By Jeff Louderback
Lyle Overbay had a career season in 2006, when he batted .312 with 22 home runs and 92 RBI. It was his first year with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was not named to the American League All-Star Team, but the 36-year-old first baseman could join a cadre of All-Stars from that campaign if he makes the New York Yankees Opening Day roster.
Overbay, who was released by the Boston Red Sox earlier this week after joining the team for spring training on a minor league contract, signed the same type of deal with the Yankees. As Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “If the Yankees’ goal was to reassemble a 2006 All-Star team, then congratulations—they have succeeded.”
The Yankees, which are without Alex Rodriguez (who was part of the AL All-Star Team in 2006), recently acquired outfielder Vernon Wells and inked Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract. The latter two were also AL All-Stars, as was the now creaky Derek Jeter (who will open the 2013 season on the DL recovering from an ankle injury) and closer Mariano Rivera (who is returning from a knee injury).
Barbarisi wrote about the assortment of 2006 stars who are part of the 2013 Yankees, “Ichiro Suzuki led the majors in hits, while Travis Hafner led the American League in on-base plus slugging percentage. Wang was the AL Cy Young runner up. Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera had typically stellar seasons, and Robinson Cano established himself as a star. Derek Jeter had one of the best years of his career, finishing second in the AL Most Valuable Player balloting to Justin Morneau.
In fact, that 2006 AL MVP race reads like a 2013 Yankee roster.
In 2006, 30 players received AL MVP votes. The Yankees, amazingly, have eight of those players on their 2013 roster. Only 24 of the 30 MVP finalists remain in the majors, meaning that the Yankees have fully a third of those players under their control.”
The resurrected Andy Pettitte, the broken down Kevin Youkilis and Juan “That Guy Is Still Playing?” Rivera are other players who will make the Opening Day roster. Their presence would have been reason for celebration – in 2006.
Yet it is not 2006, and the Yankees could mimic Boston’s 2012 last place finish in the American League East. The 2013 Yankees are a club that desperately needed CC Sabathia, Mark Texeira, Curtis Granderson and especially Robinson Cano to stay off the DL. Even if those players stayed healthy and produced, Joe Girardi’s roster would have a challenging time securing a post-season berth. Yet Teixeira and Granderson are already sidelined.
Eduardo Nunez will be the Opening Day shortstop and Francisco Cervelli will crouch behind the plate. Along with Youkilis and Overbay, another Red Sox cast-off will be adorned with a Yankees uniform on Opening Day in David Aardsma. Girardi’s outfield options were so lackluster that the team brought in Brennan Boesch and Ben Francisco.
“In the name of Andy Phillips, what the !$*$ is going on?” is what most Yankees fans must be exclaiming.
Word is that the ghost of George Steinbrenner will return from 2006 in a self-made time machine to throw out the first pitch before the Yankees and Red Sox clash at Yankee Stadium on Monday.
Evidently, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams will remain retired, and Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina are not expected to rejoin the rotation.