Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Like It or Loathe It? Lyle Overbay at First Base Again

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It's incredible to think that out of all the hired guns that were brought in by J.P. Ricciardi during the 2005 offseason (Burnett, Ryan, Overbay, Glaus), Lyle Overbay was the sole survivor who made it through the duration of his contract.

It was a tumultuous time for Overbay during his tenure in Toronto. He quickly became a fan favourite in his first season as a Blue Jay, as I can recall the "O-Zone" section being prevalent at most home games.

However, just as the "O-Zone" dwindled, so did Lyle's popularity in Toronto.

Things culminated earlier this season when fans had seemingly had enough on May 17th after Overbay committed two errors in a single game and was in the midst of a subpar first half of the season.

Amidst the public ridicule, Overbay's teammates quickly came to his defense in a touching moment of solidarity, baring his jersey number during an autograph signing.

All things considered, Lyle Overbay was the whipping boy when he really didn't deserve to be, but playing a prototypical power position such as first base, standards were very high from the onset of Overbay's arrival in Toronto. I guess after four and a half seasons, some folks finally had enough.

So now here we are five years later and the Toronto Blue Jays are back at square one: they have no first baseman. Despite the glut of free agent first baseman out on the market, why not entertain the idea of bringing back Lyle Overbay for another season?

Honestly, it's not the best option out there for the Blue Jays right now, but it's definitely not the worst. Unless Alex Anthopoulos can swing a trade to land somebody to play first base, 2011 will be a transitional year for the position anyway.

The Blue Jays haven't committed entirely to having Adam Lind at first base, so why not have Overbay there as a contingency plan? We all know Lyle can play the position cleanly, and while he may not offer what he used to in terms of offense, he can still hit righties very well.

Here's a solution I can offer - a slight variation of the strategy Cito Gaston employed during the 2009 season: play Adam Lind at first base against left-handed starters, and play Lyle Overbay against right-handed starters.

Giving Lind the starting first baseman job right out of the gate isn't the wisest move, so by splitting the time between Lind and Overbay say 60/40, this way the Blue Jays can ease Adam into the position rather than throw him into a dragon pit with nothing but a fork.

There are still a slew of first basemen out there like Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche, but let's be honest ... none of them fit in with the long term plans of this team. And if these guys are only a short term solution anyway, I'd rather go with somebody like Lyle Overbay who is pretty dependable defensively.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, right?

The funny thing about it all is the Blue Jays paid Lyle Overbay a total sum of $26.25 million dollars in salary over five seasons. According to FanGraphs, he was worth approximately $35.4 million dollars. All in all, the Blue Jays basically got what they paid for in Lyle Overbay ... and if anything, a little more.

Now there's no way Overbay will receive anywhere near the kind of money he earned in 2010, but maybe something like a one year deal worth $4 million would be appropriate. Really at this point, the Jays would just be extending Lyle Overbay until Adam Lind is ready at first base.

Call me indifferent ... I'm not in love with the idea of Lyle Overbay coming back to play first base in 2011, but I don't loathe it either. Considering the other free agent options right now, the Blue Jays could be paying somebody else a lot more money but get a lot less ... rather than just sign Lyle Overbay.

14 comments:

  1. The problem with bringing Lyle Overbay back is that it gives the impression to fans that this team is not moving forward. I think the team needs to throw the fans a bone, especially after the Lawrie deal that has most fans (wrongly) upset.

    My first option would be to try and pry another prospect away like Yonder Alonso, however, if that can't be done, why not bring in a guy like Manny to be DH, or Derek Lee to play 1B. If anything this gives the fans what they want and the Jays another piece that can be used to acquire talent during the season.

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  2. I like Overbay. I really do. But I think it's time for him and the Jays to part ways. The player doesn't fit the team's plan and the team's fans, in general, don't deserve the player.

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  3. Agreed, Ian, the Jays could do a lot worse than LyleO. I don't think he'll agree to platoon; it pissed him off when he wasn't getting playing time the last couple of years. If he gets full-time work elsewhere, even in baseball purgatory (Pittsburgh), I understand if he'd take that job over a part-time position. But a Lind/Overbay platoon would be fine by me. Like you said, 2011 is about transitioning. Who better than to teach Lind to play 1B than Lyle?

    @ Peter: Who cares about the fans that, as you point out, are wrongly upset about the Lawrie trade? Fuck 'em. Anthopoulos absolutely does not need to throw the fans a bone. Watching Snider play everyday, freed of Cito, is bone enough.

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  4. Peter D, I share that sentiment that we need to turn the page on the old era, but bringing in one of the free agent first baseman would still be the same band-aid solution. Like you said, unless they trade to get Alonso or even Prince Fielder, we'll be in this exact same situation 1-2 years from now trying to find another first baseman.

    infieldfly, I feel bad for Overbay ... I really do. He got a bad rap during his time in TO, especially this past season. Some fans could afford to show him a little more appreciation. Maybe if he comes back, we should start the Overbay Appreciation Society (OAS)?

    Nav, now that you mention it - wasn't he the rumoured leader in the Cito mutiny? Hell, I don't blame him for being platooned with Kevin Millar. But if he wants to stay in Toronto, he should accept his fate and play wherever needed.

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  5. I want him to move on, but only because I think it's best for everyone. If something weird goes down and Overbay comes back to Toronto, yeah, OAS 4 LIFE!!!1

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  6. AA is going to play Lind at first in at least a platoon situation and I don't think LyleO is interested in anything but a full time situation. So I doubt it's going to happen unless the talk of Lind at first is just another of AA's smokescreens, which is very possible with our secretive GM.

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  7. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reports that the Pirates have reached agreement on a one-year contract with first baseman Lyle Overbay.

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  8. Lyle got an everyday job. Good for him. Also, wanted to say, that picture of LyleO is fantastic. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than a new set of Franklin batting gloves every spring. Loved those bad boys.

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  9. infieldfly, looks like the OAS has moved on to Pittsburgh.

    Mattt, hard to say, but I think AA indicated if they were going to sign a DH, he would need to play some first base as well. Which basically rules out Manny, unfortunately.

    Peter D, damn the Bucs! They just made this post completely irrelevant. But good for Overbay, $5 million and a starting job is not too shabby - even if it's with the Pirates.

    Nav, it's definitely one of my fave. The handlebar moustache makes it especially intimidating. And those Franklin gloves are priceless - along with the Blue Cooper glove that Juan Guzman had, those were staples in my days in little league.

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  10. Adam Larouche and Derrek Lee are the only DH/1B left as free agents that don't make me want to throw up in my mouth.

    Also, even if the Jays signed someone like Manny, couldn't they use Jose Bautista as the back-up 1B?

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  11. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

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  12. Peter D, same here - not many other free agent guys out there that I'd be looking to sign to play first base. That JoBau at first base also crossed my mind as well, wouldn't be surprised to see them split time between Lind and Bautista - but that is going to be a rough go defensively.

    Anon, we've been had by the Pirates!

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  13. Avast me mateys! 'Tis a good day to be hittin' dubloons...er, DOUBLES, ye salty bilge-rats! Were ye to hit into a double-play, ye be gettin' keel-hauled!

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  14. Anon, I have a feeling this could be an ongoing series - a Lyle Overbay pirates comic strip.

    Love that line too about the "dubloons" ... I be wonderin' if Lyle will find any buried treasure in PNC Park.

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