Two ex-Yankees on their times in the Bronx

An A-Rod-inspired anti-tabloid rant
Open Thread: Looking forward to the season

If the Yankees manage to snap out of their World Series-less funk and return to their smart team-building ways of the late 1990s, Jason Giambi and Randy Johnson will forever live as the two biggest symbols of Aught-Aught decadence. The Yankees spent a whopping amount of dollars on both of those players and additional prospects on Randy Johnson. When Johnson left after 2006 and Giambi left this winter, their departures were quick and rather forgettable.

Over the weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea checked in with the Big Unit and the Giambino as they settle in to their new digs and their new old digs, respectively. The two former Yankees had widely divergent views on playing in the Bronx.

Neither Randy Johnson nor Jason Giambi won a World Series with the Yankees, which is why neither is viewed in that Paul O’Neill-Scott Brosius “True Yankee” sort of way, whatever the heck that is. Johnson’s and Giambi’s sin was playing on teams that fell short of winning it all, the Yankees’ only goal.

“If you don’t win the World Series, it’s considered a failing year,” said Johnson, who’s working near his Livermore roots after signing a one-year, $8 million contract with the Giants. “Those are extremely high expectations. It’s not that easy, though. I don’t think you should be measured on whether you won a World Series or not because the best team doesn’t always win the World Series.”


“I loved having that pressure on you,” said Giambi, who returned to the A’s for a $5.25 million guarantee. “If you’re an athlete and really love the game, it’s pretty incredible. The expectation level from the media to the fans, it’s awesome, an incredible environment to play in. I know some people don’t thrive in it, but I enjoyed it.”

For some reason, Shea’s main goal seems to be taking jabs at the Yankees. He openly mocks the “True Yankee” moniker that some players have earned, and he notes in the omitted section the Yanks’ winter spending spree. In a way, though, he misses the point.

For Giambi, his time in New York was about excelling on the big stage, and he seemed to do that just fine. While his contract and tenure here will be forever marked by steroids, the Yanks got their money’s worth out of Jason, and it wasn’t his fault the Yanks’ pitching fell apart.

Between Randy Johnson and the Yanks, though, there is no love lost. Even in Johnson’s words — “I don’t think you should be measured on whether you won a World Series or not because the best team doesn’t always win the World Series” — are hints of excuses. He’s still trying to defend himself as the man who couldn’t put away the Angels in 2005 and couldn’t deal with the Tigers in 2006. He is every bit the insecure pitcher Joe Torre describes him to be in his book and nothing like the bulldog the Yankees thought he was.

When all is said and done, neither Randy nor Jason will go down in the annals of Yankee history as representative of a good time. This decade has seen the team try to find a way to return to World Series glory with no luck. For one of them, it certainly wasn’t from a lack of trying, and from the other, it will always just be sour grapes.

An A-Rod-inspired anti-tabloid rant
Open Thread: Looking forward to the season
  • Ryan S.

    I’m already looking forward to seeing Giambi getting a standing-O the first day the As come to town, and after he retires, he better get his ass over here for Old Timer’s Day.

  • radnom

    These quotes are a perfect example of why Giambi was well liked here and Johnson wasn’t, despite the fact that they both performed decently here, but well under their level before coming to New York. Even though Giambi will never be a “true Yankee” because of the large contract and no championship, I would still describe him as a fan favorite here when he was healthy.

  • Drew

    “Get out of my face”

  • Stuart

    Yankees get there money worth with Giambino!!!!

    No friggin way.. What are you drinking? $20 + mill a yr. for a broken down DH.. Way to come up big in the Marlins series Jason.. Yeah he was not a total bust and is a likeable guy but a good investment111You invest in AIG also?

    • Jamal G.

      Jason Giambi’s career lows as a Yankee in his five healthy seasons were 32 HR, a .373 OBP, a .503 SLG%, a .377 wOBP and 2.6 Value Wins. Yeah, for a seven-year investment, I’d say that’s about as good as you can come out at the end.

