What We Got:
Eric Young, 2B, 35 years old.
Eric Young is a well-traveled veteran table setter, with the Giants becoming his fifth team over his 12 year career. He started his career in Los Angeles in '92, but became a full time starter with Colorado through '97, at which point he went back to Los Angeles to be a part of their futile playoff run (thanks to the Giants.) He stayed with LA before going to the Cubs in 2000, and then moving on to Milwaukee in 2002.
Eric Young is a career .286 hitter. He buoys his average with plenty of walks to keep his on-base percentage high, which is why he excels as a leadoff hitter. He also hits a good number of doubles and triples, and makes good use of his speed, having stolen 50+ bases in a year three times and 30+ nine times. He is having a down year this year, batting .260 (his lowest as a regular player), but his OBP is still fairly high and he's getting his share of steals.
The big difference for Young this year is that he's turned into a home run hitter, with 15 roundtrippers this year, having hit no more than 8 in any year before. He's hit 8 of those homers on the road, which means that this power surge isn't just from hitting in Miller Park, one of the league's smaller parks. Part of this is attributed to working with Barry Bonds in the offseason, and the two are still friends. One of Young's home runs was in Pac Bell this year.
Young is being paid $2 million this year (we will pay a pro-rated portion of it for his time with us), and has a team option for $3 million next year, or a $1 million buyout.
What we gave up:
Greg Bruso, RHP, 23 years old
Greg Bruso was a 16th round selection in the 2002 draft out of UC Davis, and moved straight into Salem Keizer and threw extremely well in his rookie campaign. Bruso's control is impeccable, as can be noted by his walk rate at each level of the minors. More impressive, until his call up to AA, he had kept a WHIP (Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched) under one, which is extraordinary. He also has an extraordinary K-to-BB ratio, which many scouts consider the best indicator of a pitcher's ability in the future.
Bruso was one of the higher level pitching prospects left in the Giants system after the injury problems of this season emptied the more experienced prospects the Giants had. However, he was not the top performing pitcher from his draft class, as that would be San Diego surfer Kevin Correia, who is currently with the big league team. With Correia's rise ahead of him, and the incredible performance of single A pitcher Merkin Valdez behind him, Bruso became expendable.
This trade was made partially because of the inept offense on this week's 0-6 roadtrip, but was more a product of the slow recovery of Ray Durham. Brian Sabean stated that Durham was only 50-50 for his projected return this Friday, and they want to be extra careful with him. Also, despite Young's age, he's still a capable athlete, and has played in the outfield before. Although Durham is the superior second baseman both offensively and defensively, Young provides better offensive depth than Neifi Perez, and it's also very possible that Eric Young can play short as well if Richie does not pick up right where he left off before his appendectomy. Young also deepens the bench, which has been a little too green as of late. It should also be noted that Young's 15 home runs would tie him for third on the team with Marquis Grissom, behind Cruz (16) and Bonds (37).
After this season, Young throws an interesting wrinkle into the opening the Giants have at SS, and Young may be an option at $3 million a year over Perez, or signing Aurilia or others for a higher price. Bruso is likely to become a major league pitcher, but as with any minor leaguer, it's hard to predict what he'll do. Overall, this is a good trade for the Giants to win now, and should provide a boost going into this week of matchups against playoff teams and the stretch run next year.
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