When 2010 came to an end it appeared that Garrett Jones would open the 2011 season as the Pirates starting first baseman.  Given the options on the roster, it was a fair assessment, but the Pirates have not stood pat.  They have signed a pair of players this offseason who can man first base and potentially appear headed for a timeshare:

Lyle Overbay
The left-handed hitter enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in 2010, hitting 20 HR with 67 RBI and 75 R in 534 AB.  However, hitting for power as part of the Blue Jays lineup really was nothing special in ’10, nor was his total actually overly impressive.  He’s never hit more than 22 HR in a season, so if it is punch that the Pirates were looking for, Overbay certainly isn’t the answer.

Many people may want to think of him as a good average hitter, but since hitting .312 in 2006 he’s posted the following marks:

  • 2007 – .240 (.271 BABIP)
  • 2008 – .270 (.316 BABIP)
  • 2009 – .265 (.305 BABIP)
  • 2010 – .243 (.285 BABIP)

In those four seasons he watched his strikeout rate go from 18.4% in ’07 to 24.5% last season.  Once again, there really is just nothing to get excited about.  Throw in that he has failed to surpass 75 R or RBI in the past four seasons and you have to wonder exactly how Overbay fits into their plans offensively.  He does little to strengthen a lineup that desperately needs a boost.

Garrett Atkins
He was once a vaunted source of power, but Atkins simply hasn’t been the same player the past few years.  A right-handed hitter, it has been a steady decline since slugging 29 HR in 2006.  In fact, he failed to stick with the Orioles in 2010, hitting just .214 with 1 HR and 9 RBI in 140 AB.

It’s nice that he doesn’t strikeout much (2010 was the first time he was above 16.4% since 2004) and maybe he can regain a decent stroke and hit for a good average.  I’m not talking over .300, because when he did that he was swinging with power, but maybe in the .270-.280 range.  Solid production for sure, but nothing to brag about.

Atkins was a much lower risk financially.  He signed a minor league contract that, if he makes the major league team, will pay him just $800,000.  Overbay, meanwhile, was handed a one-year, $5 million contract.

From a fantasy perspective you really can’t expect to get much out of either one, especially if they do split time.  Watch them on the waiver wire and if they look decent, then strike.

I have to believe that the Pirates are hoping one of them proves worthy enough that they can trade them towards the deadline for prospects that actually fit into their long-term plans.  They did it well with Octavio Dotel in 2010, so why not try again?  With Atkins the contract is perfect for that type of gamble.  For Overbay?  I’m not quite so sure.

Regardless of the Pirates plans, this is a situation that should be avoided.

What are your thoughts?  Who do you think will get the bulk of the playing time?  Will either prove usable in 2011?

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