Trent Rosecrans has a man-crush on Jeff Keppinger. He should probably disclose that they are both University of Georgia grads.

I really like Keppinger. I’ve been advocating him for a roster spot over stiffs like Juan Castro for a while (others have, as well). Keppinger can give us three or four years of really good bench play, spot-starting a couple of times a week, and filling in around the infield.

But again, like in the case of Norris Hopper, let’s not be fooled into thinking Keppinger is more than he is based on a few weeks of hot play. He’s never done anything to make anyone believe that he’s capable of being a starter/good hitter on the major league level.

That isn’t intended to be a slam on Jeff Keppinger. I want Keppinger to be a Red for the foreseeable future. As a bench guy, he’s very capable, and he’s the type of guy who can fill in on short notice, and you won’t feel like you are getting killed (like you feel when Juan Castro or Pedro Lopez are playing). He’ll get on base a little bit, he will be alright in the field. He’s a good little player, and the type of player that good teams need.

But he’s not a world-beater, as Rosecrans wants us to believe. He’ll crash back to earth at some point, but he’ll still be the type of player I want to see on the Cincinnati roster. I just don’t want to see him in the starting lineup on a regular basis over more talented players.

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Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at

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16 Responses

  1. preach

    Agreed. With both Keppinger and Hopper I feel confident with what they give the team, but neither should start more than twice a week. I hope we keep both because a solid bench is important. Those two along with Cantu and Freel provide all the utility depth we need. With that bench, and starting Bruce, I think we have a good offense and decent defense, assuming they keep the starting core intact. Get one more solid starter, FA or developed, build up a good bullpen, and I think we can seriously compete next season (of course, I think that at the beginning of EVERY season).

  2. GregD

    I followed the Rosecrans link on the right-hand side of the page, and saw that Coutlangus has been demoted and Freel put on the DL with Gary Majewski and Eddie Guardado placed on the active roster ❓ ❓ ❓ ❗

  3. preach

    Also, is there any reason we can’t keep Hatteburg around as well? A platoon of Bruce and Hat doesn’t sound so bad, and Scott can be an emergency catcher as well as a left handed presence off the bench.

  4. Y-City Jim

    So I guess that means Keppinger is going to see outfield time since they didn’t call Bruce up and that Hopper is going to be the everyday CF until Hamilton returns. Cowards!!!

    Wonder if Gary Majewski grew any gonads and if he can throw the frickin’ ball where it needs to be.

  5. preach

    Saw that too. I guess Wayne loves his java, no matter how it’s flavored. I am a bit suprised the Count got sent down. I understand Eddie being left handed and all, but wouldn’t you still rather have him in your pen than Coffey, Stanton, or Santos? I guess Santos and Gosling are around in case you need a long man, but I say bring up Bray and go with three short men instead. Use it all for auditions for next year’s pen.

  6. Y-City Jim

    Speaking of throwing the ball where it needs to go, I have been reading (as well as watching) “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning.” Just read a part about Jim “Catfish” Hunter where they claimed he could throw the ball one to two inches from where the catcher placed his mitt. Amazing!

  7. Bill

    I find this amazing. Bouton talked in Ball Four about being surprised to find he had “pin point control” when he could throw it within about 6″ or so of where he wanted it.

  8. GregD

    With an 8-man bullpen (which is what they have at the moment), you don’t need two long men. If you would have told me yesterday that the Reds would enter the Dodgers series with an 8-man bullpen and asked me to guess what the bullpen looked like, I would have confidently placed Coutlangus in the “staying in the big leagues” column.

  9. Dan

    I think Keppinger has potential to be Mark-Loretta-like… I would not be at all ashamed to try him out as a starting 2B (Phillips at SS).

    With Gonzalez in the picture, Keppinger would be the primary middle infield backup, I agree, and I’d be very happy to see him get 300-400 PA.

    But big-picture, I think that THE most important thing a team on a budget can do is to find guys who can give you good (not even great) production in their PRE-ARBITRATION years.

