Beltran’s seemingly inevitable elbow surgery

Cashman says Yankees are open to adding pitchers, because duh
2014 Draft: Erick Fedde
(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

After these last few seasons, I find it very hard not to assume the worst when it comes to injuries. It’s not because of the Yankees either. Pitchers are dropping like flies these days, but every Tommy John surgery starts out as a twinge or some forearm tightness. Not many guys have hurt their elbow and avoided the zipper lately. Ivan Nova and Jose Campos are among its casualties. Mark Teixeira‘s and Jose Bautista’s wrist problems turned into surgery in much the same way.

So, forgive me for being worried the Yankees may soon lose Carlos Beltran for an extended period of time. He hurt his elbow taking swings in the batting cage between at-bats the other night, and while it was initially called a hyper-extension, an MRI revealed an old bone spur that just started to give him trouble. Bone spurs have a way of hiding until you move your body in some random everyday way and they rub up against stuff. The human body is weird like that.

“I just was taking swings in the cage and felt a sharp pain,” said Beltran to Chad Jennings. “Took another one and felt the same. Told [Joe Girardi] that I wasn’t going to be able to continue … I took many swings, but those two that I took there was a sharp pain that I felt that I just couldn’t continue … I just hope it just goes away … I’m hoping for the best.”

Beltran received a cortisone shot yesterday and he’s going to rest two or three days to see if that helps. From what I understand, the cortisone shot will reduce any inflammation, which could allow the spur to go back to being unnoticed. If the shot doesn’t work, however, Beltran will need surgery and will miss what I assume is several weeks. Brian Cashman told Jennings he’s unsure if it would be season-ending, if that makes you feel any better. At some point though, either in the coming weeks or long after he’s retired, Beltran’s going to need the surgery.

The Yankees sunk three years and $45M into the 37-year-old Beltran this past offseason because they needed someone just like him, a proven middle of the order bat with power and patience from both sides of the plate. Someone who they knew could handle New York and big pressure situations. For the first few weeks of the season, Beltran was exactly that, hitting .327/.368/.673 (175 wRC+). Then he flipped over the wall in Tampa and hasn’t hit a lick since. Maybe he jammed something during the fall, maybe the timing is pure coincidence. For whatever reason, he stopped hitting.

Despite that recent lack of production, losing Beltran to surgery would be a huge blow. Huge. He adds an impossible to replace element to the lineup with his professional at-bats and ability to hit for both average and power. Beltran’s literally the only guy on the roster who can do both. Ichiro Suzuki will probably see more playing time as soon as his back heals up, but if Beltran were to miss a significant amount of time, the best possible solution may be to play Alfonso Soriano in right and let Derek Jeter spend more time at DH, allowing Brendan Ryan to play shortstop and improve the defense. The Yankees can’t field worth a damn and they don’t have a bat to replace Beltran. Replacing Jeter with Ryan in the field is an upgrade, especially given the ground ball heavy pitching staff.

The Yankees have had their seemingly perpetual issues with runners in scoring position in 2014, but the offense has been effective both recently (4+ runs in seven straight games) and overall this season (4.45 runs per game). Removing Beltran from the equation will hurt the lineup, especially if the Yankees do shift Jeter to DH and play Ryan more often. Hopefully the cortisone shot will work and he can return to the lineup within the next few days. I am expecting the worst though. A bone spur in a hitter’s elbow strikes me as something that will require surgery sooner rather than later.

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Cashman says Yankees are open to adding pitchers, because duh
2014 Draft: Erick Fedde
  • Gman

    Losing Beltran would suck. He’s been lousy with RISP hitting like .170 or something. The opposite of his .370 last year.

    Playing hurt makes sense since his production has dropped significantly.

    • Looser trader droids FotD™

      Regression to the mean: painful.

  • gbyanks

    almonte has hit 323/363/583 vs RHP. so many just a platoon partner could lessen the lose of beltran

    • Kosmo

      there you go ! platoon Almonte with Ichiro who always has reverse splits vs LHP. Good idea.

  • Farewell Mo

    It wouldn’t have made a difference for this year but signing Beltran at $15 million per till he’s 40 probably wasn’t a smart move. I’d have given him 2 years max.

    • willie w

      they should have signed him the last few times he was available not at the end of his career

  • pinedamaybegreata (formerly Monterowasdinero)

    Another year where the mri will trump the rbi.

    2 years in a row. Wear and tear and father time-no escaping it.

    Thank goodness no one in our division got off to a torrid start and thank goodness for Tanaka.

