The first week of baseball is over and the Yankees' have gotten off to a particularly bad start offensively. Then again, the offense has been the weakest part of the team for the past few seasons, so it isn't exactly surprising. Although many of the players making up the lineup have looked lost at the plate, Carlos Beltran's slow start may be the most worrisome. What can the Yankees do with him if he can't turn things around?
After signing a three-year contract worth 45 million dollars, Beltran did not have the 2014 season that many had hoped for. He struggled with a bone spur in his elbow for almost the entire season, and he chose to receive several rounds of cortisone injections instead of just having the surgery and cutting his season short. As a result, Beltran's first year with the Yankees ended up being one of the worst of his careers as he hit just .233/.301/.402 with 15 home runs and 95 wRC+. Beltran had elbow surgery over the offseason and went through the rehab process. Now his elbow is said to be fine, so that shouldn't have any impact on his 2015 season.
The Yankees have only played five total games, but it's worth noting that Beltran only has two hits through 20 plate appearances. Both of those hits were doubles. At this point, Beltran is one of many bounce back candidates filling up the Yankees lineup, and if he can't turn things around, we could be in for a really long season. Again, he's far from the only player struggling at the plate, but at least Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius and some of the others are important parts of the defense. Since Jose Pirela and Brendan Ryan are both on the disabled list, and the Yankees are reluctant to promote Rob Refsnyder, there really aren't any other great options for the infield. That's not true for the outfield or Beltran. Chris Young and Garrett Jones can both play outfield, and in more limited playing time, both have looked better than him at the plate.
Similarly to Masahiro Tanaka, it's probably too soon to panic about Beltran, but the main difference is that Beltran can be replaced fairly easily, while Tanaka is critical to the rotation. If Beltran continues to hit like he has been, there's no reason that the Yankees shouldn't bench him. At the very least, he has no business hitting third in the lineup. The main concern is that he could struggle all season, like Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano did last year. Then what would the Yankees do? It's hard to envision them cutting Beltran, since he's signed for two more years and is owed significantly more money than Roberts or Soriano were making last season. His 38th birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and it's unlikely that any team would be interested in taking on his contract.
Alternatively, since Refsnyder is having such a hard time defensively at second base (he's already made two errors in the first three games of the season in Scranton and he made six errors during spring training), maybe the Yankees should move him back to his former position, which is right field. Then he would be able to help the lineup out immediately. Obviously the Yankees would like to see him to stick at second base, but at some point his defensive struggles might make that out of the question.
What do you think the Yankees should do with Beltran? Let him ride the bench? Keep him in the lineup and hope he improves?