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Chicago White Sox: Is Jeff Keppinger the Next Mark Teahen?

Jeff Keppinger may be many useful things to a ball club. A full-time third baseman may not be one of them.
Jeff Keppinger may be many useful things to a ball club. A full-time third baseman may not be one of them.Charles Sonnenblick/Getty Images
Jon FromiSenior Analyst IDecember 5, 2012

The Chicago White Sox would like you to believe that they have found a player to fill the void at third base. That could only have been done if they had signed a third baseman.

In inking Jeff Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million contract Wednesday, the White Sox went down the middle of the road in addressing the hot comer. They could have brought back Kevin Youkilis for another spin on the dance floor, but didn't.

They could have shown the patience of a saint and given Brent Morel another chance, but they didn't.

Instead, White Sox GM Rick Hahn made the kind of pick up that could backfire in a similar fashion to the last third base solution Hahn's predecessor acquired. Remember Mark Teahen?

We all remember Teahen as the third baseman that turned out to be little more than an expensive utility player on the South Side. Like Teahen, Keppinger leaves much to be desired with the glove at third base.

Hahn didn't sign a third baseman. He signed an infielder who has played third base.

Keppinger did play 50 games at third while Evan Longoria was injured for Tampa Bay last season. However, his history shows him to be a middle infielder who has seen limited duty at the third sack.

If Hahn was looking to solidify the depth of his infield, he may have found his man. If he expects Keppinger to hold down third base for all of the 2013 season, this is a rather underwhelming signing.

You could make a case that Keppinger fills the second spot in the batting order, though he doesn't hit right-handers particularly well and isn't fleet of foot. Besides, it isn't a lock that he will play 130 games at a position that he has played in just 157 games over his eight seasons in the league.

Despite a career-high nine homers for the Rays in 2012, it's hard to project big numbers for a player who averaged .272 from 2008 to 2010 when he was getting big playing time in Cincinnati and Houston. Mostly at second base, I might add.

Keppinger is currently recovering from a broken leg sustained in a fall at his home, but should be fine by the time spring training rolls around. When that happens, will the White Sox be ready to hand him the job at third base?

My hope is no. As part of some sort of platoon or as a dependable infield reserve for Robin Ventura, this really isn't a bad signing for the money. It just doesn't strike me as a move that locks down an important position for the White Sox.

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