  • willie w

    why they keep signing people to contracts to play past 40 is a mystery to me

    • Mike HC

      It is like with Beltran they decided to surpass the whole get 5 years of good production part and skipped straight to the albatross years.

  • RetroRob

    Could miss what “I assume is several weeks” to “unsure if it would be season-ending” is an ocean-sized gap of uncertainty.

    If it requires a few months recovery, hopefully he can keep it together and wait for the offseason.

  • The Other Matt

    I couldn’t agree more with your assessment Mike, and I’m sure many fans feel the same way when it comes to injuries with this team at this point. Which is why I commented yesterday, I don’t believe Zoilo Almonte will be sent back down anytime soon. I’m pretty sure that even if Beltran does return, then Ichiro’s back will cause him to be DL’d. That’s just the luck of the Yankees, and the likelihood of things when you’re dealing with guys in their late 30’s to early 40’s. Although I’d bet on Ichiro being able to return before Beltran, given his track record and his ability to stay healthy throughout his career. Hopefully I prove to be wrong, because the last thing I really want to see is Ichiro back in the lineup every day, as I’m sure Joe Girardi would enjoy.

    Should Beltran go on the DL I’d like to see Zoilo get an opportunity to play a bit. Maybe not everyday, but at least somewhat of a 50/50,60/40 split with Ichiro in right (assuming Soriano would continue to get the majority of the DH AB’s). I know he faded out after a while, but Almonte was really a spark to the club last year when he first came up and was really swing the bat well, initially. Additionally, for whatever it’s worth, his defensive metrics were outstanding, although it was in a SSS and in LF. I have a vibe about Almonte that he can be a solid regular in the majors, maybe I’m just curious to see what he would do given another chance at the big league level. To be honest, even if Beltran doesn’t need surgery, Almonte can’t be much worse than how he’s been swinging the bat as of late. And I won’t even mention Beltran’s defense.

    • LK

      I’d expect Ichiro will be back, but a track record of health doesn’t necessarily mean anything. A-Rod was the epitome of health, until he wasn’t, and since he’s been the exact opposite.

  • Algernon Blackwood

    We should have just kept Granderson.

    • The Other Matt

      Exactly what I said yesterday. For the 3 years they gave Beltran they could’ve kept Granderson and allowed him to play RF, since he does now anyway.

  • EndlessJose

    Carlos Beltran is more of a clutch hitter and doesn’t go threw hitless streaks as Granderson who hasn’t hit over .250 in three years.He also sucked in the postseason.We have Soriano and Texeria for guys who hit .225 and hit 30 homeruns.Also Granderson is a bad picthing hitter so of course he hit good.

    Carlos aggravated he injury from the over the wall catch.He’ll get healthy

    • WhittakerWalt

      “Also Granderson is a bad picthing hitter so of course he hit good.”

      Huh?

      • CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

        He means that Granderson like Nick Swisher eats up bad pitchers, but has difficulty with # 1 & 2’s. That is why Nick was terrible in the post season when he only faced good pitching.
        The webmaster should “edit” some posts

        • vicki

          hahahahahaha. because nick and grandy are in some slim minority of hitters who fail more often against good pitching? they’re good pitchers because MOST hitters fail against them. lord, you people.

          incidentally, swish against felix, for example: .788 career ops. against cliff lee: 1.059. against david price: .928.

          grandy against lester, for example: .866 career ops. against lackey: .804. against verlander: 833. felix: 714.

          i seriously could do this all day, but i’ll press ‘submit’ now.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Granderson sucked in one postseason, that’s all. .800 OPS in October with NYY even counting 2012.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      “doesn’t go threw hitless streaks”

      You do realize Beltran is hitting .171 over the last four weeks, right?

      • Kosmo

        historically Beltran is a far better hitter and clutch player than Granderson. Postseason absolutely no comparison.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Sure. Too bad it hasn’t stopped him from hitting .161/.222/.161 with RISP this season. His past clutch history has zero value to the 2014-16 Yankees.

          • Kosmo

            and so does Granderson´s ??

            Even though Beltran has slumped in May he´s still posted marginally better numbers than Granderson who just happened to catch fire during the current series vs. his old team. Granderson 2 outs RISP .111 so far in 2014.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              Granderson has a .900 OPS over the last three weeks now, so he didn’t just start hitting this week. He’s also destroying Beltran with RISP, though pretty much everyone is these days.

              That .111 comes in a whole nine at-bats.

              • The Other Matt

                Serious question: Should have the Yankees brought back Granderson to play RF, instead of signing Beltran?

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                  Not if it took four years. Not that Beltran for three is much better.

