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Jeff Blair reports that the Jays and Lyle Overbay have agreed on a 4 year, $24 million contract.


Overbay was entering his second year of arbitration and was eligible to become a free agent following the 2008 season. A breakout of his salaries:
2007 - $4.2 million (includes $3.8 million as a signing bonus)
2008 - $5.8 million
2009 - $7.0 million
2010 - $7.0 million
I'm mixed about the deal. On the positive side in an environment where Shea Hillenbrand is able to sign for $6.5 million and Nomar Garciaparra signed for $9.25 milllion locking the durable Overbay up for $7.0 million in 2009 and 2010 seems like a pretty good deal.

On the other side of things Overbay has a few things working against him. He'll be 30 in a couple weeks and was late making the majors. Players of these type generally decline quicker than others. I mentioned the other day that Overbay was pretty similar to Hal Morris. Morris hit the majors at 25 (Overbay at 26), had several .370 OBP / .470 SLG type seasons and then was highly ineffective beginning in his age 32 season. If Overbay were to follow a similar path the last two years of that contract aren't going to look good. Certainly not all of his comparable players flame out like that, but of that top 10 age 29 comparable player list it's more bad than good. It'll be interesting to see his PECOTA comparables this year - last year it wasn't that strong of a group (Travis Lee, Sid Bream and Doug Mientkiewicz were the top 3).

The other part of it that I don't like is that the Jays may need to use Glaus at first base eventually. Glaus certainly looked like a very old player last year the way he limped around so much and hasn't been the most durable player in the past. A move across might be the best option for him in 2008 or 2009. Additionally, it's been mentioned that first base might be the best position for Adam Lind. This move seems to indicate the Jays are comfortable with Lind in the outfield, but if he doesn't work out in the OF the only other option for Lind is DH (which is also filled for a couple years). Of course, there's nothing that prevents the Jays from trading Overbay if they need to use someone else at first base so this is less of a concern.
Jays Lock Up Overbay For Four Years | 76 comments | Create New Account
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timpinder - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 11:41 AM EST (#161932) #
Excellent move in my opinion.  Overbay's contract seems like a bargain to me, and other than their SS, the Jays now have every starting position player controlled until at least the end of 2009.
einsof - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 11:49 AM EST (#161934) #

I find it hard to believe that anyone could seriously object to this signing. Yes, I understand that we may want to put Glaus at 1B at one point, but lets not get overly nitpicky--This signing of a talented, classy player (who fits into the chemistry of the Jays}, is a bargain by any standards. Its great to see JP putting together a solid core of top notch players for years to come--

Doc--Wells--Overbay--Glaus--BJ--Hill--Rios & hopefully AJ--

(I'm aware that Hill & Rios are not signed longterm--but they're under the Jays control for a good while.)

AWeb - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 12:04 PM EST (#161937) #
A reasonably priced, above average first baseman sounds good to me. Overbay was a very good, consistent hitter last year, and looks to be good for similar results for a few years at least. Given his numbers last year, 3 years, 24 million wouldn't have been unreasonable (in the market this year, anyway), so I choose to look at this as an extra year for free.

If we need to put Glaus somewhere, might I suggest Frank thomas is gone in 2 years? Overbay is younger than Glaus, and was a comparable hitter last year.
ds - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 12:17 PM EST (#161938) #

I think this is a great signing.  With the ridiculous prices of FA's nowadays, signing a complimentary piece like Overbay for this price is excellent.   He's now also a valuable trade chip if down the road positions need to be opened up.  As for his comparables, I don't think some of them are particularly good.  Other than Matsui, all of them have had injury problems/ platoon issues over their careers. Overbay has always been quite durable.  Nothing in his playing history would show an issue of injuries. 

How anyone can find issues with this signing given the current salary climate is really grasping at straws. 

Chuck - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 12:47 PM EST (#161939) #

Overbay did not sign a FA contract and it should not be looked at as such.

Whether or not one agrees with the principle of signing a 30-year old first baseman to a 4-year contract when he has two years to go before free agency, one has to look at the dollars through that prism. The market, as reestablished this off-season, has no direct bearing on Overbay's value in the arbitration process, so citing the current market is not overly relevant. The rise in FA salary dollars that we've witnessed will have the indirect effect of raising the bar for arb-eligible players, but not yet.

The Jays allotted what they believed to be fair arbitration market value for the first two years of the contract and then factored in two FA years for a then 32-year old first baseman. I have no feelings one way or another as to whether this contract was a good decision. I'm just saying that people need to remember that two of the four years are pre-FA.

