Astros call up 5-foot-7 second baseman Jose Altuve

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The Astros likely got a little worse Tuesday with Jeff Keppinger’s departure, but they also got a little more interesting.

Jose Altuve is listed at 5-foot-7, but according to just about everyone who has seen him in person, he’s likely much closer to 5-foot-5.  And now he’s the game’s most compact major leaguer after being called up from Double-A to take over at second base.

Altuve was absolutely tearing it up in the minors this season.  He started out at Single-A Lancaster and batted .408/.451/.606 with five homers and 19 steals in what, admittedly, is a fantastic environment for hitters.  He hadn’t slowed too much following the move up to Double-A, though.  He was hitting .361/.388/.569 in 35 games for his new team.  Overall, he was at .389/.426/.591 with 10 homers and 24 steals in 357 at-bats.

The Astros are almost certainly rushing Altuve.  He’s just 21, and it’s not at all likely that he’s ready to hit for power in the majors.  Still, he’s the most intriguing position player they’ve developed since Hunter Pence, and given that the Astros are in need of a little excitement, it’s not too surprising that they chose to give him a look.

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as new manager

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The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.

Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.

Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.

Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.