Chess Match: Game 40

Breaking down a key moment in Monday’s 8-3 loss to the Twins…

The situation: Two outs in the fourth inning, first baseman Lyle Overbay misplays a throw from third baseman Jose Bautista on a would-be groundout. On the play, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau attempts to advance from first to third base while shortstop Alex Gonzalez hustles to cover the bag.

The decision: Overbay quickly picks up the baseball after the missed catch, sees Gonzalez with a slight lead on Morneau in the race to third base, and fires the baseball across the diamond in an effort to get the inning’s final out and stop the Twins’ rally.

The outcome: The throw is wild, allowing Morneau to score a fourth run in the inning, putting the Blue Jays behind, 5-2.

The analysis: Plain and simple, Overbay made a reaction play. Overbay is typically a sound defender — despite Monday’s debacle — and one of the first baseman’s strongest assets is his ability to throw. Overbay has made plenty of strong throws that other first basemen might hesitate to try, leading to outs in critical situations.

Prior to this play, Overbay already had two singles for the Twins that went under his glove. One of those came one hitter earlier. After then making an error on the catch — Bautista’s throw was low, but it was well within Overbay’s range — Overbay had to make a quick decision: try to throw Morneau out or hold the ball?

Under the circumstances, a strong throw and an out at third base would’ve helped make up for the first error. Also complicating matters was the fact that Overbay was having another rough day at the plate and the crowd was really letting him have it. Overbay has remained in the lineup partly due to his defense and this was a chance for him to show that skill again.

The comments:

“I saw daylight on Gonzo and I threw it. But, that’s not a good play. I should’ve just eaten it and been done with it.” –Overbay

“I can’t say that [he shouldn’t have thrown the ball]. He thought he had a chance to get the guy at third base. If you think you have a chance, go for it. Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes we’re wrong.” –Manager Cito Gaston

My verdict: Overbay admitted he should have simply held on to the baseball and I completely agree. In a game like Monday’s, it’s all about damage control. Throwing across the diamond is a big risk when the play already had taken a chaotic turn with the first error. If he holds on to the ball, the Jays might escape the inning down 4-2. A two-run deficit is a little less pressure for the offense, especially one that scores in bunches.



  1. bluejazzed

    He went for it; he missed; he acknowledged his error; try again today. Let’s see if Overbay’s bat can resemble the one from this past weekend.

  2. gsjays

    It could actually be stated that Overbay had 4 errors last night instead of two because he did miss two grounders he’d have caught in his sleep a few years ago. In addition he has missed numerous throws that bounced in the dirt from Bautista, Gonzalez etc. in previous games that again he’d never have missed last year. The days of saying Overbay is an excellent first baseman are over and have been over all year.

    His interview clip, part of the Cito interview this AM on the fan and posted on their site, is from a guy who’s very despondent and dejected..

    It’s well past time for the Jays to recognize the strategy of playing him everyday is not working for Overbay, never mind the club. The fans are getting to him, the pressure to perform is immense and he’s faltering-who wouldn’t. In fact, it might be that the wrist injury he suffered turns out to be a career ending one, who knows.
    Has he earned the right to play each day from his past tenure here, absolutely and the faith shown him by Cito and management is an attest to the quality of Jays management. BUT, the fact is the plan of playing him everyday isn’t working and something needs to be done quickly to benefit Overbay more than anyone else..
    It’s time to give him at least 2-3 days off, (and preferably not around the club and players) let him try to clear his head and think about what he wants to do with the rest of his life-post baseball…
    Maybe he comes back refreshed, ready to go and starts to perform well again, or it might be the level of performance we’re now seeing is the level of performance to expect from Overbay the balance of the year…..One thing is for sure, we can’t just keep running him out there everyday making his situation worse.

  3. gsjays

    That’s the problem with you yerouttaheah, you don’t make this team better and have a chance to compete and win by simply jumping on the company bandwagon and blindly cheer lead like you do every day..

