Jobu tunes up the old redemption radio to hear the tune of Lyle Overbay.
I know this post is a long time coming. Everyone and their mother has written about it, and I think I haven’t yet for a couple of reasons. One, I’m not sure it has processed in my brain just how good Lyle Overbay has been this year. It’s like I don’t yet believe it, so it’s hard to write about. The second reason is that, as a Yankees fan, I don’t want to jinx and ruin whatever is going on with him. However, now that it appears Mark Teixeira‘s return from his torn sheath (I don’t know why that makes me giggle) is going to be much sooner rather than later, and Lyle’s days as a regular contributor are numbered, it’s time.
Let’s start with Lyle’s path to the Yankees. It has taken him a long time to put on the pinstripes. The 36-year old from Centralia, WA (I thought he was canadian until I just looked that last factoid up) was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 18th round of the 1999 draft out of the University of Nevada-Reno. Just two years later, he made his Major League debut for the snakes as a September call up, which is how he was brought back to the squad the next year too. By the way, during his initial minor league tenure, Lyle never hit below .342. That’s how you get called up in two years, everybody.
Anyway, after a half season as the D-Backs first baseman, he was traded, along with Chris Capuano, Craig Counsell, Chad Moeller Jorge De La Rosa and Junior Spivey for the great Richie Sexon, Shane Nance and a player to be named later that turned into Noochie Varner. After a couple of good years in Wisconsin, he was dealt north of the border to the Blue Jays, along with Ty Taubenheim, for Dave Bush, Gabe Gross and Zach Jackson. He stayed in Toronto until 2010, when they granted his free agency and he signed with the Pirates. He experienced a bit of a revival with the Pirates, hitting .300 for the first time since 2006. After the season, he ended up back with the D=Backs, but he was a shell of himself at the plate, and was released in August of 2012. He spent some time with the Braves later that August, but was eventually released.
Before this season, he signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox, who cut him with a few days left in Spring Training after he struggled at the plate. Because the Yankees were desperate to replace Mark Teixeira, they gave him the infamous three-day try out at the end of Spring. He ended up making the team over Juan Rivera, and instantly became the team’s primary first baseman. What he’s done since then has been down right amazing.
So far this season, Overbay has played in 48 games and registered 180 plate appearances. He’s slashing .251/.296/.473 while hitting 8 home runs and driving in 28 runs, which are good enough for third and second on the team, respectively. Not bad for a guy who was basically on his way out of the league in March. His numbers would actually be a lot better if Kevin Youkilis were healthy and Overbay could stop playing against lefties. He’s hitting .291/.336/.556 against right-handers this year, with 7 of his 8 homers. Now that’s impressive. He has also played excellent on the defensive side of the ball, which is something he was always known for anyway, but it’s still nice to see.
So what’s going to happen when Teixeira comes back? I think the Yankees would be dumb to jettison Lyle immediately upon Tex’s return. First of all, how well is Tex’s sheath going to hold up under the every day rigors of playing baseball? Second of all, is Travis Hafner going to stay healthy? He’s already had a dinged up shoulder this year, remember? The problem with keeping Overbay on is that he’s going to crowd the roster. He’d give them three guys that can only play first base or DH. With most teams carrying 12 or 13 pitchers these days, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for redundancy. I think that, barring injury, Overbay’s gonna have to go at some point. Remember that Youkilis is on his way back soon too.
Whatever happens with Lyle when this team gets healthy, It’s been a pleasure to have him on the team so far. Thanks for the song, Lyle. Hopefully it continues, whether it’s for the Yankees or someone else.
Featured image courtesy of: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports
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