By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
7:00 AM EDT, August 1, 2013
Let’s start with the actual trade on Wednesday. The Orioles picked up 28-year-old right-hander Bud Norris for outfielder L.J. Hoes and minor league pitcher Josh Hader. The Orioles’ competitive draft pick in 2014 (roughly No. 35 next year) and the Astros’ international slot (worth roughly $200,000) also swapped hands
Was it a good deal?
Frankly, in four years, the answer likely will be no. I have heard so many good things about Hader from people I trust. And I’ve enjoyed watching (and covering) Hoes in his time with the organization. At the least, Hoes, a hard-worker and smart player, can be a contributing major leaguer. Hader could be a lot more.
Plus, they are both local guys, so giving up two of the few members of the organization that are from the Baltimore-Washington area is disappointing.
But this is where Dan Duquette differs from some other previous executives. He’s not emotionally tied to what he’s giving up; what the story is behind them or what might be said if they flourish elsewhere. He’s focused on what pushes the team to win now and in the future. Hoes and Hader could help the Orioles win in the future, but likely not now. And Duquette’s belief is Norris can do both.
So if this helps the Orioles now and in 2014 and 2015 – that’s what matters.
If Norris were a rental, then you could pan this one. But if Norris stays healthy, he should be a competent big league starter for two years and two months – at a relatively affordable salary.
I was lukewarm on dealing for Norris because we heard the cost in prospects going to Houston would be exorbitant. Well, dealing Hader and Hoes may sting a little, but the Orioles should be able to absorb those losses.
Bottom line: It was a deal worth doing, even if it haunts the club in a few years.
One thing that needs to be pointed out in looking at this trade: It couldn’t have been made without local scout Dean Albany. He was the one that pushed for Hoes to be taken in 2008. And he was the one, acting on a tip from trusted friend Tim McMullen, who showed up to see Hader when no one else was scouting him in 2012.
Albany has been a champion for local baseball for decades, but he also has an eye for talent.
From the moment Hoes signed, those that cover the Orioles on a daily basis were impressed with him. He was well-spoken and respectful, but he also had that mischievous sparkle in his eye. He is a bit of a character, in a good way, and it’s easy to see why he and Adam Jones bonded quickly.
Hoes is definitely the kind of guy you root for when he goes elsewhere. And I think he’ll have a solid major league career. As Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, “If he’s as good a player as he is a person, they got a gem.”
Hader’s stock absolutely skyrocketed this year. I remember seeing him pitch this spring in a game at the Orioles’ minor league complex. Most of the spring instructors – and Showalter and Duquette – stopped to watch him throw two scoreless innings. At 6-foot-3, 160-pounds, he was all arms and legs, topped by a baseball cap. He had this funky, deceptive delivery. And his stuff was nasty. Oh, and he was left-handed.
So, yes, it’s tough to give him up. And I talked to Hader right after he was traded, and it’s not easy for him to leave, either.
But he’s quite a distance from the majors – as was Nick Delmonico, who was dealt to Milwaukee in the trade for Francisco Rodriguez on July 23 – and these are the trades you have to make if you are trying to win now.
Now here’s my one complaint about the Orioles now that the non-waiver deadline is over: I still think they need a bat – preferably a right-hander who can get on base. That’s a hole that needs to be filled.
Duquette made three trades in July when most teams didn’t know who was buying and who was selling. So you have to think he can get a bat through trade waivers. Therefore, there’s still time to rectify that situation.
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