      • Let’s Talk About TEX Baby

        Giambi had his moments as a Yankee but I think overall the deal was a failure. When the Yankees signed Giambi they were paying for a superstar, top 5 hitter in baseball, constant MVP candidate and they only got that for 1 full year out of 7. Giambi had some ridiculous hot streaks but also a lot of instances where he’d go months at a time without hitting at all. His horrendous defense created a bunch of flexibility issues. Giambi seems to be a great guy and it wasn’t his fault that the Yankees made a bad decision on him, but giving that long a deal to a 31-year-old, poor defensive obvious steroid user was a mistake which the Yankees paid for.

  • Yankeegirl49

    I was thrilled when we signed Giambi, I had always been a fan. I do however think he got a free pass from the media while Arod took all the heat. He won as many WS with the Yanks as Arod did, yet it is all Arod’s fault they didnt win. People claim its because he gets paid so much, but hellooo not like Giambi got paid $1.50 a year.
    I hope he does well with Oakland (except when playing us), and will cheer him when he comes back to NY for sure.

    • Mike Pop

      BUT HE USED TEH PEDS!1!!!111!!

  • Frank

    Carl Pavano does not agree with this post.

  • Moshe Mandel

    In regard to money’s worth, Fangraphs disagrees, by a lot. That being said, I would say that we got a lot of what we wanted from Jason, we just gave him too much money in the first place.

    • Glen L

      According to fangraphs

      year actual salary paid value earned
      2002 10.4 18.7
      2003 11.4 12.9
      2004 12.4 1.1
      2005 13.4 15.7
      2006 20.4 13.1
      2007 23.4 3.1
      2008 23.4 11.6
      total 115 77.2

      clearly, the yanks didn’t exactly get all their money’s worth … but if you’re kind and completely remove 2004 and 2007 (injuries) he was paid 79mm and worth 72mm

      take that for whatever its worth

      i will forever stand by my non-sexual crush on the Giambino

    • Jeremy

      That’s fair. When the Yankees signed Giambi they knew he was a great hitter, poor defender and likely juicer. They got what they paid for: great hitting for many years, poor defense every year, and bizarre health problems that might have been PED-related.

      They paid him to be the second coming of Gehrig, but rationally knew he would never be that good.

    • andrew

      That’s probably a better description of the Giambi contract. It was unreasonable to expect him to continue putting up the numbers he put up in his age 27-30 seasons in Oakland, as much as we all would’ve liked that. However, he did put up, at worst, very solid and above average numbers throughout the majority of his time in NY. He may not have lived up to expectations, but that’s because we often set the bar too high. I’ll miss the Giambino.

  • Jeremy

    Shea can take as many jabs at “True Yankee” as he likes. It’s a stupid concept.

    Besides, while no one will ever confuse Giambi with a member of the Dynasty Teams, I think Yankee fans generally like him. At least that’s the impression I got back when I read LoHud.

    RJ was just a bait-and-switch. We got him to be a playoff stopper and instead he sucked in the playoffs. It’s tough for a Yankee pitcher to rattle off two straight 17-win seasons and leave with no goodwill whatsoever, but that’s just what he did.

  • Mike Pop

    Wasn’t it the Angels in 05 and Tigers in 06?

    • JimmieFox

      Yep, you are right.

    • Ben K.

      Yeah. You’re right. I got the dates backwards. It’s since been corrected.

  • DCR

    My most vivid memory of Randy Johnson will be the Angels playoff game in 2005. I recall him saying something about wanting to hear the fans get into it or something. Then he gets bombed and walks off the mound to a chorus of boos.

  • Expired Milk

    Cant we change the name from “True Yankees” to fan favorites

  • Back to Glory

    Money’s worth? Your crazy. Sub .300 average and crappy defense is not the yankees money worth. Giambi stole his salary and the fact that there was no ring and the steroids shame underscores that.

  • Johnny

    Giambi was a fun player though wasn’t he? He never won a ring, but lots of players never win rings. Donnie Baseball never got one and he’s beloved by yanks fans.

    I’m not sayin giambi comes anywhere near mattingly, and I don’t want to get into whether he was worth the money, but I’ll always like the guy. Remember those two homers in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS?