Justin Schultz is an up and coming staff writer here at Reviewing the Brew. He loves Rickie Weeks and hates any (and every) one who implies that Weeks is terrible, or that his days are numbered. Luckily for him, this has nothing to with that topic. Currently, Justin attends the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater and is majoring in Journalism…I think, it’s either that or Strawberita Engineering. Be sure to follow Justin on Twitter @Jschu23
“While he actually performed well with the Crew in 2007 (.278, 10 HR), he seemed to be hurt every day. He only played in 120 games that season. But the thing I remember most about Johnny Boy was his spaz attack in the dugout during a game against the Mets. He started screaming in Ned Yost‘s face and of course, Ned yelled back. Players had to separate the two and Estrada was pushed back into the clubhouse. Estrada only played 23 more games after the 2007 season. I would assume that is because teams realized that he was a cancer in the clubhouse and on the field.” -Justin Schultz
Johnny Estrada’s Wikipedia page is 4 paragraphs long. That really does a better job summing up his MLB career than I ever could. Lucky for me, I only have to focus on his Brewers career…let’s see if I can get to 4 paragraphs.
In 2006, Johnny Estrada had an All-Star caliber season with the Arizona D’Backs (at this point they were still called the Diamondbacks). Then, for no justifiable reason they traded him to the Brewers in exchange for Doug Davis, Dana Eveland, and Dave Krynzel. We also received Claudio Vargas and Greg Acquino in the deal, but who cares about those guys? Clearly, this was a lopsided deal on paper: an All-Star catcher in exchange for the most sub-par pitcher of the early 2000’s… So it makes sense that the Brewers would jump at the chance, considering that Damian Miller and Mike Rivera were the other Catchers on the roster. Granted, we were on the hook for the $3.4 million dollars he was due, but Miller was 75 years old and the team did not have confidence in Rivera as an everyday catcher.
However, of the deals the Brewers made this particular off-season Estrada’s was the least concerning. Here is what else transpired that off-season:
- Brewers sign Bill Hall to a 4-year, $24 million contract
- Brewers sign current HOBWWM Inductee Jeff Suppan to a 4-year, $42 million contract
- Brewers signed utility infielder Tony Graffanino to a…who cares, it was too much
For the most part, Estrada was an ok Brewer. While he wasn’t the player he had been in Atlanta or Arizona, he was a fine catcher. To Justin’s point, he did seem to have a ton of nagging injuries; in-grown hairs, stubbed toes, and other various boo-boo’s.
I think the turning point for Estrada as a Brewer came during his August fight with Ned Yost. The team was melting down. They had let an 8 game division lead slip away over the course of July and August. Tensions were high and Johnny Estrada was a well-known hot head who had a major issue with letting managers call his pitches. It is well documented that he would blow off signs from the dugout and go with his gut…not a great quality to have if Ned Yost is your Skipper.
On that fateful August day, the Crew was in the midst of a 12-3 thrashing. Estrada was displeased over having to play the night before and then again during this day game fiasco. When he voiced his concern to Ned Yost, old Ned let him know who was boss. Estrada walked down the tunnel and effectively removed himself from the game. After a few minutes, Ned sent someone to get Johnny and bring him back so they could finish their conversation like men. Yost said about 5 words and Estrada started to walk away. Ned grabbed him and then wagged his finger in Estrada’s face. Then the two men disappeared down the tunnel and there was nothing more for fans to see. In my imagination, they started laughing and talked about how funny it would be to see the media blow this out of control. However, at the first opportunity…Estrada was gone. Then, in 2008…Yost was gone.
While I will never argue with someone’s nomination, I feel like Estrada is easy to miss because he was hardly here at all. We, as a fan base, did not feel the pain and anguish of his time in Milwaukee ringing in our ears over the following half decade. The financial ramifications of his belonging to the Brewers did not hurt the success of the franchise in any concrete way. In fact, I had forgotten him completely until I read Justin’s nomination e-mail.
As you know, there are 3 categories that define a true HOBWWM nominee. Here is how Estrada shapes up:
Stats – Not terrible: .278 BA, 10 HR, 54RBI, and 25 doubles
Money/Contract - Not outrageous for a former All-Star Catcher: $3.4 million
Likeability – This is where he scores the highest without a doubt. While I could not find anyone saying anything bad about the guy, most of the news you find about him is negative. In a unique twist of fate for this article, earlier this month Estrada was arrested in Atlanta for domestic violence. He also had a reputation throughout baseball for blowing off coaches and coaching in general, which is why his career ended after only 7 seasons.
Now it is up to you. When it comes time to cast your vote…is Johnny Estrada a player you Won’t Miss for all of eternity? Or is he just that guy who was better than Damian Miller and got in a fight with Ned Yost?