Mylegacy - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 01:04 PM EST (#161940) #

Several comments;

I like the deal. In case Glaus flames...has anyone ever tried him at third? How's his arm? He's the kind of team guy that would give it a go is we asked...he's obviously a GREAT guy to have around. The guys at Rotoworld like the deal, they are surprised we got this done for under $30 big ones. As someone said earlier the Jays must think Lind can play LF in the bigs. Good. Snider is "due" 2009ish so Overbay till 10 is OK 'cause if Snider kicks Lind off LF he can take over DH from Thomas in 10.

Position-wise, things are coming together nicely...now if only Santa had brought us a shortstop. Johnson for Tejada?

zeppelinkm - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 01:19 PM EST (#161942) #
Mylegacy: In response to your question, "How's his arm?"

Someone PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong on this since I'm going from memory, but I recall at least 2 or 3 instances over the course of the season where the announcers would refer to Overbay as having one of the best arms out of all the first basemen in MLB.

I can't remember if it was Jamie or a colour guy who said it, or if it was in an interview with John Gibbons or what, but I'm pretty positive I remember hearing very positive things said about Lyle's arm!

Chuck - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 01:26 PM EST (#161943) #

Conversions to third base almost never work with righthanded throwers. Asking a lefthanded Overbay to play third base would be, what, silly?

ds - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 01:31 PM EST (#161944) #

Ok, I tried to find comparables (production and service time) within MLB that signed for both arbitration years and some free agent years.  Harder than you would think:

Jay Gibbons: 4 years for 21.1 million.

Nick Johnson: 3 years for 16.5 million

I would say it's better than the Gibbons deal and on par with the Johnson deal, only because Johnson has durability issues.  But even looking at it in that light I still think it is an intelligent signing.  If Overbay performs to last year's level, and produces for 3 of the 4 years, the contract would have been very worthwhile.  Well done JP.

CeeBee - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 02:01 PM EST (#161945) #
I like the deal for many of the above reasons. Glaus could DH, move to first or be traded. Overbay can stay at first, DH or be traded. I'm not willing to write Lind off as an outfielder just yet. Cat wasn't so good when he started out there either and at least he became average or close to it. Snider is in the pipeline as is Patterson. Thomas is likely only here for 2 years so I can't see too much of a logjam in the outfield or at first base in that time. So for cost certainty through the last 2 years of arb, which are the most expensive years, and the first 2 years of free agency I'd say JP did good, given not only the free agent contracts this year but what arbitration players have and will be  settling for as well.
TamRa - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 02:04 PM EST (#161946) #

Regarding the Arbitration/Free agent question..

 

It looks to me like the first year is pretty much exactly what he would have made on a one year deal, and the second year - if judged against the nonsensical salary that Shea Hillenbrand ended up with last offseason - is at least 1.5 million less than what he could have won.

 

then you cator in free agency which, if you start there to make a deal it's going to be at least 3 years and average 10 per (unles there's a considerable reversal in the market over the next two years) and you come to the conclusion - or I do anyway - that we are comitting 4/24 where we could have easily - if we had wanted to resign him when he went to free agency - ended up spending 41.5 (or more) over the next 5 years.

Ever how you look at the "this isn't really a free agent deal" question the $$$ still argue in our favor.

 

Beyond that, My thoughts only go so far as these:

1. Yes, it means the Lind in LF experiment will go on for some time to come. My guess is that when Snyderarrives, then Lind shifts back to 1B.

2. If it's a problem that Glaus has no place togo, then it's an argument against the possibility that Thomas' 3rd year kicks in far more than it is against this deal. It seems to me that if big Frank earns his deal, that third year is going to happen and it's THAT which traps Glaus at 3B

 

tstaddon - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 02:07 PM EST (#161947) #
I'm really glad to have Lyle as part of the organization. He's a perfect fit for the lineup, the clubhouse and his defence may well have played a part in Glaus' surprisingly low number of errors. So, hey, terrific.

Reading through the ESPN write-up though, I'm reminded that, in addition to Dave Bush, we also gave up another fella who'd be a great fit on the 2007 Jays: Gabe Gross. Hard to argue that a player like Gabe wouldn't be the perfect fit as a 4th-outfielder on this team. I'm not sure if he's expected to push for regular playing time in Milwaukee this year or not -- but if not, it's a shame he isn't still handling the same gig for us that he is for them.
MondesiRules - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 02:11 PM EST (#161948) #

USA Today/Sports Weekly has a very good organizational report that is a great read:

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/al/bluejays/2007-01-04-organizational-report_x.htm

 

CaramonLS - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 02:57 PM EST (#161950) #
Just to elaborate, I think that if there turns out to be a log jam at 1B/DH, I think the contract is reasonable enough to move if Overbay continues to produce at the rate in which we are accustomed to and still get some fair value back in return.
Michael - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 02:58 PM EST (#161952) #
I think it is a bad signing.  What is being bet on almost as much as if Overbay will be good in 3 and 4 years from now (which others correctly point out is much less likely than most as Overbay has a good chance to decline fast) as what the market will do.  If the market stays as it is Overbay will be overpaid.  If the market increases every year as much as it did this year than this may be ok.  But the Jays are giving up flexibility and may need 1b for Galus or Lind.  And the Jays had Overbay at arbitration level so what this contract really is about is do you think Overbay in 2009 and 2010 will be worth $7m a year?

