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When will the Blue Jays pull the plug on Lyle Overbay?

The 2010 Toronto Blue Jays have been something of a mixed bag. Alex Gonzalez and Vernon Wells have been tremendous. Lyle Overbay and Aaron Hill, well, not so much.

The case of Overbay in particular is important to the Jays this season. Overbay, who is set to become a free agent after the season, has struggled so badly that you have to wonder if he can be an asset to the Blue Jays in the near future. Is it time to pull the plug on Overbay? Not yet:

Over the last week, Gaston has talked about trying to get Randy Ruiz some more plate appearances, either as a first baseman or a DH. Could that be the thin edge of the wedge on the way to moving struggling Lyle Overbay out of the starting lineup?

"When we talked to Overbay in spring training, we told him we were going to give him every chance that we possibly could to have him succeed, knowing that he’s a free agent, knowing that we want him to do something, whether it’s with us or with somebody else," Gaston said. "How long are we going to go with it? I don’t know. We’ll see.

"As along as the team plays well, things can go on a little longer. If we play badly, it’s going to be something you’re going to have to deal with. As long as the team plays well, there’s a lot of things you can get away with.

The problem for the Blue Jays is this: with top prospect Brett Wallace now in their system and seemingly primed to take over for Overbay at some point in the near future at first, the Blue Jays need to be thinking about maximizing the return on Lyle Overbay. Whether that's in the form of a trade in July or a draft pick or two this winter, the Jays need to hope that Overbay turns it around and increases his value around baseball.

While I doubt that Overbay has a long term future with the Blue Jays, there is no doubt in my mind that right now it's in the Blue Jays' best interests to play Overbay. As much as Gaston seems to like Randy Ruiz, there is very little long term benefit of playing him everyday.

There is no doubt that if the Jays struggle and their first baseman is still not hitting, then Lyle Overbay will be one of the team's first playing time casualties.