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Chicago White Sox starting second base job wide open

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Sep 24, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Starling Marte (6) slides into second before Atlanta Braves second baseman

Emilio Bonifacio

(1) can make the tag in the third inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago White Sox are not short of options at second base this spring, with four candidates realistically fighting for the honor to start Opening Day at the position April 6th against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Those vying for the job are Emilio Bonifacio, Gordon Beckham, Carlos Sanchez, and Micah Johnson. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but manager Robin Ventura must chose one, so who will it be?

First, lets take a look at each player in more depth.

Emilio Bonifacio:

Bonifacio split last season between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. He signed with the White Sox on January 8th this winter. The switch-hitting utility man hit a combined .259/.305/.345 with three homers, 24 RBIs, and stole 26 bases over the course of 2014 campaign.

Bonifacio brings versatility, speed and a decent glove at second base. He would not be leading off as that spot is held down by Adam Eaton, but he would make a fine “second lead off hitter” batting out of the nine hole should Ventura elect to make him an every day player in 2015.

Gordon Beckham:

Jul 24, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham (15) fields a ball hit by the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The White Sox win 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Back from a month and a half hiatus playing for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim following a late season trade during the White Sox disappointing (yet better-than-the-year-before) 2014. The White Sox know what they will be getting in Beckham which both helps and hurts the former Georgia Bulldogs star.

The plus? His glove.

One of the better defensive second basemen in the league, forming a dynamic double-play duo with Alexei Ramirez.

The minus? His bat.

Beckham was hitting .221 with seven home runs when he got sent to sunny California (where he hit .268 by the way) but he got himself traded because of his lack of offense, which does not give much faith to the organization, even with his familiarity.

Carlos Sanchez:

One of the biggest benefactors from the aforementioned Beckham trade, (along with the since-traded-for-Jeff-Samardzija Marcus Semien) the White Sox got to see what Sanchez could do for the final month plus of the season.

On an almost everyday basis, Sanchez played 26 games at second base last year for the Southsiders over the last two months of the season. He had a good August, hitting .317 but then faded in September, managing just a .222 average where he apparently did not adjust to the pitchers who learned how to face the former All-Star Futures Game participant. That time in the Majors can’t hurt Sanchez from an experience standpoint.

Micah Johnson:

The speedy prospect looked like he was primed for a September call-up before getting shutdown with a hamstring injury. Johnson, a left-handed hitter with who can play solid defense was hoping to make his big league debut last season.

His speed (80 out of 80 on the scouting scale) is certainly his biggest asset and his calling card, so a leg injury does bother me some, but if the idea was to get him at full-health for a spring training competition then it makes complete sense to end his season prematurely.

The experience at the game’s highest level would have been invaluable to the team’s fourth ranked prospect in addition to showing how his skills will transfer in Chicago to the White Sox front office.

Next: White Sox need less walks from bullpen

Analysis:

Despite his super-utility status, I believe Bonifacio wins the job to start the season. I do not think the White Sox start Beckham again unless he hits like he did with the Angels in spring training. Sanchez is similar to Bonifacio but can play less defensive positions. He till has rookie-eligibility, which is to say he doesn’t have the experience of Bonifacio, but can serve as a utility infielder should Bonifacio start.

Johnson meanwhile can benefit from more time in the minors, especially since he missed the last month of 2014 with an injury. Bonifacio is the safest bet for the White Sox, at least to start the season.

If this team is expecting to compete for a postseason push come September, a low-risk to start the season is better than taking a flyer on either Sanchez or Johnson and falling out of the race early. Plus, the club proved last year that they did not see Beckham as a long-term option when they traded him to Los Angeles.

Who do you think takes the job come Opening Day 2015 White Sox fans?

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