Tag: Lyle Overbay

Report: New York Yankees Interested in Veteran 1B Lyle Overbay

The Yankees search for veteran help continues.

After trading for Vernon Wells, who will be the team’s starting left fielder at the start of 2013, they are now looking at a potential first basemen.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN, the Yankees are looking into Lyle Overbay.

Sources: Yankees looking at Lyle Overbay espn.go.com/blog/new-york/…

The 36-year-old Overbay was released from the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday and is now free to sign anywhere he chooses.

With Mark Teixeira on the disabled list until at least the end of May, the Yankees are scrambling and searching for options.

The Bombers could have moved Kevin Youkilis over to first base, but would rather leave him at third and look for a temporary solution at first.

With Overbay, he could either be signed to a minor-league deal—or even a major-league deal—for the veteran’s minimum, and once Teixeira comes back from injury, could either be a pinch-hitter, or the Yankees could simply release him.

In 2012, Overbay played for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves, hitting .259 with two home run and 10 RBI.

The Yankees have been using Juan Rivera mostly at first base during the spring, but that hasn’t stopped Brian Cashman from exploring the market.

Buster Olney of ESPN thinks it’s an unlikely fit that the Yankees will sign Overbay, but it won’t stop them from looking at him.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens if Teixeira needs surgery and could be forced to miss the entire 2013 season.

If that happens, the Yankees may need to make another deal, potentially for Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins.

As a short-term solution, Overbay would be a decent option, but not for the entire season.

Stay tuned to see if the interest is legit, or if the Yankees are doing their due diligence.

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2011 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training: A Look at the First Basemen

Part two of our position by position look at the Pittsburgh Pirates takes us to the the first basemen in camp.

Last season, Garrett Jones was the primary first baseman, and while he could still see a start or two there this season, first base will have a different look to it.

Several Pirates got a look at first base last season, beginning with Jeff Clement. All together, seven different Pirates started games at the position. With the offseason signing of Lyle Overbay, first base is one position that should have a bit more stability during the 2011 season.

With that being said, let’s take a look at who’s in camp.


Lyle Overbay

2010 Stats: .243 AVG, 20 HR, 67 RBI

2011 Salary: $5,000,000

Overbay was one signing that was a bit peculiar in the offseason. He’s basically your run of the mill, average first baseman that’s trending on the down side of his career. He doesn’t amount to many more wins for the Pirates, but they could (and have before) do much worse.

Overbay will be pretty much the everyday guy and I will warn you now that he’s streaky. If Pirates fans weren’t happy with the streaky Adam Laroche, they probably won’t be too happy with Overbay either.

Overbay will provide a solid glove and, if everything goes well, could have a bounce-back type of season at the plate. He likely will hit in the middle of the Pirates’ order, so he will have run producing opportunities.

Fantasy Value: Not much. Overbay is the first baseman for those that miss out on the big guns at the position. At best, he likely will hit between .260 and .270 with 15-20 homers and 65-80 RBI. He will be given the at-bats, though, so if he produces early in the season, Overbay could be a mild surprise.

Overview: Overbay could help this young team both offensively and defensively. He’s a solid pro. If he has a solid first half, he’s likely trade bait at the deadline.


Steve Pearce

2010 Stats: .276 AVG, 0 HR, 5 RBI

2011 Salary: $414,000

Pearce is running out of chances in Pittsburgh, but keep an eye on him. He doesn’t have a bad glove at first base and the one thing he can do is hit lefties well (.304 lifetime average).

However, the signing of Matt Diaz could spell the end to the Pearce experiment. Diaz is even better against lefties and will start in right field against them, freeing up Jones as a backup first baseman.

Pearce will need a strong finish to spring training, but if he gets hot, he could become a good right-handed bench option for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

Fantasy Value: None. Making the team will be tough enough for Pearce, finding suitable playing time will be tougher. Spot starts at best.

Overview: It would be nice to see Pearce make the team and contribute. It likely won’t happen, though he will be given a long look the rest of camp though. He can at least force Hurdle’s decision to be a very tough one.


