Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why is this man smiling?

Maybe because a certain slow-of-foot tweeter says that The Manager says that he's going to get full-time duty at first base this year.

If you've followed along for awhile, you likely know that we love us some Randy Ruiz and we loathe The Manager's managerialism. So what we're about to say might surprise you:

We kinda like this move. Sorta. Even if we don't actually believe it will come to pass.

Overbay, much like his fellow Washingtonian/sweet-swinging/first-sacker/doubles-machine John Olerud, will always disappoint those who are expecting a 300 lb gorilla at first base. But if you can get over the notion that a corner infielder's offensive production needs to be measured in home runs and runs batted in, you'll see that Overbay can still provide above average production. In 2009, his 122 OPS+ ranked behind only Adam Lind (144) and Scott Rolen's 1/2 season (124) amongst Jays hitters, and put him ahead of everybody's favorite poster-boy Aaron Hill (117).

The caveat, of course, is that Overbay was held back from facing too many lefties, and kinda sucked against them, posting a 53 OPS+. He only started eight games all year against lefties, and stood in the batters box against them just 86 times. And even in his best season (2006) with the Jays, Overbay didn't get a ton of looks at lefties (167 plate appearances), and he managed just a .305 OBP against them.

Even so, here's where we think it might make sense: There's a line that Overbay threw out at one point last season about how he found it difficult to get into a groove when his playing time was so irregular. Even if that is a load of horseshit, it's the load of horseshit that is in Overbay's head, and if getting him a few extra AB's against lefties to prove himself helps him keep his hitting stroke in order, then so be it.

But ultimately, we doubt that The Manager will be able to resist the urge to platoon Overbay and Ruiz. And frankly, that might be for the best. (Agreeing with The Manager? We must be feverish.)

Ruiz needs some sort of a role on the Jays if he is going to be on the roster, and he certainly wouldn't fit into the Johnny Mac pinch running role. Parking him on the bench to serve as an occasional pinch hitter won't really give the Jays a sense of who he could be as a major leaguer. If he were to get a turn a few times per week in the early going, and show himself to be unable to hang at this level, then that's one thing. But if he's languishing with a .750 OPS in less than 50 ABs somewhere in the middle of June, then the Jays would probably be better off letting Ruiz go elsewhere and bringing in a player with some positional flexibility.

Even if that would be a cryin' shame.

12 comments:

Tao of Stieb said...

Tao,

I'm confused. What the hell are you saying here?

Your pal,

Tao

dave said...

In his career Overbay isn't THAT bad against lefties. There is definitely a difference but it's not a Ryan Howard difference. But it still doesn't make much sense.

We have a good idea of what kind of Major Leaguer Lyle Overbay is (solid hitter, great defensively with an arm that can start a 3-6-3 like no one else) but we have no idea what kind of player Randy Ruiz can be. Why not figure that out?

Best case scenarios: Randy rakes and he's the Jays 1st baseman for the next 3 years with the help of Butter. OR Randy rakes and we're able to trade him this year or next for some prospects.

Worst case scenario: Randy can't hang offensively or defensively and the Jays lose 94 games instead of 91.

If I'm going to be ok with a major losing season I at least need one with a purpose. Let's figure some shit out.

Holden Ballfield said...

I like the showcasing theory.

I need to pick an NL team to cheer for this season. Needs to be someone with a shot whose games I can watch occasionally. I will go out and buy a hat, maybe a T. Any suggestions? I am leaning Cards, but that seems so arbitrary.

Ian H. said...

Maybe Clarence "announced" Overbay as the fulltime first baseman because he didn't want to get any flack in the clubhouse? Wasn't Overbay one of the spearheaders of the mutiny last year?

This could be Cito's way of playing nice and appeasing Beest and AA by not pissing of the platers.

Mylegacy said...

Randy is 32. T-h-i-r-t-y t-w-o.

He is a nice story. "Ruiz keeps Wallace in AAA for 4 years!" "Ruiz hits 32 homers while platooning with Overbay!" "EE's broken wrist lets Jose play 3rd, Lind LF, Snider RF and Dandy Randy Ruiz hits 45 homers as full time DH!"

He is a nice story. By late June Overbay is traded or given away (along with the Jay's paying his salary) and Wallace is up. Ruiz is JUST a nice spring story - like when the first Daffies bloom and your local paper shows a picture of the season's first tulip.

I wish he were more - but he ain't.

Anonymous said...

Ruiz is going to end up playing every day regardless of whether or not he starts. At least once a game Gonzalez or Buck will be at the plate with RISP in the late innings. And that's when Ruiz is going to come in handy. He pinch hits, and then McDonald or Molina will come in for defense.

Course, if the Manager was actually thinking straight we'd have Lind in LF, Snider in RF, Overbay @ 1B and Ruiz DHing vs RHP, with Bautista then DHing and Ruiz @ 1B vs LHP.

The problem isn't Overbay, it's that Bautista's starting against RHP.

Ty said...

Anon, Ruiz as a late-inning pinch hitter makes a ton of sense, which is why I'm sure I'll have plenty of chances this year to throw things across the room in frustration as Alex Gonzalez hits a weak grounder back to the pitcher in the bottom of the 9th while Ruiz sits comfortably on the bench.

Anonymous said...

I think things will be a bit better this year. Last year Cito had one of the worst benches in the Majors and that wasn't his fault. The way things are shaping up he's got a power hitter in Ruiz, and a speed guy in either McCoy or Reed,

Freeze said...

Got to agree with My Legacy. As far as showcasing a player goes, priority has to be on Overbay. He's the guy that needs to be turned into future value, and with luck he'll start hot and be worth more than Chris Snyder come July.

Ruiz can get his shot after Overbay's traded. Hey - in a perfect world he does get his chance, has success, AND gets traded for something of value. Nothing against 32 year old ballplayers but he's no key piece in 3 years.

Peter D said...

People tend to prefer the unknown in a case where they are not completely happy with the known. However, the truth of the matter is that the Jays are most likely better off playing Overbay everyday because of the following:
- It allows for the opportunity to increase Overbays trade value during a time when the Jays need to find ways to acquire talent.
- It provides improved defense for a young team that that will need it.
- It keeps a guy with a decent OBP in the line-up, which outside of Adam Lind is sorely missing.
- It keeps one of the few players who can provide veteran leadership happy.

Ari said...

Peter D,

1. People need to stop pretending like Lyle Overbay has ANY trade value. If he did, he'd be long gone. Nobody wants to pay market value for a guy like him, any team worth it's salt already has a 1B. The Jays need to pray a contending team suffers a big injury, and even then they will be forced to eat some salary if they actually are expecting any talent in return.

2. This is true, but probably pretty negligible if Bautista would be the one platooning at 1B. Granted, however, that weakens the OF D. I don't see why the Blue Jays are all that concerned with their defense in 2010.

3. Obviously the assumed platoon partner posts a better OBP than Overbay would vs. LHP.

4. I don't give a fuck if the players are happy - it hasn't let to anything since I could masterbate.

Brian Tallet's Cock Cheese said...

Mylegacy, you're old.