After the 2009 season the White Sox sent Chris Getz to the Royals as part of the odd and generally annoying to all parties Mark Teahen trade. It seemed like an obvious move for the White Sox, who had a new star in second base in Gordon Beckham. As a rookie, the 22 year -old Beckham hit .270/.347/.460 in 430 PAs. Chris Getz, also a rookie, but two years older and much less heralded, had also had a nice season for a young middle-infielder, hitting .261/.324/.347. Still, Beckham, the top prospect from some sun-drenched southern school, was the obvious guy to keep.
Or was he?
Since 2009 Beckham has floundered, hitting .238/.304/.352 in 1131 PAs. Getz hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but Beckham has been so bad, that Getz's line of .254/.312/.298 in that same span (727 PAs) has to give us pause. The odd thing is that both of their games went backward. Beckham always had more power, and he held onto some of it, while Getz became game's true low-wattage hitters.
My sense is that Getz is considered a better defender, but I'm not positive about that. Since 2009, Getz has produced 0.9 brefWAR and 1.6 fWAR, comparable to Beckham's 0.5 and 1.7 totals, respectively. Getz hasn't played as much as Beckham, which, for bad players like these, actually helps his WAR numbers. And Getz also has 30 net steals, while Beckham has 0. (Getz also looks identical to Ned Yost, but apparently I'm the only one who sees this.)
Because the White Sox have stuck with Beckham for so long, he'll hit arbitration next season, as will Getz. In the grand scheme of a Major League budget, their salaries have been the same.
Getz's hot start to 2012 helps make this discussion even more plausible. In 50 PAs, Getz is hitting .326/.354/.500 with 4 doubles and 2 triples. Meanwhile, Beckham is once again terrible, hitting .203/.276/.290 in 76 PAs. Wow.
I think we have to say that, given what the knew in 2009, the White Sox were right to go with Beckham. Beckham, while not very good, has very likely been slightly better than Getz. The really interesting question is this, would the Royals trade Getz for Beckham, straight up, right now?