Spring is fast approaching, and my excitement is building, if for nothing else to see what warm weather feels like. Time no to take a look at the rest of the Chicago White Sox infield.
I don’t know when the White Sox will pull the plug on second baseman Gordon Beckham, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they do it earlier than later. Wasn’t it just yesterday the first round pick from Georgia was the toast of the town, hitting .270 while playing a decent third base? However, since 2009 his career has tumbled almost into oblivion. Along with a slew of horrible swings, he continues to hit the ball where they are instead of where they ain’t. I figured with Greg Walker taking the night train to Georgia, Jeff Manto would be able to get the 26 year old Beckham straightened out. Figuring he cured what ailed Alex Rios, he would do wonders with Beckham. Nope, all Beckham did was make people wonder how much longer he will be on the South Side.
Going deeper in the count, Beckham’s offense really tanked after dropping to the ninth spot in the batting order. I thought he was getting comfortable hitting in the second spot, but Kevin Youkilis acquisition dropped him down…and down…and down. After moving into the last spot in the batting order on June 25th, Beckham hit .111 over the next nine games. His previous eight game pre-Youkilis, in the second spot, he hit .366. Overall hitting just under .260 from that spot.
Does that mean he’ll be an offensive juggernaut if he is placed back in his previous position in the lineup? No, but he might improve. Amazingly, even with all his offensive troubles, Beckham plays gold-glove defense at second, making plays that saved many an ERA on the White Sox staff. If the man could just hit .270, he would be untouchable.
I’ve thought this the past couple years. Beckham needs a fresh start with a different organization.
A joke. That’s what I thought I was hearing when people broached the subject of moving on from Alexei Ramirez. The guy set the bar out of reach by hitting all the grand slams back in 2008. He is still one of the top shortstops in baseball. I can think of quite a few teams that would love to get their mitts on the Cuban Missile. He can hit, field and another great thing is he rarely takes a game off. Over the past three seasons, Ramirez has missed only 14 games. Durability at one of baseballs key positions is in short supply, and Ramirez supplies it.
The two things thing that do frustrate me about the guy is that he makes the phenomenal play, then turns around and boots the routine. It also chaps my hide that Ramirez gets off to horrible starts. Only once in his five years with the Sox has Ramirez hit better than .221 in the first month of the season. Excluding the 2012 season when he hit .245, Ramirez normally bounces back in May, hitting better that .280. Makes me wonder what his stats would look like if he came out of spring-training swinging better.
Third base belongs to Jeff Keppinger, assuming his broken fibula has healed. Since I have already talked about that in length in an earlier post, I will focus on Brent Morel. Is Morel the future, or the past? I guess it depends on the success of Keppinger. But honestly, has Morel shown he can handle major league pitching? Maybe…a little. I hate to compare him with Josh Fields, but it’s hard not to. Remember, Fields came on like gangbusters back in 2007 with 23 home runs and 67 RBIs. He never was able to match that half-season the rest of his career. On the other hand, Morel hasn’t even matched Fields. His best season was in 2011 when he had 10 home runs with 41 RBIs. Like Fields, most of Morel’s damage was done in the second half of that 2011 season.
I remember 2009 spring training, and Morel was a vacuum at third. I am not kidding when I say the guy scooped up everything within range on the left side of the infield. I have never seen that guy again. He’s had some fine moments at the hot-corner in the regular season, but the consistency isn’t there. Could his back injury been present back then? Here’s my take. If Morel comes back healthy and ready to play in February, Jeff Keppinger will still be the starting third baseman for the White Sox in 2013.
On that note, the South Siders third sackers still rank near the bottom of the Central Division. Detroit, Kansas City & Minnesota all start guys that I think are better that what the Sox have to offer. But hey, they are better than Cleveland.