But expectations and leashes don't extend forever. Starting this weekend, Beckham is someone else's problem. I've cut ties with the disappointing sophomore and I'm not looking back.
The White Sox had a rare offensive outburst Friday night, springing for eight runs and 12 hits in a laugher over the Marlins. Beckham wasn't in on the fun; he went 0-for-3 from the ninth spot in the order, the only Chicago batter with an empty line.
Beckham's .182 average only tells part of the horror story. Even with a handful of walks he's got a mediocre .285 OBP, and that embarrassing .234 slugging percentage doesn't feed the cat. He got just one extra base hit over the last month. He's been benched twice, moved down in the lineup – nothing seems to help. Sure, he's been unlucky on balls in play (.233), but with a puny 13.3 line-drive rate, it's not like he's getting robbed left and right. He's also striking out 23 percent of the time.
I didn't hastily make the decision to cut Beckham, of course – I spent a few days trying to trade him. Some owners had reasons why they couldn't make a trade now. Others flat-out admitted they wanted no part of Beckham. One good friend of mine made what seemed like an offer, but it wasn't meant to be taken seriously (that, or I said "yes" too quickly). Maybe my opponents realized that if they waited me out, they could get Beckham for the low, low price of "waiver priority" by the end of the week.
You have to be aggressive to win any kind of a competitive mixed league, and when you're dealing with short benches (we only have three reserve spots) you have to be willing to make tough decisions on name players. I'm not going to be paralyzed by worry or concern when I think it's time to cut the cord on a player. I'm not playing for the "friendliest loss" here. The waiver wire always has interesting options in the F&F pool, and the timing felt right to liberate myself from a struggling player. (If you're in a thinner league, you likely cut Beckham weeks ago.)
I realize not everyone shares the same mindset when it comes to slumping brand names. Some owners are petrified of the idea that today's cut could go on to be someone else's star tomorrow. Some experts don't want to do anything controversial; you don't see a lot of trading in most industry leagues.
But as I see it, if you want a good omelette, you need to break some eggs. And there comes a time where you have to admit you were probably wrong with your preseason projection; I'm not going to stay married to my early expectations when new information or data presents itself. It's not like Beckham is a 10-year veteran off to a poor start; for all of his press clippings and with all due respect to his pedigree, he's only had 515 at-bats in The Show. He's certainly not the first second-year player to lose his way after a snappy debut. And who knows, perhaps his shoulder and oblique problems from March – thought to be minor at the time – have had a hand in this puzzling slump.
Gordon Beckham, it's time to make outs for someone else. Don't come calling for a playoff share in October.
Encarnacion only has 44 at-bats on the season – remember he missed a month with a bad shoulder- but he's already fitting in with the mentality here: note his crazy .250/.294/.659 line. It will be interesting to see how the Toronto lineup shakes down when Travis Snider(notes) is ready to come off the disabled list – he's first eligible on May 30 – because there are plenty of productive bats in this lineup, other than the sinkhole at first base (looking at you, Lyle Overbay(notes)).
• Javier Vazquez(notes) got a much-needed turn against the Mets on Friday and took full advantage, mixing his pitches well and working six shutout innings (1 H, 2 BB, 6 K). Vazquez would have gone deeper in the game but he suffered a finger injury during a sixth-inning bunt attempt.
I watched most of the game and he passed the eye test I suppose, but we shouldn't get excited long-term. His fastball still topped out in the high 80s and this was the pedestrian Mets in Citi Field, a one-night stand. If he sticks for his scheduled turn against the Twins next week (a horrible matchup for Vazquez, all those lefty sluggers), look out below. It might not be easy to sell him after Friday's start, but you should at least give it a try.
• The strange Tim Hudson(notes) season keeps cruising right along; he threw a three-hit shutout at Pittsburgh Friday for his fifth victory, lowering his ERA to 2.09. You probably know the story by now – Hudson's getting it done with a ridiculous ground-ball rate and plenty of batted-ball luck; he's not fooling hitters (just 23 strikeouts) and his control hasn't been up to his career standards (23 walks in 61.1 innings).
Hudson's back class and fancy ERA might make him possible sell-high candidate, depending on your league's makeup; you won't get a ridiculous overpayment, but you might be able to get more than you should. You'll want to use him against Florida next week, but then Hudson is looking at Philadelphia and Los Angeles or Arizona; that could get messy.
• I'm not going to talk much about the San Diego at Seattle game because it's one of those results that makes little to no sense. The Mariners generally don't score 15 runs over a full weekend, let alone in one night, and it was odd to see San Diego knocking Cliff Lee(notes) around (albeit he'll take the victory, and as usual he didn't walk anyone). Mike Sweeney(notes), where did this come from?
Sticking with the A's, Coco Crisp(notes) made his season debut and impressed, going 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Crisp also was thrown out trying to steal; hey, we appreciate the attempt. "I was definitely nervous out there," Crisp conceded. "Especially on that first ball hit out to me in center field." Cereal Crisp was thrown immediately into the leadoff spot, for what it's worth, while Cliff Pennington(notes) dropped to the No. 8 slot.
• Brad Penny(notes) left his start early after re-aggravating an upper back injury. A shame this happened; he was in control of a 9-4 game and actually hit a grand slam in the bottom of the third. "My mood stinks, so you'll have to suffer with me," Tony La Russa said to the assembled media after the game. "I'm definitely worried. I'd like to find out." (On Saturday afternoon, the Cardinals found out; Penny hit the disabled list, though it's expected to be a minimal stay.)
Speed Round: Our short-term Baltimore pickups continue to make good – Corey Patterson(notes) went 2-for-5 with a steal at Washington, while Luke Scott(notes) reached base twice and scored two runs. … Cincinnati's got a pair of short-termers to consider too; Laynce Nix(notes) is 6-for-9 with two homers over the last two games and Jonny Gomes(notes) has been unconscious this month (.400/.443/.727, four homers). It's a shame Gomes doesn't play in the AL full time, where he could ditch his glove and settle in as a DH. … Jayson Werth's(notes) homer was kinda ridiculous. I'm glad the John Lackey(notes) signing wasn't on my watch. … Make it three straight victories for Chad Billingsley(notes), who toyed with the Tigers (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K). Dontrelle Willis(notes) was his usual self on the other side, a little too wild, a little too erratic. … The Brewers threw Dave Bush(notes) and then Jeff Suppan(notes) at Minnesota; talk about a gift to the house. It got ugly, early.
Mike Napoli(notes) is a mess behind the plate and he's already piled up 40 strikeouts over 99 at-bats, but he's still intriguing as a hitter. He's at .298 with four homers this month. … Another one-out cheapie save for Chad Qualls(notes). I think A.J. Hinch picked him up earlier in the week. … It was a mixed bag for Kerry Wood(notes) as he got back to the mound – two strikeouts, one homer allowed. The Indians were trailing at home, so the save chance was out the window. … Ted Lilly(notes) and Colby Lewis(notes) locked up in a pitcher's duel in Arlington, a rare occurrence; Lewis allowed one run to Lilly's two and took the victory. The bullpens followed with bagels on each side; of note, Carlos Zambrano(notes) got four outs for the Cubs, and Neftali Feliz(notes) closed for his 12th save. … There are so many obvious things wrong with the Astros, but let's tip the cap to Brett Myers(notes) (3.25 ERA, 46 strikeout) and Matt Lindstrom(notes) (10 straight saves), they've been pretty solid. … I'm over the word count, time to ship this puppy. Please add your Friday observations in the comments.