Garrett Atkins

2010 Stats: .214, 1 HR, 9 RBI

2011 Salary: $800,000 (non-roster invitee)

Atkins could be the guy to force Pearce off the team with a strong spring.

Atkins thrived under Hurdle while both were in Colorado, which is likely the only reason a team gave him another chance after watching his OPS decline by an average of 73 points the past four seasons.

The ideal thought would be that Atkins could provide some pop against left-handers, but even that may be stretching things a bit, considering he only hit .204 against southpaws a season ago.

He’s only 31, so washed up may be too strong of a term, but Atkins likely has to have a big spring to head north with the Pirates.

Atkins is currently off to a good start in camp, so if he continues, then he could force Hurdle to keep him. If he makes the team, he has a chance to be a bit of a surprise, providing a right-handed power bat off the bench that can play both corner positions.


Other First Base Options

If Overbay falters, there are a few other internal options besides Pearce. Of course, Jones would be the logical guy to plug in there, but the Pirates could also look at Ryan Doumit (let’s hope not), John Bowker and even Clement when he gets healthy enough.


Key Stat

In today’s game, first base has become a position that needs to be a run producing position. Pirates’ first basemen combined to hit under .240 a season ago. As far as run producing, the numbers weren’t much better, though Jones didn’t have a terrible season.

To be improved in 2011, Overbay having a bounce back season will be crucial.


Prospect to Keep an Eye On

Anthony Rendon: The Pirates don’t have a true first base prospect in the organization, although Calvin Anderson’s power potential is intriguing. Keep an eye on Rendon’s season at Rice University. He should likely be the first overall pick in this season’s amateur draft, eventually forcing a shift to first base for Pedro Alvarez.

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Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista: Why They Will Both Fall Short in 2011

With all the hype and hope the Blue Jays injected into their fans with their play of last year, there is one thing everyone is forgetting when looking forward to this year. The simple way of putting it: they are going to fail this year.

Generally, I’m one to stick to the team and players and project big years from all involved. However, it seems like the doom and gloom media and fans have all either had a change of heart with Anthopoulos’ steady hand at the helm, or they have all finally given up.

I have given myself the task of dampening your spirits and predicting craziness again after having been called nuts by friends for saying before last season started the Jays would have a winning record.

It is easy enough for anyone to say or predict Bautista won’t be able to match last year’s offensive output. Few players are able to match those stats the very next year or ever in their career.  Bautista should get a minimum of 30 home runs and I wouldn’t even be shocked if he might crack the 40 again this year. Nonetheless, he and the Jays are in for a rude wake-up call.

With all the talk of the Yankees and Rays losing valuable players and taking steps back this offseason, we have somehow been blinded into thinking that we will perform better than we did last year. I agree with everyone in saying the gap has been shortened between us and the Yanks and Rays.

The fact of the matter remains that we have lost significant key players this past offseason. In offense alone we have seen 70 HR walk out of our clubhouse in Wells, Overbay and Buck. Even with improved seasons by both Hill and Lind we will still have lost close to 50 longballs.

Offense aside, we have lost steady reliable pitchers—Marcum from the starting rotation and Tallet and Downs from the bullpen. I purposely leave out Gregg, who himself was effective for us last year with his 30-plus saves.

Marcum was a very steady arm who had even impressed Halladay when he was around. Downs was as good as any late-inning left-handed reliever around. Tallet was a very solid, proven long-inning relief pitcher. Three veteran arms all gone.

The Blue Jays have amazing upside and have a very good chance of meeting last year’s wins. To say they can challenge for a playoff spot this year is going a long way. 

The Red Sox had pretty well every starter they had out with an injury at some point during the season, and most of them for more than a week. They had more man games lost last year than some divisions had! Okay, that might be stretching it a bit, but you get the idea.

Boston, you must remember, despite all those injuries was still able to finish four games ahead of a very healthy Blue Jays squad. A repeat of the hurt the Red Sox experienced last year is unlikely; a safe bet would be Red Sox division champs by a landslide.

The Yanks and Rays, although they have taken steps back with their overall starters, are probably only as bad as the injured Red Sox of last year! I would find it hard to believe they have slipped any lower than 90 wins in a year.

