February 6, 2013
Wednesday, February 6
The Astros breathed life into the Hot Stove earlier this week, when they agreed to send infielder Jed Lowrie to the Athletics in a five-player swaps, but the flames have since died down again. Fortunately, second-year general manager Jeff Luhnow might soon provide more fuel…
Astros could keep wheeling and dealing, with Bud Norris on the block
I previously covered the trade landscape for Norris in the Roundup on Dec. 18, and although spring training is now around the corner, not much has changed since then. The Cardinals and Padres, two teams that were bandied about as possible destinations in December, remain interested, per Rosenthal, and the Orioles have reportedly now entered the fold. Meanwhile, Norris is still a two-pitch righty, whose future as a starter is clouded by a mediocre changeup and rough mechanics.
St. Louis became a somewhat more intriguing option on Tuesday, when general manager John Mozeliak announced that Chris Carpenter is a long shot to contribute to the Cardinals in 2013. Luhnow’s relationship with the Cardinals, his previous employer, could help to accelerate negotiations, but his intimate knowledge of the farm system might also impede the process. Additionally, a source told St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Strauss that the team’s interest in bringing back Kyle Lohse is “negligible at this time,” and Mozeliak has an enviable collection of young arms with which to remedy this setback.
Right-handers Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, and Joe Kelly all enjoyed moments of brilliance in their first major-league tours last year, and each of them is talented enough to outperform Norris—while earning the league minimum, no less. The soon-to-be 28-year-old Norris forewent his first year of arbitration eligibility by agreeing to a $3 million paycheck for 2013, and although that’s hardly a steep outlay for a consistent, 1.5-win pitcher, the Cardinals are among the few teams that have the farm depth to replace comfortably from within.
It’s unwise to look past St. Louis entirely, but Baltimore and San Diego appear to have a more pressing need. Dan Duquette has kicked the tires on a number of starting pitchers this winter, but with Joe Saunders looking likely to depart in free agency, his rotation is short on dependable arms. Adam Sobsey wrote last September about the role that Duquette’s constant roster tweaks played in the Orioles’ surprising wild-card run, and adding Norris would enable him to stash some younger arms in the bullpen or at Triple-A Norfolk, in case rotation reinforcements are required in midseason. Duquette tacked Joel Pineiro onto his list of non-roster invitees earlier this week, but after undergoing surgery to repair a SLAP (labrum) tear in his shoulder, the 34-year-old is little more than a low-jackpot lottery ticket.