One of my French friends used to say there is no I in team, but there is one in “équipe” (the French word for team). He usually used this to poke fun at himself, but the Jays are definitely not abiding by his theory as they support Lyle Overbay through what has been a disastrous start to the season. This should be a great thing, right? It definitely is, as the alternative is indifference, which usually leads to a very very long season. However, if you’re Alex Anthopolous, this could create some issues down the road. I’ll explain later.
James Hall of MLB.com has a good review of what has and is happening in this story here that is definitely worth the read. The signing where the players wore 6 Lyle Overbay jerseys in order to show their support for him was the best display a united team I have seen in the Jays clubhouse – ever. It’s a simple gesture that wasn’t loud or whiny, it just made the perfect statement – we believe in Lyle, and we stand by Lyle 100%. This statement also indirectly provides support for their coach, Cito Gaston, who had continuously defended the player from the hoards of reporters who preyed on his horrendous start for a story. Well, now that the players are behind the coach, the media is forced to relent a little bit and to use caution in their approach of the issue. If one player, say Jose Bautista, would have come out and complained about Lyle’s play instead of supporting him, it would have added fuel to the fire. Instead, the group now feels like they are a closer knit family, that they have each other’s backs not only at the plate but also in the media limelight, and that they also support the coach’s decision to let him work out his kinks in the lineup. What is there not to love about that scenario – nothing. It is simply outstanding…..except that…..
If you’re Alex Anthopolous and you just acquired Brett Wallace who is showing his massive power and bat in AAA, and you’re shopping Lyle as he uses this experience to find his form at the plate (which he definitely did last night), do you have a harder time trading him now that you know the lengths to which the players went to support him? Or, do you know they’ll realize it’s simply a business move? It sounds a little counter intuitive, but there could be some short-lived ill feelings if Lyle is traded after the guys got together “as a family”. Any time a GM deals “a sibling” it has an effect on the group. So long as Brett comes up and makes the team better, I don’t see this as being a big issue, but it could also lead to Alex sticking with Lyle all season and just letting his time run out in Toronto. Brett can get that much better in AAA and begin the season in Toronto.
I honestly hope for the first option to take place because I think Brett will be a major improvement to the lineup in a similar (slightly lower) way that Ryan Braun was for Milwaukee in 2007. Lyle could be a very good option for many teams and he is definitely a great asset at 1B as his defensive skills have never been in question. I doubt he’ll be with the Jays after the trade deadline, and the support of the players may make him more attractive on the market due to his clubhouse effect being heightened by the event.
Whether you’re a present Jays player or are thinking about signing with the Jays in the future, you now know that the clubhouse is sound, supportive of one another, and that they’ll allow you to overcome your issues without hanging you out to dry. The net effect of this should be a more attractive option as a destination for players. They know the Jays have a plan that is being put into action by Alex Anthopolous, they know that the young talent is there to make the Jays competitive in a very tough division, they know that they’ll be in the spotlight due to the teams they’ll play against, and now they know it’s a great clubhouse to be a part of. After the Alex Rios Saga of 2009 and it’s ugly ending, the Lyle Overbay Saga’s outcome is a welcome one that is refreshing, promising, and makes all Jays stakeholders that much happier to be a part of the franchise.