The Jays have a very bright future. This year will be a big year for everyone involved, but with growing comes growing pains. This team will find that with taking a step forward toward having a sustainable playoff team for years to come they have given sacrificed this year to being no more than mediocre.

The Jays will finish where they were last year—in fourth with about 85 wins.     

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Pittsburgh Pirates’ Platoon Potential: Looking At the Team’s 1B Options

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?

**** Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here. ****

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

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Pirates of the City of Pittsburgh: Curse of the Last 18 Years

Alright, kicking off my 30-team preview, we’re starting in the wonderful city of Sixsburgh. A city of rich sports tradition, and champions all around.

Whether you’re on the frozen pond, or on the gridiron, Pittsburgh knows what it takes to win championships. Even the dismal Pirates were once synonymous with success back in the early 1900s as well as the entire 1970s.

Since their last postseason appearance in 1992 the Pirates have had no winning records, and two 100-loss seasons. The Pirates ship sank a long time ago, and with any hope of bringing it back, well…not even Johnny Depp could produce a winner out of this one. A modern tragedy over 18 years in the making.

The 2010 Pirates were one of two teams in all of baseball with more than 100 loses, and trading away Zach Duke early in the offseason sent a message—that this franchise is in a long, drawn out rebuilding process. But how long does it take to rebuild? 

The hiring of manager Clint Hurdle was a great move in my opinion, he’s someone who can help the Pirates immediately. Hurdle is going to put his best lineup on the field every day, and he is a winner.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much to work with. Here’s what the Pirates’ lineup and starting rotation looks like right now.

C: Chris Snyder

1B: Lyle Overbay

2B: Neil Walker

3B: Pedro Alvarez

SS: Ronny Cedeno

LF: Jose Tabata

CF: Andrew McCutchen

RF: Garrett Jones


SP: Paul Maholm

SP: Ross Ohlendorf

SP: Charlie Morton

SP: James McDonald

SP: Kevin Correia

CL: Joel Hanrahan


The Pirates were relatively quiet this offseason and that should come as no surprise, but I like the move they made by signing Lyle Overbay. He’s an experienced first baseman who brings a consistent bat to a very inconsistent lineup. 

Jones and McCutchen are the best players on this team though, without question, and it will be interesting to see what happens with both of these player throughout the course of the regular season.

This is McCutchen’s team, and he is an emerging superstar. Leading the Pirates with a .286 AVG last season, as well as 33 stolen bases. There is no doubt in my mind that McCutchen is an all-star talent, but as Pittsburgh has proven in the past. They simply are not willing to pay up in order to keep their talent.

If Pittsburgh manages to hold onto both of them, the rebuilding may be over sooner rather than later…unfortunately, the Pirates are also in one of the toughest divisions in baseball year in and year out.

Pitching is the key concern for the Pirates, as their “ace” Paul Maholm won a total of nine games last season and had an ERA of 5.10. However, their is no lack of talent, or prospects in this rotation.

Ross Ohlendorf has solid stuff, a high 90s fastball and a nasty sinker, he was the only Pirate’s starting pitcher with a winning record during his first full season in 2009. If this club wants to climb out of the cellar of the NL Central, they will be needing a big year from Mr. Ohlendorf.

An interesting position battle surrounds this team heading into spring training as well. That is the battle for the full-time closer between Hanrahan, and Evan Meek. Hanrahan was the closer during the 2010 campaign, but I expect his duties to be handed over to the surprisingly dominant Meek.

As the setup man in 2010, Meek posted impressive numbers for a less than impressive bullpen with a 2.14 ERA, as well as 15 holds for a team that only won 57 games. Meek was also selected to the NL All-Star team and is one of the few bright spots on a team that has not been able to hold on to their talent for over a decade.

Although the Pirates still have many questions, including the middle of their batting lineup, as well as the bottom half of their starting rotation. This is a team who has more potential than the rest of the bottom feeders.

But as for this season, well…the 2011 Pirates may not win any Oscars (or more than 60 games), but this sequel should be an improvement on an atrocious 2010.

