Gordon Beckham is no longer a youngster looking to find his way. It is time he starts to hit the ball or take a hike.
News broke on Friday afternoon that the White Sox agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.925 million contract with Gordon Beckham to avoid arbitration. The second baseman received a raise of $2.405 million over last season, when he took home $520,000. Assuming he plays the full season, he is due to get another raise next year in his second year of arbitration. I would guess that his salary would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4.5 million.
Now that he is starting to make real money, it is time he starts to produce like a real ballplayer. I was a huge Beckham fan when he first came up in 2009. Who wasn't? After a rough start, the then 22-year-old started to smash the ball into the gaps and came away with 43 extra-base hits in only 430 plate appearances. He looked like he was going to develop rather quickly into the face of the new era White Sox.
Fast forward three disappointing seasons, and those 43 extra-base hits and his .808 OPS from 2009 are still his career highs. In fact, his OPS has never even gotten to .700 since his rookie season. There have been plenty of excuses why. His wrist. His stance. His mechanics. Greg Walker. The spot he bats in the order. The fact he was called up too soon. We've heard them all. Whatever. It is time for Beckham to take a seat at the big boy table and start to hit like he belongs in the starting lineup.
I think he plays very solid defense. He does a great job in turning the double play and makes plays with a strong throwing arm that I don't think a lot of second basemen would make. However, the defensive metrics point to a player who plays about average on defense. In fact his UZR last season was -0.7. He also had a minus score in 2010. His three year totals put him at a combined 3.4, which puts him 11th of the 17 second basemen who played the qualified amount of innings. Who are some of the guys below him? Kelly Johnson, Rickie Weeks, Neil Walker and Dan Uggla, all of whom have had a lot more success with the lumber than Beckham has. The other two guys are Chone Figgins and Jemile Weeks. One is fighting for a job and the other is fighting to stay in the game.
That may be where Beckham is if he doesn't show any improvements at the plate in 2013. With Carlos Sanchez starting to gain some traction in the minor leagues, Beckham finally has a bit of a threat to his job. Lets face it, even though Beckham has been bad for three seasons, nobody was going to take the job from him. Especially when his salary was near the major-league minimum.
Now with Sanchez coming up through the ranks, if Beckham goes out and puts up another .668 OPS, do you think the White Sox should go to arbitration once again? I sure don't. Especially if Sanchez has another good showing. I would take him at the minimum compared to Beckham at $4+ million.
In fact, I think he should change his at-bat music from "Your Love" to "It's Now or Never" by Elvis. Tomorrow will be too late. It's now or never. My love won't wait.