Carlos Beltran, The Yankees Ageless Wonder

Ageless Wonder is Yankees Carlos Beltran

By Christopher Saunders

When the Yankees signed Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal two off-seasons ago, it seemed like a good arrangement for both sides. Initially, as Beltran started the first season of his contract, it appeared the deal was going to work out. Optimism turned to pessimism though, after Beltran flipped over the right field wall and suffered an elbow injury. That marked a turning point not only in Beltran’s personal performance but in the impact it had on the team’s overall statistics.
He ended the 2014 season with .233/.301/.402, 15 HR’s and 49 RBI’s in 109 games. The Yankees obviously weren’t banking on  Carlos Beltran playing in his prime, but between the numbers he put up, and the amount of time he spent off the field, executives viewed his once profitable contract as a disappointment.
The middle of the order has suffered dearly over the last two years between the laundry list of injuries not only to Beltran, but to Mark Teixeira as well. The impact of injuries is magnified when you add the non-productive and inconsistent months from Brian McCann during the first couple of  years of  his contract. While McCann has been a leader behind the plate guiding young and veteran Yankees’ pitchers through the rigors of a 162-game season, his batting average has dropped each season between his time with the Atlanta Braves and now with New York.
The combination of the Yankees injuries and subsequent lineup concerns plus their inconsistent pitching  led the team to finishing behind in the league standings.  They not only placed after the Baltimore Orioles in 2014 but then went on to blow a seven and a half game lead in 2015 to the Toronto Blue Jays.
So with Beltran two years removed from his first year in pinstripes, what are the Yankees expecting from him?  While his days as a predominant player may be waning considering his age (37 years old), management and coaches alike still expect Beltran to produce in the middle of the order.
While the Yankees would love to see Beltran limit his injuries this season, so  manager Joe Girardi can include him in the lineup for every game, let’s be honest. Injuries are part of the game.  Keeping Beltran healthy throughout the season is the key to keeping him in the games.  One suggestion might be to utilize his bat as DH.  The issue that arises with that idea though is that the Yankees have one of the oldest lineups in the Major Leagues.  Given the players maturity, the thought “Old Guys Need Rest” comes to mind.  It’s only a thought, but one that may not only benefit the team’s health, but improve their rank in the standings.
With that being said, there is only one DH, and unless Major League Baseball changes the rule to increase batters in the lineup, which may never happen, the  Yankees will have to be very creative.
Beltran is a borderline Hall-of-Famer, but many wonder about that concept, even going back to his first season in pinstripes.   Was either a fluke or a hint of things to come? Did the Yankees make the right choice in giving Beltran a contract, or could this be a case of another signing gone wrong? Beltran has the chance to prove himself worthy and that journey to redemption starts with the season opener on the horizon three weeks in the Bronx.

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