Gordon Beckham was a shortstop in college. This is true of a lot of guys who quite obviously will never stay at that position, but Beckham was always considered a guy who could handle it. It wasn’t until last night, however, that Beckham got his first innings at shortstop in the majors.
The White Sox have gone through a whole lot of effort to make sure they always had a backup shortstop around for Alexei Ramirez other than Gordon Beckham. They hung on to Omar Vizquel long after it was clear it was actively hurting the team. They have rushed guys like Eduardo Escobar to the majors, and given roster spots to people like Angel Sanchez and Ray Olmedo all in the name of having a backup shortstop other than Gordon Beckham. I’m not sure if it was to make roles clear, or to avoid controversy. Perhaps the thought process was simply that Beckham clearly had enough to worry about with his bat and didn’t need the added stress of playing a harder position. But to me, I always thought that Beckham should be the backup shortstop in an emergency – after all, Alexei has played 156 or 158 games each of the last 3 seasons – and then you could worry about filling in at short or second if Alexei were out for an extended period of time.
Last night Gordon Beckham shifted to shortstop for Alexei Ramirez in a blowout loss. What could this possibly mean?
Well, we all know the fire sale is coming, so long as all of the valuable trade pieces don’t get injured at the worst possible time. I was surprised to see Alexei’s name mentioned as a possible trade piece. With his contract and nonexistent power, I figured he was on the team to stay. But shortstop is a dire position league-wide. Alexei has a nice glove, is doinking singles, and stealing bases as a very good clip. If you look at the articles from reporters and rumor mongers, Ramirez has actually been on the trade radar.
Could it be that we see Alexei Ramirez traded in the next few weeks and Gordon Beckham installed at shortstop moving forward? It would clean up some of the expensive redundant parts floating around the infield. It’s a shame Carlos Sanchez is struggling so much at AAA, although not to be unexpected given his age. Given that he is, it would set up for a Gillaspie-Beckham-Keppinger-Something infield moving forward. Not exactly inspiring, but cheap and potentially somewhat effective. You would have very similar production out of those three positions from what you have now, but shave off anywhere from $5-7 million a year in money owed to Alexei.
It would certainly solve the question of, “What do the White Sox do with an increasingly expensive Beckham?”
On June 22nd I wrote an article about how Gordon Beckham hasn’t hit for years, and has only been putting up the emptiest of batting averages. Naturally since then he has hit .378/.395/.541. Whether or not Beckham has taken a step forward at the plate, even through the down years his numbers are a reasonable approximation of Alexei’s value, with OPS+ figures somewhere in the 70s. Ramirez’ glove is almost certainly better, but not enough to make up for the price difference, and Beckham is making the argument that there’s more upside to his bat than Alexei’s.
I think everyone expected Gordon Beckham to play shortstop in the majors before Tim Beckham would. I just don’t think they thought it would take until 2013 for it to happen. Maybe it means something that the White Sox, after all of these years, let Gordon slide to the 6 slot on the diamond for an inning or two. They spent so much humiliating effort to prevent it from ever happening until now. Then again, it could have just been Gordon sliding to the 6 slot for an inning or two.