Gordon Beckham returns from brief benching with hot bat

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When the White Sox benched Gordon Beckham in favor of light-hitting utility man Brent Lillibridge earlier this month I wrote: “It’ll be a surprise if it lasts until the end of the week.”
Sure enough the benching lasted for all of three games, but manager Ozzie Guillen apparently pulled the right string because Beckham has been on fire since returning to the lineup. He homered last night and is now 24-for-63 (.381) with three homers and eight doubles in 18 games since the brief stint on the sidelines.
His overall numbers are still ugly, with a 29-point drop in batting average, 52-point drop in on-base percentage, and 107-point drop in slugging percentage compared to his impressive rookie season, but Beckham has raised his OPS from .553 to .648 in three weeks and still has plenty of time to finish with respectable sophomore totals.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.