The ‘L’ word is contentious issue among Blue Jay fans. Blue Jay first baseman, Lyle Overbay, was a player highly scrutinized in Toronto well before this season. Now, Overbay is off to a horrid start hitting .127 AVG, with 0 HR’s and only 4 RBI’s. If you go to some of the daily Blue Jay blogs you will find an ‘all out war’ going on between fans with different opinions on Overbay‘s value. Who knew baseball could resemble war? Seems like the furthest thing from war to me? For Jay fans, Lyle Overbay is the Gaza Strip.
In short, the debate stems from Overbay’s ability to play great defense and contribute an above average .OBP (on base percentage) – stats that go relatively unnoticed by casual fans that put high expectations on a first basemen in the catergories of HRs, RBIs and AVG. Overbay’s contribution, or lack there of, is the main dispute. Many Jays fan want him out of the lineup, where some believe him to be a key contributor getting on base and playing stellar defense.
I can’t think of a Blue Jay that has been more disputed, criticized and argued more than Lyle Overbay. If you listen to local sports talk radio after Jay games, you will hear a guy named Mike Wilner defend Lyle Overbay on a religious basis. The day Overbay moves on, Wilner will likely feel an empty void in his life. He has preached the Gospel of Overbay for so many years that Lyle must possess some kind of omnipotence in his mind. I enjoy Wilner on the radio, so I hope he doesn’t have a nervous breakdown when Overbay is gone.
Any baseball player, as we learned from the book/movie in pre-production starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill ‘Moneyball,’ players can be seen as financial commodities. With Overbay it has been hard to tell if we were in the black or the red? It is hard to compare him to other first basemen because he not like the others. Overbay begun his contract with the Jays in fine fashion, but is now ending it in with a less-than-mediocre performance. Are the Jays in the black or the red with Overbay? Answer that question, but be prepared for war!
In all likelihood, Lyle looks take a pay cut upon receiving a new
free agent contract. Making 7.95 million for the 2010 season, Overbay
has not lived up to the high expectations placed upon following the
first year of his contract in 2006. For that year, Overbay hit for a
.312 average, had 22 homeruns, drove in close to 100 RBI’s, had .OBP of
.372 and knocked his signature 46 doubles. However, for the next 3
years of his current 5-year-contract, Overbay’s homerun numbers dipped
into the teens, his RBI’s fell into the 60’s and those signature
doubles became merely average falling to the low-to-mid 30’s.
When Overbay was with Milwaukee, there was a year he hit an
astonishing 56 doubles in a season. This season led to a lucrative
contract with the Blue Jays; however, throughout the course of that
contract it became apparent those days were over.
Considering the numbers previously mentioned for past three years.
One wonders how Overbay was even able to survive at first base for the
in the A.L. East? He plays in a division where Mark Teixeira, Jason
Giambi, Kevin Youkilus, David Ortiz, Carlos Pena and Aubrey Huff have
consistently put up ‘bigtime’ production numbers at the first base
position for their respective teams.
In the past three years Overbay’s production has dropped off. This is
usually an alarming fact for a first baseman. However, it is not as
grim as those numbers may suggest. Overbay is consistent contributor
defensively at first base. He is one of the best. Also, throughout
those years Overbay has maintained the same high .OBP (On Base
Percentage) that he had in his ‘breakthrough’ years. More and more,
teams are desiring players with high .OBPs. So, Overbay’s value has not completely
fallen off the map. I’d say that his value on the open market would be 2-3
million per year and only he’d get, at most, 3 years. Good, but a great
decline from the 7.95 million that he will make in 2010.
Overbay will be an intriguing player to look at during this upcoming
free agency because he is unique from other first basemen. How many
first basemen do you see that are purely solid .OBP guys? Don’t you
have be able to ‘mash’ to play first base? Does any team really want a
first baseman that is just good at getting on base and playing defense?
It seems that Lyle Overbay will not be in the Blue Jays plans for
2011. The Jays have traded for top first base prospect, Brett Wallace,
and they will likely work him into the position – possibly as early as
this season. The Jays have also been incrementally reducing payroll
while allotting most of their assets into scouting and player
The Possible Frontrunners
Having a high .OBP, and contributing on defense, Overbay would ideally
fit into Oakland General Manager Billy Beane’s ‘Moneyball’ philosophy.
