The defending world champs made a move Tuesday to add some punch to their struggling offense by dealing for Astros INF Jeff Keppinger. The first-place Giants have ridden their celebrated pitching to the top of the division and GM Brian Sabean looked to the offense as an area needing improvement.
In another move, Brandon Belt was brought back up and put into the starting lineup against the Dodgers. Belt was just named PCL Player of the Week and promptly homered in his first AB back in San Francisco.
The Giants sent minor leaguer pitcher Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel to Houston in exchange for Keppinger.
Keppinger is a versatile utility man with pop, which benefits the Giants who have lost 2B Freddy Sanchez for the year and aren’t getting much offense from the middle infield positions. SS Brandon Crawford has flashed a solid glove in the field but has a .197/.281/.277 line despite making a huge splash with a grand slam in his debut. 2B has been held down mostly by Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burriss with little coming in the way of offense.
Keppinger, meanwhile, returned from foot surgery on May 31 and is having a solid year at the plate, .307/.320/.436. The Giants will pick up about $900K of Keppinger’s 2011 salary total of $2.3M.
Belt’s return allows the phenom to fill in for the ailing Aubrey Huff while keeping Pablo Sandoval and his hot bat at the 3B position. Huff is battling a lower back problem while batting .232/.286/.359. In his last 10 games “Huff Daddy” is hitting .167 with 1 HR, 2 BB and 8 K’s.