The ‘stache ain’t going anywhere

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Remember April? Man, we had some heated arguments back then. Cano wasn’t hitting, Giambi wasn’t hitting, Damon was on and off, Jeter wasn’t off to the hot start we saw the past two years. Two guys in particular, though, took the brunt of the offensive criticism: Giambi and Cano. Each time they came to the plate and failed, people were clamoring for them to find a seat on the bench. There was even a contingency of Yanks fans who wanted to see Giambi released.

Good thing they didn’t get their way.

On the month of May, Giambi is hitting .339/.481/.726. That is absolutely insane. Each of those three numbers represents the top spot on the Yankees for the month. On the season, he’s at .244/.393/.556, a more than respectable line that, if nothing else, shows the effects of his abysmal April.

Before the season started and during the first few weeks, some Yankees fans were up in arms about Giambi. DFA him! He won’t be able to help this team! Even as we got into May and the Giambino started hitting a bit better, especially for power, the detractors were still out. At this point, though, to rail against Giambi seems a bit foolish, eh?

(Then again, guys like Jamal looked the fool when he continually defended Giambi in the early going. Baseball’s a funny game like that.)

The thing is, we’ve seen this before. I present to you the year 2005. Giambi was coming off a 2004 defined by a stomach parasite and a benign pituitary tumor. But he was healthy in the spring, and was ready to get back into the game. Problem was, he was no good early on.

Prior to June 15, he had just three home runs. On May 22, he was hitting .215/.368/.346. Yankees fans wanted him out, and wanted him out fast. Even as we moved into late June and his OBP rose to over .400, people still weren’t happy with Giambi. The stigma of steroids still surrounded him, and I heard many a person talk about how he can’t compete without the juice.

Then a funny thing happened in July. He started hitting balls out of the park. Two against the Orioles on the 4th of July. One the next day. After an off-day, one on the day after that. One against Boston on July 14, in an 8-6 win. Two on July 20, two on July 21. By the end of the year, that Giambi who had a slugging percentage under .350 on May 22 finished with a line of .271/.440/.535. The complainers had shut up.

(He hit .282/.463/.655 from July on in 05. Just disgusting numbers.)

This year, it appears his resurgence is coming along a bit quicker. He’s been one of the drivers of the Yankees offense, which is finally starting to look like we expected from the get go. And, most importantly, he’s hitting well enough to compensate for his poor defense at first base. There are no guarantees that he keeps it up — as I said, baseball is a funny game like that — but Giambi has shown that he can in fact contribute to the 2008 Yankees.

Hopefully, Girardi’s veteran rotation will help keep Giambi — as well as Matsui and Damon — fresh throughout the year. Matsui and Giambi in particular have been integral in molding the offense. With A-Rod back and Jorge on the way, maybe we can start to put up some more crooked numbers.

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  • Jamal G.

    I have to admit, Jason Giambi made me shut up as well. All Spring Training he kept saying how playing 1B was a major factor in his hitting and the media really bought into that. I along with many bloggers felt that it was just a misused stat because those numbers were compiled when he was in Oakland when he was a Top 5-10 hitter in the AL. The thought process for opponents of that stat was that Giambi was a 1B during his best years while he was in his prime and he was a DH during his declining years as a New York Yankee. It seems that Joe Girardi’s plan to rotate him from 1B, DH and the bench has kept him healthy and fresh (hopefully for the next 4-5 months as well).

    Hey, I was wrong about Johnny Damon. At the start of Spring Training I wanted Robinson Cano in the #3 hole replacing Bobby Abreu who would take over for Johnny Damon as the lead-off hitter. Alas Robinson Cano has started miserably at the plate, got hot for a couple weeks, scuffled on this recent road trip and Johnny Damon is hitting .288/.360/.476 on the season with a robust *OPS+ of 130 as the lead-off hitter! To say Johnny Damon has owned bitches as the lead-off hitter would be an understatement.

    • TurnTwo

      same here. it came out of nowhere.

      but as long as i see him continue to drive balls to the opposite field, and remain healthy, i think he can sustain his numbers.