PECOTA puts Overbay's attrition rate at ~50% for 2009-2010 and his drop rate for nearly 1/3 for those years (although that is not counting last year, and after last year the future should seem a little brighter).

I'm not sure we won't be kicking ourselves in 2009 and 2010 about Overbay and there is no reason JP needed to do the deal now.  He could have waited a year and still had some leverage or waited 2 years and let Overbay leave in 2009 as a FA.

Pistol - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 03:23 PM EST (#161953) #
If the market stays as it is Overbay will be overpaid

I think the market is clearly above $7 million for a player like Overbay (2006 version).

Nomar is pretty much a first baseman only and he got 2 years, $18.5 million after having an OPS+ of 120 this year (Overbay was 123 this year).  And Nomar's is far from durable which would be a further point in Overbay's favor.

Hillenbrand is a lesser player and got $6.5 million this year. 

Aubrey Huff got 3 years and $20 million and he hasn't played as well as Overbay recently.

danjulien - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 03:49 PM EST (#161954) #
I think people complaining about a logjam don't have enough forward thinking.  A logjam is a good thing!  WHo knows if Snyder will turn out?  Maybe Lind won't either...and if they all do that means that we have trade chips...like when the Phillies had to make room for Howard and had Thome, think they complained about a logjam?  No, they made a trade and got some pieces.  Logjams aren't bad unless the players are unwanted...
Rob - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 04:16 PM EST (#161955) #
My guess is that when Snyderarrives, then Lind shifts back to 1B.

Let's wait for the kid to turn 19 (and get the i back in his last name) before moving players around. Lind's a beast, but he isn't exactly the left fielder for Your Fighting Jays just yet.

And logjams are usually seen in British Columbia, not infields. I don't need to remind everyone how long the Glaus/Koskie/Hinske/Hillenbrand/Hill "jam" lasted. If anything, the Jays don't have enough infield depth, like Magpie said. After Glaus, Overbay, and Hill, it's a sad-looking bunch.
danjulien - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 04:19 PM EST (#161956) #
Using my very simple metric...the VORP/$ likes it...:
Overbay is paid $165,289.26 per 1 VORP with last year's numbers and even less with the three year numbers: $146,222.58 per 1 VORP.
Ron - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 05:00 PM EST (#161957) #

Iím a big Overbay supporter but I have mixed feelings on this extension. He was under the control of the Jay for 2 more years and heís about to turn 30. Overbayís getting close (if not already there) to the age where most players start to decline or stay neutral instead of improving.

The market shifts from year to year so itís hard to tell if the Jays saved money buy buying out 2 free agent years.

On the positive side, Overbay is a professional hitter. I could see him hitting around the .285-.310 mark for the next several seasons. Boy oh boy has Uncle Ted opened up his wallet the past 18 months.

TamRa - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 05:03 PM EST (#161958) #

My point regarding Snyder was not to assume his success, or Lind's, though obviously that's implied.

 

My point was that IF one does assume their success, there's still not a real question about overcrowding (in the 1B or LF context) until Snyder arrives.

Obviously if you assume in your projection that Snyder fails it changes the dynamic...but it also makes the whole point moot.

Of course if Lind simply CAN'T play LF you have a problem...my guess is the Jays are satisfied he can if they made this deal.

I'm not making a case that we have any "log jam" and I like the deal fine. I do, however, choose to be enough of a fanboy to assume that, barring evidence to the contrary, our best prospects will succeed.

Sue me. ;)

Mike Green - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 05:07 PM EST (#161959) #
I'm with Pistol on this one.  It's much better to have an overabundance at the key defensive positions than at the right end of the spectrum. 



Chuck - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 05:14 PM EST (#161960) #

I think the market is clearly above $7 million for a player like Overbay (2006 version).

True enough. But would the 32-year old 2008 version of Overbay command that much? I ask this rhetorically. Admittedly, even with two years of decline, it's still hard to fathom the post-2008 Overbay being less valuable than the post-2006 Hillenbrand.

But, as you pointed out in your intro, the odds are against him to remain at his age-29 level moving forward. As much as many want to believe that his career is still in ascent, the empirical evidence suggests that for that to be so, Overbay has to be the exception rather than the rule.

