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.