Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Beltran race towards oblivion

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

A steady decline would have been a lot better than falling off the face of the Earth.

I often find myself in the position of defending the Yankees when people criticize their seemingly endless affinity for veterans. Actually, veterans is probably a light assessment. Really, really old dudes is a little more accurate. Now when they show they have something left, like Ichiro Suzuki this year, it's not that difficult to defend the strategy. You don't have to give old guys seven year deals, so it mitigates risk for your franchise long term. One year of Brian Roberts could end up being a lot better for the Yankees overall than ten years of Robinson Cano. There is, however, occasion when the strategy just looks downright awful; Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano are making 2014 one of those occasions.

We all know the numbers aren't pretty. Beltran is at an 82 wRC+ and Soriano is at 69. Those would be tough numbers to swallow for shortstops, much less two players that have been either manning a corner outfield spot or the DH. Together they've contributed a net of -1.1 WAR, made all the more impressive because Beltran was on the disabled list for a spell and Soriano has become a platoon player. If they were closer to having played all year they might have been closing in on Eduardo Nunez levels of negative value.

So the big question is: are these two cooked? Possibly. Of the two, Beltran would normally get the nod for player you would expect to bounce back, but there are some really bad signs. His line drive percentage is at 14.9%, which is 5 points lower than his career average. He's hitting a lot of easy fly balls rather than driving the ball with authority. It's also entirely possible that his creaky legs aren't generating the same power that they used to.

As for Soriano, it seems more likely that he's just about done. When your power goes and that's all you've done well for the past few years, you've essentially become an empty uniform. The ghost formerly known as Alfonso Soriano. It's gotten to the point that he can't even seem to handle fastballs and has been rendered even more vulnerable to offspeed pitches as he tries to cheat and speed his bat up. When he bats, you're better off closing your eyes to spare yourself the gruesomeness.

The Yankees have taken the necessary steps to mitigate Soriano's impact on the team by banishing him to spot duty. That's not going to happen with Beltran, though, so there's potential for him to crater into having one of the worst seasons for a position a Yankee has ever had. As long as he's healthy, he's going to play. Signing a guy to a three-year deal pretty much guarantees him at least a full season to work through his struggles, and most likely more than that. On a team that has multiple other players that could use a DH day from time to time, it's crippling to have two roster spots occupied by designated hitters that can't hit. Hopefully Beltran and Soriano can parachute to the ground the rest of the way rather than continuing their high-speed descent.

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