    If Keppinger could be a starting 2B (or SS) and bat .280/.340/.400 with above average defense, for $350K, you are going a LONG way toward being a dangerous team.

    This is why signing Alex Gonzalez for $4.7 million to go .260/.300/.420 with good defense just doesn’t seem like a great investment to me. Not bad, just not great.

    Phillips, Bruce, EE, Hamilton, Keppinger, Votto, hopefully Homer… if we could get a few years of good production out of them cheaply, that’d be huge.

    You fill in around them w/ the expensive but great guys — in theory, Griffey, Dunn, Arroyo, Harang, etc. — and that is an excellent team.

    I just can’t stand piddling away a couple million here and there on the Castros, Rosses, Stantons, MOELLERS!!!, Cormiers, etc. of the world. Good teams are not formed that way.

  10. Sultan of Swaff

    It’s imperative that we squeeze every bit of use out of Keppinger now. These high effort, smallish types have a much shorter shelf life than more athletic players. 3 years max. If Ryan Freel we’re milk, he’d be a week past his expiration date.

  11. preach

    After the roster moves today our bullpen’s ERA has INCREASED by almost 2 full runs. I think Wayne has confused ERA with AVG. LOW numbers are better for pitchers, HIGH numbers are better for hitters. He probably looked at Majik’s stellar 15.88 and thought he had Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, and Walter Johnson wrapped up in one.

  12. Dan

    I don’t think Freel and Keppinger are very similar at all. Keppinger is not a base-stealer and not a reckless all-out defender.

    If my Mark Loretta comparisons pan out at all, Keppinger could be around a long time. (Loretta is about to turn 36, and has almost 6000 major league plate appearances, and he’s still in demand.)

  13. crypticphrasing

    Man crush or not, I thought the article was a nice introduction to Keppinger.

  14. Matt McWax

    I have a contention with the original post’s “never done anything…” remark. .320/.792 for his career is pretty nice. His major league usage has been so limited (outside of his control). Other numbers worth noting: monthly ba’s for louisville this year .360/.375/.354/.417. Continuing the consistency with a .333 in the majors, we have at least something suggesting that a cool-off isn’t imminent. He continues to see the ball well.

    The number 2 slot is such a good fit for his style plus he would continue to see good pitches.

    I don’t have an answer for the conundrum but there should, at minimum, be some criteria by which he could EARN a spot in the lineup. Perhaps it would be things like hitting well over .300, hitting a home run as a pinch hitter on days he doesn’t start, and not making errors. 😉

    The Tuesday lineup had Dunn and not Keppinger. There was no way the Reds would bench Dunn to play Kepp without the excuse of “two days off in a row” that would have occurred if the postponed game had happened. I just wonder if decisions are made too politically (Dunn .673 ops against lefties in ’07 – admittedly well below his career average but still..). “You can’t be suggesting the Reds platoon Dunn with Keppinger. That’s asinine.” Deep down, I feel the same way, but sometimes you should take a hard look at the numbers. I would’ve went with Keppinger at 1B instead of Conine and shifted the lineup down from 2 down. The reason they didn’t is probably Kepp’s limited 1B experience.

  15. Justin

    Keppinger is making his case to be on a big league team. He is smacking the ball is not wretchedly bad on defense at the moment. He has earned the spot for the rest of the season and should be in control of his destiny for next year should he carry on like he has.

  16. Stump

    Everywhere Keppinger has gone and gotten a chance, he has excelled and his teams have won. He NEVER strikes out (see his college stats), rarely hits into double plays, and he rakes. He may never hit 30 homers, but if he is up with men on, you can bet they’ll at least be advanced a base. To say his defense is average is laughable. He is being asked to play all over the field and if you look hard at the numbers including range factor projects, he’s better at each position than the so-called ‘starters’ that play regularly (encarnacion, gonzalez, phillips). I am amazed that billy beane hasn’t tried to snatch him up as he fits perfectly into his system. By the way, it is a system the low budget reds would be wise to follow.