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John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The morning after

I wasn't at the game last night. The wife and I were coming back from dinner when Marty announced what had had happened to Jeff Keppinger. You could tell by Marty's voice what a blow it was to the team.

You've got to feel for Keppinger. He's a guy a lot of people didn't think could play every day in the big leagues, who was playing every day, playing shortstop and playing extremely well.

Where do the Reds go from here? Here's my take on the some questions that I saw in posts:

--Paul Janish is a defensive whiz. They can plug him in a short and he'll be fine defensively. But the fact that he was hitting .293 at Triple-A was a surprise. He's a guy who hit .235 with four home runs and 39 RBI in over 500 at-bats last year, splitting time between Triple-A and Double-A.

--Alex Gonzalez is a ways off from returning. He hasn't even started running yet. I'd be surprised if he's ready 30 days from now.

--Jerry Hairston Jr. is an alternative. He played short coming up. He's been sure-handed the last several years. He's athletic and brings a lot of energy.

--Chris Valaika, the shortstop at Chattanooga, is one of the best pure hitter in the Reds minor league system. Someone in the front office called him "Keppinger with more power." But he's played five games above Single-A and he's not on the 40-man. Todd Frazier is another top prospect. But he just moved to high A Sarasota.

My guess is Janish and Hairston split time until one wins the job.

Obviously, this is a huge blow. But, remember, when Gonzalez went on the bereavement list last year in July Pedro Lopez started nine straight games at short. Then one day in Atlanta, Pete Mackanin put Keppinger at short, as sort of an experiment. That worked out pretty well. The Reds need someone like Keppinger to emerge. That's a pretty tall order.


35 Comments:

at 7:11 AM Blogger Dan H said...

My guess is for Janish, having seen him a little before, he definitely is a smooth fielder with a good arm. If he can hit with 2 out and RISP he'll be fine.

 
at 7:36 AM Blogger redfuture said...

Being as discerning as Mackanin as manager is a taller order

 
at 7:59 AM Blogger srcats2 said...

Losing Keppinger is a major blow but I think Hairston will fill in well. He is a good fielder and he is hitting the ball.

 
at 8:01 AM Blogger srcats2 said...

This is a major blow to the Reds, Keppinger was playing great in this current dismal season. I do believe Hairston will fill in well however.

 
at 8:15 AM Blogger Joe said...

Janish or Hairston will have to do at short. Its' a team sport, Phillips, Dunn and Jr. are going to have to start driving in runs when the opportunities exist.

Janish may surprise us with the bat, the same way Votto and Keppinger surprised us with their defense. Who told us neither of them could play defense anyhow?

 
at 8:16 AM Blogger redsfanwoody said...

Here's to hoping it's the least serious knee-cap injury ever. Keppinger is proof that anyone talent combined with drive and determination can make himself a pretty good ballplayer.

I am hoping the Reds will fill the spot in with Janish. It's time to fill a need with a in-house prospect instead of a re-tread.

 
at 8:28 AM Blogger HoosierVirg said...

I saw the Bats play last Friday and saw three players that stood out to me. One was Janish, great glove, play him Dusty, he also had a double and triple, homered the next night. Bruce didn't play but Lehr and Hannigan also showed some signs of being ready. Tough, tough break for Kepp!

 
at 9:05 AM Blogger omnired said...

Janish didn't have a very good year last year, but he was a decent hitter in the minors prior to that. According to milb.com following the season (2007), his strike zone discipline was rated by Baseball America as the best in the organization. As long as he's got the mental makeup to adjust to the pressure of playing in the majors, good strikezone judgement usually leads to being able to replicate in the majors what you're doing in the minors.

 
at 9:13 AM Blogger robdicken said...

This definitely sucks, as he was the BEST contact hitter on the team.

On a lighter note, it was nice to see the Reds emerge victorious without him.

 
at 9:29 AM Blogger Mike said...

Say you put Janish at short, who do you put in the 2 hole? do you just move everyone up one? The lineup definitely flows better with Hairston playing short to hit in the 2 hole.

1. CF
2. Whiffey
3. Phillips
4. Votto
5. EE
6. Dunn
7. Janish
8. Catcher
9. Pitcher

 
at 9:29 AM OpenID jgats5 said...

