Let’s go around the horn, shall we? Ever since Joe Crede left, (some might even say Robin Ventura) there has been a considerable hole at third base for the White Sox. Mark Teahen was a bust and young Brent Morel is becoming old Brent Morel before our very eyes. I must admit I was hopeful for Brent, I love it when I guy comes up from the minor system to make good. I suppose there is still a chance Brent will come around, but this baseball is a cruel business, no? Speaking of business decisions, the stopgap solution of last year, Kevin Youkilis was allowed to walk away without so much as a goodbye. I can’t really fault the White Sox for that decision. Youk was fun to have around, but he just wasn’t worth the money he was in line to get for 2013. Besides, it will be nice to go back to cheering against him and watching Yankee fans swallow hard and cheer for their former public enemy number one.
Which brings us to the 2013 “Hope for the Best at Third Base” blog post. This year’s contestant comes to us from the Tampa Bay Rays, Jeff Keppinger. The Sox front office have been playing up his versatility and ability to play multiple positions around the infield, but if he plays more than 15 games at any one position other than third base, the White Sox have a problem.* Keppinger did pretty well last year, posting a .325/.337/.439 line with very little power. The hope is that US Cellular will add to the homerun total of 9, I’m thinking 15 homeruns this year would be a great boon. He has no speed to speak of, and at 32 he’ll fit in well with quite possibly the slowest running team in the major leagues.
*Unless they move Gordon Beckham for a better third baseman, shift Keppinger to second. I don’t see them trading Ramirez or Konerko at this point and the outfield seems pretty set as well. Truthfully, I don’t think there would be many takers for Beckham, especially willing to offer anything resembling an upgrade at any position. Just a little pie in the sky thinking. If I can’t do that during spring training, when can I?
Keppinger’s projections from Bill James were based on Keppinger still being in Tampa, but other than the aforementioned power increase, which James puts at 7 home runs, I doubt the averages line would move much which is a decent .290/.342/.392 even better than Youkilis’s projections for 2013. I was told early on after the trade was made not to compare this signing with Teahen, but it is hard not to feel a little trepidation. Not so much in the numbers, Keppinger is clearly better, but he is also older than Teahen was at the time. What is more, it’s just the feeling that this will be another White Sox signing that doesn’t pan out. I haven’t ever run down the signings over the last few years, but I’m sure it would look pretty even. (ooh, another post idea!) It’s just easier to remember the bad than the good. Even so, I’m cautiously optimistic for third base in 2013.