Why the Astros SHOULD NOT Trade Bud Norris
I have had enough. There has been enough suffering. The Astros are likely on their way to a third straight 100 loss season, but brighter days are coming. That much we know.
Bud Norris (Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)
The question then, is when? Already this season there have been flashes and times where it really looked like the Astros might turn the corner. Of course there have also been some unwatchable games where Houston just had no chance to win.
However sweeping the Angels on the road, hitting six home runs in one game against the Orioles, and scoring six runs in the ninth inning against the Mariners the other night just pull you back in. Daily there are reports of exploits and success from the minor league system.
Optimism is around in abundant supply. But that also means that we should not be delusional here either. Regardless of the success the Astros have had for the majority of the last month and in the minor league system, we are still a few years away from seeing a legitimate contender.
I am willing to surmise that the first month of this season was essentially rock bottom and things will start to go up from here. For the rest of this year, the process might be slow and inconsistent, but better times are coming.
It will be an accomplishment for the Astros to finish with better than 90-95 losses next season, but they might start to tease us in 2015. And at that time, it would certainly be nice to have a starting pitcher in the prime of his career to lead the way.
Said starting pitcher does not need to be a legitimate number one starter and perennial All-Star, just a solid innings eater that can lead the staff. Mark Appel and Jarred Cosart will likely be part of the rotation in 2015, but it will be too soon in their careers for them to take charge of the staff. A veteran in the rotation would certainly take the load off of the young pitchers and give them a chance to grow and develop into All-Star level pitchers.
While the Astros have a plethora of young players and prospects, it will still likely be a few years before they are in the position of being buyers on the trade market. The type of starting pitcher the Astros would be after, likely would not be available on the trade market though, so that could be a problem.
Unless of course, that pitcher is already on the Astros roster. On the offensive side, the Astros have Jose Altuve and Jason Castro as players that will be around and part of the core for the Astros for at least the next few years. And there is no talk about trading either of those players.
So then why are we talking about trading Bud Norris? Yes he has been in the big leagues since 2009 and is in the midst of his fourth full season, but he will not be eligible for free agency until 2016 and is only 28 years old.
After a successful 2011, Norris regressed last season but appears to have figured it out so far this season. In 14 starts so far this season Norris is 5-6 with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. His WHIP has improved this season, but it is still troubling for sure.
Norris has been the best pitcher in the Astros rotation so far this season, and it is important to remember not to overvalue him. He does not strike out enough batters (6.2 per nine innings this season) and allows too many baserunners. The Astros have had high hopes for Norris, and he has not always lived up to his expectations.
So now this season when it seems that he has figured it out, it is slightly disheartening to hear the trade winds swirling around Norris. I do understand why they are there, I just disagree with the idea of trading him.
There are many teams in need of starting pitchers, and there are not a lot of available options. Norris is certainly an attractive option for teams looking to buy, and it is likely that his value will never be higher. There are still at least two years between the Astros and even the word playoffs, so why not pick up some more prospects for the starter?
Over the last few years, restocking the farm system was a necessity. It was hard to see players like Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn depart, but the trades had to happen. At this point the Astros have more than enough prospects and the minor league system is fully stocked with talent. While Norris might get a decent return, it is not likely that he will bring back an impact player.
Instead, I think Norris has more value to the Astros than the potential return they could get for him in a trade. As the Astros start to turn the corner, there is a need to have a veteran like Norris in the rotation.
This is not to say that players like Ronny Cedeno, Carlos Pena, and Jose Veras should not be trade bait, but Norris needs to stay. Norris, along with Altuve and Castro should be part of the core that leads the Astros into playoff contention.