didn’t cost any prospects.

            • JumboShrimp says:

              Bling, please do not tip off Brian, lest there be a rueful essay about this mystery mainstay of the 2013 Cardinals.

              Carpenter was our high paid veteran pitcher, like Raffy Furcal is our well remunerated fading star at SS. Because Raffy is iffy, healthwise, we added Ronny (and Aura) to have a veteran SS backup. Similarly, now that Carp is iffy, we might want to add a pitcher like Norris, so as to have a veteran replacement who does not consume a large salary.

              But we shall see what Mo decides, in due course. The Cards could consider filing a complaint with the Commissioner’s office about the Astros stealing so many of our employees. We could ask for Norris in compensation.

  2. Nutlaw says:

    I can’t ever imagine this happening in a trade. Maybe as a free agent for a cheap contract, but there’s no way that you trade prospects for this guy.

  3. Brian Walton says:

    Jumbo, in a new list of the worst contracts in baseball, your man Zito comes in at #6. This year, the Giants owe him $20 million for his salary plus $7 million more to buy out next. Albert made the list at #15. Ryan Howard, whose deal that set the table for Albert, is #3. A-Rod is #1.

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