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Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Lyle Overbay and Matt Diaz

I am writing this post as I am watching She’s Out of My League. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much, but I find it surprisingly funny. There are definitely some good parts in there that have made me laugh.

Now on to another laughing matter. That’s the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

The Pirates have been the joke of the sports world for the past 18 years and it has been very rare that we have commented on anything they have done over that time period. Let’s give them some love today.

Over the last couple of days, the Pirates have dipped their hands in the free-agent waters by signing 1B Lyle Overbay and OF Matt Diaz. They signed Overbay to a one-year, $5 million contract and Diaz to a two-year, $4.25 million contract.

I like both of these signings by the Pirates.

In my “Free Agent Primer,” I had Overbay pegged as this year’s Aubrey Huff. Now, will Overbay lead the Pirates to a World Series title like Huff did with the San Francisco Giants? Absolutely not, but that doesn’t mean that Overbay can’t help the Pirates in 2011.

At this point in his career, the Pirates know what they are going to get with Overbay. He is going to hit around 15-20 HRs, have an OBP about 80 points higher than his average, which is usually around .260, and produce an OPS around .800.

I like to call him a “Poor man’s Mark Grace.”

Overbay is also an upgrade over Garrett Jones at first and should help Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker in the infield. Overbay isn’t as good defensively as he used to be, but he is certainly better than what the Pirates were rolling out there in 2010.

The Pirates didn’t bring in Overbay to help them win the NL Central. The Pirates will continue to bring guys like Overbay to help them be a little bit better on the field, but also to be a stopgap until they amass enough young players to really compete.

At $5 million, Overbay will outperform his contract and help the Pirates be a little better on the field.

Diaz is an interesting signing as well. I always had something personal against Diaz because he pronounces his name “Die-az” instead of the traditional “Dee-az.” I always found that annoying.

But anyway, I digress.

Diaz spent five years in Atlanta and hit .305/.353/.461 with 41 HRs in 511 games. Not too shabby.

Diaz spent the majority of his time in Atlanta as fourth outfielder and that is what he will be doing in Pittsburgh. The right-handed Diaz will platoon right with Jones.

That’s a good thing because Diaz crushes left-handed pitching. For his career, Diaz has hit .335 against lefties in 797 plate appearances. Players thrive when they are put in the right role and this should be the right role for Diaz.

Both Overbay and Diaz won’t help the Pirates win the NL Central or even compete for the Wild Card in 2011. They are still years away for that to happen. But, the Pirates did get better this week with those signings.


You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Pittsburgh Pirates Make Head-Scratching Move By Signing Lyle Overbay

The Pittsburgh Pirates made a head-scratching move by coming to terms with first baseman Lyle Overbay on a one-year, $5 million contract Tuesday afternoon, adding to the pile of mediocrity that currently surrounds first base and right field.

I’ve stated many times before the dire need to stick to the plan and continue to develop young players.  None of the other three signings truly bother me, and neither does this one, but it just doesn’t help much.

In Overbay, the Pirates get a 34-year-old coming off of a season in which he hit .243 with 20 HR and 63 RBI. It was a very down year for Overbay, but the numbers realistically should go up now that he’s out of the American League East.  He also has the benefit of the short porch in right field at PNC Park, but the drawback is that Overbay is on the downside of his career.

The positives are that Overbay makes the Pirates marginally better. He’s an outstanding glove guy. Offensively, assuming you believe Overbay’s numbers will increase slightly, he’s actually a slight upgrade over Garrett Jones. 

Across the board, statistically the two were close to being the same player in 2010. There’s also nothing that makes you believe that Jones will be any better in 2011 than he was last season.

I don’t have a problem as much with signing Overbay as I do with the reasoning. Overbay is a solid pro, but there is no way he should be the team’s everyday first baseman next season.

It just doesn’t fit with the rebuilding process.

As I’ve said before, I have a much better chance of winning the Powerball then the Pirates do of making up nearly 50 games to approach the .500 mark.  Who cares about .500 anyway?  How many wins does Overbay really help this team gain?