If it's my team, I live with two years of giving Overbay arbitration and then reevaluate in 2008. As it is, I have to hope he defies history and ages well.

doyle - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 05:35 PM EST (#161961) #
Great deal for the Jays - anyone who is worried about Lind/Glaus/Snider not having a position to play in 2009 should remember that if all four players are with the team by then and are all worthy of a spot in the starting lineup, the Jays will be very very well off.

People are complaining because the Jays might have too much talent three years from now?

Chuck - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 05:42 PM EST (#161962) #

People are complaining because the Jays might have too much talent three years from now?

In fairness, I think the worries are focused on a potential clumping of talent at the left end of the defensive spectrum.

Mike Green - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 05:47 PM EST (#161963) #
Here's the problem.  Let's say Overbay hitting declines a little in his early 30s, and that he is a .280/.355/.440 hitter in a couple of years.  Let's also say that Glaus is still hitting, but cannot play third base any longer, and that Adam Lind's bat develops as it appears it will but that he cannot play left-field capably.  At that point, you've got an overabundance without options, and that is what leads to trades at a loss.

It's one thing to sign a player to a long-term contract when the player is 23-25 like Hinske, Wells, Rios or Hill, and another when the player is in his late 20s or early 30s.  One can run into unexpectedly poor performance, but on average young players do improve. 

Chuck - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 05:48 PM EST (#161964) #
The Overbay thread at BTF.
Chuck - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 06:10 PM EST (#161965) #

Using my very simple metric...the VORP/$ likes it.

Dan, some comments (acknowledging up front that you used the adjective "very simple"):

  • Overbay is not a free agent so this metric shouldn't be used when comparing him to free agents. I would imagine that on a per dollar basis, you're typically going to get far more VORP/$ value from a pre-FA than a free agent. Burnett figures to make more than 25 times more than Hill in 2007. But they're apples and oranges. One was signed as a free agent. The other is subject to salary constraints. Hill's VORP/$ will grossly exceed Burnett's. But that isn't instructive.
  • Overbay is far more likely than not to decline from this point on in his career. His forecasted VORP would have to reflect that.
  • The marginal value of each extra unit of additional VORP should not be costed in a linear fashion. The cost of upgrading from a VORP of 2.0 to 3.0, say, would cost X dollars. The cost of upgrading from 6.0 to 7.0, say, would cost more than X dollars. The marginal cost for each additional unit of VORP rises because the talent distribution in baseball is represented by the rightmost edge of a normal curve, i.e., not a straight line. The implicit straight-line assumption when using a metric like VORP/$ will undervalue the league's best players.
CeeBee - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 06:12 PM EST (#161966) #
One other possibility that I don't think has been mentioned is trading Johnson if Lind proves he can hit AND play left field. If Johnson stays at this level for a year or two he could bring back something usefull if traded a year or 2 before free agency.
Chuck - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 06:23 PM EST (#161967) #

If Johnson stays at this level for a year or two he could bring back something usefull if traded a year or 2 before free agency.

I can't imagine any sober, objective forecast of Johnson's next two seasons expecting a 30-year old with a 771 career OPS to stay at an 869 level. I would be highly pleased with a 350/450 season out of him in 2007 and would be tempted to take the under on the forecast of an 800 OPS. For what it's worth, ZIPS has him at 346/423.

Flex - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 07:50 PM EST (#161968) #
Rotoworld has its take on the Overbay signing. They seem to think the Jays got a deal, though in typical fashion they can't bring themselves to compliment them for it.  As for the fears around being overloaded with 1B talent, I'm not sure why, if we were desperate to play Lind there, we would be unable to trade Overbay. There seems to be an assumption that if we've signed him for four years, we're stuck with him. I don't think that's the case.


Jordan - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 09:20 PM EST (#161969) #
Here's what I don't understand about this deal -- why do the Jays need Overbay in 2009 and 2010? Frank Thomas got a two-year contract not least because the Jays' best chances to contend are in '07 and '08, with an outside shot at '09 -- no need to wrap up an aging slugger past the point where you'll need one. Overbay was useful for the Jays primarily because his salary was predictable and controllable for the next two years of likely contention-- locking him up for two years beyond that pretty much wastes that advantage. I could see making a four-year commitment if the Jays didn't have anyone coming up who could play first base -- but Lind and Snider are both first basemen in waiting. Put me down as ambivalent, at best, about this deal -- it wasn't necessary.


TA - Sunday, January 14 2007 @ 10:41 PM EST (#161971) #
Here's the problem.  Let's say Overbay hitting declines a little in his early 30s, and that he is a .280/.355/.440 hitter in a couple of years.  Let's also say that Glaus is still hitting, but cannot play third base any longer, and that Adam Lind's bat develops as it appears it will but that he cannot play left-field capably.  At that point, you've got an overabundance without options, and that is what leads to trades at a loss.

