Sometime during the Viciedo retrospective, the staff of The Catbird Seat got somewhat distracted and started gabbing about Gordon Beckham returning on a one-year, $2 million deal.
Ethan: Well, if we gonna talk Beckham, I think it’s a fine signing if used correctly. He’s by no means a starting MLB regular, but he has enough defensive ability (I do think that defensive metrics undervalue him) and versatility that he works if they use him as a utility dude to complement Bonifacio.
James: Sure, let’s flesh this all the way out. I think Beckham is the final coronation of a trend we have seen play out all year. The White Sox, as any sane rebuilding team should, have been leaving bench spots and relief spots to quad-A org depth, live-arm fliers, underrated groundballers, etc. That burnt out as bad as it could go last season. Leury Garcia, Ronald Belisario, Scott Downs; are all responsible for a 2015 roster that’s full of bench guys with high floors. And the Sox paid up for those high floors.
Now, when you’re kicking $6 million per on two backup utility infielders when you have Carlos Sanchez and Tyler Saladino….might be a little weird. But you can see what they have reacted to here.
Nick: For sure, I think Beckham has his uses; but if it’s a matter of trusting Ventura I’m not sure I can do that. The most obvious good thing is that it probably means Leury Garcia will be gone.
The bench right now looks like Gordon Beckham, Emilio Bonifacio, Geovany Soto, and J.B. Shuck, which is a huge improvement and much more flexible roster than last year.
James: I don’t trust anyone in the org. Is it all Ventura? Hahn weighs in on who breaks camp. If everyone’s meh, is he giving Sanchez the nod on Opening Day over Beckham? I don’t trust that.
Nick: That turned skeptical really fast. Hahn has probably earned the benefit of the doubt so far, right?
James: He’s not an idiot. But it’s your starting second baseman of the last five years. They’re not going to have to take his job away from him?
Ethan: It did sound like he signed on with the idea he’d be a utility player who could fight for more (god I hope he doesn’t scorch spring training and “win” the job). If he’s that, I’m fine with it. But then again, are we even confident Sanchez/Johnson/Saladino are even better short-term than Beckham?
I also find this interesting because I assumed the Sox would break camp with two of Johnson/Saladino/Sanchez. I guess that’s out of the picture now?
James: We’re not confident, which is why Beckham is going to beat them and cling to his job longer than he should. He’s also going to look a lot sharper in Spring. He’s got more familiarity working with Alexei, he’s got more experience running their shifts, he’s going to be more polished.
Nick: Yeah, I mean, the concern is they just throw him back at second base every day. I have a hard time believing there wasn’t somebody who could do the same thing for roughly the same price that doesn’t have such a tortured history with the organization.
Nick: They’re doing a 12-man pitching staff, presumably, so 13 spots for position players.
Ethan: That’s what my roster looked like when I made a makeshift roster in Stats class today as the news of the Beckham signing broke, except maybe I had Johnson over Sanchez. I guess with Bonifacio’s versatility they could go with Sanchez/Beckham/Johnson but I think they use Shuck.
James: Someone suggested Campana for fifth outfielder on Twitter and I just didn’t engage because I didn’t think it was worth yelling at a friendly guy. It’s like Beckham; it’s not a poisonous idea inherently, it’s just a tortured history and fear of overuse and overvalue. That said, Shuck has actually gotten on base on his own before in life.
Nick: Campana will be useful in September when rosters expand to 40 and you can be really aggressive pinch running him late in games against teams with catchers who can’t throw. That’s about it.
Ethan: I’d rather have Quintin Berry than Campana, because there’s a law that Quintin Berry has to be on a playoff team I think. Also Campana and Johnson are pretty damn redundant I’d think.
Nick: And what happens if you do that 13 and Micah Johnson just annihilates AAA. It’s a good problem to have, but then what...you jettison Shuck I suppose?
Given the recent history of the franchise, I trust hitters that were developed in other systems more than ours. Reflects Hahn’s strategy too, really.
Ethan: Also worth noting that Shuck was pretty damn serviceable just two years ago. If he’s that guy he’s a really nice fourth/fifth outfielder.
Nick: Oh yeah, 2013 Shuck was super legit. So much better than Dayan Viciedo!
Collin: I’m going to have to resist the urge to tweet “Awww, Shucks” every time J.B. does anything good or bad.
Ethan: Can’t wait until he’s inevitably DFA’d (during the season or afterwards), when that joke will be most prime.
James: He’s a friend of a friend. Fringe chance of writing something nasty about him and then seeing him in person. Would probably be at a bar, too.
Ethan: That’d be like the multiple times I’ve gotten caught subtweeting makers of bad baseball analysis and called out for it, except way worse because it involves talking to someone in real life.
James: I’m taller and heavier than J.B., so there’s that, but only one of those is in the good way.
Ethan: Similarly, I generally have less followers than those I subtweet. I live in the danger zone.
James: We’ve all learned a lesson tod--ahhh, I’ve learned nothing and refuse to change.
Ethan: I learned Gordon Beckham’s White Sox career is like a cockroach. You can’t kill it. Perhaps I should’ve realized this before.
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