Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yankees Want Giambi at First

From the New York Times:
Giambi was gone until August, limping along with a .200 average the rest of the way. Yet his availability to play first base now is pivotal to the Yankees’ design.

“It would give us a lot more flexibility,” General Manager Brian Cashman said. “With the emergence of Melky in center and with Johnny and Matsui in left, we have too many quality at-bats. Our preference would be to make sure we can get them all in the lineup, and Jason is the key to allowing that to happen if he can play first. It’s just an ‘if’ we don’t know.”

If Giambi could play first base — and Kevin Long, the hitting coach, said he could see him doing so in half the games — then the Yankees could use all of their best hitters in the same lineup.
He’s not as good at D.H.,” Long said. “His numbers just aren’t there. I think it’s very important to us as a club and him as an individual if he’s out in the field.”

Giambi has always been more productive at the plate when he plays in the field. His career O.P.S. is 1.008 as a first baseman, and .861 as a designated hitter. The problem is that when he plays in the field, he breaks down.

“I know it’s not the games yet, but it all starts with how he’s going about his business and the mechanics of his swing,” Long said. “I’m telling you right now, I’ve seen Jason for three years and this is the best I’ve ever seen his swing. That’s exciting.”

Then there was this from MSG.com:
"There's a competition at first base, so, if he's able to play first base, it allows us to be a little more creative in our roster," Girardi said Tuesday. "It allows us to be a little bit more creative in the way we use the DH."
"We have to make sure that from a physical standpoint that's where he's at his best," Girardi said. "He was great before he got hurt. I still think he's going to be really productive. I believe that. I look at the shape he's in. I look at the way he's doing his work. He's been outstanding. There's no reason he can't really be productive."
I wouldn't have a problem with Giambi playing a lot of games at first as if he could hold his own defensively, and stay healthy. But these are two very big "ifs." Over the past few seasons every time the Yankees give Giambi regular time at first base, he's been a liability defensively, and can't stay healthy.

The Yankees seem very optimistic that this year will be different, and that he will be able to handle it. I can't say I feel the same way.

Peter Abraham wrote an article today about how hard Giambi is working this spring.

TAMPA, Fla. - Most of the Yankees were finishing up breakfast and pulling on their uniforms at 9:15 a.m. yesterday. Jason Giambi suddenly burst into the room, his spikes on and glove in hand.

Giambi had been on one of the side fields working on his defense.

That early in the morning?

"I'm such a loser," Giambi said with a laugh.

For whatever the reason - advancing age, a new manager or going into the final year of his contract - Giambi has been newly dedicated this spring.

"My feet are finally healthy, that's the biggest thing," he said.
During batting practice on Tuesday Giambi focused on hitting the ball to the opposite field. "It will keep my swing a lot better if I work on hitting the ball the other way instead of hooking it to right field," Giambi told The Post. "I'm just trying to work on the things that have made me successful."

It's good to see how hard Giambi is working at improving his conditioning, and his game. Hopefully the work pays off and he can stay healthy.

--- What do you think: is Giambi the answer at first base, and can he stay healthy?


JMiller11 said...

I can't say that the fact the Yanks are counting on Giambi to play first base makes me feel very good about the upcoming season. We are talkin about a guy who is completely washed up and hasnt hit .275 since 2002. Out of all the big money players on this team he is really the only one who is blatently stealing money. All this talk about UZR and what not, Giambi hasnt even played enough 1st base to enter the rankings since 2000 and if he did, he would be at the very bottom with a ZR of around .801. He's a joke defenisvely and hasnt even been a cell of his old-self at the plate.

BostonStrangleU said...

Considering you signed Giambi while he was clearly on steroids when he hit over .340 in oakland this should be no surprise how his performance has dropped worse than magic johnson out the NBA after his test results...On another note, his fielding and hitting is the least of the concerns going into this season compared to the Pitching issues NY will have to deal with. Wang will never be a #1 starter and shouldn't especially in a big market like NY. On top of that the franchis is crossing their 220million dollar fingers on kids like Hughes and Kennedy etc. to carry them deep in the playoffs, which they have no experience in doing. On top of that, Detroit has improved both hitting and pitching, while the Yankees have really done nothing in the offseason yet to improve. They have the same roster that lost in the first round to the Indians*shaken my head*
If the Steinbrenners actually put pitching on the same plateau in importance as hitting, they wouldn't have put themselves in this predicament. The culture in the GM's office of doing things like signing Clemens for $28 mill needs to go out the window, its not '97
-Strangled U