Friday, October 07, 2005

Both Jack and I like the idea of trading for Johnny Estrada in the offseason. After rookie Brian McCann homered off Rocket in the seond inning of Game 2, the Braves might be even more inclined to have McCann be their primary starter next year. Coupled with Estrada's sub-par year at the dish, and the Braves might be willing to trade him for cheap. Estrada's miserable year was mostly due to neck and back injuries after being run over at home plate on June 6 by the Angels' Darin Erstad.

We still think he has the ability to be an above-average major league catcher, hitting mostly for average but with some power. True, 2004 may have been Estrada's career year: He hit .314 / .378 / .450, with nine homers and 36 doubles in 462 ABs. Not bad. He's a switch-hitter with a much better eye from the left side (His OPS is 100 points higher as a lefty), and we desperately need another lefty bat in that lineup behind Berkman. Estrada's a free agent after 2008, so he could definitely complete an admirable platoon with the right-handed Quintero for a few years.

Estrada's not particularly young -- he'll turn 30 next June. But he's only caught 356 games behind the plate... a very low amount of wear and tear for a major league catcher. He's not going to hit 20 homers, so he wouldn't cost a whole heck of a lot in arbitration. I'm sure he'll recover well from his whiplash injuries by next season and he'll be ready to put up another .800 OPS, as an Astro.


Jason said...

I thought the same thing as I heard the FOX announcers talking about how highly the Braves thought of McCann.

The main problems, though, are (a) how do we know that Estrada's dip in production will recover next season (or at all) and (b) the Astros are very loyal to veterans; they may still see Ausmus's defensive and game-calling skills as outweighing his offensive shortcomings and re-sign him. (I think Estrada has a reputation as an average defensive catcher at best, but I could be wrong).

Scott Barzilla said...

Actually this suggestion makes some sense for a couple of reasons:

1. The Astros catcher OPS was 15th in the NL this season. Our backup catchers were dreadful, but as Jack said, they are loyal to their veterans.

2. Unlike the other free agent options, Estrada is affordable. You can then afford to give Ausmus his money so he can be Clemens and Pettitte's personal caddie. Oswalt seems to be willing to pitch to anyone and I'm sure Wandy would want Estrada. That leaves Backe as the coin flip between the two catchers. So, you get good offense for half of the week and you have a 36 year old catcher that gets a lighter workload.