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White Sox Thu Mar 27 2014
The White Sox have made some pretty significant roster moves over the last few seasons, including a handful of big transactions this offseason. The rotation has two new starters, the bullpen has new roles for everyone, and the lineup has new outfielders and corner infielders. And really, catcher is so bad that something will change there shortly.
But one position where things have been untouched -- inexplicably, too -- is second base. Gordon Beckham, the team's 2008 first round draft pick, has played there for four seasons, and this is shaping up to be his fifth. Four years at second (he played third base his rookie season) is enough of a sample size to determine that Beckham isn't a starting-caliber second baseman on this team. Sox fans realized this years ago, I know, but bear with me.
Beckham has a subpar batting average and doesn't draw many walks. He has below average isolated power. He doesn't steal bases. On offense he might have a hot streak every so often, but largely he isn't a very good hitter. Ah, but his glove. That's what Beckham is known for. Right?
Not really. Maybe he passes the eye test with local baseball viewers, but advanced stats puts him in the middle of the pack among second basemen over the last three years. Beckham is 27, so there is a sliver of hope for a breakout year (this is baseball, after all), but he probably is who he is: an acceptable second baseman for a good or great team, but a hole to fill on a bad or average team.
The White Sox won't have Beckham for Opening Day, though. He strained his oblique two weeks ago and will start the season on the DL. Marcus Semien will start the first week or so, and Leury Garcia can come off of the bench. Semien isn't a stud prospect, but he still projects to be a long-term asset for the Sox.
Whether Semien starts the year off hot or not, Beckham will be reinstated as the starter when he returns sometime in April. The Sox want Semien to play everyday somewhere, so backing up Beckham this year wouldn't work. Beckham, meanwhile, will make over $4 million in 2014 and it's not like the Sox will bench him unless Semien is a superb second baseman from the onset. Beckham is just good enough to start, which has kind of been the problem over the last four seasons.
Beckham especially stands out on a Sox roster that suddenly has youth everywhere. Before long, the Sox will replace him at second, and maybe Beckham can rebound with a change of scenery and a different role. For now, though, he'll continue to hold down a spot on the right side of the infield for the South Siders.