I won’t challenge today to be more hectic than yesterday because it might take me up on the offer. I’m just going to quietly assume that it won’t happen.
I ventured inside manager Buck Showalter’s office with WBAL Radio’s Casey Willett shortly before 3:30 p.m. to tape his pregame show. Before we could get started, Orioles advance scouting coordinator Ben Werthan handed Showalter his cell phone so he could read a text message. Showalter turned to the wall that contains the names of every player in the minor league system.
Yes, we had a trade. I’ve been around long enough to pick up on the clues.
Showalter’s phone rang, and it was executive vice president Dan Duquette on the other end. He politely asked us to leave his office. I didn’t bother to grab my notepad. Just headed for the nearest exit in an orderly fashion.
It took a while before Showalter invited us back inside. By then, news broke that outfielder LJ Hoes was headed to the Astros for starter Bud Norris, but other details were missing.
I sat down, my iPhone buzzed and I received confirmation that the Orioles also were sending the Astros a left-handed minor league pitcher and a draft competitive balance pick. I quickly tweeted it while Showalter, now sitting next to me, suggested that we get started.
We already had agreed to postpone his video blog for MASNsports.com until today. However, Showalter changed his mind and summoned me back into his office, saying we may as well get everything done. Meanwhile, I’m receiving confirmation that Old Mill High graduate Josh Hader is the left-handed pitcher in the trade. I turn to Showalter and whisper “Hader?” Showalter looks straight ahead and replies, “OK, what have we got?”
In other words, you’re on your own, Kubatko.
Actually, that’s Showalter’s subtle way of confirming. If it weren’t true, he would have given me a puzzled look and maybe suggested that I stop believing everything I’m told.
I finished the four-question interview - I remember mumbling something about Francisco Rodriguez - thanked him and tweeted the Hader update while hustling out the door. Not exactly your standard way of reporting news at the non-waiver trade deadline.
And that, my friends, is your inside baseball segment for this morning.
Coming tomorrow: Do I get a third crab cake for dinner or head straight for the soft ice cream machine?
I’ll give Showalter credit for his ability to multi-task and handle all of the obligations that extend beyond managing a game. His schedule is crazy busy, each and every day.
So what do I think of the trade? Glad you asked.
I don’t view Norris as a savior by any stretch. He’s an example of how perceptions change in a limited pitching market at the non-waiver deadline. He definitely could help the Orioles, a competitor who will give them innings and a chance to win on most nights, but you would have thought we were talking about Justin Verlander.
The real appeal for me comes from how the Orioles will retain control of Norris through 2015. He’s not a rental. And the Astros significantly lowered their demands. The Orioles no longer were being asked to cough up three top prospects. The Astros didn’t push for Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy, but they wanted plenty.
Hoes will get a much better opportunity in Houston. He may have been nothing more than an extra outfielder with the Orioles. Hader is the one who could bring regret down the road. Showalter spoke highly of him, usually without any prompting. The Old Mill High graduate’s stock was soaring. But it speaks of the improved depth in the farm system that the Orioles could part with him.
They still have Gausman and Bundy. They still have Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Wright. Jonathan Schoop will still be playing second base tonight at Triple-A Norfolk.
The Orioles basically made three deadline deals, since you must include Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez. When is the last time that happened in Baltimore? And they could still trade for a player this month who clears waivers. They have a history of doing it.
Yesterday’s craziness included news that Jason Hammel was going on the disabled list, but the timing is perfect for the Orioles. It frees up a spot for Norris, and with five off-days this month, Hammel won’t feel as though he missed any starts. He could have been skipped anyway, if that makes sense.
The media didn’t know about Hammel’s forearm tightness until after 4 p.m. yesterday. We were told that he’d be available in the dugout at 5 p.m. And Duquette would meet with us in the back of the press box at 6 p.m.
The game became an afterthought. And I’d recommend not thinking about it.