While I respect the sobriety of this argument and understand that Lind and Glaus project to be first-baseman, I don't quite figure why there will then be "trades at a loss."

As long as Overbay is producing at a level that justifies, or at least closely measures to, a 7 million dollar contract then Overbay still would be a tradable asset. Even if the glut does occur and you trade him in two years for only "below-market value" - something like lower level prospect - there is little harm done overall, and in fact there is something gained (albiet a small gain).

The only way that you lose is if Overbay vastly underperforms and you have to eat some salary to dump the contract, which is a risk you take with any contract that you sign.
Flex - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 12:10 AM EST (#161972) #
Okay, how about this for a kooky thought. One of the features of this deal is that Overbay will be paid $4.2 million this year, of which $3.8 million is a signing bonus. That means his "salary" this year is $400K, and that's a big saving over what his salary would have been if they'd just done a typical one year arbitration-avoiding deal.

So, is it possible that one of the reasons the Jays did this deal is that it buys them even more payroll room for this season? And what might they be thinking of doing with that room?

Mike D - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 02:17 AM EST (#161973) #

I agree with TA, and will add a few points.

The comparables discussed above are based on a high average, high double, modest power profile, but I don't think they work well as comparisons to Lyle.   I worry about comparing rate stats in a vacuum.

Hal Morris was highly prone to serious injuries (only exceeding 136 games once), while Overbay is very durable (perfectly healthy three years running).  Bream and Lee also suffered very serious injuries that acclerated their decline.  Mientkiewicz has, and always had, substantially less power.  I actually think Overbay has room to improve in the power department -- he hit seven home runs greater than 420 feet last season, and to me his frame is absolutely capable of 25 homers.  (The scoffing poster at BTF who used scare quotes around the word "power" for Overbay lost me then and there.)

I don't think it's appropriate, in light of nutrition/training advances, to forecast steep declines for exceptionally healthy 30-year-old players today because injury-prone players a decade ago experienced them.  I'll also add that in 2010, $7 million will not be a millstone in any sense of the word.  It will be well within the range of what a competitive team will be willing to pay for even a lefty platoon player.

In other words, I agree that this would have been a rotten contract to give Hal Morris in 1997.  But here and now, I think it's a very solid buy.

 

TamRa - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 02:54 AM EST (#161974) #

People keep citing the comperables on BR but I don't like them at all in this case. Every player mentioned there is either not older than Overbay, or not remotely hitting for as much power as Overbay has (Hal MORRIS?! When did Morris ever threaten 20 HR? When he was 31. Just that once. Otherwise he wasn't close to hitting with the power Overbay has)  except  Dolph Camilli  ...in the 1940's.

That said, I would be more comfortable with 3 than with 4...but I think that in relation to what players of his ability will be making in that year, we got value forthe dollar in the first three years at least. And no one really knows if he'll be here all 4 years.

but surely there are better comparisons out there than Hal Morris. Heck I could cite Brian downing...who had single figure home runs must years until 30 and then started hitting with pop....or Edger martinez who got to the bigs as late as Overbay and went on to be a first rate hitter throughout his 30's.

Good comparisons? Probably not. But certainly as valid as Hal Morris and Ricky Jordan.

Flex - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 09:28 AM EST (#161975) #
The argument that Overbay is likely to fall off in the future because he was late getting to the majors made me go look at his minor league stats. Was this a guy scraping along at an AAAA level until finally getting his chance because of some injury opening? Not that I can see.

Here are his average, OBP and slugging numbers for the past six years. (Sorry, I can't do tables):

1999 (R):      A.343   O.418   S.588
2000 (A):      A.332   O.397   S.498
2000 (AA):    A.352   O.420   S.533
2001 (AA):    A.352   O.423   S.528
2002 (AAA):  A.343   O.396   S.528
2003 (AAA):  A.286   O.419   S.479

With the exception of 2003 (maybe he was getting tired of waiting?) this looks like a guy who dominated at every level. I don't know the story behind why he was kept in the minors so long, but I think it's safe to say that if he'd been in the Blue Jay organization, he'd have been up a heck of a lot sooner.

Flex - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 09:30 AM EST (#161976) #
I was so worried getting the table right I misspoke in the lead-in. Those aren't stats for the past six years, they're stats for his five years in the minors.
Mike Green - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 09:53 AM EST (#161977) #
While I respect the sobriety of this argument and understand that Lind and Glaus project to be first-baseman, I don't quite figure why there will then be "trades at a loss."

