Sequels are often no more than bland rehashes of well-worn formulas, but perhaps not since Evil Dead II has a new chapter of a running series as blatantly acknowledged and winked at its own repetitiveness as the latest comments from Gordon Beckham expressing optimism that a new season will bring the end of his offensive struggles.
"“I’m sure people are tired of hearing that I turned a corner,” Beckham said. “I’m tired of hearing it to be honest. I believe I belong and I want to show what I believe. I have a great family behind me, a great support staff, a great team, a great organization. There’s a lot that don’t believe, but the organization does, and that says enough.”"
Not that Beckham should say anything different. He certainly shouldn’t stop being optimistic, but his argument, which Scott Merkin lends some background information to, that the 2012 season is fine if you disregard two non-consecutive months of slump-action is an odd one.
"“Anybody could say that every year,” Beckham said."
Yes, that would be the flaw with that logic, even with the extra context of how much better Beckham felt with his process added. There’s also no discussion of the September switch to a crouched batting stance and accompanying power spike, but optimism on a tweak in Beckham’s swing might ring even more hollow than just optimism for optimism’s sake. This is all well-worn territory.
Two more notes caught my ear in a curious way.
First, Merkin makes mention of Beckham’s engagement and Robin Ventura’s regime as calming influences that offer stability. Ventura’s steady hand has been mentioned plenty, and there’s a calmness and clarity that comes with engagement. But calm and stable doesn’t seem like something that should be in the greatest supply for Beckham.
There’s a 2nd base prospect being raced through the system that could take his job soon, his arbitration price is rising, and the assessment of his performance will soon transition from “Well, it’s not like they can do better” to “Surely they can get this for cheaper,” unless it improves.
Finally, Merkin acknowledged that Beckham’s struggles might be overcome, but that early aspirations that his production at the plate would rival Michael Young’s have probably gone by the board at this point. They’re quite different players, but it seems like mentioning that Michael Young was trash at the plate until he turned 25, or that Chase Utley wasn’t an above-average MLB hitter until he was 26, and that Gordon Beckham is still only 25, would be a staple of any optimistic piece about him.
Neither Young nor Utley had as many at-bats as Beckham has already had before they broke out, and neither had the stark period of regression. But also neither were prospects as heralded as Beckham (Young never even broke into a BA Top 100 list), and did not face the same scrutiny for their age 22-24 seasons. It could very easily mean nothing, but it’s one of those factoids to keep in your back pocket, in case it suddenly becomes relevant.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan