Gordon Beckham traded by White Sox to Angels
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter August 21, 2014 4:50PM
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Updated: August 22, 2014 12:13AM
NEW YORK — The trade of second baseman Gordon Beckham to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday is a win for the White Sox and possibly a win for Beckham.
Beckham’s days on the South Side were numbered. With a fine-looking crop of second basemen knocking at the Sox’ major-league door, Beckham needed to be better than average to warrant consideration for the future. He was far from that as the lowest-ranked offensive second baseman in the majors, nowhere near the bar he set when he shared Sporting News Rookie of the Year honors in 2009.
He leaves the Sox with a .221 average, a .263 on-base percentage and 36 RBI.
That general manager Rick Hahn was able to get a player to be named or cash considerations for Beckham in a waiver-deal trade saved the Sox more than a month’s worth of Beckham’s $4.175 million salary, the sixth-highest on the team.
More important, it puts Carlos Sanchez on the field to show what he can do. The switch-hitting middle infielder, who batted .293 with a .349 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 57 RBI for Class AAA Charlotte, had a one-game look at shortstop before the All-Star break, but he’ll be up for the rest of the season starting Friday.
Beckham, 27, is a .244 hitter with 61 homers and 276 RBI in six seasons. His supporters hope a change of scenery will help. The Angels will use him as a backup at second and possibly third, where he started his career.
Beckham’s departure opens the door for other prospects on the rise besides Sanchez, including Micah Johnson (out for the season with a strained hamstring) and Marcus Semien, who made the Opening Day roster and will join the Sox when rosters expand in September. Leury Garcia will also get more looks at second, Hahn suggested.
‘‘This trade is more about creating an opportunity for some of our young players to come up and get some playing time,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘It was time to make a change and give someone else an opportunity as we develop this next core.’’
Beckham will be remembered as a fan and media favorite who was active in the community, played hard, didn’t pout through tough times and owned up to his shortcomings.
After captain Paul Konerko said this would be his final season, Beckham was seen as a candidate to take on a big chunk of the leadership role that will be vacated by his close friend.
‘‘Gordon was just fantastic as an individual and a great representative of the White Sox organization,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘His work ethic and desire to be the best will certainly be missed.’’
Hahn said he didn’t have an answer for why Beckham never reached the potential he showed as a rookie. He suggested not going through the normal problems most minor-leaguers encounter might have been a factor when he struggled in the majors, which was often.
‘‘When he did struggle after the league adjusted to him, he was struggling for the first time in his life,’’ Hahn said.
Beckham’s defense never soured through the tough times at the plate. He owns the second- and third-highest fielding percentages (.9899 in 2012, .9889 in 2011) by a second baseman in Sox history, trailing only Nellie Fox’s .9901 in 1962. He has a .981 fielding percentage this season, but his arm, toughness around the bag and ability to turn the double play helped make the Sox the American League leaders in double plays this season.
‘‘It’s just not up to me,’’ Beckham told the Sun-Times when asked last week if a change of scenery might be in his best interests. ‘‘If it happens, it happens. I know it’s on the line for me, especially this last month and a half. I realize that.
‘‘I’m doing the best I can, playing as hard as I can. For me, it’s in God’s hands. So I’ll just try to have fun and be passionate about the game.’’