If you haven't been following along at Metsblog (shame on you), the Mets recently made their first significant moves of the hot stove season (re-signing Luis Castillo, trading for Johnny Estrada).
There's no need to spend too much time talking about the Estrada trade, it was a no-brainer for the Mets. Many believe the Mets were done with Mota, regardless, and the fans had certainly seen enough of him, so to get anything in return was nice - let alone a starting catcher.
Estrada has bounced around and had some conflict with his team and manager last season, but all things considered I still prefer him to the alternatives, for the following reasons:
a) He was cheap (1 year left on his contract, only cost Mota)
b) He's a switch hitter with a solid bottom of the order bat (despite his low OPS)
c) His defensive numbers could revert back to '05-'06 after having a bone spur removed from his throwing elbow.
d) Younger than the man he's replacing (Lo Duca)
All in all he's a nice compliment to Castro and they didn't have to part with any major trading chips, so they should still be able to land pitching help. The Torrealba deal falling through could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Even if Estrada doesn't pan out they can cut ties with him at the end of the season and essentially end up not paying anything since the Brewers are picking up Mota's contract.
As far as Castillo goes, I think most Mets fans wanted to see him back as he fits in the two spot pretty well, his defense is still solid, and he seemed to fit in nicely with the teams' personalities. The concerns are obviously his health issues, as well as the rumors that he was having a negative influence on Reyes off the field. You have to think if those were true the Mets would have let him walk considering there were similar options to pursue. The only other option that intrigued me was Orlando Hudson, but they would have had to acquire him via trade, and that likely would have hurt their chances of landing a pitcher, so Castillo was the right choice.
So, while 4-years is a lot to give to an aging player with bad knees, the market pretty much dictated that was necessary as both the Astros and Cubs coveted Castillo, and even David Eckstein is pursuing a 4-year deal worth more than what Castillo was given.
Speaking of Eckstein, I'm elated the Mets stayed away from him as details of his grit/hustle/determination equating to success on the field are greatly exaggerated. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the work ethic, and I'm sure he's a nice guy and great in the clubhouse and all. He just can't play professional baseball very well at all. If you want the full break down on how truly overrated Eckstein has been over the past few years, thanks to the media, head over to Fire Joe Morgan.com as they have a wonderful obsession with Eckstein.
Naturally, Mets fans were getting impatient 30 seconds into the hot stove season, but now they have some things to talk about and with Omar Minaya all but guaranteeing to upgrade the pitching staff, it will be interesting to see what's next.
I'll discuss the pitching options in trade and FA and give my opinions on each later in the week. Football picks for the Thanksgiving Day games will be up late this evening.
In the meantime, stay tuned in to Metsblog for the latest info and check back here for my expanded opinion on the Mets offseason and other baseball moves.