So, let’s get this straight. For several years Johnny Estrada toils as a quad-A catcher in the Phillies system and ends up being traded for Kevin Millwood. After coming to Atlanta he dominates AAA for year, has one All-Star season for the Braves, and follows it up with a mediocre season that was probably the product of an injury. He’s then traded to Arizona for Oscar Villareal and Lance Cormier. Yuck. In actuality, the Millwood trade was all about money, as Millwood was set to earn $11 million in 2004, which he’s still not worth today. But still, I thought Johnny would bring more than this. Cormier sucks, and Villareal is a mystery because of his injury history. I doubt either of these guys are part of the solution to the Braves bullpen woes. And the addition of Wes Obermueller isn’t helping either.
I’m disappointed to see Johnny go, because he was a cheap player that you like to have around. McCann may be ready to hold the starting job, but it’s a long season and catcher is a injury-prone position. Just ask Johnny Estrada. The most likely backup, Brayan Pena, has the problem of not being a very good hitter or catcher. He’s an all batting average kind of a guy, with absolutely no power. I have no confidence in him, and neither do the Braves. His inability to simply call a game last year was the only reason McCann got a shot in the first place. Salty is still too young to be counted on this year, but he isn’t far away. This is why you keep Estrada around, even if Heap is going to be the starter. Yeah, the Braves might be able to get a veteran backup like Todd Pratt (as rumor has it) for slightly less than $1 million, but you’re going to get what you pay for. Johnny is worth much more than the $1.5 mil that he’ll likely get in arbitration.
I’m not opposed to trading away good players, but at least get something good in return. Henry Blanco will make $1.5 million next year…Henry Blanco. There is no reason to dump Johnny unless you get more two junk pitchers in return. At least wait while until some other team’s catcher gets hurt in spring training. This is absolutely the wrong time to pull the trigger on a deal like this.
For now, I’m just happy Andy Marte is still on the team. But, for how long will that be a comfort?