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Giants acquire Jeff Keppinger from Astros, call up Brandon Belt

Jul 19, 2011, 6:14 PM EDT

Jeff Keppinger AP

The Giants made a couple of key changes on Tuesday, acquiring infielder Jeff Keppinger from the Astros for RHP Henry Sosa and RHP Jason Stoffel and calling up Brandon Belt from Triple-A Fresno.

Keppinger has been on the trade block ever since he returned from foot surgery at the end of May.  Since replacing Bill Hall as the Astros’ primary second baseman, he’s hit .307/.320/.436 with four homers and 20 RBI in 163 at-bats.  Rarely one to swing and miss, he had just four walks and seven strikeouts in 43 games.  Last year, he hit .288/.351/.393 in 514 at-bats for Houston.

The 31-year-old Keppinger will fill the hole at second base the Giants have dealt with ever since losing Freddy Sanchez to a shoulder injury.  The Giants originally picked up Hall after he was released by the Astros, but he struggled and is currently on the DL.  If Sanchez is able to avoid season-ending surgery and return next month, then Keppinger will likely slide into a utility role.

The cost for Keppinger was a pair of modest prospects.  Sosa, 25, was one regarded as one of the Giants’ best prospects, but his stock as slipped the last couple of years.  The Giants shifted him to the pen in Triple-A this year with brutal results; he had a 10.41 ERA in 17 appearances before being sent back to Double-A.  Restored to the rotation in the Eastern League, he had a 2.68 ERA and a 36/8 K/BB ratio in 40 1/3 innings.

Stoffel, 22, was also pitching for Double-A Richmond and had a 3.98 ERA as the team’s primary closer.

The Astros should be pleased if one of the two turns into a decent bullpen arm for the team.

The Giants also recalled Belt after he hit .293/.442/.610 with three homers in 12 games for Triple-A Fresno.  He’ll likely get Pat Burrell‘s at-bats in left field for now.

21-year-old catcher Hector Sanchez, who was just called up last week, was returned to the minors.  He played in three games and went 0-for-3.

To replace Keppinger, the Astros called up one of their top prospects, Jose Altuve, from Double-A Corpus Christi.

  1. dkmuldoon - Jul 19, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    Any word on the other roster move? Belt takes Sanchez’ spot, but who’s out to make room for Keppinger?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 19, 2011 at 6:44 PM

      Keppinger probably won’t report until tomorrow, so no word yet. Burriss would seem to be the obvious choice to go.

      • thekcubrats - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:25 AM

        Are you ever right? About anything?

      • chomsky66 - Jul 20, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        what are all the thumbs-ups for?? Burriss isn’t going anywhere; they DL’d Tejada and are sending down Hector Sanchez, something the team signaled yesterday.

      • thekcubrats - Jul 20, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        Special Olympics scoring?

        Seriously, Matthew, you gotta get better contacts or pay more attention or something; this seat of the pants barstooling adds nothing to the conversation.

  2. skerney - Jul 19, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    This isn’t an alex sanchez, ricky ledee, jose guillen move. this is straight up cody ross.

  3. 5thbase - Jul 19, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Was at a Little League all-star game last week and my 14 year old son pointed at a spectator and said “that looks like Freddy Sanchez … but not really.” Funny thing is that it was Freddy. Not really funny, but it’s true and mildly relevant since he’s mentioned here. And who else am I going to tell anyway?

  4. bigleagues - Jul 19, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    This is why Brian Sabean (while coarse in demeanor) is one of the best GM’s in baseball and has held that job with virtually no worries of job security through two different ownerships. He also has a great support staff that has been in place fo a long time.

    Brilliant move to plug a glaring hole and find some offense without having to give up (a horse from) the farm.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 19, 2011 at 7:00 PM

      Keppinger is a nice little stopgap, and he’ll be especially useful to have around as a part-timer if Sanchez makes it back. That said, Sabean could have had Mark Ellis a couple of weeks ago for an even smaller price.

      • bigleagues - Jul 20, 2011 at 2:51 AM

        I just checked.

        So the A’s are picking up $2M of Ellis’ remaining $3M from his $6M contract, meaning the Rockies will be on the hook for $1M.

        The Giants are paying the balance of Keppinger’s $2.3M salary, which if my calculations are correct, is about $1M – give or take a hundred grand.

        The Rockies gave up one non-prospect and PTBNL.

        The Giants gave up two non-prospects.

        At this point in Ellis career, he and Keppinger are virtually identical players offensively and defensively.

        I see this as a wash.

      • thekcubrats - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:39 AM

        See my comment above.

        I must say, this is a great move for the G, at practically no cost. But also? Sabean is hardly a great or even good GM, despite the fact that every Michael Tucker/PZ/Rentboy prayer he tried last year post DeRosa happened to come up blackjack, while the Pads conveniently conspired to blow the division lead down the stretch and on the last day to cement his “genius.” His first halting, addled move to cover Freddy was the guy Keppinger replaced, now DL’d thankfully. How’d that work out?

  5. bigxrob - Jul 19, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    What is Mat Latos’ opinion of this move?

    • skerney - Jul 19, 2011 at 7:00 PM

      “Just slapping a Giants jersey on another player. We’ve been not scoring runs with the same team since we broke camp. I hate San Francisco.”

  6. chomsky66 - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    “Since replacing Bill Hall as the Astros’ primary second baseman”

    Sabean’s not into irony

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