Yeah, if he can hit with two outs and runners in scoring position he will be fine.... isn't that the case with every position player in the league?

 
at 9:30 AM OpenID Jrscheper said...

as people have said, janish is fine fielder but his stick is very suspect. Jerry hairston has done nothing to not be given this opportunity. He has hit the ball better than most of the team, I say he deserves the spot. Would be great to have his stick in the lineup every game.

 
at 9:32 AM Blogger Danny C. said...

The news about Keppinger is definitely a blow to the team - especially with the way they've played the last few games. 5-3 over their last eight games is pretty good considering how bad they've been lately. Anyhow, my thoughts and prayers go out to Jeff - hopefully the healing process will run smoothly and he'll be back in the line-up before too long. Regardless of who takes his place, now is the time for Dunn to step up and produce!

 
at 9:54 AM Blogger Phill said...

Is Jerry Gil another option? I don't know his stats on the year or if he's even playing right now so that's just me throwing an uneducated guess around.

 
at 10:06 AM Blogger Joe said...

John,

Any development on Colorado's interest in Fogg?

Is there a chance we will see Homer Bailey pitching Thursday?

Any news on how Mercker is doing?

Thanks

 
at 10:25 AM Blogger Mr. Doom and Gloom said...

silver lining could be dunn finally moving to the #2 spot where he belongs. and it frees up a spot for valaika in l'ville.

 
at 10:35 AM Blogger JerBear said...

The one advantage of Janish playing over Keppinger is maybe a little more range at shortstop from what you hear.

I've been kind of curious as to what Janish could do at the big league level so maybe in the long run (09-10) this Keppinger injury could have some injuries.

Maybe Janish can play SS every day and Keppinger can move to third or the outfield when he comes back.

He's done a great job at SS, but Keppinger is pretty versatile and wouldn't mind playing anywhere as long as he is playing every day I would think.

 
at 10:37 AM Blogger Arden Dulou said...

This is the sort of thing that could undo the team (removing the reliable RH bat) and maybe get others to carry their weight (cough Dunn, Ross cough).

I would guess Janish. This means the Reds really need Andy Phillips up on the roster.

Frustrating is a good word to describe what the first month has been like. This has to really suck for Kepp.

 
at 10:43 AM Blogger Steve said...

It's no secret Dusty favors vets so look for Jarish to get a start or two but Hariston will be at SS most of the time. No brainer!

 
at 10:47 AM Blogger Arden Dulou said...

The good news was the way the Reds won. Hustle, timely hitting, and a bunt no less from Mr. StrikeOut himself. If Bailey/Bruce come up in June then this team could get back to .500 by maybe the end of July. The question is where the rest of division will be.

Here is hoping the 'Do what Bako tells you to do' gets Cueto back on track. The Reds need him and Arroyo to pitch good.

 
at 11:01 AM Blogger Buckeye Lane said...

What in the world is the first office?

 
at 11:08 AM Blogger JackBlueAsh said...

There is no advantage to playing Janish over Keppinger, there would be no need to move Keppinger to another position, nor do we know if he would liked to be moved..

Moving players around is not good for a team.

JAB

 
at 11:10 AM Blogger Mark T said...

I fractured my patella in a skiing mishap. I had to wear a soft cast for six weeks - the leg has to be kept straight to avoid putting pressure on the kneecap, otherwise it won't heal. I was to undergo physical therapy after the cast came off, but recovered use of the joint quickly and elected to forego it.

Putting on socks was a real chore.

If his patella is broken, and not just fractured, he's gone for the season.

 
at 11:18 AM Blogger omnired said...

Why would Keppinger move to 3B when he comes back? Have you not seen Encarnacion flashing the leather the past few weeks?

 
at 11:24 AM Blogger Brandon said...

Two things: First, I'm not saying Hairston can't be the guy there at SS but in his 11 year career counting the game last night in his 11 year big league career he has played a total of 10 games at SS. Just saying.....

Second off subject: What is the deal with Valentin? Why is he wasting a roster spot when the Reds need right handed hitting and some more pitching depth. I mean heck he has had 3 AB's in the past 17 days and he sure as heck isn't going to be a defensive replacement anywhere.

Why not get rid of him and at least bring up Bailey. Throw Bailey in the starting rotation and move Belisle to long relief with Fogg. We are going to need more than the normal amount of pitchers in the bullpen to help the young arms who generally only go around 6 innings a game. The bullpen is fine now but that will start to wear on them here soon.

Just a thought it isn't even like this guy has the potential like Wily Mo did where they had to just waste a spot for him....

 
at 11:38 AM Blogger CoachD178 said...

