Several regulars in the Yankees lineup have gotten off to a slow start since the season started, but no one has been worse than Carlos Beltran. A few weeks ago, I posed the question of what the Yankees could do with Beltran if he couldn't turn things around. The overwhelming response was to give Beltran more time at the plate. Well, the season is a month old now and Beltran is still playing poorly. The worst part is that Beltran is signed through 2016, so there is very little chance that the Yankees part ways with him this season regardless of how he plays. Still, if the Yankees were open to replacing Beltran with someone else, they do have several other options.
The most realistic scenario features Chris Young. Lately, the Yankees have been sitting Beltran and starting Young in his place. Even though he was cut from the Mets for being terrible last season, he has been really good since joining the Yankees. He's off to a particularly hot start, and since he's the one swinging the hot bat, he deserves increased playing time. Through 25 games, Young is hitting .308/.375/.677 with six home runs and 185 wRC+. Meanwhile, Beltran is teetering below the Mendoza Line at .193/.236/.313 with zero home runs and 45 wRC+. He's been worth -0.4 fWAR.
The only thing Beltran really has going for him is the fact that half of his sixteen hits have been doubles (8). Other than that, he's striking out at a rate of 24.7% while his walk percentage is just 5.6. Both of these are off of his career numbers, but waiting for Beltran to get things going at the plate has been a slow process so far. Young does hit lefties better than righties, but Beltran can't hit anyone at the moment, so it's getting harder and harder to defend only using Young as a platoon. I understand the argument that Beltran needs more playing time to improve, but with Stephen Drew also looking terrible (only slightly less terrible than Beltran) at the plate, the Yankees lineup doesn't have room for that many black holes. At least Drew provides better defense.
After Chris Young falls back to Earth, as he likely will, the Yankees could turn to one of the outfield prospects for help. Again, knowing the Yankees, this is highly unrealistic, and this would probably only happen in the event of an injury, or when the roster expands, but Ramon Flores and Slade Heathcott are both putting together good seasons in Triple-A. Flores is batting .291/.364/.519 with four home runs in 88 plate appearances. After struggling to stay healthy for years, Heathcott was impressive during spring training and has kept it up in Scranton, hitting .330/.383/.433 with one home run in 108 plate appearances. Ben Gamel's had less playing time than the other two, but even he is batting .357/.430/.557. Of those options, only Flores is on the Yankees 40-man roster.
In all likelihood, the Yankees will continue to play Beltran, regardless of how he is playing. He's set to make $30 million between now and the end of his contract, so the odds of him being released are slim. It's also unlikely that any team would be interested in trading for him. All we can do is hope that he improves, but it's nice to know that the team does have other options.