Sure he’s likely to be flipped at the deadline for prospects, and I have no problem with that at all. If Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington can turn Overbay into a steal like he did with Octavio Dotel, then great.

The money paid to Overbay could have been used for someone who could have improved the team. 

I didn’t have a problem with the other signings and I still don’t, but now that you shelled out an additional $5 million on a 34-year-old first baseman, the Pirates have spent nearly $12 million on four guys who might help them improve by five to eight games.

That’s not sticking to the plan.

If you were going to shell out $12 million, why not throw $15-$18 million on one guy who can help really improve the team.

If the Nationals can overpay for Jason Werth and get themselves deep in the Zach Grienke negotiations, there is no reason the Pirates shouldn’t be able to do the same.

As far as players not wanting to come to Pittsburgh, I’m done hearing that as well. Most players these days will play anywhere if you offer them enough money.

The big thing that the Overbay signing does is that it moves Jones into a platoon in right field with newly signed Matt Diaz.  That’s fine, Jones isn’t an everyday guy, but it also squeezes out John Bowker and Steve Pearce.

I’m not drinking the Bowker Kool-Aid like most. He’s not an everyday guy, but could help the team given enough spot starts here and there.

Pearce though has shown that he eats up southpaws and should be kept in that part time role in the meantime.  That won’t happen.

The biggest thing though is that it really impacts a Ryan Doumit trade. Huntington has been desperately trying to deal the guy and hasn’t found the right offer. Now, other teams know the Pirates have to move him and the offers will not increase.

One other issue is that the Pirates will likely bat Jones, Overbay and Pedro Alvarez 4-5-6 or 4-5-7 in the batting order.  That’s making it very easy on opposing managers late in the game to neutralize the Pirates offense by bringing in their best left-handed reliever to get three outs.

While it sounds nice to have the Pirates sign a guy who has had a good major league career, this one just doesn’t make too much sense.

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Toronto Blue Jays Should Give Manny Ramirez a Shot

The AL East is a battleground and while Toronto may be the best fourth-place team in the majors, 85-77 isn’t going to send them to October. 

The John Farrell era doesn’t need to be kicked off with another “rebuilding year.” They can win now; the Jays just need a little help. 

Enter Manny Ramirez. Some of you may shake your heads at the idea of bringing the 38-year-old troublemaker to Canada but it’s not really a bad idea at all. In fact Manny may be the X-factor. 

For one, Manny isn’t going to cost $20 million. He had a down year, he really can’t play the outfield every day, and the fact that he has already reached out to Toronto indicates that he knows the market for him isn’t great. The White Sox aren’t likely to retain him. The Red Sox don’t want him and the Yankees likely have bigger prizes on their radar. 

The cost of Manny is likely going to be between $10-15 million. That’s really not a lot of money. The Jays have $16 million coming off the books from Roy Halladay and B.J. Ryan, two players who didn’t play for the Jays last year. Scott Down, Lyle Overbay, Jason Frasor, John Buck free up another $15 million and Edwin Encarnacion is a prime non-tender candidate. Sure, arbitration will raise more than a few players’ salaries but not $31 million worth. 

The Blue Jays are owned by Rogers Communication, giving them the financial backing of a major corporation. AA has said that he’ll spend money when it makes sense. 

Now it does. 

Manny is also a character who, believe it or not, puts fans in the seats. Mannywood was a big deal for the Dodgers. He sells merchandise and gets himself on ESPN. Sure they’re not signing him to be a circus act, but it does come as an added bonus. 

Manny also enjoys playing the DH, something that’s fairly rare as most hitters don’t enjoy the time off in between innings. For Manny, less is more, and that’s not really a bad thing. 

Lyle Overbay is not the answer at first base. He’s a decent defensive first basemen but his numbers just aren’t there. 

Does Toronto put Lind at first base? Why not? If guys like Troy Glaus can do it, why can’t Lind?

The 2010 San Francisco Giants are really not all that different from the 2010 Blue Jays. Sure, their top two pitchers are incredible, but their offense consists of complete scrubs. Juan Uribe and Aubrey Huff made around $6.5 million between the two of them and Pat Burrell and Cody Ross were both cost-controlled since they came from teams that didn’t really want them. 