                  • Looser trader droids FotD™

                    Granderson for 4 > Beltran for 3 IMO.

  • Baked McBride

    A very long time Met fan bet me in February that Beltran wouldn’t play a game after the ASB…I guess he was early. Maybe he only thrives in smaller towns with no pressure and few writers – KC, Houston or St. L

    • LK

      Maybe. Or maybe Beltran had the best year of his entire career with the Mets. And maybe “no pressure and few writers” doesn’t at all describe St. Louis, where the Cardinals enjoy a rabid following and the most postseason success of any NL team. And maybe it’s ridiculous to suggest that arguably the greatest postseason hitter of all time only thrives in low pressure situations. We’ll just never know.

    • hogsmog

      Oh please. So the bone spur in his elbow decided to act up because it got freaked out by a reporter?

  • Grit for Brains

    Who needs Nelson Cruz for one year when you can Beltran for three?

  • Yangeddard Solarte

    Carlos is a winning ballplayer with a championship pedigree. That’s why he and Jacoby were acquired. And don’t be so confident with Ryan’s defense since his error cost us a ballgame in Milwaukee. Be careful what you wish for.

    • BeanTooth

      What does “championship pedigree” mean? This isn’t the American Kennel Club. If you’re talking rings, Beltran has exactly zero, so not sure how that works.

  • Dr. Grenaldine

    This team STINKS right now. I can barely watch. And the team will suffer with their ticket sales. Hell, they suffer when the team is competitive. I don’t understand how Cashman could field such a mediocre team after last year. He didn’t have many options…but his options were certainly better than this. Brian Roberts? Kelly Johnson? Brandon Ryan? I mean seriously. Brian McCann is literally a very expensive Russ Martin right now. Small sample size, whatever.

    This is not what the doctor ordered!

    • Yan Solo

      The three players you mentioned aren’t the problem just because they weren’t given $500 million dollars to play for the Yankees. In fact, Brian Roberts (if he can stay healthy and hit semi-consistently like he has of late may prove to be a bargain pick up; and before you say anything, I know he’s not Cano and that’s a moot point because they weren’t resigning Cano), Kelly Johnson has been riding the pine due to so much LHP by opponents but has overall been pretty darn good and reliable when in the lineup, Brendan Ryan just got off the DL and was clearly a defensive first choice so they knew what they were doing (he’s not expected to hit, just play solid defense on the days he’s asked to give people a breather, but let the man get some games under his belt before you, would you?) Brian McCann’s start certainly is alarming and, yes, it is a small sample size so far but there are definitely areas of concern there I won’t dispute with you on). However, the rest of the team and pickups should be a concern because we are talking about All Stars who have been entrusted with this foreign (to them) team…and in NYC…with giant contracts to live up to….and intense media scrutiny…a fanbase that takes every loss to be the end of the world (yes, myself included sometimes) or that not winning a WS every year is seen as an epic fail. I don’t know about you, but I might find it hard to live up to insane expectations if I were in their shoes, especially with no grace period (outside of ST) to get used to the new environment, management, players, facilities, media, press, get their kids registered in school, etc. While I agree that this is not working out the way it was intended to, how much of this could have been foreseen? Nova’s TJS? No way. CCs health (I’ll give you his performance because that writing has been on the wall and his adjustments don’t seem to be working)? Nope. Beltran’s tumble over the wall or coming to find out he has a previously undetected bone spur after an ill-fated practice swing? Nope. Cervelli getting injured again (yes, he has a history, but come on; and that worked out for the best as I’d rather have JRM up instead)? Doubtful. Hell, a lot of people flipped their lid when Nunez got dumped and now Solarte is leading the league in batting average and the Yankees in RBIs. Would we have signed up for that in a New York minute? Hell yeah. Could anyone on the Yankees team, staff, or ownership have seen that coming when they made their choice? I’d tell them they’re lying if they did and they could only claim they knew otherwise if they were a politician. But to call out Roberts, Johnson, and Ryan as evidence of failure on the Yankees part to live up to expectations instead of the areas where the Yankees have really failed or the players that have individually failed to live up to expectations? C’mon. The Yankees knew what they were getting in those three guys and have gotten roughly exactly those expectations. The concern should be on all the other players who are being paid ungodly amounts of money to produce and the front office’s decision making. But even that criticism is sketchy. We laud their biggest risk (Tanaka) which could’ve have been a huge bust right out of the gate (and could you imagine the comment sections if that were the case? Holy hell thank god it isn’t!!) and we harp on their fairly low risks (McCann, Ellsbury, Beltran) which no one in baseball really questioned or criticized as transactions other than in more ungodly dollar amounts. I don’t know where I’m going with this anymore and I think my point has been made, so I’ll end this with “It isn’t all just bad luck, but it isn’t all deserved either.”

