General Manager Josh Byrnes has made it known that this off-season he is looking to bolster the starting rotation. Therefore, we at Chicken Friars have focused on free agent pitching targets that could be a good fit in San Diego.
But now I’m going to turn my attention to the offense.
Like Byrnes, I feel like the offense is pretty much set from one through eight. The second half of last season showed us what the offense was capable of. Now with a year of seasoning under their belt, this offense could be much improved from a year ago.
But it could add just one more piece.
The final piece of the puzzle should be infielder Jeff Keppinger. The 32-year-old Keppinger has been pretty consistent at the plate; over an eight-year Major League career he has posted a .288 average with 41 home runs and 225 RBIs.
I know the power numbers aren’t exactly there – he hit a career-high nine home runs last year. But I’d take a guy who has a lifetime average of .288 any day on my roster.
Plus with the changes to the dimensions at Petco Park, home run totals should improve across the board.
Not to mention the N.L. West is a hitter-friendly division with Coors Field, Chase Field, Dodger stadium and soon to be Petco Park all being hitters parks. So if Keppinger were to sign with the Friars he could see a bigger boost in his offensive production.
Keppinger is a career .308 hitter at Petco, although he has no homers and a measly three RBIs in 39-at-bats. The sample size is small but Keppinger has proven he can hit for average at Petco, and as mentioned earlier, those numbers should increase with the changes in the dimensions.
Keppinger also has the skill set to play every infield position except for first base, which could be beneficial to the Padres when wanting to give Headley and the gang a blow every now and then. His versatility could also work his way into the Padres lineup more frequently then the rest of the bench players on the roster.
The Padres traded infielder Andy Parrino last week and now have a utility hole to fill; Keppinger could be the perfect candidate to fill that hole.
He is not a big money free agent or a high risk, high reward type of player. With Keppinger the Padres know what they are getting: a good solid ball player.