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Hoge’s White Sox Mailbag: Time To Send Beckham Down?

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Gordon Beckham. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Gordon Beckham. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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By Adam Hoge-

(CBS) We’re a week into the season and it’s time for our first White Sox mailbag of the year (questions are left unedited):

When will it be time to send Beckham down? This guy has had a 3-year leash… when does it end? – Jeff, Chicago

Well, first off all, it doesn’t “end” on April 16 of any season. Beckham is off to a rough 3-for-22 start with 10 strikeouts, but he’s only played seven games.

Now, to be clear, I have never been completely against the idea of sending him down to figure out his swing, but that’s only half the problem. Beckham had success when he first came up, hitting .270 with a .347 OBP and an .808 OPS as a rookie. Unfortunately, the league adjusted to him and he hasn’t come anywhere close to those numbers since. His swing gets constant criticism, but part of the problem is the failure to adjust to the league’s adjustments to him. Every player goes through that and the successful ones get through it.

It’s too early to send Beckham down, but if the White Sox are going to do it, they will need to do it before June 4. That day marks his three-year anniversary in the majors, which means he’ll have to clear waivers before he’ll be allowed to go to Charlotte. His potential won’t be erased by then no matter what happens, so it’s doubtful he would clear waivers.

would the red soxs want Rios if he could find a way to hit .275 Ish? – @Scott_j_k

I assume you are asking this because Jacoby Ellsbury got hurt. I have no idea how interested the Red Sox are in making a trade, but Cody Ross played well over the weekend.

But no matter what the Red Sox are thinking, the timing won’t work out. While no timetable has been given for Ellsbury’s return, the speculation is 4-to-6 weeks, which wouldn’t justify adding Rios’ contract. But even if it’s longer than that, Rios is going to have to produce before any team can justify trading for that contract ($12 million this year, $12.5 million in 2013 & 2014, $13.5 million club option in 2015 with $1 million buyout).

Not to mention that the White Sox can’t trade him right now. They need him. Really the only way this doubtful trade would happen would be if Ellsbury is still out in July and Rios is enjoying a big year while the White Sox are out contention.

Heard you say the White Sox are executing the “smaller things” better this season. What specific things are they doing better? – Randy, Beverly

The most obvious example of this is on the basepaths. Offensively, Robin Ventura and bench coach Mark Parent have stressed taking the extra base when it is there. It’s also why Ventura hired an aggressive third-base coach in Joe McEwing, who has already proven he’s not afraid to wave that arm.

Defensively, have you noticed that opponents are no longer running wild on the White Sox? There have only been four attempts on the White Sox so far and A.J. Pierzynski and Tyler Flowers have combined to throw out three of those runners. Yes, through eight games, the Sox have only allowed one stolen base. Amazing. But that fact that there have only been four attempts proves that White Sox pitchers put in the work and it’s paying off. Parent made it clear they were going to work on that and this area might be the most obvious improvement from the previous regime.

No one has shown a greater improvement in holding runners than Gavin Floyd. He’s still not quick to the plate, but he’s doing a better job of keeping runners guessing by varying his timing to the plate and to first base on pickoff moves. Runners are 0-for-1 on him in two starts.

Another example of doing the “smaller things” better is Ventura’s emphasis on taking longer at-bats. He doesn’t want to make things easy on the opponent. He’s said that a number of times so far. Working deeper in the count is a good way to make the opposing pitcher’s life harder and for the most part, the White Sox have had success in this area. They didn’t have long at-bats against Porcello Sunday and they lost. It makes a difference.

I heard you on Hit & Run Sunday and it sounded as if you had nothing bad to say about the White Sox so far. Can’t you come up with anything negative? – Dan, Park Ridge

Well, in my defense, I can only answer the questions that are being fielded to me and after a hot start, it’s only natural for those questions to be positive ones. That said, yes, there are a number of concerns.

The most obvious of these concerns is one that I’ve brought up constantly since spring training: the White Sox don’t have a reliable No. 2 hitter. Brent Morel has batted second in six of the eight games so far and has the lowest batting average on the team (.115). Even more disturbing are the 11 strikeouts. The White Sox need someone who can simply get on base batting second and Morel only has four total bases so far, the lowest among the starters.

When I first brought this concern up in Arizona, I also said that Morel should get the chance to start the season there. It’s only been a week so it’s too early to give up on him, but part of the problem is that the White Sox don’t really have anyone else to bat second. In an ideal world, Beckham would be the two-hitter, but they don’t want to put that much on his plate. Pierzynski is off to a good start, but his OBP is still only .280 because he never walks (doesn’t have a walk yet this season).

If Kenny Williams is going to make one key addition during the season this year, he might want to find a reliable No. 2 hitter.

why is hawk calling viciedo “tanks” (plural). Can you ask him? It makes absolutely no sense. – @BradT313

I don’t get to hear Hawk every night because I’m usually at the home games, but I did hear Hawk do this a few times last week. The first time he did it he was actually adding an apostrophe to the “s” to say “Tank’s there to make the catch”, but then I heard it a different time where it just sounded like he made Tank plural.

It doesn’t make much sense to me either. I really don’t have a good answer for you right now but I’ll try to find out.

Send your White Sox questions to Adam at ahoge@cbs.com or tweet them to him at @AdamHogeCBS.

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