Assuming the Reds are able to trade Gonzalez this offseason, would you rather have Keppinger at SS? Or would you rather Alex start and Keppinger be a super utility player? Or would you rather move EE and slide Keppinger to 3B? The former seems to be more likely and to keep this poll easier, we'll stick with that.
So let's look at some facts...
First we'll start with Gonzalez. First off, my heart goes out his son. Such a tough spot to be in and probably has had some sort of affect on his play offensively or defensively. On the plus side for Alex, he has hit 16 HRs in only 91 games. It's probably safe to say in GAB that he would've hit 25+ which is pretty exceptional for a guy not usually thought of to be a power hitter. Most of his other offensive stats are pretty much on par for his career or would balance out to be over the course of a season. The other plus is that the guy has great range at SS with a very good arm.
Now for the cons. Alex, at best, is an average major league hitter, and that may be a little generous. He strikes out quite a bit and has poor plate discilpine. He doesn't take walks and has a career OBP of under 300. Defensively, he's had 15 errors this season in 91 games. The last time he was on pace for that many errors or more was in 2001 (where he had 26). Again, it's hard to say whether or not his son plays a role in the errors portion of his game, but most of his offensive stats are on par with previous seasons and it's unlikely that Cincy was going to be the place he had a big offensive breakout season. Alex is also 30 and is making $3.5 million this year.
Let's move to Keppinger...
For the pros, in 106 ABs, he's hitting .368 with an OBP of .437. The guy has only struck out 5 times in 106 ABs. He's slugging .528 and he's OPS'ing at .965. Defensively, he has only committed 1 error in 16 starts at SS. Jeff is 27 years old and he is also making over $3 million less than Gonzo.
For the cons, the sample size of his play is small as a Red. Though he is still sporting a mlb career .312 batting average in almost 300 Abs (his OBP is almost .370 career). So even with the small sample size, it seems like the guy does have plate discipline and knows how to hit. Jeff does not have much power. He's hit 7 career home runs and doesn't seem to hit a lot of extra base hits either. Defensively, he simply does not have the range that Gonzo does and I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but his throw is a little awkward. It has seemed to do the trick thus far though.
So, the question really comes down to, are you willing to take a defensive dropoff for an offensive boost? And by no means has Kepp played bad defense, he just doesn't have the same range as Gonzo. It also comes down to whether or not you want to save some money and is Alex movable to another team (which I think he is and may land an okay prospect in addition).
Since the Reds don't have a lot of RH bats and a lot of guys that hit with contact and have high OBP's, I say keep Kepp at SS and try to trade Gonzo if possible. Thus far, it just seems like really good things happen when he is in the lineup.
What does everyone else think?