Breaking down September trades
A breakdown on the prospects involved in trades.
Gonzalez moves again as Padres seek shortstop
Sept. 16: For the second time this season, Alex Gonzalez has become a stop-gap shortstop. At the end of July, he was a throw-in along with two prospects the Expos received in the four-team Nomar Garciaparra trade. With the Padres looking for help after losing Rookie of the Year candidate Khalil Greene to a broken right index finger for the remainder of the season, they acquired Gonzalez and cash considerations on Thursday in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Gonzalez, 31, offers good pop for a shortstop and some defensive ability, but he doesn't hit for average and is too aggressive at the plate. Sidelined by a fractured right wrist for 10 weeks earlier this season, he has hit .229/.265/.374 with seven homers and 24 RBI in 72 games. For his career, he has batted .242/.303/.393 with 128 homers, 494 RBI and 95 steals in 1,256 contests. He'll be a free agent when his four-year, $20 million contract expires at the end of the season.
When the player to be named has been identified, we'll analyze him as well.
Update: The Padres completed the trade by sending cash considerations to the Expos.
-- Jim Callis
Giants find modicum of help in Burba
Sept. 6: With the Giants chasing both the Dodgers in the National League West as well as the wild card-leading Cubs, general manager Brian Sabean was unable to make a deadline-day deal to bolster the rotation, and the Giants instead turned to the farm system for help. In August, Sabean tried to work something out with the Rockies to get Jeromy Burnitz, but that also fell through. Finally, Sabean found a deal he could make, acquiring veteran Dave Burba on Thursday from the Brewers in exchange for Double-A lefthander Josh Habel.
Burba, 38, settles into a middle-relief role with the Giants, his days as a rotation stalwart behind him. A second-round pick in 1987 by the Mariners, Burba, who's earning a modest $440,000 this season in a one-year deal, has pitched in the major leagues since 1990 and was with the Giants previously from 1992-95, primarily working as a reliever. He entered the season with a 111-86, 4.50 record, and he is having one of his most effective seasons in years in 2004, posting a 3.96 ERA in 73 innings. He's pitched three scoreless innings since being acquired by San Francisco.
He has allowed just six home runs, helping minimize the damage of his 25 walks and paltry 49 strikeouts. He uses a fastball that tops out around 92 mph and a good splitter to go with average breaking stuff, as he throws both a curveball and slider. He's more effective against righthanded hitters (.221, .580 OPS) by a significant margin (lefthanded hitters bat .261 against him with a .777 OPS).
Habel, who turns 24 on Sept. 10, was just 4-10, 4.36 at Double-A Norwich, owing mostly to his propensity to give up walks (50 in 136 innings) and home runs (21, including 15 in 74 innings away from home). The lefthander was winless into June, but he has some good things going for him as well. His 123 strikeouts tied him for fifth in the Eastern League, and opposing hitters batted just .256 against him (130 hits in 136 innings).
Habel, a 14th-round pick in 2002 out of Northern Iowa, doesn't have overpowering stuff, and his main strikeout pitch is a changeup. However, it's a plus-plus pitch that allows him to handle righthanded hitters effectively. Habel throws his fastball in the high 80s and needs to hone his fringy breaking ball, but he has a chance to be a back-of-the-rotation starter because of the change.
-- John Manuel