Estrada finds next new home with Brewers

November 28th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Estrada finds next new home with Brewers


Associated Press

MILWAUKEE - Johnny Estrada resigned himself to the fact he'd be traded yet again. This year it happened a little earlier than expected. Now, the catcher just hopes his latest stop in Milwaukee will finally bring some stability after he was dealt last weekend for the third time in six years.
"I could just kind of see the writing on the wall in Arizona," Estrada said Monday. "Once we fell out of the race, my playing time diminished in September. ... That was really frustrating for me toward the end there."
Estrada hit .302 with 11 home runs and 71 RBIs in 115 games for the Diamondbacks last season, but said he knew the team was cutting payroll and going with younger prospects at his position. He first thought he might be traded back to Philadelphia, where he began his big league career, or to San Francisco.
But Milwaukee? Not really.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin sent left-handed starters Doug Davis and Dana Eveland and outfield prospect Dave Krynzel to Arizona on Saturday for Estrada, starting pitcher Claudio Vargas and reliever Greg Aquino.
"It all boiled down to what the Diamondbacks got in return," Estrada said on a conference call from his suburban Atlanta home. "I knew they needed some pitching, some left-handed pitching, so I'm sure that's why the deal got done."
Estrada previously had been traded twice in December, from Philadelphia to Atlanta and then to Arizona.
The first time it was for starting pitcher Kevin Millwood in 2002, and Estrada, who was stuck behind Mike Lieberthal on the Phillies' depth chart, heard the criticism of the deal that was perceived as lopsided.
"That was kind of the joke of that offseason," he said. "I was coming off just one season in the big leagues where I was hitting .230."
Actually, he hit .228 in 2001 and had spent most of 2002 in Triple A. But the switch-hitting Estrada immediately became the Braves' starter and flourished under manager Bobby Cox.
Estrada made the NL All-Star team in 2004 before Atlanta moved him last December to Arizona for pitchers Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal.
"(I) was being pushed out for a young prospect, Brian McCann," Estrada said. "He turned out to be an All-Star, Silver Slugger Award winner last year. So I think that worked out for both sides as well."
Estrada won't have the same concerns in Milwaukee, but appears to be pushing out 37-year-old Damian Miller, the Brewers' starting catcher the past two seasons.
Estrada said he hasn't talked to management about playing time yet, but expects to be the starter in 2007.
"From my understanding, Damian is going to be a backup and I'm going to get the majority of the playing time," Estrada said. "That's all I can ask for, hopefully get off to a good start."
He also should be able to finish stronger after he played through a stomach ulcer he developed in July. Estrada said he hopes his efforts show his determination and durability.
Estrada, who idolized Carlton Fisk growing up and wears his pants high to honor the Hall of Famer, said he's hoping to finally stay put in December.
A lot of that will be up to the Brewers, who have Estrada, a career .280 hitter with 32 homers and 227 RBIs, under contract for two more years.
"I want to catch five or six days a week," Estrada said. "That's what I've prepared myself for mentally and physically. When I've been given the opportunity, I've made good on that and hopefully the Brewers will see that in the future."

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