This is the both a casual, lazy diss comp and stunningly accurate with numerous parallels. I could dredge up other instances of familiar utility infielders whose roles expanded beyond initial plans because their managers' love of their reliability trumped cold assessment of their skill level and statistical production. But probably the most relatable example for this audience is current situation on the West Side, where a seemingly innocuous bench player has their role expanded until it is a blinding hindrance.
Beckham has been brought on to provide a reliable glove all over the infield, maye slap lefties around a bit, a role for which he seems decently-suited. But in the space of his old job, a job he was trusted by Robin Ventura to carry out less than a year ago, are a cadre of youngsters--Carlos Sanchez, maybe Micah Johnson, perhaps even Tyler Saladino--capable of looking worse than Beckham's worst, especially if they never get a chance to develop into their best.
Thursday night, Tony Snell just shot the lights out for the third time in the last four games, as he continues to flourish in the freedom and regular playing time brought on by Kirk Hinrich's absence. 23 and in his second season, Snell unquestionably has more upside than the 34-year-old Hinrich, but the safety of sterling defensive reputation outlives its source material, and often ignores when the offensive shortcomings that reputation used to underwrite have gotten considerably worse.
Hinrich's cache with the Bulls is more rooted in romanticizing his role in tangible events than unshakable dreams of projection. He shot under 40% his first two seasons in the league and had limitations in plain sight for anyone who cared to look, but was still the starting point guard of the first post-Jordan Bulls playoff team, caught fire and scored 34 points as they took a 2-0 lead in a series that they would eventually punt into the lake, and centered himself in a halcyon moment of the franchise. Derrick Rose forced the franchise to make a clear decision that there were better options than him and they had to take it, prompting Hinrich's departure and return as an organizational soldier rather than an outmoded starter.
Beckham was barely gone in terms of games the Sox spent without him on the roster, but his status has gone through the same transformation. The bar for objective performance for 'veteran depth' is miles below that of 'long-term solution.' But hopefully the similarities end there. This is not basketball; there's a much longer period to let young players breathe and grow, even if the results are less indicative of anything, and while rolling with veteran crappiness so long as its reliable is a tendency of every manager, Ventura probably deserves more credit than one of the most famously risk-averse and shortsighted coach in professional sports.
If anything, the key differentiation is the management structure, where Ventura is routinely lauded by his superiors and enjoys a relationship full of productive communication, rather than the Cold War on Madison Ave. where advised adjustments to playing time could be met with open resistance. As creepily similar as their paths might be at this point, Beckham isn't really Hinrich until he's an overused and blatantly ineffective albatross, and well, time will tell.