Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jeff Keppinger's Kneecap Exploded...Now What?

(Important: If you're looking for my "Trade Griffey To Seattle" post, you'll have to scroll down to find it. I hate myself for inconveniencing you the extra 2.3 seconds it will take to locate said literature.)

I have no idea how long Jeff Keppinger will be out, but I suspect it will be longer than a 15-day DL stint. Assuming I'm correct, two things must happen.

1. Ryan Freel should start taking grounders at short until he figures it out. He's shown a good glove at second and third--and his arm is probably stronger than Keppinger's--so I'm guessing this task, although difficult, won't be impossible. As much as the little rat annoys me, he's one of the best eight guys on the team, and his team is in dire need of his versatility.

The alternatives are nothing to get excited about.

a. There's Paul Janish at AAA Louisville, who will provide stability defensively, but next to nothing at the plate. The Reds are already struggling offensively, and they can't afford Janish to join David Ross and Corey Patterson in the 0-4 Club.

b. Of course, you could always move Brandon Phillips over from second, but I hate that idea. His offense is more important than ever with Keppinger out, and the last thing this team needs from Phillips is for him to become a headcase as a result of a few booted balls at short. Maybe the transition would be easier for Phillips than I realize, but I'd rather keep him at second to be safe.

c. Jerry Hairston Jr. Eeesh. Is this the guy you want playing short on a regular basis? Me neither. Platooning is one thing, but this is another. He's been a pleasant surprise thus far and I'd like him to stay in his current situation.

Regardless, my opinion doesn't matter. Which means that a Hairston/Janish platoon is almost a certainty.

But who cares? Because the most obvious move staring the Reds in the face after the Keppinger injury is...

2. Calling up Jay Bruce. Yes, Keppinger is a right-handed shortstop and Bruce is a left-handed outfielder, but, as mentioned earlier, this team is starving for offense. The team needs a spark, and Bruce would give it to them. In fact, my not-so-bold prediction is that Bruce would be the best player on the team the second he is on the big league roster.

Think about that. The best player on the team might not even be on the team.

The Reds now sit at 17-23, and, in the NL Central, that means they are alive and well. But the longer they keep Bruce (who is hitting .576 over his last ten games, and .352 overall) down, the longer their odds are of competing for an NL Central title.

That is all.

(Note: Craig and I will be recording Wednesday afternoon. My goal is to post a new podcast before bedtime.)

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)