Desperate for offense, and suddenly beset by a myriad of injuries, the Giants made a deal Tuesday to add a bat to their infield. It is not an elite bat, not one that is going to push the lineup over the top, but given the cost to acquire Jeff Keppinger, the deal seems like a win for the Giants. “Without being harsh, this group is not getting it done,” GM Brian Sabean said. “We’ve got to extend the lineup any way we can, and I think this is an upgrade.”
Giants give: RHP Henry Sosa, RHP Jason Stoffel
Giants receive: Jeff Keppinger
Sosa is nearly 26 years old, and though he has a nice arm the team no longer considered him an upper echelon prospect. As for Stoffel, who was the key to the deal on the Astros side, he was a bit harder to part with. At High-A ball last year he had 25 saves with an 11.72 K/9 mark, and this season at Double-A he has 13 saves. He was a 4th round draft pick after a college career at ASU as a closer.
REASON FOR DEAL
As for the reason for the deal? It’s pretty obvious.
Freddy Sanchez is on the DL with his injured shoulder. He continues to make solid progress in his recovery. However, he’s just begun to throw, the hardest part of his recovery, and though the team is hopeful he will be able to contribute this year, they simply don’t know if he will. “There are no guarantees he’s going to be ready before the season is over,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You’ve got to cover yourself.β
The middle infield news got even worse when Miguel Tejada was sent to the DL with a lower abdominal injury (Bill Hall is also on the DL). The injury comes at a bad time given that Tejada had finally started to hit (.283 over his last 32 games).
With Brandon Crawford barely hitting .200 β he’s at .201 through 139 at-bats, and Mike Fontenot best suited for a reserve role, a deal was needed.
WHO IS JEFF KEPPINGER?
Keppinger is a solid major league hitter β a βprofessional hitterβ if you will. The owner of a career .284 batting average, Jeff figures to never hurt a club in the average department, not with his superb eye at the plate. The owner of a 1.18 BB/K ratio in his career, a mark that is more than double the big league average, Keppinger swings at strikes and puts the ball in play. He has little power to speak of, only 30 homers in his career, and his .337 OBP is barely better than the league average, but given the state of the Giants offense his addition was sorely needed. Keppinger is hitting .307 this season and is coming off his best year as he batted .288 with six homers, 59 RBI, 62 runs and four steals last season in 137 games with the Astros in 2010. Stop me if those numbers sound familiar. If you can’t place why, just take a look at the back of a Freddy Sanchez ball card. The two are very similar hitters.
One other fact that has been bandied about by the local press is the success Keppinger has had against lefties this year (.421 average, 1.137 OPS in 38 at-bats). Not just a one year wonder, Keppinger has always beaten up lefties with a .337/.386/.498 slash line in 546 such at-bats.
For now the plan appears to be for Keppinger to play second on a full-time basis while Fontenot and Crawford man the shortstop position. When Tejada returns to full health, and if Sanchez returns to the fold, things will get crowded, but for now look for Keppinger to play pretty much every day as he tries to bring some offense to a club that is starved for it.