The Giants also had $42 million dollars dedicated to three players who haven’t really done anything to merit that kind of money in Barry Zito (wasn’t on the postseason roster), Aaron Rowand (not a starter), and Edgar Renteria (not completely awful but certainly not worth $10 million).  

I’m not suggesting that the Jays swim around in the bargain bin but there are good players who aren’t very expensive. Toronto hasn’t really played the free-agent market very well over the past few years and that needs to change. 

The Blue Jays have power but they could use more. Alex Gonzalez was a big contributor before he was traded, Buck will likely leave and Encarnacion could go either way. That’s a lot of home runs to replace before you factor in that the other players will not likely all reach their totals from last year again. 

Manny brings an experienced bat to the lineup, he’s a clubhouse presence that really wasn’t there during Cito’s time and he’s a character. 

What does Toronto really have to lose with Manny? 

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The Rebuilding Continues: Looking Ahead at The Jays’ 2010 Offseason

Now that the Jays have hired John Farrell as their 12th manager in franchise history, the team can now begin looking into their offseason plans as they look to continue rebuilding in 2011.

The team was fortunate to come away with 85 wins last season, surprising just about everyone. They also surprised everyone by leading the league in homers.

Fortunately, most of their core is locked up, such as LHP Ricky Romero, DH Adam Lind and 2B Aaron Hill. They also have a number of players under control who have yet to amass six seasons of big league experience, such as RHP Shaun Marcum, RHP Brandon Morrow, SS Yunel Escobar and RHP Jesse Litsch.

That said, this team is full of question marks. This can be broken down into three categories: the Bautista decision, the bullpen bind and their corner-infield predicament.


Bautista Bomb!

News flash: OF Jose Bautista has some pop. His 2010 breakout season was foretold by no one, but the 30-year-old’s future in Toronto is very much in the air. At the moment, it appears as though the Jays would like to work out a three- or four-year deal with the third baseman/right fielder to stay in Toronto with a reasonable salary.

Bautista, however, could take a one-year deal or go through arbitration to see if he can get a bigger payday. Based on his numbers, Bautista would see somewhere around $6.5-7.5 million from the arbitrator.

The potential contract offer will come down to whether both sides can agree on a number in both years and term that will land Bautista less than a 54-homer guy would normally be worth, but a lot more than a guy with 17 home runs a year would make. If neither side is lenient, Bautista is as good as gone.

In all likelihood, Bautista will open the 2011 season with a Jays uniform. Where he plays is yet to be determined, as he’ll likely have to wait to see what GM Alex Anthopoulos does in the free agent market, if anything.

My question is this: is Bautista a fluke? There’s no question that he won’t come close to 54 homers again (my prediction is 25), but will there be a regression like there was for Hill and Lind?

Both players still put up good homerun numbers, but that, as well as all their other stats, slipped significantly. Are Hill and Lind for real? Can they bounce back in 2011? Can we expect Bautista to have a similar slip statistically?


Infield Corners

Current 1B Lyle Overbay, 33, is a free agent coming off a disappointing season. Toronto is currently thin at first basemen, but all signs point to Lind, who played 11 games at first base, taking over the position.

Luckily, their options are not limited, as the 2010 free agent pool is especially generous this year. Big names like Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena, Aubrey Huff, Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee are all set to test the market.

The Jays certainly won’t sign any of these players to a long-term deal, but some may accept a short-term deal to get see if they can bounce back statistically in the hopes of signing a bigger contract the following season.

Across the diamond, 3B Edwin Encarnacion sits at third base. The Jays hold arbitration rights over him, but the club could elect to walk away from the soon-to-be 28-year-old, despite hitting 21 homers. Encarnacion is poor defensively, and it’s unclear if the club would be willing to pay him over $4M in arbitration, especially since they sent him down to Triple-A twice last season.