Taking a sharp pay cut, Beane might want to exploit Overbay before he
passes the age of 35. At which point, Beane would hope that Overbay
increases his trade-market value for available prospects. Too many
obstacles abound in considering Overbay being signed by Oakland,
though. Top prospect Chris C. Carter might need to be held in the
minors a bit longer and Oakland’s experiment with AAA ‘mashers’ Jake Fox and Daric Barton
will need to fail. I’d only consider the A’s a secondary option for
Overbay in consideration of these factors.
Considering where a free agent might sign it is necessary to look at
primarily look at two things in terms of ‘team needs.’ One, what free
agents will the team possibly lose? And what players might be coming up
through the team’s system? The Tampa Bay Rays will face a dilemma with
both Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena‘s contracts coming up for renewal in
2011. If Tampa commits to signing Crawford for ‘big money,’ then Pena
will likely be out on the market. The Rays currently have an
interesting 19-year-old first baseman in there system, 5th round-pick
Jeff Malm, but he would be at least 3 years away from the major
leagues. Overbay would be an effective, cheap and solid ‘stopgap’
option for Rays that can add depth and defense. Being a small-market
team, I can see the going after Overbay, especially if the Rays choose
to commit to Crawford instead of Pena.
The Mets are team in need of first base help. They have a converted
outfielder playing the position now, and their system does not look
bright in the area of first basemen. If Daniel Murphy and prospect Ike
Davis do not contribute effectively, the Mets will need help. Overbay
would fill a void for them, and with the amount money they’ve spent
recently on Bay, Perez, K-Rod and Santana they might go with him as an
affordable option if they are not in sweepstakes to acquire a player
like Carlos Pena.
Mariners (my pick!)
Lyle Overbay is a product of the State of Washington. In the past, he
has been rumoured to be headed back to his home state via a trade to
the Mariners. He has been quoted, saying that he would like to play
there. With Ken Griffey Jr. edging on retirement, the M’s might want to
move first baseman Casey Kochman over to DH for 2011, making room for
top 1B/OF prospect Dustin Ackley (depending on his progression), or a
‘stopgap’ option like free agent Lyle Overbay to fill in until Ackley
is ready. Having first base solidified on an exciting M’s team might be
desirable? The chance of Overbay playing for the M’s improves even
greater if Kotchman shows the same downturn in his statistics from last
season. Overbay could be considered in a deadline trade to the
‘predictably contending Mariners’ if Kochman’s stats continue to
decline. The Jays will likely be in the cellar of the A.L. East again,
and they will be looking for prospects to keep building their team. A
deadline trade to the M’s makes the signing of Overbay even more
likely. In any case, they will be at least rumored in
signing Overbay next offseason, in my opinion.
Too much school right now! I’ve been writing essays about boring stuff, instead of blogging lately! It is actually hard for me to determine what is more productive? If I write this essay, I can get a degree? If I post on this blog, I will be happy? I wish baseball blogging, or writing, was a University program, lol!! Here is a taste of what I’ve been doing. CAUTION: You might burst into a deep sleep upon reading!
This paper will examine the explanations put forth for the overall lack of unionism and lack of workplace human rights in East Asia. The lack of unionism in the region, with regard to degradation of human rights in the workplace, draws on one distinct explanation. This explanation focuses on the organized tactics of spatial labour control that seeks to manipulate organizing threats of migrant workers in East Asia. The topics that will be studied, pertaining to this explanation, include migration, labour’s lack of political inclusion, the structural spatial control of labour, and the physical space that is manipulated by East Asian corporate elites. The idea of organized spatial control presented by Philip Kelly includes the following to explain crucial labour topics that contribute to the overall manipulation of human security in the workforce:
constructing the individual as an autonomous unit of negotiation; constructing the workplace as a container for dispute resolution; establishing the industrial estate as a denationalized and desocialized space; constructing spaces of national sovereignty and imagined national/ethnic community; and, the distancing of homeplace from workplace through the use of migrant workforces.
Enough of that!!!! Back to baseball!!
In this post, I wanted to dissect every MLB teams ‘staples,’ briefly since 2003. A ‘staple’, as known by many who take global political economy, is a single product that defines the economic standing of a region/country of the world. For instance, the ‘old south’ of the United States had ‘cotton’ as their staple, the Maritimes of Canada has ‘fish’, and Japan has ‘electronics’. I compare this to players on current MLB teams.