  • Eric

    Giambi’s resurgence has been amazing. I don’t know whether the ‘stache or the thong deserves more credit, but what I do know is that he seems to be going to the opposite field a lot more than he has in the past few seasons, when he was a dead-pull hitter who would consistently pull outside pitches for weak grounders into the shift. I think health is also a big reason for Giambi’s effectiveness. And who knows, maybe he does focus better when he’s playing first on a regular basis. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to him in the offseason if he keeps this up. His 22 million dollar option is not going to be picked up, but I wonder if the Yankees would consider resigning him to a 2-year deal, say if Teixeira’s demands are ridiculous, and some team like Baltimore gives him a 7-8 year deal at 20+ million per. If he keeps performing well, I’d have to think he would be a type A free agent, which could be useful if he signs elsewhere.

    • Jamal G.

      Joe made a notion of this earlier, if the Yankees offered Jason Giambi arbitration in the upcoming off-season the arb salary would be in the neighborhood of $19 million. Next season will be Jason Giambi’s age 38 season, no American League GM will be offering him any three-year pacts, I would be a bit surprised if I see two guaranteed years offered to Giambi. I say NL because he is basically the southpaw version of Frank Thomas, no NL team will sign him to play 1B. Factoring all those things in, Giambi would be foolish not to accept the one-year, $19 million deal he would get if offered arbitration by the Yankees.

  • Count Zero

    I honestly never doubted Giambi could still hit — I doubted (and still do to some extent) whether he could stay healthy all year. If you were watching his ISO in April, you knew that Girardi was calling it right in saying he was just getting unlucky.

    Much as I doubt Giambi’s ability to stay healthy and play 130+, if he does, we will actually have a very good shot at the playoffs. Alex –> Matsui –> Healthy Giambi (particularly in YS) is about the best 4-5-6 in MLB. A healthy Giambi, with his almost superhuman eye for the strike zone, following a very hot Matsui makes it very difficult to pitch around Alex.

    Question becomes where do you slot Jorge when he gets back? You’d love to break up the L-L in Matsui-Giambi, but I can’t see moving Giambi to 7th in the order right now.

    • Jamal G.

      With Jorge Posada coming back next week I doubt Joe Girardi will slot Jorge Posada in the #7 hole in front of a struggling Robinson Cano. It would make sense to slot him in-between Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi so he can get some better pitches to hit batting in front of a scorching hot Jason Giambi. Giambi also has a damn good enough eye to sustain batting in front of a dormant bat in Robinson Cano.

      • Count Zero

        You raise an excellent point re Cano. Still…I keep thinking there has to be a way to get that high OBP in front of a couple of people who can drive him in…

  • steve (different one)

    Before the season started and during the first few weeks, some Yankees fans were up in arms about Giambi. DFA him! He won’t be able to help this team!

    unfortunately this is the attitude that many fans have adopted over the last few years.

    it’s non-stop, and it’s nauseating.

    it’s as if certain fans have no idea how to follow a season for 162 games.

    here is a list of Yankee personnel i have seen fans demand to be released, traded, or fired in the first 50 games of the season:

    Kevin Long

    this place is pretty good in terms of the overreacting, but i won’t even go near Abraham’s blog after a loss.

    • Joe

      He’s hit well for one month, hit hit poorly for one month. Seems pretty even to me. I’m not doubting his ability, I am realistic in that keeping up numbers like this are difficult for a guy who gets injured alot. If he reverts to hitting .188 will it be okay if I suggest he not be the starting first baseman?

      • whozat

        “Seems pretty even to me.”

        That’s the point…it’s not. He’s WAY better than even. He’s top ten in the league in offensive production for the season, NOT just in May. Even with the poor start BA wise, he was still getting on base at a good clip and hitting some XBH, so his April wasn’t as terrible as, say Cano’s.

        Yes, Giambi has had issues staying healthy. But, when healthy, he has always produced. People were saying he needed to be DFAd because of his numbers, not his health problems.

        I believe in Giambi’s ability to produce as long as he can stay healthy. If Girardi’s vet rotation thing keeps him healthy, I think he can produce solidly all year. Not at his insane May rates, no. He’ll slump again. But, I don’t think that .250/.400/.500 is out of reach for him over the season, given healthy. And that’s good.

  • Adam

    Now what worries me is if this plays out like Mike Mussina’s 2006, a resurgent year leads the FO to decline the extremely high option year, but still resign the player to a two year contract for a little too much money than a player their age should be getting.

    I’m going to enjoy the Giambi ride while it lasts, but there is no way I want to see Giambi resigned for something like 2 years and $25 million.

    Instead lets just hope he hits his way into a Type-A free agent designation and we can grab some draft picks when some other team foolishly signs him for too much.

    • Joseph P.