Letting Edwin walk, though, means that Bautista is stuck at third, whereas his value is higher in right field because of how strong his defensive play and throwing power/accuracy is. If they choose to keep Bautista, their best option is to try and groom a new third baseman, such as Brad Emaus. On the market, the free agent third basemen are headlined by Adrian Beltre, but aside from him and maybe Mark DeRosa, the pool is shallow.


The Bullpen Bind

Toronto’s three major relievers from last season—LHP Scott Downs, RHP Jason Frasor and RHP Kevin Gregg—all enter 2011 with doubt.

According to Cot’s contracts unofficial Elias Rankings, both Downs and Frasor will be “Type-A” free agents, meaning that teams that sign them would forfeit their first-round draft pick to Toronto, and the Jays would get a sandwich pick between the first- and second-round in the draft from MLB.  Gregg projects to be a “Type-B” player, meaning that the Jays would only receive the sandwich pick.

Both Downs and Frasor will need to be offered arbitration for the compensation to be awarded, so it’s almost a guarantee that this will occur. Whether they accept it, however, is an issue on its own—they can either accept the one-year deal with the Jays or walk away and test the free agent waters.

Of the two, Downs is almost guaranteed to decline arbitration to become a free agent. His value is currently sky-high: a lefty reliever who can pitch equally well to lefty and righty bats, and also has the ability to save games is something that’s highly sought after.

Few teams forfeit draft picks for a late-inning reliever, but many teams are currently just a solid bullpen arm away from becoming serious World Series contenders—namely, the Yankees and Red Sox. Downs will almost assuredly receive an offer from both clubs, as well as from about half the league as well.

Frasor, however, isn’t in the same boat. He’s coming off a below-average season and lost his job as the team’s closer early in the year. At the moment, his interest on the open market is unclear, and you can expect fewer teams to come calling if they’re forced to lose a draft pick to sign him. Because of this, Frasor is likely in Toronto for at least one more season.

Finally, we get to Gregg, in which the Jays have two options. As to which route they can take—they can sign him for $4.5 million for 2011 or lock him up for 2011 and 2012, which would cost the club $8.75 million over the two seasons. Gregg saved 37 games last season, but isn’t the prototypical “closer” that most teams look for.

His “stuff” isn’t great and is nowhere comparable with other closers who are in or around 30 saves. Until the Jays either sign or develop a closer in waiting, it’s hard to imagine the club at least not picking up one of the options.

Downs would be the best option in terms of getting key outs. That said, he’s too important to simply limit to ninth-inning duties. He needs to be available in the fifth, sixth or seventh when the Jays need a double-play ball or to get a lefty bat out with two on and two out. I’d like to see others get chances—guys like RHP Shawn Camp or RHP Casey Janssen could be given tries, and if all else fails, they can always go with a closer—by committee.



I don’t claim to know everything about baseball, but these are just some ideas. I’ve been high on RHP John Lackey for years, and now’s Toronto’s chance to get him. He’s finally a free agent, and Toronto would be a great place for him to bounce back from an inconsistent 2010 campaign. He wouldn’t necessarily have to be the No. 5 either.

I’d really take a serious look at OF Carl Crawford and OF Jayson Werth. Both guys add power, speed and defensive ability to the lineup, a deadly combination. Take a look at teams like the Rangers, Rays, etc.. They’re all fast teams. Not all their players are fast, but they can, and know how to, run well.

If you can put pressure on the pitcher and make him lose concentration by worrying about you, you’re halfway there. Adding Werth or Crawford means more steals and allows the Jays to be more aggressive on the basepaths since they now have faster options. Neither player would come with a terribly high price tag either.

Speaking of price tags…Mannywood North?

Oh God. Yes, Manny-to-Toronto rumours have started. Again. Manny told ESPNdeportes.com on Monday night that he’d be interested in playing for Farrell in Toronto.

“John has tremendous knowledge of the game, a very pleasant man and he trains ballplayers. Toronto has made a great acquisition. Farrell is a manager for whom I would like to play, and Toronto is a team I’ve liked since they had all those Dominican players in the ’80s…I still have a lot of baseball left in me. I think that I can still bat if I keep myself healthy, and it is less probable to have an injury playing as the designated hitter.”