First basemen who hit .280/.355/.440 are never highly marketable.  But, when they are 32 years old and the team is compelled to trade them because of positional glut...well, it's a lot like the estate sale on that modest house down the block.

As I said, I am with Pistol, ambivalent on this one.  On the positive side, there was a lot to like about Overbay's season last year subjectively. He's got a sweet swing, and the increased power with a reduction in strikeouts does give substantial reason for hope that the improvement can be maintained throughout his early 30s.
Pistol - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 10:36 AM EST (#161978) #
is it possible that one of the reasons the Jays did this deal is that it buys them even more payroll room for this season?

Keith Law mentioned somewhere that the bonus are given because they're taxed much differently than salaries (in Canada) which gives more money to the players at no further expense to the team.
Mike Green - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 10:54 AM EST (#161979) #
Dan Szymborski had suggested Pete O'Brien and J.T. Snow as good recent comparisons for Overbay in the BTF thread.  There are quite a few similarities to Snow: heralded prospect with late career start and significant increase in power at age 29.  Snow regressed modestly in his early 30s, but then fell off the table at age 33. 

Does anyone know what happened to O'Brien in his early 30s?  He fell off very quickly, and I don't recall talk of any significant injuries.  Maybe one of our Texas residents knows.

dan gordon - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 12:31 PM EST (#161980) #

I don't think the Snow comp is very good.  Overbay has significantly outhit Snow to this point in his career as a pro.  For his full pro minor league career, Overbay was 678 for 1,985, a .342 batting average.  Snow was 588 for 2,046 minor league AB's, a .287 average (not counting a handful of rehab AB's in 2001/2004).  We're talking about a completely different calibre of hitter.  Their HR and BB numbers were similar, but Overbay hit 55 points higher.  Both had the advantage of playing in the Pacific Coast League.

In the majors, through their age 29 season, Overbay has put together a .293 average in 1,963 AB's, whereas Snow had hit just .263 in 2,306 AB's.   Snow hit more HR's, and their BB rates were similar.

Another thing to consider with regard to Snow is that he was a switch hitter who could not hit lefties.  His age 31 and 32 seasons were comparable to his age 29 and 30 seasons, but his problems really started in his age 33 season, when he lost his full time status, was platooned, and eventually tried hitting left handed against all pitchers in an attempt to regain full time status.  He actually became a decent platoon player in his age 35 season, and had his best major league season at age 36 in 2004 in terms of average, OBP and SLG, with an OPS of .958.

I think Overbay is a significantly better hitter than Snow, and see no reason to think that signing him to a contract for his age 30, 31, 32 and 33 seasons is going to be a problem.

Mick Doherty - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 01:00 PM EST (#161981) #

Maybe one of our Texas residents knows.

Not for sure, but hey, it's snowing here in Texas today, so insert "hell freezes over" joke {{here}}.

O'Brien had his best season with the Rangers in, um, '88 I think, then was part of the trade that brought Julio Franco to DFW (whatever happened to that guy, anyway?) -- after one year in Cleveland, he signed a mega-deal with the Mariners ("mega" being relative to the era, of course) and had a few decent years with an OPS+ around 95 or so -- then he disappeared. He didn't have those Last Few Straggling Years many players have, but he was 35, so I always assumed he just retired into a rather luxurious lifestyle post-MLB, given all the dough the M's paid him.

John Northey - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 01:10 PM EST (#161982) #
Looking at the age-based similar player scores and what they did from 30 onward it doesn't look good.  All of them played at age 30 (not counting Ben Broussard who is active and the same age as Lyle).  All are retired (with the one exception). 

3 played just one season from 30 onward, Reggie Jefferson (1999), Joe Hauser (1929), and Ricky Jordan (1996).
One played 2 more seasons, Lamar Johnson (1981/1982)
The other 5 played 5 or more seasons, maxing out at 8 seasons (Dolph Camilli who played during WW II)

On average the 9 retired players had 398 games left, 280/364/461 which is actually in eyeshot of Overbay's career so far (293/372/467).  Before age 30 the retired players hit 291/352/454, which is visibly worse than Overbay. 

What does it mean?  Looking at this basic historical method I would guess Overbay, being a bit better than his comparables in areas not measured (BB for example), should be in the upper group for career length, ie: 6-7 years left.  If he produces at the average of this group for the rest of his career he'd be a low to mid 800 OPS player which is acceptable although not ideal.

The guys with the closest figures for OBP/Slg to Overbay were Bob Neiman, Hal Morris, Dolph Camilli, and Joe Hauser (all within 4 OBP and 17 in Slg).  Closest was Bob Nieman (291/371/464 vs 293/372/467, 1980 AB vs 1963 AB).

