Monday, November 26, 2007


All puns aside (I've never seen 'CHiPs', so I don't even know if that title makes sense), I'm not sure I understand this Johnny Estrada deal. First I'll clarify a few things, then I'll get into what the story appears to be.

I wrote last week something along the lines of not reading that Estrada has been a clubhouse problem, so I wasn't sure why he is now on his fifth team in seven years. After the deal, reading newspaper articles, I read about the fact that Estrada clashed with his pitchers in Milwaukee and had some conflicts with his coaches (there was a near-fight with either pitching coach Mike Maddux or manager Ned Yost in Milwaukee...I've read conflicting reports about who it was...might have been both). So I guess he's a hothead. Probably not more so than LoDuca. Estrada, though, is supposedly not a great handler of pitchers....again, not much different than LoDuca.

Also, Estrada is not very good at throwing out runners attempting (and usually succeeding) to steal. He threw out something like 8% of runners last year. But I think, according to what I've read, the Mets think the surgeries Estrada underwent after the season will improve that stat for him.

Now the speculation
Now that all that's out of the way, here's what's being speculated:
1) I've read that it's highly unlikely Estrada will be on the Mets' Opening Day roster. I don't know who the Mets would have as a catcher if this is the case, because I don't think they view Ramon Castro as an everyday guy.
2) The Mets might just have acquired Estrada (for Guillermo Mota, so it was worth doing) as leverage, so other teams can't hang the fact that they don't have a catcher over them when they try to make deals for other players. Now it looks like they have the catching hole plugged, and they can't get roped into taking a catcher or someone they wouldn't want, and it gives Omar Minaya more freedom to make a deal for a frontline starter. I'm not totally sure I understand this viewpoint, but there it is.
3) Instead of number 2, and I understand this point a whole lot better (but I'm also not a GM, so do I really need to understand all of these things?), Estrada could be a bargaining chip in another deal, and he'll just get turned around in said deal.

The bottom line here is that I like Johnny Estrada, and if he is the Mets' starting catcher on Opening Day, I'm happy with that. But I suspect this won't be the last time this off-season that I'm writing about him.

Meanwhile, I would be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to write about Thursday's debacle by the Jets. It wasn't so much a debacle for me, though. I had the Dallas defense in my fantasy league, so in addition to rooting against Kellen Clemens, I had the opportunity to root for the Dallas defense to do well. (I loved the Terrence Newman interception return for a touchdown.)

I learned this on Thursday: You have a much higher probability of successful cheering when you root against the Jets than when you root for them. I won't be doing this forever - it'll just last the rest of this season (except, maybe, when they play New England) - but it was an interesting Thanksgiving experiment.

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