Jul 3, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris (20) pitches during the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Braves Shouldn’t Make Desperate Moves

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?

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  • fireboss

    Woods debut proved my point, he’s not ready for prime time and needs to be at Gwinnett learning the art of pitching to go with his talent.

    I agree wholeheartedly that we shouldn’t move for a second or third tier pitcher. This afternoon on XM Wren said almost the same thing, that he didn’t see the point in giving away prospects on a sideways move.

    I like the idea of Jorge De La Rosa or Peavy. Santana only if the price goes way down. Now let’s take a deep breath and look at the Loe thing.

    First of all Loe was a free agent, the Cubs released him and we signed him the next day so aside from salary he cost nothing. Every year the GM uses a seine to scoop up discards off the waiver and DFA wire to provide what is
    euphemistically called organizational depth; players that have major league experience and might give you a few games or might never leave Gwinnett. . When one of these players becomes a success (Eric O’Flaherty was claimed off waivers from Seattle) we are told Wren is a genius. When one
    fails – and that list is way too long to repeat here, I suspect ess than 1% of signings are ever successful at he major league level – they say the Braves made a mistake. It can’t be both ways. If Wren’s a genius because he signed EOF he has to be an idiot for signing Loe. Neither is true of course, it’s what every GM does but was generally hidden from the public until the media explosion – Twitter, etc – opened the door so we can peak inside. back to Loe specifically.

    Aside from Colby Rasmus who was beaten up pretty well when he came up and David Hale a 35 year old journeyman (organizational depth) righty, Loe’s 3.19 ERA was the lowest at Gwinnett and his WHIP was the lowest. he was the logical choice to call up.
    Like all relievers Loe’s numbers suffer from the bad innings. He pitched the night before throwing a shutout inning on 8 pitches to three hitters. No one screamed for his head then He was also the most rested arm in the pen and the only one who could be defined as a long man since he was 0rginally a starter. from a cynical point of view, who cares if his arm is overworked?
    The Next day Avilan came in after Huddy’s injury and gave up 2 runs. Because he has a history of being good for us the only thing fans worry about is if we’ll ruin his arm. Varvaro has alternately been good and awful. Fans have screamed for his head but AFTER Loe flopped I heard lots fo them asking why not Varvaro earlier. The answer is fairly simple, Fredi saw him dispatch the Mets on 8 pitches the night before, he’s a sinker ball guy and the most rested man in the pen. Makes all kinds of sense to use him.
    Most know I think Wren is just average as a GM. I will excoriate him roundly given the right reason. The right reason may be the state of the minor league system or awful signings he’s made in the past. Loe was just an attempt to catch lightening in a bottle that didn’t work that night. I’ve seen Low pitch well in the past and he could easily come in and throw 3 shutout inning tonight. I don’t like him but looking at the system I don;t see much that would be a quantum leap better.

    • cheadrick

      In my opinion, Wren shouldn’t make such moves, free or not. The point was not the cost, but the very fact of the choice. It should never have occurred. Simple math would tell me not to take the chance on Loe. How often has Wren looked like a genius? Finally, I am not among the twitter crowd upset that Loe was used instead of Varvaro the other night. I hate the mindset that doesn’t understand the moves, and you’re completely correct – based on his previous outings, he would have been my pick as well (because if you made the dumb move to get him, you might as well use him). The point I would make is not that the move to use Loe was wrong – but the move to get him in the first place. No, I don’t agree that you get someone just because they’re free – when they are too big a risk. People can go back and forth all day on whether relievers are overworked, need another arm, etc. I get all that. I just don’t get choosing Loe in the first place. It’s every man’s right to wax with 20/20 hindsight. I wish Wren would wax with a bit more foresight.

      • fireboss

        Wren hasn’t looked like a genius often IMO but signings the Loe’s of the world is how the minor leagues are stocked at the AAA level anyway. There just aren’t enough warm bodies who can throw a baseball over the plate with any kind of regularity and/or quality to fill the available openings. We signed Luis Ayala like that; David Carpenter and Joe Biemel too . Last year Daniel Rodriguez and Varvaro among others. The Braves have four 25 man rosters (assuming that’s all a minor league team has) to fill every year not counting Rookie league. That’s 100 players and a quick glance tells me about 50 pitchers. Those spots have to be filled and the great majority of those guys won’t ever (and shouldn’t) make a big league appearance.
        Wren and staff have made some bad choices, that’s certain. They passed up David Aardsma this year for example. But when rummaging through the discount bin it’s often just a choice who who’s the least bad option then praying you never have to use it.