Bob Nieman had a better age 29 season (320/436/495) but had injury issues I'm assuming (128 games).   He continued injury issues for his next 4 seasons but hit darn well during them (worst figures were in his age 30 season at 276/363/429) when healthy.  Given Overbay is healthier we can hope.

In the end I'm one of the happy people with this deal.  The price seems cheap by today's standards and only 1 season of the deal lands after age 32 which is good as 25-32 appears to be the peak years of a players career, with 33 being the year they tend to drop off badly.   For a good example take a look at George Bell.  The other members of the outfield of the 80's (Barfield and Moseby) didn't play at 33, although Barfield was still productive at 31 (poor batting average but still walked and hit for power) and Moseby was still somewhat useful at 31 (97 OPS+) but never played after that.

TamRa - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 01:51 PM EST (#161984) #

This year's free agent 1B who could be counted on to produce a .800 neighborhood OPS or better:

Nomar (age 33)

After 2007:

Hillenbrand (31) (has broken .800 a single time in his career and just got a $6.5 million deal - and won that much in arbitration too)

Casey (33) .724 last year and in decline.

After 2008:

Delgado (36), Giambi (38), Nomar (35), Sexson (33)

How many of those guys will be competent defenders by then? How many still elite level hitters? And in each case, how will the team for which they now play replace them ifthey do not re-sign?

2009:

 

Nick Johnson (31)

Adam LaRoche (30)

So, in the three winters between now and Overbay's free agent year, there are six guys whom a given team could go out and sign who are arguably better hitters than the figures you cited, three of which almost certain to be regulated to DH duty by the time they are available.

That makes it THREE competent defenders with desireable bats. I'm no economist but scarcity of a product (i.e. an .800 hitting 1B) drives up price.

How many of us believe that if Johnson or LaRoche continue to hit as they have (and can stay healthy) that they will be paid considerably more than $7 million on the first year of their contract when they become free agents?

I know I do. If that is true, then that makes Overbay, even at .800, a marketable item. After the 2008 season, NONE of the good hitting 1B are good defenders anymore (if they even are now) and after 2009, once the other two are off the market trading for a guy like Overbay is all that's left to you.

SheldonL - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 01:52 PM EST (#161985) #

Let's try not to be overly optimistic with Snider and Lind. I hate to be a nay-sayer, but until Snider gets to AAA and is still posting amazing numbers, then let's try projecting him into the 25 man roster. Needless to say, many 1st round picks have not panned out, Phil Nevin is one former first overall pick that comes to mind (yes, he's had some good years but at age 32, 33(?), he seems to be a shadow of his former self).

Yes, Lind has never hit under .310 and he looks like a good bet to be a good major league hitter. Given the superior defence of Wells and Rios, it would not be such a bad thing to let him learn from his struggles. Cat learned how to play the outfield and despite a weak arm, he really played tremendously well.

Thomas, hopefully, play well enough in the next 2 years but would that guarantee a then 42-year old his 3rd year? It's also likely that there will be a buyout option for Jays if Glaus must be moved to DH for the 2009 season.

As for Glaus and his potential health issues, he didn't look too good last year and I'm hoping that the Jays will play him as the DH for the days Thomas gets off. Thomas may get into 135-140 games,  which leaves Glaus with about 20 games as a DH. In the next two years, hopefully that will be enough to ensure good health for Glaus. Now, he has a player option I believe for 2009. There's no guarantee that he won't pick it up, but there's always the possibility that he may be able to the same money($12-13 mil elsewhere) if Lind appears to have the DH spot and Snider in LF. If he so chooses to stay a Jay, then perhaps we'll have to keep him at 3rd base for the 2009 season.

Ideally the DH's for the next 3 years would be Thomas, Thomas, Snider/Lind

and the LF's: Lind, Lind, Lind/Snider

and the 3B's : Glaus, Glaus, FA/Glaus

Despite my trying not to optimistic, I think you'll find lots of "hopefully" 's in this post.

huckamaniac - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 02:27 PM EST (#161986) #
Richard Griffin seems to like the Overbay deal. He also addresses the signing bonus issue:

Even though the total amount of his income for next year would be about the same as if he had negotiated a one-year deal, it offers the tax advantage of a signing bonus, which would be taxed at a lower rate for American players, a nice perk.

I'm curious as to whether he means that American players would pay less tax on a signing bonus than Canadian players, or whether he means that all signing bonuses are taxed less in Canada than they are in the United States.

Lee - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 03:32 PM EST (#161988) #

A couple of points:

1. This is an unequivocally great signing. Overbay is an above-average hitter (.284 EqA last season, .283 career) and defender (has never had a year with a negative FRAA). Even at 1B, a player like that is worth far, far more than $6 million per. Great deal by JP.

2. The whole situation of having to move someone down the road is something that can always happen. Not even a consideration IMO.

