The swerve in the announcement is in who the Orioles cleared out to make space for Parra. You might think that the arrival of a left-handed outfielder who is an actual outfielder would, you know, kick Chris Davis back to first base and Chris Parmelee to the unemployment line. That's certainly what I had assumed.
We were both wrong. The Orioles actually designated Bud Norris for assignment. It's hard to argue with that move either, given Norris' performance this year. He has been bad from the very beginning of spring training. He got lit up in nearly all of his March starts. He got lit up in the regular season. They stashed him on the DL and a rehab assignment for a while due to a bout of bronchitis and he got lit up there too, and once they finally had no choice but to dump him into the bullpen, do you know what happened then? Yes, he got lit up.
Whenever the team announces a move, you get a sense of what they want you to be happy about by the things they choose to say about the player. Here's what's in the release about Parra:
Parra, 28, batted .328/.369/.517 (106-323) with 24 doubles, five triples, nine home runs, and 31 RBI in 100 games with the Brewers this season. The two-time Gold Glove Award winner made starts at all three outfield positions with Milwaukee this season (36 starts in left field, 25 starts in center field, and 14 starts in right field) and ranked among the National League leaders in batting average (fourth), slugging percentage (ninth), and on-base plus slugging percentage (ninth, .886). He is currently riding a career-high 14-game hitting streak during which he is batting .460/.518/.720 (23-50). Over 933 Major League games, Parra has hit .279/.330/.407 with 51 home runs and 291 RBI.
"See, guys, it's cool, he won a couple of Gold Gloves!" Not mentioned in the release is the .372 BABIP, far in excess of Parra's career numbers, which may have fueled all of the statistics they so glowingly cite without calling attention to the fact that Parra is a pending free agent at the end of the year. But hey, the game is the game.
It's a bummer that Bud was so bad this year, because he was so good last year. I thought that would continue. So did the Orioles. Surely so did Bud. At some point you have to cut your losses, and that's what the Orioles have done. Norris heads to the great DFA in the sky.
Norris reacted to the move in the best way you can manage in the situation. I feel bad for him.
Dear #Birdland, I'm sorry it got to this. 2014 was magical. I got sick and haven't been right since. Wish my teammates nothing but the best.— Bud Norris (@BudNorris25) July 31, 2015
Baseball is a wonderful game, but also a very cruel one.