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What else is returning with Gordon Beckham?

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Baggage from five disappointing seasons with the White Sox makes dissatisfaction easy to envision

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

If Gordon Beckham were somebody else's first-round pick ... if his promise had mysteriously fizzled with another organization ... if another city saw him devolve from a sweet-swinging third baseman to a glove-first utility infielder ... there would be nothing wrong with the White Sox bringing him into the fold for $2 million as a potential complement to the infield.

As it stands, it's kinda irritating.

The White Sox were soooooo clooooose to achieving the cleanest reboot possible. Adam Dunn stopped being a financial obligation and Paul Konerko an emotional one. Beckham outearned his usefulness, and the Sox opened that spot for a minor-league depth battle. Dayan Viciedo was replaced with a multidimensional hitter and left fielder who doesn't get so disoriented along the warning track. Jeff Samardzija replaced Scott Carroll, and David Robertson and Zach Duke exponentially increased the investment in the bullpen.

Out of all the ways to take a small step back from that revamping, signing Beckham to be a right-handed utility infielder would be among the easier ones to accept.

That doesn't mean you can't be annoyed, though, because it's going to be annoying. Heck, he's already opened with another self-affirmation after his worst season yet.

This is who Beckham is:

Year Age Tm G PA 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ (b/f)WAR
2010 23 CHW 131 498 25 2 9 49 37 92 .252 .317 .378 .695 87 0.7/0.6
2011 24 CHW 150 557 23 0 10 44 35 111 .230 .296 .337 .633 70 1.2/0.5
2012 25 CHW 151 582 24 0 16 60 40 89 .234 .296 .371 .668 80 0.8/0.9
2013 26 CHW 103 408 22 1 5 24 28 56 .267 .322 .372 .694 89 0.8/1.0
2014 27 TOT 127 483 27 0 9 44 22 81 .226 .271 .348 .618 75 0.6/-0.2
5 Yrs 662 2528 121 3 49 221 162 428 .241 .300 .361 .660 80 4.1/2.8
.

If Beckham were any ol' right-handed utility infielder, everybody would accept this track record and say, "Maybe he'll play good defense and get some crazy BABIP luck." Beckham is Mike Aviles with a preamble.

That's in the books. Likewise, we can expect Hawk Harrelson to make every apology for Beckham, when I was hoping for a longer break. The only question is whether Beckham will make more starts at second than anybody who was supposed to replace him. That seems like a decent bet based on the question marks surrounding Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson, and even better based on how Beckham's last two months with the Sox played out.

In July, Beckham posted the worst month by a White Sox starter since 1968, hitting a flaccid .138/.158/.213 over 102 plate appearances -- and yet he started 24 of 26 games. After the deadline passed and it became clear the Sox needed to turn the page, he still started 16 of the first 17 games in August and hit .190/.217/.207 before he was sent to Anaheim.

Add it all up, and that's a line of .158/.180/.211 ... while making 40 of 43 possible starts with younger second basemen needing as much playing time as possible for the purposes of evaluating the 2015 roster.

The defense is that Beckham was still better than Leury Garcia, and the presence of Konerko made it difficult to field a real challenger ... but that's what I was getting at earlier when preferring as little baggage as possible this time around, because the self-imposed restrictions were incredibly frustrating.

There's reason to believe this time will be different, even if Beckham remains largely the same. Rick Hahn is selling him as a utility infielder, he's on a pay cut, he has a better glove around the infield than Emilio Bonifacio, and the Sox have a few different young second basemen to cycle through, so they don't have to settle for Beckham even if the first option falls through.

That said, I'm wary that selling him as a right-handed infielder considering he's hit for a far worse average against lefties since 2010. I'm wary of quotes like this:

"That's kind of a loaded question, and I don't view myself like that and I don't think the White Sox do either," said Beckham when asked if he's now a utility player.

And I'm wary of identifiers like "proven" or "steady," because as he showed for the last 40 games last year, he's proven to be absolutely dreadful at times.

The Sox should be able to relegate him promptly this time, but Beckham specifically raises these kinds of concerns. That shouldn't be (and obviously isn't) a deal-breaker, but it doesn't make it easy to enjoy, and I reserve my right to be annoyed.