If you saw last night's game, you witnessed a microcosm of the Pittsburgh Pirates' season and why they're still tied for first place in the NL Central late in July. Despite being outhit 9-5, the Pirates outscored the Braves 3-1 thanks to excellent pitching by James McDonald and the bullpen.
If you watched last night you would notice another aspect that has represented the Pirates' season as well. That aspect is Lyle Overbay doing NOTHING to help the team. As Dejan Kovacevic pointed out on twitter, Overbay did not have to make a play on any ball put in play. Although that is not his fault, it is funny in an ironic way. He picked up a single in last night's game but also hit into a double play, struck out, and was thrown out at third on a terrible base running decision.
When the Pirates signed Overbay to a one year five million dollar contract, they were hoping to get a player who would hit over .260 with 20 home runs while playing above average defense. Instead, he is hitting a putrid .234 with only 7 home runs and below average defense with 8 errors and a handful of missed scoops.
As you may have read from previous posts, I have been hesitant to place pressure on the ownership to make a huge trade due to the high risk of disrupting the immediate future of the franchise. I also did not put a ton of pressure on the organization to call up Pedro Alvarez because I still think he'll struggle hitting on the outer half of the plate.
But Overbay is different. He NEEDS to be designated for assignment. This experiment has gone long enough and the team is competitive despite his efforts at first. There is no excuse for him to be in the starting lineup nearly every night, especially when Matt Hague is batting .318/.377/.467 in AAA for Indianapolis. Even if the Pirates are planning to trade for a first baseman in Carlos Pena/Jason Giambi, do not waste a second more with Lyle Overbay. His production at the plate has been minimal and he offers nothing to benefit the team. He does not hustle, he has a poor approach to the plate in nearly every at bat, and above all, he doesn't get the job done.
With a tough stretch of games this week, there's no room to tinker with Overbay as the first baseman anymore. Stop waiting for him to heat up. At the very least, Matt Hague will produce the same as Overbay but will benefit in his development as a prospect. I'm not questioning the competitive nature of the front office, but if they truly want to win this year, they'll need to move some pieces. The first step should be addition by subtraction; dump Overbay now and try someone else.