The Orioles sure weren't timid in their approach to this year's non-waiver trade deadline. They kicked off the unofficial trading season with their deal for Scott Feldman, grabbed Francisco Rodriguez last week and then beat the deadline by minutes with a trade for Bud Norris on Wednesday.
To get Norris from Houston, the Orioles gave up two in-state products, L.J. Hoes and Josh Hader, which may have given some fans pause about the move. But overall the reviews are strong.
Here's a roundup of what some of the national pundits have been writing about the trade and the Orioles' July dealings in total:
** SI.com’s Joe Lemire saw Wednesday’s trade as a sign that “the O’s figure to be a force for years.”
“They currently hold one of the two AL wild card spots, and their core players have repeated their 2012 performances, proving the team wasn’t a mere one-year fluke owing to luck in one-run games,” Lemire wrote.
“Such a change is reflected in their acquisitions, too. Whereas last year Duquette tried to improve the pitching staff through waiver-wire trades for Joe Saunders and Randy Wolf and helped the lineup by promoting prospect Manny Machado, this year he has made three July trades, capped by the addition of Astros starter Bud Norris on Wednesday for two prospects and a draft pick. (He previously acquired starter Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger from the Cubs and reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers.)”
** Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was also impressed. He designated 10 winners and 10 losers at the trade deadline, and the Orioles were a winner.
“No team did more than the Orioles in terms of volume,” Passan wrote. “Among Scott Feldman, Francisco Rodriguez and Norris, they overhauled a quarter of a staff that already had run through 22 pitchers this season. Considering what they gave up – three of the best prospects in a relatively thin system – they can only hope it's enough to catch the Rays and Red Sox in the AL East or hold off Cleveland, Texas, New York and Kansas City for a wild-card spot.”
** ESPN’s resident general manager Jim Bowden graded each GM’s work at the deadline, and Dan Duquette was at the head of the class. (ESPN Insider account needed for full story.)
“The Orioles were able to give their rotation a big boost (acquiring Bud Norris and Scott Feldman), not to mention their bullpen (Francisco Rodriguez), and only had to give up three good-but-not-great prospects in L.J. Hoes, Jake Arrieta, Josh Hader and Nick Delmonico,” Bowden wrote. “They still don't have a true ace, but they are far better equipped to compete in the AL East and did not mortgage the future in the process.”
** ESPN’s Keith Law feels the Astros’ haul for Bud Norris was “less than expected.” (Also an Insider article.)
“The Astros get a 4A position player, who gets on base, and a lottery-ticket lefty with arm strength but a long ways to go,” he wrote.
“Hoes can only play left field; the Orioles tried to convert him to second base, but he struggled badly, with an error every five games, and he's not quick enough to handle center. He has a short, high-contact stroke from the right side and has always had solid walk rates, with a .406 OBP this year in Triple-A. He could be a bench guy or below-average regular in left.
“Hader was my sleeper prospect for the Orioles this year, ninth in their system. He's a hard-throwing lefty who can reach 94 regularly from a low three-quarters arm slot, but with poor command and fringy secondary stuff right now. He's just 19 with only 113 innings in pro ball and has an arm the Astros can dream on, but even in a best-case scenario, he's three years away.”
** CBS Sports columnist Scott Miller joined the contingent doling out praise to the Orioles.
Miller noted that the Orioles improved their pitching staff, but he also had this interesting quote from an AL exec:
“Baltimore's lineup is probably better than Boston's,” one longtime American League executive says. “I never thought I'd say that, because Boston is such an offensive-oriented club. But you look at Baltimore's lineup, especially two through seven, guys like Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Chris Davis … that's pretty good. That's a formidable lineup.”
** Not all of the reviews were glowing for the Orioles. In selecting his top performing teams at the deadline, MLB.com columnist Anthony Castrovince had the Astros as one of his winners, but not the O’s.
“You could put the Orioles here, because, among the more budget-conscious clubs on the buy side, right-hander Bud Norris stood out as one of the more tantalizing trade chips available. He's young enough (28), cheap enough ($3 million salary this season), controlled enough (two more arbitration years before free agency) and versatile enough (some scouts feel he could shift to a prominent relief role, if need be) that he certainly has value,” Castrovince wrote.
“But let's be honest. The late-developing trade between the O's and Astros is a win for Houston because GM Jeff Luhnow and Co. got to take advantage of a weak market in which Norris, whose career adjusted ERA trends more toward fourth or fifth starter on a contender, had an uptick in trade value.”
** Baseball America’s Jim Callis broke down what the Orioles gave up in the deal, including a lofty comparison for Hader.
“[Hoes is] more of a tweener than a regular outfielder … because he has below-average power (.400 slugging percentage) and lacks the defensive chops to play center. He has average speed and arm strength and is capable of manning either outfield corner,” Callis wrote.
“The Orioles stole Hader in the 19th round of the 2012 draft, signing the Maryland high school product for $40,000 the day after he impressed GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter in a prep showcase. His fastball sat mostly in the mid-80s during his senior season, but Hader now works at 88-91 mph and has hit 94. There’s more projection remaining in his skinny 6-foot-3 frame, too. As a tall southpaw who works from a low three-quarters angle, he draws some physical comparisons to Chris Sale. Like most young pitchers, Hader has a lengthy to-do list, and his includes improving the consistency of his slider, changeup and command. If he can do that, he’s a potential No. 3 starter.”
** One quick view from the Houston perspective: In the story about the trade posted on the Astros’ team website, Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow mentions to Brian McTaggart that there were six teams competing for Norris with three pushing harder at the end.
Luhnow also discussed why he was so high on Hoes.
"I have the advantage of having been a scouting director and scouted lots of these players when they were in high school," Luhnow said. "L.J. Hoes is a guy I've always liked. He's athletic, played second base for a while, but plays all three outfield positions now.”
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