Why Are The Cardinals Interested In Bud Norris?
“Baseball Insider” Jon Heyman of CBS Sports released a Twitter fart earlier this afternoon involving the Cardinals that raised a few eyebrows and even more than a few hackles. The seemingly-innocent tweet went something like this:
Heyman, who looks like a slightly jocular, less-talented version of David Byrne, typically likes to stir the pot with crackpot theories and half-heard whispers. He’s basically me with a higher profile (#humility).
Still, the idea floated out across the Twitterverse and caused a fair amount of confusion. Could the Cardinals, a team with one of the most impressive stables of pitchers in baseball, really be considering a trade for Bud Norris? Why would that even be a discussion?
After the obvious jokes passed (“If the Cardinals got Bud Norris, then he couldn’t hurt them anymore” HAHAHA #jokes), a few theories eventually emerged:
1. The Cardinals do indeed plan to trade Wainwright. While Norris cannot touch the potential of Adam Wainwright, he is a young pitcher (27) who has been trending upward while laboring for some truly awful Houston teams. Norris accumulated 1.2 WAR last year on one of the worst Astros team in franchise history (Waino has averaged around 2.6 WAR over 7 seasons). Norris also averages more strikeouts per game than Wainwright.
While I can certainly see the Cardinals trading Wainwright this season (particularly if the proposed contract talks in Spring Training go Pujols-level bad), I have a hard time believing that the team would snap up BUD NORRIS as a contingency plan. That’s akin to having a 9 volt battery as a backup in case the power goes out at your house.
2. Something is physically (not mentally) wrong with Garcia that has not been publicly released. All we know at this point is that Jaime Garcia has thrown a couple of sessions as he attempts to rebound from a tear in his rotator cuff. So far, the club publicly says it is “optimistic” about Garcia’s progress. Yeah, and I’m always optimistic that we’ll never see another school shooting … until it happens again, of course. John Mozeliak lies constantly, so it’s difficult to believe Garcia’s Rainman-like adherence to the voodoo rehabilitation regimen of Dr. George Paletta would make anyone feel truly optimistic about anything other than eventual surgery.
Frankly, Norris approximates Garcia’s output without the neuroses. If the Cardinals secretly (or knowingly) suspect that Garcia will be unavailable for 2013 (or forever), then grabbing Norris might not be a bad thing.
3. The Cardinals plan to trade Garcia. In my well-received editorial (#sarcasm) that discussed trading Garcia, I called him the team’s “squeakiest wheel.” He draws a lot of attention and criticism for his flaky antics and frustrating inconsistencies. Additionally, Garcia’s recent announcement that he intended to pitch in the World Baseball Classic surely inflamed the hemorrhoids of upper Cardinal management.
Personally, I’m all for the idea of replacing Garcia with Norris. Sure, Norris always has the look of a drunken fratboy friend who just left an enormous, system-clogging shit in your toilet and thinks it’s hilarious. But statistically, Norris is comparable to Garcia and is, by all accounts, a team-oriented player who fights to win games.
4. The Cardinals are (still) uncomfortable with promoting their young pitchers. To that I say: WHY?? The young power arms eternally waiting in line to pitch in the majors need to play at some point. You can’t hold them down forever! In this regard, Mozeliak is like a gambler who is holding four aces but is too petrified to place a bet. Sometimes you need to take a chance and see how your cards play (I made a pun! Get it?).
Much to my annoyance, the Cardinals move prospects slower than cold molasses. WHY? As Bryce Harper and Mike Trout demonstrated last year, talented young players can develop their game at the big league level while also injecting a team with enthusiasm and energy. Meanwhile, the Cardinals hem-and-haw with their prospects like an indecisive mother. Sushi chefs in feudal Japan climb the ladder faster than this.
I sincerely hope the Cardinals aren’t considering Norris simply to support the question marks of the current rotation (primarily Carpenter and Garcia). I am willing to handle a few learning-curve bumps in the road from Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, or Trevor Rosenthal at the major league level rather than watch them stagnate for another season.
Regardless of the real reason behind the Cardinals’ inquiries about Norris, Heyman’s tweet is still irritating. If true, it shows that the Cardinals continue to ignore real flaws (shortstop, second base, bench) in favor of imaginary ones.