by Mike Z
First for the record, this isn't a post to slap fearless leader's post in the face, but just to play devil's advocate. This post is coming off the heel's of Paul Zeise's blurb in the Post-Gazette about Hurdle indicating Lyle Overbay is on the verge of losing his job if he doesn't turn it around quick. I've mentioned Lyle Overbay a few times in the past about how poorly he's performed, but here's a couple other stats to further reinforce things.
One of the best comparative stats out there is adjusted OPS, abbreviated OPS+, which takes OBP plus Slugging (OPS) across the league and also adjusts for ballpark factors. A score of exactly 100 is league average. Approaching 75-80 is very poor and 120-125 is very good. League leader usually approaches 200, which is where Joey Bats is right now. It may be helpful to become familiar with OPS+ because I've seen it more and more in articles because it incorporates stadium neutrality. (Granted, it still gauges OBP as SLG equals, which isn't exactly true because OBP has been proven to be more predictive of run production, but OPS+ is still hugely effective.)
Overbay for the season is at 82 now, being a 108 for his career. His last 8 seasons: 122, 112, 125, 85 (injury shortened 2007), 108, 119, 105, 82. So this is a pretty severe drop-off. To further condemn him, his last two months are 87 and an abysmal 58 this month. To put that into numbers you're more familiar to, Lyle's OPS this month is .567. Bautista's slugging alone is higher than that. He's absolutely destroying this team.
This black hole is why the Pirates need to make a trade (or at the very least, find someone internally). For the talk on Carlos Pena, he's been slumping the past 3 weeks or so but still has an OPS+ of 116. The difference between the two players is about 3 wins, according to WAR at this point in the season and projects to be about 2 more by the end of the season. Now am I saying that Carlos Pena is a good player? Absolutely not, and I think calling him decent is a stretch. He can't hit lefties at all, as he's only hitting .125 (yes, that's one-hundred-twenty five) and glove isn't anything special so there are still plenty of flaws.
Whether it's Lyle Overbay, or any of the other names rumored like Jason Kubel or Casey Kotchman, they all have severe flaws. But when it comes to who they are replacing, it's an upgrade no matter who you're replacing Overbay with. And for all the flaws the players have, especially with Carlos Pena, they can be had for cheap. The Pirates have a lot of players eligible for the rule 5 draft this year and won't be able to protect all of them. Trading one of these C+ type prospects and taking on all of Pena's contract would most likely be enough. Replacing the Grand Canyon with a crater definitely isn't ideal but it's definitely better than what the Pirates have now.