3. I don't mean to be insulting here, but frankly, using those comparables lists for anything other than interest/entertainment is wicked dumb. Their value for actually analyzing a player's worth or predicting future performance is basically zilch.

Chuck - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 03:39 PM EST (#161989) #

Their value for actually analyzing a player's worth or predicting future performance is basically zilch.

What are you basing this assertion on?

Lee - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 04:01 PM EST (#161991) #

What are you basing this assertion on?

A bunch of things. For one, based upon BR's description of how the similarity scores are calculated (http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/similarity.shtml), they are come from the raw, not adjusted, stats. Comparing players across eras is tenuous at best; doing so based upon the raw stats is basically worthless. For another, the path of a player's career is affected by a huge number of things, many of them specific to the particular individual, or even a product of dumb luck. This is particularly important since the list of relatively comparable players is typically small enough that you're not dealing with a significant sample size. Like I said, such comparisons can be interesting, but to try to predict a player's future based upon what a handful of "comparables" (from a calculation which is dubious to begin with) did, does not seem to be terribly useful to my mind.

Mylegacy - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 04:14 PM EST (#161992) #

Chuckster, this is why...

Overbay and Zaun are our only lefties. Lind is our only MLB ready lefty. Ergo, he is more likely to replace Johnson, a righty, and an inferior player, SOONER rather than later. Chuck, no need to say thanks, just send a "cheque", or "check" if you're a "Merican.

 

Chuck - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 04:23 PM EST (#161993) #

So perhaps your statement should have read: 

As we are all aware, Overbay is one of just two lefties in a righty-laden lineup. That makes Lind's arrival in the Show more likely sooner rather than later, Lind is a Lefty.

It would be a cheque, not a check. That's if there were to be a cheque. There won't.

Jordan - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 06:24 PM EST (#161997) #
Let's try not to be overly optimistic with Snider and Lind.

We'd better be a little optimistic, at least, because if those guys don't become useful major leaguers or better -- the top two prospects in the system -- the Jays are going to be more than a little disappointed.
Leigh - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 10:44 PM EST (#162005) #
wicked dumb

Lee, please be civil.  If not for yourself, then for the benefit of those who have names very similar to yours and could become the subject of misplaced character judgments.

That said, I thought that your analysis was excellent and I totally agree with it.


Pistol - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 11:28 PM EST (#162008) #
I found the comment on bonuses.  Comment #62 in this thread.
"signing bonuses are not taxed in Canada, whereas the top marginal rate on incomes is 48-51% (depending on province/city)."

John Northey - Monday, January 15 2007 @ 11:38 PM EST (#162009) #
Lee,

The use of the comparisons from Baseball-Reference is for fun and to get some idea of what could be.  I could set up a top quality projection system with all the bells and whistles (I do have a degree in statistics and a lot of programming experience) however I don't see much point in doing so.  When I use the similarity scores I'm just trying to help frame what could be.  If all 10 guys who had similar raw stats collapsed then that suggests giving a 3 year deal is not a good idea.  If all 10 went on to become MVP's in the following couple of seasons then that suggests a long term deal was a good idea.

10 years ago I'd have set up a good projection system in Access and used it (actually, I did do that but lost the file years ago).  However, a big element of any projection system I put together or have seen others put together is luck.  Players can and will collapse out of nowhere, due to injuries, drugs, family situations, whatever and most of those elements are completely unknown to the general public.  Generally speaking players will produce at about the same level throughout their careers with one or two 'career years' where their OPS jumps by over 150 points and one or two horrid years where it drops by a similar amount.  The production level will generally be solid to 32, then many drop off a cliff while each year past 32 drops more and more off that cliff.  The less speed you have, the quicker the decline as a rule.  I'd like to dig into how some systems like PECOTA and ZiPS work but just haven't felt like it (quite often it feels more like work than play digging into those systems).

Bottom line?  BR similarity scores were a fun tool designed by Bill James way back when.  If a more accurate comparison tool was free online and easily accessible then I'd use it instead, but I suspect the overall tales would be similar.  Zaun for 3 years = bad idea, any pitcher for 5+ years = bad idea, Overbay for 4 years = decent idea, 10 years for A-Rod at 25 = good idea but way too much cash, 2 years for Julio Franco at 47 = very bizarre idea.

Pistol - Tuesday, January 16 2007 @ 09:16 AM EST (#162010) #
For those that find it interesting, Overbay's top 4 comparable players according to the just released PECOTA weighted mean spreadsheet are:  Bruce Bochte, Norm Siebern, Dick Sisler, and Eddie Robinson.

For what it's worth, PECOTA has Troy Glaus as the most valuable (WARP) Jay position player in 2007.

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