When your team starts the worst offense in the Majors, you start having all sorts of good ideas on how it could improve. This may or may not be one of them.
The Padres should claim Jeff Keppinger.
Hopefully you didn’t just spit coffee on your screen.
The best part of going to a baseball game is the game, but coming in a close second are the conversations that happen at the ballpark. Especially the baseball ones. While watching the Padres over the weekend I got into a discussion on what the Padres need to do to improve the current team, which wandered around and led to Keppinger. Jeff Keppinger plays second base. With apologies to Yonder Alonso, the biggest hole in our lineup plays second base. But this isn’t a ‘sign Keppinger, DFA Jedd Gyorko‘ post, because that’s just stupid. Keppinger is 34. He is past his prime and not a long term answer for San Diego, while Gyorko is going to be here for a while. No, this move is designed to help Gyorko snap out of it.
Why does Keppinger make sense? A couple of thoughts on that. He’s a veteran, having played 818 games at the ML level over parts of 9 seasons. He’s a career .282/.329/.384 hitter, with a 92 OPS+ and 92 wRC+. Again, not the long-term answer; just bear with me. He gives the Padres another middle infielder option since they insist on deploying Alexi Amarista as an OF. Maybe what Gyorko needs at the moment is a guy with lots of experience to help him out. Yes the Padres have other veterans capable of guiding young Jedd but Jeff can also provide the seasoned perspective of a middle infielder.
Keppinger’s available right now. The White Sox requested release waivers for him on 21 May. He’s currently on a 3-year $15M contract through the end of next season. I believe that means (and correct me if I’m wrong) the Padres could sign him at the league minimum for the rest of this season, with Chicago picking up the rest. $4ooK sounds like a bargain. I’m not sure what the implications would be for 2015; I would imagine the Padres would release him after this year and not be on the hook for the remainder of his contract.
Most importantly, with Keppinger on the roster, the Padres don’t have to play Gyorko every day. It would allow the organization to send Jedd down so he can work on his swing/approach/pitch recognition/whatever it is that’s been kicking his ass this season. The Padres need his bat to be productive. It’s currently not. Maybe sending Gyorko to El Paso for some low-pressure ‘rehab’ is just what he needs. Also, with Keppinger manning 2B they could be patient with Gyorko until he figures out what it is he’s not doing right at the plate. Once Gyorko’s rediscovered his stroke, he comes back.
This is not a new approach. Something similar was done by St Louis with Kolten Wong. During his first 20 games this season,Kolten hit .225/.276/.268, and was banished to Memphis (their AAA club) for 2 weeks, while Mark Ellis started. Granted, the Cardinals had Ellis on the roster from the get-go this spring, but the similarities are there. Wong came back up on 16 May; since he’s hit .370/.452/.444 in 7 games (SSS applies, but that’s still a pretty significant improvement). His final batting line will be below those gaudy numbers, but it will definitely be above what he put up to start this season.
Jedd Gyorko is not a .160 hitter. He’s pressing and appears lost at the plate. He needs some time to rediscover his stroke. Bringing Jeff Keppinger in might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
I watched 5 of the last six home games in their entirety. The Padres were 1-4 in those games. My bad.