St. Louis Cardinals: Bud Norris for the win (mine)

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 25: Closing pitcher Bud Norris
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 25: Closing pitcher Bud Norris /

The St. Louis Cardinals have dipped into the free agent well and pulled out a one-time starter, now-reliever who stumped against the Cards in the past.

The St. Louis Cardinals are set to announce on Monday the signing of right-handed reliever Bud Norris who at one time put fear in the hearts of Cardinals hitters.  I am pleased by this announcement as I had predicted it just three days ago. Read my prediction here.

The official announcement will come after Norris passes his physical. That said, Norris came out of the gate last season with the Angels and performed well from the pen. Through July 23 of the 2017 season, Norris had a very respectable 2.23 ERA. This was before a knee inflammation sidelined his playing time.

Looking even further back into history, however, the St. Louis Cardinals remember Norris as a formidable opponent when he would start on the mound. Having started his MLB career with the Houston Astros (when they were still housed in the NL-Central), Norris confounded Cardinal hitters with ease.

Despite having a Houston average ERA of 4.25, Norris was Kryptonite to St. Louis Cardinals bats. The St. Louis Cardinals got a little relief from Norris when he went from the Astros to the Orioles where he spent the years of 2013-2015. He then spent some time with the Padres, Braves, Dodgers, and then landed with the Angels in 2017.

As is mentioned above, Norris’ 2017 was often sidelined by a knee injury which kept him to appearing in only 62 innings of service. However, in these innings, Bud recorded 74 strikeouts to a mere 30 walks. His 2017 FIP was recorded as a 3.90 (not bad but not too sexy either).

Here’s the rub: from 2010 to 2016, Norris allowed nearly as many hits (or more) than the innings in which he pitched. This is problematic for any pitcher. This, on the other hand, was seemingly in decline beginning in 2016.

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In ’16, Norris pitched for the Braves and the Dodgers. In Atlanta, Norris pitched 70.1 innings and surrendered 68 hits. This number spread decreased (for the negative) when he moved to the Dodgers. In LA he pitched 42.2 innings and surrendered 48 hits. See the pendulum problem?

In ’17, however, Norris- before he was on the DL and somewhat after- pitched 62 innings and surrendered only 56 hits. While the number could certainly be better, this was a step in the right direction.

Enter now his St. Louis Cardinals campaign. Reminder: I predicted this move some three days ago. Just want to make sure everyone remembers that.

The St. Louis Cardinals decided that a healed Norris was worth the risk. Here stand a classic Cardinals reclamation project. Norris will join a bullpen of new additions in the likes of Luke Greggerson and Dominic Leone. Norris, as I stated in my piece three days ago, could well fit the pen and may even get a look at closing.

In my piece I suggested that the St. Louis Cardinals should sign Norris to a minor-league deal. This was not the route they chose to take and have instead given Bud a 1-year, MLB contract. At least I got the contract length correct and at least I predicted this pick up.

Next: Cardinals escape plan

What do YOU think? Do you like this move or think it is a waste? Let me know on Twitter and thanks for reading!