Thursday, May 12, 2005

Jason Giambi Blues (Make Him Wanna Holler)

Last things first, today.

In other news, the Yanks have asked Jason Giambi to go down to the minors, to work on his swing at AAA, rather than continue to sit on the bench. Right now, Giambi's hitting .195 with three homers and a ton of walks, but his bat speed inspires no confidence, and one suspects the reason that he's taking so many walks is because he can't get the bathead around on pitches he would have tattooed only a few short years ago. Reportedly, if the Yanks can get the Giambino off the 40 man roster, they save some luxury tax dough.

Naturally, the media is behind this minor league scheme, except for those who think that Columbus, Ohio is better than Giambi deserves.

Do I think Giambi should go to the minors? Sure, that'd suit me just fine. It's not my decision, however. Really, it isn't the decision of the Yankees brass, or of Jon Heyman, or Buster Olney.

Under the CBA, it's Jason's decision. He has the right to refuse assignment to the minors as a player with more than 5 years experience in the Majors. What does Giambi have to gain from going down to the minors? Sure, he'll get more at bats than he will in pinstripes, but otherwise, probably nothing.

If Giambi goes down to the minors and tears up the joint, does that improve his stock? Not that much, not "taking $80MM worth of old ballplayer off the Yankees' hands" worth. If he goes down and doesn't hit? Career over, no hope of parole, and he's even more of a laughing stock than he is now.

The weirdest idea in all this is how going to the minors is supposed to "help Giambi's confidence".

Giambi's not a 21 year old who's been overwhelmed in his first taste of the majors. He's an 11 year major league veteran. After you've been a big leaguer for more than ten years, a star for the past seven, how the heck is showing that you're capable of hitting AAA pitching supposed to give you confidence?

All this "back to the minors" stuff fits the storylines writers have ready for Jason, regardless of how it works out. If Giambi is somehow able to get his swing back down on the farm, it fits the Behind the Music self-destruction-and-redemption outline ("Next, after hitting rock bottom, a trip to the minors turned out to be just what the doctor ordered..."). If Giambi fails, it's just one more step in the sin-and-punishment story of his steroid abuse.

Sure, there was a disconnect going when Giambi was cheered in Florida during Spring Training. But there's also a disconnect by all the folks who are presently using him as a pinata (you'll have to imagine the tilde over the "n") in the press. The Daily News, after a Mike Lupica hatchet job on Tuesday, now runs a daily "Man of Steal" update on Giambi, complete with a cartoon of Giambi dressed as a pinstriped burglar.

Pure class.

Maybe Giambi's done. Maybe it's just a slump. What seems certain is that the Yanks are stuck with him to the bitter end.

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