Carlos Beltran and the microfracturing of your season

In its typically nuanced, understated way, the New York Post summarizes Carlos Beltran's(notes) situation with this headline:


Last Monday, Beltran was placed on the disabled list due to an expanding bone bruise in his right knee. This Monday, he was in Vail, Colorado visiting Dr. Richard Steadman, the guy who invented microfracture surgery.

The Mets keep calling it a second opinion, which of course it is, but it's something more ominous as well. Dr. Steadman is really the new Dr. Andrews. This from Newsday:

The Mets were hoping to have Beltran return after two weeks on the DL, but the visit with Steadman could have more far-reaching implications. Beltran had surgery on both knees in October 2007 that was described as a debridement of the patellar tendons, essentially a cleaning up of tissue in that area.

Beltran initially denied that this recent injury was related to his previous operation, but it is possible that wear and tear could have further damaged his right knee, which has always been more of a problem than the left. That could make him a candidate for microfracture surgery, which stimulates the growth of new cartilage by drilling small holes in the bone.

There's plenty of speculation in that report, obviously, and few hard facts. But you'll recall that New York GM Omar Minaya wasn't exactly a ray of sunshine when Beltran hit the DL:

"If we get him back for the second half, after the All-Star Break, I'd sign up for that right now."

Interestingly enough, the Mets' Web site managed to cover Beltran's visit to Vail without ever using the word "microfracture." Their report simply refers to Dr. Steadman as someone "who specializes in the surgical and conservative treatment of knee disorders."

They do not add "...with a four-month minimum recovery time."

Beltran has been a five-category contributor this year -- he's on pace for a 96-19-96-26-.336 season despite the missed time -- so there's no way to easily replace him for fantasy purposes, unless you're in a very small league. If you're looking to the free agent pool, you really need to identify one or two categories where you can least afford to do without Beltran's contributions. This could lead to a wheel play where you don't necessarily add an outfielder -- although 10 percent owned Nate Schierholtz(notes) is scorching hot -- but instead add the best available source for short-term steals, without regard to position (like, say, four percent owned SS Everth Cabrera(notes)).

It's fantasy triage, basically, while you wait for news from Vail. The Mets themselves are rumored to have an interest in Adam Dunn(notes), Nick Johnson(notes), Aubrey Huff(notes) and Matt Holliday(notes). (Link, link).

If you traded Beltran two weeks ago because you have the gift of precognition, please comment...

UPDATE, 1:15 pm: The early reports from Vail aren't too bad, all things considered. Via the Daily News:

Dr. Richard Steadman, who examined Beltran on Monday, agreed with the team medical staff’s assessment that the center fielder is suffering from a bone bruise. Steadman is expected to recommend Beltran remain inactive slightly longer than Mets doctor David Altchek initially suggested — until after the All-Star break.

That's fine news for those of us who've been staring at this nonsense every morning:


Photo via Getty Images

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