First of all, can we just address the article's title? In all of it's mediocrity and punny-ness (not a word) I think it's wrong for all the right reasons. The answer to the title? Now. Now is the time to admit that Beltran is off. But, can he get it back?
There is no hiding the fact that Carlos Beltran is struggling this April. He's slashing .161/.226/.268 with only seven RBI. He has struck out 18 times and walked only five. Those numbers place him middle of the pack in the Yankees lineup, but in mediocre waters compared to his own career prowess and pay grade. Beltran's numbers this April are only comparable to one of his other 18 seasons.
In 2003 Beltran was with the Kansas City Royals playing centerfield—which in itself is wild to dream about. He finished the season ninth in MVP voting. He tallied 26 home runs on the season and finished with a .306 average. But, in April of 2003 Beltran was facing the same type of struggle he's enduring now. He slashed .184/.279/.368 and only hit two home runs, one being of the inside the park fashion—even more ridiculous than the fact that he was trusted playing centerfield. He also struck out eight times and took five walks. The point is that this kind of early struggle is not unprecedented for Beltran, but certainly rare. It's also not insurmountable. Though that was 26-year-old Beltran, and we are stuck with the 38-year-old version, he still has previously proved that he can drag himself out of the ditch.
How long of a leash does an eight time All-Star deserve? How long does he have to pull himself out? To prove that this isn't it for him? With the recent emergence of Chris Young, it seems those days should be dwindling. Young is batting .357 with four home runs. He's slugging .762 in his 42 at bats over 14 games this season. He's the hot hand, fields better than the much older Beltran, and there isn't much of a reason not to have him in the lineup. But often that will mean pushing Beltran out of lineup. The only way Beltran could avoid that (other than pointing to the amount they're paying him to in this scenario ride the pine) is to improve his play. He must find the power in the bat now that the speed of his game is gone. He must hit the alleys. At the end of the day, he must prove his worth.
It's certainly time to admit that Beltran is off. But, is the day coming when we must admit he's done?