My Campaign for Estrada and Jennings

Okay, I’ve been hinting at getting Estrada for a few weeks now.  That’s no secret.  While I was originally vehemently against trading Burke for Jason Jennings, I have revised my opinion of both Jennings’ suitability in Houston and Burke’s value to the Astros.

My case for Estrada:  The Astros sorely need a long term solution at catcher and Estrada fits the bill quite nicely.  He’ll be cheap for at least 2 more years and platooning him with Ausmus is a no-brainer.  Ausmus can pass on the vast knowledge of pitchers and hitters he has in that Dartmouth brain of his to his successor.  Estrada was raised in the US so his command of the English language shouldn’t pose a problem for Oswalt as it did with Quintero.

Why should the Diamondbacks trade Estrada?  It’s no secret that he was not a happy camper when he was platooned with Chris Snyder.  The team also wants to go with a platoon of Snyder and Miguel Montero for 2007.  They need pitching badly and they don’t want to raise the payroll so trade is the only option left.  Estrada has been flying under the radar a bit as Astros fans and sports pundits in Houston and other places talk about trading for Manny or Vernon Wells. 

Now, this article is a bit old, but, it does give a comprehensive view of the Diamondback front office’s thinking.  The Astros have plenty of young arms to trade for Estrada.  Even if it takes Jason Hirsh, the Astros can absorb the loss and it would definitely make Clemens and Pettitte sit up and take notice.

On to my 180 on Chris Burke:  Jason Jennings, forever a footnote in Biggio’s modern day record for plunkings, is a very good option for #2 behind Oswalt should Pettitte and Clemens choose to retire or go elsewhere.  The price the Rockies have set for Jennings is Burke.  They want him to roam centerfield at Coors Field.  I personally don’t think Burke has the arm, speed, or range for centerfield, but, hey, if the Rockies do, more power to them.  Since Biggio is firmly entrenched at 2nd base for at least until the 2007 All Star Break, the first half of the season is not a big issue. 

My question was if you trade Burke, what do you do for the remainder of the season once Biggio gets his 3000th hit and runs out of gas in the 2nd half?  The happy answer may be you can platoon him with Brooks Conrad whom the Astros just added to their 40 man roster or Jonathan Ash, the scrappy lefty who reminds me of a young Biggio or Cardinals short stop David Eckstein.

So, if it means improving the team, bye-bye Hirsh and Burke, hello Estrada and Jennings.  If the Astros manage to sign Lee, Williams and Huff, trade Ensberg for a lefty bullpen arm, along with the trades for Estrada and Jennings, it will have been an extremely productive off season for the Astros and they will never again be held hostage by Clemens and Pettitte.


  1. Kellia

    From the article to which you linked:
    Byrnes revealed there could be a shake-up to what figured to be a ready-made returning lineup involving the position players. It may not necessarily involve bringing in a prototypical cleanup hitter – which the present roster lacks – but a player who “is that count-on bat” who can “hit all sorts of pitching and change games.”

    I thought the D’Backs had such a hitter last year…one Johnny Estrada.


    Life, Baseball and & Guy Left Stranded on Base All Too Often in 2006.

  2. Rita

    Yeah, that was my first thought also, but, it seems they are going to go with the tandem of Snyder and Montero so maybe it’s a money issue with how much Estrada will command in arbitration.

  3. Thomas

    I wouldn’t go for any of those scenarios… I’m not real interested in trading a potential all star 2nd basemen in Chris Burke(once he gets a few full seasons under him) for a career 4.72 ERA guy… I know Jennings played in CO his entire career, but he’s still a high ERA guy. I’m ok with trying to get Estrada, but I’m not okay with giving up good pitching prospects for it when you could probably sign a catcher that is comparable(not as good, but comparable) through free agency.

  4. Rita

    Jennings is a sinker ball pitcher–he would do just fine at MMP. If the nightmare of no Clemens or Pettitte comes to pass, we’ll need him and Woody behind Oswalt to even try to be competetive.

    Molina’s price just went up thanks to the Cubs. Gary Matthews Jr. got $10 mil a year and Juan Pierre got $9 mil….there’s no way the Astros will pay upwards of $6 mil a year for a catcher when they’re still paying Ausmus.

    And in the end, prospects are just that–remember head case Tim Redding?


    The Astros are giving up way to much for guys who at best middle of the road. I would rather sign Rod Barajas and sign a free agent verteran pitcher on the market. This way you dont risk your future. It will cost more but in the long run its worth it.

  6. Rita

    No risk, no reward. Barajas put up Ausmus 2005 type numbers last year. Ausmus’ avg in 2005 was .258 and Barajas’ avg in 2005 was .254 and .256 in 2006…not sure why we’d want him to platoon with Ausmus.

    We are going to sign Williams. Wolf and Lilly will be out of the Astros price range once Zito goes. To get a veteran starter, we’ll have to trade for one. Jake Westbrook of the Indians is another candidate along with Jaosn Jennings. The Indians want Lidge for Westbrook and to me, that’s quite do-able because the Astros will still have Wheeler, Qualls and Nieve in the bullpen.


    I’d love to have Jennings, but I just can’t justify to myself giving away Chris Burke. We have a surplus of pitching in the minors, could we pry Jennings away with prospects instead of Burke?

    If we land Carlos Lee, I don’t think our catcher issue is that much of a problem.

    Estrada’s numbers are pretty tasty though for a catcher, apart from his plate disclipline which *****.

    Westbrook for Lidge? That sounds like a bargain to me.

  8. Rita

    Brooks Conrad has better numbers in AAA than Burke had and Jonathan Ash’s numbers in AA are very similar to Burke’s. Conrad is a switch hitter and Ash is a leftie. The fact that the Astros suddenly added Conrad to the 40 man roster tells me they’re seriously considering the Jennings trade or at least, Burke is trade bait.

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