Jeff Keppinger? We’ll Take It.
In keeping with the habit of taking Astro’s middle infielders, the Giants have acquired Jeff Keppinger in exchange for minor league pitchers Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel. Keppinger has experience playing everywhere around the diamond, and will likely be called upon to shore up either second base or shortstop, hopefully resulting in less playing time for Emmanuel Burriss and Miguel Tejada.
With incumbent second baseman Freddy Sanchez out indefinitely, Keppinger now steps in as a suitable replacement. Sanchez career line of .297/.335/.413 is close enough to Keppinger’s .283/.337/.391 to make him a suitable replacement for the time being. Factor that in with how profoundly awful Giants middle infielders have been so far this season and Keppinger is a welcomed addition. The corresponding move on the Giants roster will likely see Burriss sent back down to Fresno, while Keppinger will split time between second base and shortstop with Mike Fontenot and Brandon Crawford.
Defensively, our newest Giant has shown a below average -12.4 UZR at shortstop and a just good enough -2.1 UZR at second base. Despite his being more proficient at second, he’ll probably be asked to play on the other side of the diamond given the offensive need the Giants have, with defensive whiz Crawford hitting .197/.281/.277. On the hitting side, Keppinger’s .307/.320/.436 line adds a good bat to what’s been a punchless offense (Sandoval, Schierholtz, and Ross excluded).
There’s not a whole lot to hate about this move, as it gives the offense an immediate upgrade at a position of need. When you’re a team hitting the way the Giants are, any step up is a step in the right direction in terms of scoring more runs. The biggest caveat we have is how many runs Keppinger will cost on defense given his iffy range at shortstop and passable defense at second. Even so, the offensive upside means he needs to play, and he needs to play often.
From here, the Giants are a couple moves away from league average on the hitting side. If by some miracle they can manage to bring in Carlos Beltran, call up Brandon Belt for the lion’s share of time at first, and have Hector Sanchez prove he can be catch at the Major League level, then everything will be great. Given the way things have gone this season though, there’s really no way to script out what happens next.
UPDATE: Looks like one of the items on my July agenda can be checked off, as Brandon Belt has been called up and is starting at first tonight. Now that I’ve gotten this, I want more; my offensive upgrade fever is downright insatiable.
DOUBLE UPDATE: I need to start checking Twitter more often, as Hank Schulman intimated the following:
@hankschulman (Henry Schulman) Re Beltran: I think Mets will go for deal that saves them most $$, accepting lesser prospects. Gs have a lot of $$. I feel deal possible.