Keppinger was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round of the 2001 draft out of the University of Georgia. As would be expected for a good college player, Keppinger rose quickly through the minors and made his major league debut for the Mets in 2004 (he arrived in the Kris Benson trade that year). For some reason, however, Keppinger hasn't yet been able to stick in the major leagues despite strong performances in AAA the last few years.
I like him too. He has been a high-average hitter in the minors, but he usually has walked at a decent clip as well, which puts his OBP in a good place. He has slugged anywhere from 0.350 to 0.450 in the minors, which isn't great...though if he could pull off an 0.370 OBP and an 0.450 SLG off the bench, he'd be a heck of a pickup. Heck, even a 0.350 OBP / 0.400 SLG can be a valuable guy to have around, especially if he has the bat control to get the bat on the ball in key situations (and apparently, he does).
Defensively, he seems fairly average. Minorleaguesplits.com rates him as -5 plays/year at 2B last year (slightly below average), but above average at 3B and left field. Baseball Prospectus' defensive numbers are similarly average. So he's not going to replace Juan Castro as the defensive specialist on the team, though he shouldn't be a liability either.
As I see it, the primary knock against Kippenger is his age. He'll turn 27 in late April, which means that this and next year should be his peak. And, unless there are multiple injuries, it's very unlikely that he will start. The Reds already have three excellent players at the positions he can play (Phillips, Encarnacion, and Dunn). Furthermore, he will also have to contend with supersub Ryan Freel whenever there is an opening.
And that's assuming that he makes the club at all, which is far from guaranteed. In fact, I'm having a hard time figuring out where he might fit in. By my figures, 12 pitchers plus the eight regular position players fill 20 spots on the active roster, leaving five for bench players. Javier Valentin plus Chad "what-is-the-point-of-me" Moeller leaves three spots. Add Freel (I'm assuming Denorfia will be in center or right, depending on what they do with Griffey), Conine, and Juan Castro, and there's no more room, even for someone like Josh Hamilton...who you'd think would at least get a shot to make the team, right? ::sigh:: You have to wonder if Krivsky is almost hoping for an injury.
Finally, let's look at who we lost:
The shuttling back and forth between Louisville and Cincinnati over the past three years expired his option years. I think it's a shame to lose the kid for nothing, but I also don't see this as something that will have much of an impact on the Reds' team performance, now or in the future. I also think that Kippenger has a better chance of helping the Reds, now and a few years down the road. If we can find some room for him.