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.