Many teams have the same type of ‘staples,’ as players in their organzation. Although in past years, these players might not be the best players on their teams. In my opinion, many of them can be percieved to be accountable for a club’s success or failure.
So lets take it back, and look at the players that have stuck with their clubs since 2003 until recently!
Starting with … surprise! surprise!
Toronto Blue Jays 2003 – Roy Halladay, Alex Rios and Vernon Wells
Almost no other team is as relevant to the 2003 ‘staple’ theory than the Blue Jays. The success of the Jays hinges on these players. The BIG word regarding them however is … INJURIES!!! It is hard to argue that these three players are NOT a strong nucleus to build a team around. Many will argee that these past years have seen the Jays go through a lot of bad luck with injuries, specifically regarding these staples! In 2005, Halladay was anchoring the Jays to a serious wild card run when Kevin (flippin) Mench smacked a ball of Halladay’s ankle ruining that year. Halladay has also had some arm trouble in past years. As far as Vernon Wells, I ask what year hasn’t he cause instability in the Jays lineup because of injury? He simply is our only legitimate threat in the lineup, and he is often either on the DL, or playing not because of injury. The Alex Rios project has seen it’s share of inconsistancies. The talent is there, but for some reason, you get the feeling we haven’t seen fully what he can do in a year. He can look like he is going to hit 40 HR’s then not hit one for 2 months? So case and point, the Jays have gone as these staples have gone. Very inconsistant, because of injury and what have you. Characteristics of a slightly better than mediocre team, which is what they have shown since 2003. Too much rambling on the Jays, sorry I couldn’t help it they are my team.
Boston Red Sox 2003 – Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez and Tim Wakefield
Ortiz did not start the 2003 season with Boston, but he was definately an early turning point for the team that won in 2004. Manny and Ortiz are what made Boston so strong! They are staples in themselves, instilling fear in the middle of that order. Without them, no 2 World Series would have been won. I would argue that life without Manny will be different for Boston, however, they are in the process creating their own ‘staples’ now with Pedoria and Youkilus. Varitek and Wakefield have been steady contributors. They give the team an identity. Varitek has arguably been the best catcher in baseball from a leadership perspective, and Wakefield might not get amazing numbers, but having him in the rotation is always something that teams and hitters have to prepare for. These staples have made Boston achieve great success since 2003. Tek and Wakefield will continue to do this, as Boston transitions out of the Manny/Ortiz (might be showing decline with injury) years.
Chicago White Sox 2003 – Paul Konerko, Joe Crede and Mark Buehrle
I’ll try to make this shorter. CWS won the World Series in 2005. They did it with great pitching that year (particularly from Buehrle). They also did it with hitting the long ball! Konerko and Crede definately exemplify that philosophy! Those players produced a ‘staple’ of success for Chicago in that year, and also last year making the playoffs. The AL Central is a tightly competitive division, so it is hard for any team to see constant prolonged success in that race.
Cleveland Indians 2003 – C.C. Sabathia, Travis Hafner and Cliff Lee
2003 was the year that these young players in Cleveland started to develop, and they did develop to guide the Indians into a 2007 playoff run (stopped by the Red Sox). Hafner has been hurt and inconsistant replacing Ellis Burks (old name) as the cleanup hitter in 2003, and Lee wasn’t that great until this year. These were strong and young ‘staples’ that helped Cleveland to a lot of success in 2007, and 2006 when they came close the playoffs. Losing Sabathia will hurt, however!
Detroit Tigers 2003 – Fernando Rodney, Brandon Inge and Nate Robertson
All these players were backups, or in the bullpen in 2003. Detroit had to reinvent themselves, and that led them to the World Series in 2006. Like I said before, in many cases these ‘staples’ may not be a team’s ‘best players’. These players all had ‘career years’ in 2006, and were great for Detroit in the playoffs. Proving my point once again, as the ‘staples’ go, so does the success of the team.
New York Yankees 2003 – Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina
A lot of them, huh. Arguably, what has made the Yankees so successful over these years is the fact that they have these steady guys (staples) on the club! Before this season, 13 straight playoff appearances, but have fallen victim to other hot American League/National League clubs. However they do it, in 2003 they did it with Robin Ventura, Raul Mondesi and Nick Johnson also in the lineup, they do it! The look of the Yankees become quite different without the presence of many of these players.