      • Looser trader droids FotD™

        For the love of god man, paragraphs.

  • Darren

    For all the lip service paid to small sample sizes around here, it really only takes a week or so of bad play for everyone to freak the fuck out.

    • WhittakerWalt

      Or 4 games, even.

    • Dr. Grenaldine

      Small sample size or not, the stench is visible

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        A stench is a smell.

        • Dr. Grenaldine

          It is?

          • Mike HC

            You might be watching too many cartoons … although in nyc, stenches are actually quite visible sometimes.

        • Yan Solo

          Unless you’re in Los Angeles (or Beijing). Then it’s both.

        • Mikhel

          #Win

          hahahaha

  • Dick M

    Hal needs to grow a pair and gut the front office.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Who would you replace them with?

      • Dick M

        I’ve got a real job, and don’t get paid for that. But we need some development folks. Hell, I’d buy the Cardinal guys, make them offers they can’t refuse. Bring Theo in. The fact is I don’t have the answer cuz I don’t really know the players. What I do know if that this group has been buying their way out of mistakes — it’s all they know, and that way of doing biz won’t fly in the current environment.

        I looked up on Baseball America the list of the best righthanded starters in the minors. There were 65 guys listed. Tanaka was on there cuz he’s considered a prospect. Other than him, we didn’t have one guy listed. Not one.

        • vicki

          friedman is from houston, and the astros offered him the moon. i don’t think he’s going anywhere either.

          • vicki

            for eddard, below.

      • Yangeddard Solarte

        I would entice Beane or Tampa’s GM to come over here. Those guys know how to scout and build a farm. You might say it’s because they pick 1st every year but these are perennial playoff clubs. Boston and St Louis are in the postseason every year and have no problems building a quality farm.

        There’s no SP in that farm and hasn’t been since Andy. Gardner is the best everyday player from the farm on the club right now, Robertson the best arm and Robertson never gets to pitch.

        • Mikhel

          Billy is part owner of the A’s thus he can not work for another organization.

  • Frank

    Lately, each new topic on this site is more depressing than prior one.

  • http://riveravenueblues mississippi doc

    A few weeks ago everybody thought this team was great and all we needed was Stephen Drew. My goodness, relax. The baseball season is very long. This team does not suck, Girardi is a good manager, and Cashman’s acquisitions were reasonable given the absence of ready position players in the minors. Although, in truth, Solarte and Murphy have looked pretty good and Phelps, Warren, and Betances have been three good young pitchers. Yes, injuries happen to older players and some could have been anticipated. But this group is not Hafner and Youkilis. Roberts was a low risk addition who so far looks OK, understanding he is not likely to last the season. Would you rather have Cano at age 41 at $25 million? They need to go with what they have and continue to look for reasonable additions without gutting the farm system. Nobody else in the AL East has a team without problems, too.

  • mitch

    I’m sure Mike had difficulty refraining from beating the drum again, but i’ll say it this time. If Beltran is out for a long time, the best option is to sign Drew after the draft and move Jeter to DH.

  • Robert

    Slade,Mason and Tyler the door is open and you three were doomed by injury and Hype!
    Culver Bichette and Gumbs would have been a nice boost in 2015,not gonna happen.

    When will we have true prospects in AAA waiting to fill in?

    • Dick M

      We don’t do AAA prospects very well.

      Our Top 10s are historically made up of guys in A ball. Never a good sign.

  • ropeadope

    From what I understand, the cortisone shot will reduce any inflammation, which could allow the spur to go back to being unnoticed.

    Yes, the cortisone will mask the pain, but will not heal the underlying condition. That is dangerous. Beltran can feel good, overextend himself, and wind up more seriously injured.

  • Mikhel

    Ryan and Jeter batting in the same lineup? YIKES!!

  • Steinbrenner’s Ghost

    “Someone who they knew could handle New York and big pressure situations.”
    ————————————————————–
    There’s such a big difference in pressure and expectations btwn playing for the Mutts and playing for the Tiffany franchise.

  • lou

    Drew and morales will sign with the yanks. Yanks need power and a short stop.

    • vicki

      sigh.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    It’d be great if, just once, I’d come on here and read some actual present-focused comments and not “we shoulda signed him then! We shoulda signed that guy instead!” from a bunch of armchair GMs.

    I think assuming surgery is still a slight stretch. I hope what he’s doing now gets him back to being productive. I refuse think a hitter this good is going to fall off a cliff that quickly.