Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Johnny Estrada

Jack and I have decided: this is our No. 1 dream trade this offseason. Here's why:

1. With Bagwell's monster contract, it's a small upgrade we can make to improve the team. Without the flexibility to sign Giles or Nomar, we could make this seemingly subtle trade and improve quite a bit.

2. Estrada's very underrated. He's a switch-hitting catcher with power and patience. He's not really a home run hitter, but he's got gap power and can drive runs home late in the order. A career .273 / .326 / .393 line, but his career year in 2004 (.828 OPS) is still attainable in the future.

3. The Braves don't want him. They have McCann ready to start and Brayan Pena waiting in the wings. From what I've seen on Braves message boards, their fans can't wait to get rid of him (See below). Obviously management may think otherwise, but they still might try to use Estrada as trade bait.

4. He was injured nearly all of last year. He took a wicked collision from Darin Erstad in June and his back and neck never fully recovered. After a nice long offseason, he should be ready to put up numbers again.

5. He's great with runners on. His career .807 OPS with men on base would be a big boost to the team which struglled to get timely hits. Batting him behind Berkman, Ensberg, Bagwell and Lane would give him several opportunities to drive home runs.

6. Estrada, still arbitration eligible, would actually come cheaper than Ausmus, who would probably make at least $2 million. Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina are way out of our league. Estrada would be a clear upgrade over Ausmus offensively, and might have comparable stats to Hernandez and Molina.

7. An offensvie upgrade at catcher, in my eyes, would allow us to keep Everett with few repurcussions. Instead of a 7-8-9 of Ausmus-Everett-pitcher, which was more or less futile, Estrada would add a dangerous bat to the seventh spot. A lineup of Taveras-Biggio-Bagwell-Berkman-Ensberg-Lane-Estrada-Everett would score many more runs that last year's card.

8. He can spell his name correctly, unlike Jonny Gomes or Jhonny Peralta.

Of course, we would have to trade someone to acquire Estrada. They need bullpen help, but they're always in the market for good young arms. I wouldn't mind parting with Dan Wheeler, who had something of a career year. Chad Qualls is ready to assume the head setup role, and we could fins snother solid bullpen contributor via free agency. I'd also be willing to give away a prospect such as Nieve, Buchholz or Hirsh, or even Zeke or Wandy.

Several Braves message boards have called for trading Estrada. Some excerpts:

"McCann is ready to be an everyday starter defense will get better as the season progresses."
"Estrada will lose his value if he does not get to start regularly."
"Estrada will make more than 2 million with arbitration"
"The Braves can trade Estrada for a quality reliever, 2nd baseman or shortstop and use the money saved for Furcal."
"Estrada was the slowest catcher with a healthy back now he has a bad back and he is even only going to be slower."
"He's not a threat with RISP anymore. In 2004, he was almost automatic in that category. He was Mr. Clutch that season. Now he's just dead weight. I hate losing a switch-hitting catcher, but he's no longer an asset to us."
"I don't think we'll get much in return for Estrada ."

Theses are all reasons why we should acquire him! Look into it, Purpura.

1 comment:

Jason said...

2 potential problems with acquiring Estrada:
1. (This is the bigger problem, IMO) You lose a lot defensively. He isn't even in the same league as Ausmus behind the plate. I personally want a stud defensive catcher who is at least passable offensively. (Ausmus is slightly better than passable in my book.) I've also heard that Estrada isn't good working with pitchers, which is kind of important for catchers.
2. If Ausmus leaves, so does Roger. I'm not saying that if Ausmus comes back then Roger does too, but I don't think there's any chance Roger comes back if Ausmus is gone (didn't he say as much?).

I think the biggest offensive improvement can come in left field. I will be absolutely shocked if Bagwell is able to have even a partially productive 2006 season. I think Berkman should stay at first, and they should go get a real left fielder. Brian Giles comes to mind as a possibility. Giles-Taveras-Lane sounds good in the OF, although Willy REALLY needs to learn how to take a walk and hit to the opposite field.

(BTW, I don't think that Molina or Hernandez are out of our league. If the Astros don't sign Ausmus, I'm sure they'll get one of them--given that they won't be paying Roger either--probably Hernandez.)