Oakland Athletics 2003 – Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez
Hard to have a staple on a team that reinvents itself that much! In 2003, Mulder, Hudson and Zito were the strength of that team! Mark Ellis is a steady player at second base, but Chavez has been a big dissappointment for the A’s. They signed him, which is amazing for the A’s just in that fact, but it backfired as injuries have plagued him. I thought Chavez was going to be a very promising player for years to come, it looked that way. He fell off, the A’s fell off! Maybe Beane will never sign anyone to a big deal ever again!
Seattle Mariners 2003 – Ichiro Suzuki
A great ‘staple’ to begin with, although he hasn’t been as amazing as he was in some years, Ichiro is the face of the Mariners. The point here is that it is only Ichiro! He needs the support of other ‘staple’ players, to help. Edgar Martinez was there in 2003, but he was far too old already. Brett Boone looked promising, but that was all drug induced. They haven’t had solid players that they could fill positions with and call ‘staples’ in years! ‘Staples’ are what characterize the Mariners lack of success in this case.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2003 – Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli
They were the Devil Rays in 2003, so I can call them that. Crawford is an absolutely electric player on the field! Signing him to a big deal was definately the right call, and as soon as the Rays got a better supporting cast around him, they succeed. Baldelli’s injury plagued career has set the Rays back in past years. The Rays drafting with the 1st pick, has made them able to develop new ‘staples’ that they NEED to hold onto in order to succeed further. Crawford was, by far, a standout player for years before 2009.
Texas Rangers 2003 – Michael Young, Hank Blalock and Joaquin Benoit
Pretty difficult when the only solid staple on your pitching staff, is not solid or a staple at all. The Rangers can always hit and score runs, Michael Young has definately been a big part of that, but the pitching is terrible. Chan Ho Park was their ACE in 2003. Blalock looked promising, but injuries have kept him from doing anything great. The Rangers were very troubled in the years leading up to now, their ‘staples’ were not sufficent and lacking in talent, especially in the pitching staff.
Minnesota Twins 2003 – Justin Morneau
2003 was Morneau’s first year, and while he, Tori Hunter and Johan Santana were the ‘staples’ of some Twins’ playoff teams, they find themselves in the situation of having to be more cost efficient. Morneau will keep the Twins competitive in the AL Central, as they have been, but the Central is usually a toss up every year, as to who will win? Can’t argue with the Twins, they usually play great baseball every year and are in the hunt, too bad the playoffs haven’t been kind to them! “At least they make the playoffs,” says a disgruntled Blue Jay fan!
Kansas City Royals 2003 – Absolutely Nobody!
I really feel for the Royals, always having to reinvent themselves. In 2003, the Royals had Carlos Beltran, key word HAD. But even if they resigned him to be a staple, would they be any good? Probably not, is the sad answer. This is their rotation in 2003!
1. Runelvys Hernandez 2. Darrell May 3. Miguel Ascencio 4. Shawn Sedlacek 5. Chris George
Haven’t even heard, or remember, the last two guys. Sadly, those type of players have become their ‘staples’.
Baltimore Orioles 2003 – Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and Daniel Cabrera
All these players were not in the O’s starting lineup/rotation in 2003, they were just developing. Roberts is a fine player, but the others are simply mediocre. Again, their problem exist with the pitching staff, which is very inconsistant and does not have a significant ‘staple’. They’ve been a very mediocre club and so have their ‘staples’. You can’t tell too much looking into their ‘staples’. Sidenote: ex-Blue Jays Cy Young Pat Hentgen was on the Orioles in 2003, along with other ex-Jays David Segui and Tony Batista.
Anaheim Angels 2003 – Garret Anderson, Scott Shields, Francisco Rodriguez and John Lackey
After the year the Angels won the World Series, they only have four players remaining from that era today. An excellent vetern hitter, two guys that have anchored what is arguably the best bullpen in baseball year in and year out and a very solid starting pitcher. Since 2003, the Angels have done a lot of tinkering around these guys, like adding Vlad and getting rid of Eckstien, Glaus and Erstad. However, the strength of the Angels has always been their bullpen, and you can’t think of a more solid hitter for the team, than Garret Anderson! All these guys were staples of some very good Angel clubs, that often were featured in the playoffs.
Agree? Disagree with the 2003 staple theory? The NL next post!
 Phillip Kelly, “Spaces of Labour Control: Comparative Perspectives from Southeast Asia,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 27 no. 4 (2002): 398.