Well, he’s not wrong. Personally, I can’t stand Manny. He’s slow, he’s dim-witted, he’s annoying, he hogs the spotlight and is a clubhouse cancer. I’d rather have Werth or Crawford over Manny any day of the week.

But at the right price, Manny in Toronto (*only* as the DH) would be another great power bat to add to the lineup. He did hit .298, but the 38-year-old slugger had a down season with just nine home runs and 42 RBI in 265 ABs because of knee and groin issues, which are now resolved after he underwent successful hernia surgery. He’s expected to resume baseball activities in mid-November.

It makes sense, though. If Lind plays first, Bautista third and Snider in the OF, the team needs a new DH. It doesn’t make sense for Toronto to use a DH-by-committee whenever someone needs some time off—if there’s a power bat available at a good cost, go for it. The Twins had this with Jim Thome this year, and he worked wonders when Justin Morneau was lost for the season.

Manny still has a season or two of solid offensive numbers left, so maybe Toronto should use them. Since he’s coming off a down-year and recently had surgery, now might be the perfect time to offer him a one-year incentive-laden/performance-based deal to get him to step it up. Plus, he consistently *kills* the ball at the Rogers Centre.

Will Anthopoulos do it? Unlikely. He’s building the team wisely—a young foundation with added veterans where needed. The Jays have arguably the best young staff in the majors, so their starting five is reasonably solid and young.

They’ll need to add some bullpen help and a big stopper for late-innings. I think 2011 is a tad optimistic for the Jays to be seriously competing in the AL East, but 2012 is more reasonable to think they’ll make a splash.

These are the three biggest issues for Toronto. They still need to figure out what’s happening with All-Star C John Buck, as well as finding a fifth starter in the rotation (Marcum, Romero, Morrow and Cecil).

This winter should be one to keep an eye on for Jays fans, as it could be the final steps before slugging it out with the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East.

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Toronto Blue Jays: Lyle Overbay Clears Waivers, Trade Looming?

According to Jon Morosi of FOX sports, Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay has cleared waivers successfully, and now can be traded by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Overbay has roughly $2.1 million remaining on his $7.9 million contract, which expires at the end of the season. Overbay does not qualify right now as a type A or B free agent, so trading him will not result in any draft compensation, something the Jays are always seeking.

This season, Overbay has enjoyed a pretty mediocre season by first baseman standards, only hitting .250 with 13 home runs and 45 RBI’s.

His numbers don’t scream out trade, but there are a number of playoff contenders which are starving for first base help. 

The Tampa Bay Rays recently lost Carlos Pena to injury and have been using a combination of Ben Zobrist and Dan Johnson at first. Zobrist is a super utility player and can play anywhere, while Johnson was a call-up from the Durham Bulls (AAA).

The Boston Red Sox lost their first baseman, Kevin Youkilis for the rest of the reason due to a muscle tear in his right thumb. They have been using Mike Lowell and Victor Martinez as his replacements. Lowell is aging and is more of a third baseman, while Martinez is the Red Sox starting catcher. Additionally, they have recently signed former Blue Jay legend, first baseman Carlos Delgado, to a minor-league contract. If or when he makes it to Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox is anyone’s guess.

Another team that could find themselves in the mix is the Texas Rangers, who traded their first baseman Justin Smoak in the Cliff Lee deal prior to the July 31st trading deadline. They have replaced him with Mitch Moreland and Chris Davis, not exactly the guys you want playing there on a playoff-caliber team.

Lastly, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a team that should be in the mix. Having lost All-Star first baseman Kendry Morales for the season with a broken leg (see video), the Angels have been using catcher Mike Napoli as a quick fix for the time being. Getting Overbay would move Napoli back behind the plate and keep the catching duo of Napoli and Jeff Mathis in tact. When Morales returns next season, Overbay should be long gone.

So there you have it, there are teams in need of a first baseman and the Jays have lots to spare. Moving Overbay gives the Blue Jays more time to evaluate whether Adam Lind can man the position, or they have to move JP Arencibia from behind the plate to first base.

Your thoughts on the potential deals and roster/position moves?

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