The Atlanta Braves are hurting, at least where pitching is concerned. We could argue they are hurting in other ways as well, but the pitching has taken a huge hit this year. Most recently was the loss of starter Tim Hudson from the rotation. We’ve also had some hiccups off the starting rotation with Paul Maholm a touch banged up, and some significant issues with the usual command from Kris Medlen and the aforementioned Maholm.
Outside of starters, the Braves lost relievers Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters earlier in the season, both out for the year undergoing TJ surgery. Pickens’ have been slim to say the least, and it has been rumored for awhile now that the Braves will, at the very least, be trying to bolster their relief ranks by the trade deadline. That’s a real need! They may also be actively searching for a new starter with the questions about Brandon Beachy‘s readiness and Alex Wood‘s ability to enter the rotation and be effective. Wood was banged up pretty good on his recent outing, and many have argued he’s just not quite ready to enter the regular rotation. We had a series of back-and-forth debate posts on that very issue by staff writers Fred Owens and Benjamin Chase. After Wood’s recent outing, they might want to revisit that debate.
In view of all the pitching woes this year, I would caution the Braves against making what I would call desperate moves, going after just anyone because they are available and/or cheap. The Braves acquired Kameron Loe not long ago from the Chicago Cubs, and in just two games pitching in relief for Atlanta, Loe is 0-1 with a whopping 10.13 ERA and a 2.265 WHIP. Loe has been in the majors since 2004, and has played for six different teams now, most recently with the Cubs for just one year where he left them with a 5.40 ERA. While in Gwinnett, Loe pitched pretty well. In 21 games for the AAA club, Loe went 4-2 with a 3.19 ERA and a 1.134 WHIP. We all know though that hitters even in Triple-A are simply not big league hitters. Many questioned the wisdom of Loe as a Brave, and so far in the big show he has proven that wisdom to have been flawed.
There are many pitchers the Braves are looking at as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline fast approaches, but the most recent news is that scouts are looking at the Houston Astros’ Bud Norris. It’s not surprising the Astros would be selling, and likely selling just about anyone, but is it wise to consider Bud Norris?
While the Braves really need at least one left handed reliever, they also arguably need a quality starter with the recent loss of Hudson. The RH Norris may not be the best choice available, but he’s certainly not the worse choice either. Norris has a 3.93 ERA with a 1.413 WHIP, and thrown quality outings in 13 of his 21 starts this season. Norris is also fairly young at 28 years old, is relatively cheap at his current pay of $3 million, and the Braves can likely keep him until 2016 when he becomes a free agent. All that sounds pretty good! What’s the downside?
Well, there may not seem to be too much of a downside considering the Braves needs, but as desperate as those needs may seem, Norris is at best a 4th starter type and I believe the Braves need more of a 1st or 2nd starter guy instead. They may not be able to afford that kind of move, but I just don’t want to see Atlanta make desperate moves that won’t get them any closer to Wren’s goal of a World Series run. What’s your take? Norris a good move or not?