      Again, we will not be getting any compensation picks for Giambi. If the Yankees offer him arbitration, his minimum salary would be around $19 million. He’d accept in a heartbeat.

      • steve (different one)

        the 20% max paycut rule only applies to pre-FA aribtration eligible players.

        that said, he’d still get more than the Yankees would be willing to pay through the arbitration process and i agree with your overall premise. the yankees won’t get picks from Giambi.

        Abreu is a possibility though.

      • A.D.

        Offering Arb would only be a 1 year deal however, and if they dont go after Tex, may not be a bad idea.

        Also how are we sure on the 19M the arbitrator decides based on service time & performance if we look at top/highest paid 1B we see:
        Giambi: 23.4M

        Helton: 16.6M
        Delgado: 16M
        Thome: 15.6M
        Sexson: 15.5M
        Pujols: 13.8M
        Texiera: 12.5M
        Morneau: 7.4M (10.6 in ’09)

        So how would the Arbitrator find 19M for a player who is below the top players in terms of productivity, and no one make that much. Since Giambi isn’t the best 1B in baseball it should technically be impossible for an arbitration to award Giambi the highest contract

      • whozat

        Giambi won’t evne be a type B? I find that hard to believe…

        • A.D.

          He will the issue is offering him arbitration to get the type B pick

    • Rich

      If Giambi wants to remain with the Yankees, he needs to be flexible and give them a discount for standing by him during the tough times over the life of his current contract. Maybe one year at $8 million (in addition to his buyout of $5 million). If he wants an unreasonable contract or two years guaranteed, he can walk.

      • steve (different one)


  • Z1m

    Agree with above post. I didn’t think it was a question of Giambi hitting but more if he could stay healthy. Last year he missed some extended time and never really got going. If you remember 06 Giambi carried the offense at times when shef and matsui went down and arod was struggling. Giambi seemed to fade that year after the 5 game sweep of Boston in late August because of a wrist problem. During that Boston series I believe the fourth game which was the sunday night game Giambi homered against Schilling then won the game in the 10th with a shot off pap.

  • Bo

    Hitting 150 for over a month made all of us question whether he still had anything left in the tank.

    • mike

      And it was not just last month or the month before – frm my memory his last 400ish PA were a nightmare until two weeks ago, and seriously – Jason got two pieces of luck.
      The first was Byrd, Paul because if we took him out of the occasion Giambi would be buried on the bench because he looked cooked against everyone else – Girardi would have been forced to sit him.
      Second was that Posada was unable to play – if he could have made “some” throws, he would have been the primary 1B until he was better, and if he was healthy he would be getting time at 1B and Molina catching a few days a week.
      Im happy Jason is hitting better and I hope he keeps it up, but time and history is not on his side,…

      • Glen L

        Well over his last 302 PA Giambi has hit

        .225 .361 .496 for an OPS of .857

        judge it as you will

        • mike

          Mickey Tetteton, where are ye?

  • Geno

    That mustache (and that batting average) remind me of an 80’s Yankee, Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni.

  • Seven Costanza

    the crazy thing is, i think giambi is the best defensive first baseman on the roster right now.

  • Old Ranger

    These are the only ones I thought should be gone. I admit I had reservations about Johnny, Jason.
    One question I have for anyone (everyone), why is it people are down on Shelleys’ defence? I have seen him make some good plays, he is not very smooth, but gets the job done more often then not. Have I been missing something? In the game where he messed up a hit to him (he looked bad) but then made a double play of it. Quick thinking, good arm (started a double play, 1st to 2nd etc., another game) good reflexes, works hard. Anything else? Other then his hitting. I know I’ll be sorry for this. 27/08?

    • Old Ranger

      Nevermind, last night was enough.

  • pete c.

    There’sa good article in the Hartford Courant about the dimensions of Yankee stadium. giambi is mentioned for being the lefty powerhitters who falls into the trap of always trying to yank the ball into the short seats in right.
    It doesn’t takea rocket scientist to see that by not using the alleys in the outfield takes away from his effectiveness as a run producer and let’s face it proffesional hitter.
    Didn’t he lead the league in doubles a couple of seasons in Oakland?

  • Realist


    43 135 24 33 9 0 11 27 75 28 23 1 1 .393 .556 .244

    Am I missing something????? Plus still a defensive liability…..

    As The Wolf told Vincent and Jules, “Well, let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet.” ;-)

  • pete c.

    Ditto Mr. Wolf.