    He’s a 1st baseman, a power position,an rbi position , and he did hit better last year than this year. He also played a lot better defense last year that this…The error stats, just like in this game, don’t tell the entire story oh how far his defense has deteriorated…Arguably, he could have been charged with 4 errors yesterday, he got charged with 2. He could be charged with at least another 3-4 errors this year on missed pick up’s and instead those errors were charged to Gonzalez and or others. You know very well, Overbay in past years virtually never missed a throw in the dirt-this year he’s missed a lot of them. Explain that deterioration anyway you want, BUT it isn’t going in the right direction and he no longer is a premium defensive 1st baseman-not based on his play this year.

    In terms of his hitting, last year he was platooned at first against left handers, this year he isn’t…I have consistently said that is a mistake, that Ruiz or someone else should be platooning with him, because his left handed spilt stats have been in the toilet for years now.

    That “hitting against lefties issue”will not change between now and the end of the year. Truly, I do hope he goes on a tear for 2-3 weeks, unfortunately what you haven’t quite figured out yet is even if he does, he’ll still be hitting just around the mendoza line.

    One final point. I am done with your little snide remarks and derogatory comments which I find is becoming your main and only reason to post any more…. I do not insult you nor do I make any derogatory remarks to your posts. So if you keep this style of posting up, just be aware I will return the favor. Got it?

  4. yerouttaheah

    A few years ago, gsjays? Last year, he made all of 2 errors, and that doesn’t sound like a guy who’s career is over. 16 HR and a .838 OPS isn’t too shabby either, unless you want to pay the kind of money the Yankees pay Texiera. By the end of the season, Lyle will have hit better than anybody below him in the lineup, except, hopefully, Snider. I’m sure glad you aren’t managing the Jays, because you would have them sooo messed up they wouldn’t know which end of the bat to hold on to! When he goes on a .360 tear for 2-3 weeks, I am going to laugh out loud!

  5. yerouttaheah

    gsjays, I have reported you once already for personal attacks, and I will do it again if you find it necessary to resort to personal vitriol in your posts. I have every right to express my opinion of your posts in this forum, and I will continue to do so. If you find it hard to take, maybe you shouldn’t post here.

  6. yerouttaheah

    Everybody knew coming in that Overbay wasn’t a power hitter, and in case you hadn’t noticed, gsjays, he hits in the #5 hole, not cleanup. As far as 4 errors go, that’s only your opinion, and you couldn’t say for certain that any other first baseman would have done better. I would sooner trust the official scorers than your judgement any day. As far as errors being charged to Gonzales, gs, when the infielder bounces a ball to first, and the first baseman misses it, it is, and always has been, an error on the infielder, even though the first baseman digs most of them out and makes the play.

    At any rate, Randy Ruiz is gone, and you won’t see Wallace until September. It looks as if they have decided to go with speed and defence when they called up Reed and not Dopirak, so you might as well get used to seeing Lyle out there.

  7. gsjays

    yerottaheah-you are consistently the one who starts the personal attacks and demeaning remarks, not me. Frankly, your posts never have any real information to post back to, so the only time I ever really respond to you is after you say something demeaning….

    So as long as you stop, you won’t even get a post directed at you, but if you keep it up, fully expect the same personal vitriol in my posts back to you..

  8. gsjays

    “As far as 4 errors go, that’s only your opinion.”…Actually, if you read Bastian’s post, he had the same opinion I had as did most of the writers covering the game..

    Of course, that play has always been an error on the thrower, everyone knows that, but the fact is Overbay always used to make that play, maybe missing one a year…That isn’t the case this year, he’s missing them far to often and I’m sure you know that.

    Reed is up here only until Snider returns, that is all that means, it has nothing to do with a decision to go with speed. Dopirak isn’t being called up because he’s not hitting in AAA and in addition, why call him up for 5-10 days, because as soon as Snider is ready he’s back up here and the call up gets sent back down. Duh.

    I’m not sure when Wallace will be called up, but I will take AA’s decision on that instead of your advice or forecast.

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