This is Burba's second go around with the Giants. He previously pitched for the Giants from '92-'94, and was a solid part of the Giants staff then. Certainly, 10 years later, he's on the downside of his career, but still is an effective pitcher. After suffering bad years in the AL in 2001 and 2002, he moved back to the NL and has had good years with Milwaukee since then. This year, he's got a 4.08 ERA with a 3-1 record with 3 holds and 2 saves in 4 tries.
Burba's a five-pitch pitcher who has worked successfully as both a reliever and starter. His key non-fastball, though, is his splitter. Working as a reliever, his fastball still hits the low ‘90's, and he's a veteran pitcher who usually does a good job of mixing up all his pitches, despite a tendency to throw the splitter a little too often. He also features a good curve, slider and sinker.
WHAT THE GIANTS GAVE UP:
Habel, a 14th round pick in 2002, had an incredible year in 2003, his first full year in the majors. He went to Hagerstown (Low-A), and dominated in duty both as a reliever and starter. However, he's struggled after being pushed to Norwich (AA), going 4-10 with a 4.36 ERA. Habel has been able to maintain a high strikeout rate (9.37 per 9 IP in 2003, 8.12 per 9 IP in 2004), and remains a good prospect, despite his off year.
Habel is yet another lefty who draws a lot of comparisons to Maddux (With Lowry and Misch, the Giants sure like those guys). He throws a high 80's fastball, an excellent changeup, and a couple of developing breaking pitches. He gets by on the changeup, and it should be noted that Baseball America rated Habel's changeup the best in the Giants system, above even Lowry's.
Brewers manager Doug Melvin said, after this trade, "They must feel they have enough pitching once they get to the playoffs, but they must need help to get there." Many fans and analysts would agree with the latter part of that statement.
There's no arguing that the Giants need bullpen help this year. But this trade is still a bit perplexing, in that it was made after the playoff roster deadline. In other words, for a player to be available for a team's postseason roster, he must be on that team by the end of August. So though Burba may help the team get to the playoffs, he won't be able to help the team in the playoffs. The Giants gave up a quality prospect in Habel for a less than one month rental, which seems like quite a bit. At the very least, Burba will help give some of the other guys a rest, but one would expect some of the 40 man roster callups to do the same (such as Correia and Aardsma).
This trade appears to be too little for too much, and far too late to be of serious consequence.
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