This is a tough blow for Keppinger. I've seen him play a ton while living in Norfolk (he played for the Tides). I've always enjoyed watching him play.

But this isn't something that should hurt the Reds. It's imperative that their two highest paid position players (Griffey and Dunn) start hitting. Janish isn't close to Keppinger as a hitter but he is a far superior fielder. I've seen Janish at Dayton and Louisville. He's a slick fielder with really good instincts and soft hands.

There is plenty of talent in the lineup (Votto, Phillips, Dunn, Griffey, Encarnacion, catchers) to pick up the slack. As long as the other hitters start earning their money this could be a positive defensively for the Reds.

 
at 11:41 AM Blogger Dan said...

Implying that Keppinger is short on talent is insane. He may not have as much raw athletic ability as your average pro athlete, but he is off-the-charts talented at hitting a baseball. That can't be all a result of hard work.

As for Janish, he has a career line of .263/.355/.381 in the minors.

I hope his defense is as good as advertised, b/c I think it's unlikely he'll hit much. (That said, great defense at SS is worth a lot, IMO.)

 
at 11:55 AM Blogger Eric said...

This reminds me of the time when Rich Aurilia had to play shortstop for a period of time during the 2006 season, I believe. Everybody said that he didn't have the range to play short anymore, but because Clayton was so bad and Lopez was gone Narron ended up trying Rich there. He didn't have that much range, but made all the plays on balls he got to, similarly to Keppinger.

My point is, Freel could play short! If you can play second and third well, like he has, there's no reason that he can't play shortstop. Hairston could play there as well, and the Reds could finally bring up Bruce. I don't know why Freel's never been given a chance at shortstop, maybe because of a "lack of range," but you can't tell me that Keppinger has more range than Freel. Bruce would significantly help this team offensively.

 
at 12:45 PM Blogger JF said...

Kepp has to get back here ASAP, and Bruce needs to be here RIGHT NOW.

Starting pitching will continue to make or break this team until Harang and Volquez are not the only two reliable options in the rotation.

Keppinger in a full leg cast is faster than a healthy Alex Gonzalez. When are we going to call up more youngsters and get rid of the deadwood on this team?

 
at 1:06 PM Blogger Jeff said...

Even if Janish is a defensive upgrade, defense has not been the Reds' problem. Keppinger has been good defensively and has proven to be extremely important to the team offensively. This is where the team needs all of the help it can get.

 
at 1:39 PM Blogger Mike said...

It's just simply incredible...I read the blog..and there are still people who say" Dunn needs to bat #2..That's where he belongs! " People..there are 7 reasons Dunn should NOT and CANNOT bat #2:
1. He is not a contact hitter
2. He strikes out as much as he walks
3. He is not agressive..he would rather walk, that obvious.
4. He cannot bunt( or else he would be doing it when the shift is on )
5. He absolutley has no speed..if he is the lead runner on the base paths..it's like following a double tandem semi truck up a hill!
6. Speed is a weapon at the top of the order..Dunn will clog it up.
7. At .203..call him Adam Mendoza

Baker has found a home for him at #7, solidifying the 7 reasons he should be there.

 
at 3:00 PM Blogger Cheviot Sports Authority said...

Good post Mike. The only better place for Dunn to hit rather than seventh would be on a different team.
ST CSA

 
at 3:18 PM Blogger Mr. Doom and Gloom said...

mike...take a look at adam dunn's career splits from the #2 hole comapred to all other spots in the order and get back to us.

until then, you're just spouting off conventional baseball wisdom that doesn't stand up to statistical analysis. you sound like dustbag with the clogging up the bases stuff.

 
at 5:49 PM Blogger Red Faced said...

Gotta go with Mike on this one. Dunn in the #2 hole is asking for trouble. I like him hitting 6th or 7th personally.

 
at 9:10 AM Blogger robdicken said...

mike...take a look at adam dunn's career splits from the #2 hole comapred to all other spots in the order and get back to us.

until then, you're just spouting off conventional baseball wisdom that doesn't stand up to statistical analysis. you sound like dustbag with the clogging up the bases stuff.


Could agree with you more!

If you look at Adam Dunn's numbers, he has produced significantly MORE from the #2 spot throughout his career. Not to mention, within the #2 spot, you have to have someone that can get on base and Adam Dunn can do that.

 
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