December 14, 2010

Pirates Sign Overbay

The Pirates signed lefthanded first baseman Lyle Overbay to a one-year contract today. Overbay is strictly a platoon player so it looks like he'll split time at first with either Garrett Jones or Steven Pearce.

Against lefthanders in his career, Overbay has shown poor on base skills and marginal power, hitting .259/.308/.402. The story is entirely different against righthanders, who Overbay has hit quite well - .279/.375/.463.

Like the Pirates' other signings, Overbay is a player with a history of success who is hoping to rebound from an off year. Last year he hit only .249/.329/.433 for Toronto, including 20 home runs, 67 RBI and 75 runs scored. Incidentally, that's still better than what Garrett Jones did here. Also a major culprit in his off year was manager Cito Gaston, who inexplicably started him 31 times against lefthanded starting pitchers.

Of particular interest to Pirates fanas, Overbay is an above average defensive first baseman. Baseball Reference credits him with adding 7.1 additional wins to his team over his career with is fielding.

Like some of the Pirates' other moves, this isn't an unbelievable find by any means - but it is one that improves the team. Overbay is a veteran who will be 34 next year, which will certainly prompt comparisons to a Dave Littlefield signing. Yet those same critics ignore than virtually all free agents available who have had any level of success are going to be in their 30s. With no available prospects who could play first base and right field, Matt Diaz and Lyle Overbay are the type of players who can help in 2011.

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