Athletics Nation interviews Giambi

If anyone is missing Jason Giambi this spring, you can head over to Athletics Nation where Tyler Bleszinski has conducted an interview with the former Yanks first baseman. It’s quite the long one — and it’s only the first part. Jason talks about the difference between playing in Oakland and playing in New York, how he views himself on each team, and the adjustments he made to his swing upon coming to the Yanks.

Head over to read the whole thing — I can’t possibly do it justice without completely reprinting it. However, there were a couple of parts I found particularly interesting. The first of which is Giambi’s reply to the question of how he views himself as a defensive first baseman. I didn’t know what to expect after reading the question, but it certainly wasn’t this: “I view myself as great.” Yeah, right. Tyler’s talking about playing first base, Jason, not about chugging Jack. Jay at Fack Youk takes a closer look at this statement.

Most interesting, though, is the revelation that Giambi very well might not have been a Yankee had ownership not intervened. The A’s and Giambi apparently had a place in deal before the 2001 season which would have paid Big G around $90 million over six years.

Trust me, I wanted to stay in Oakland. We had a deal done. You can ask Billy Beane. It was my free agent year before the season started. And ownership at the time pulled the deal off the table. I had flown my parents out, my agent, everybody. A lot of people don’t know that.

That creates one massive what-if scenario. Looking at the list of free agents that year, there was really only one superstar bat available: Barry Bonds. Would the Yanks have pursued him to fill their left field void? He was, after all, fresh off a record-breaking season. The Giants ended up signing him for four years and $72 million with a $18 million club option, but without another blue-chip slugger on the market perhaps the Yankees would have put their resources towards Bonds.

Barring that, they could have gone forward with a Johnny Damon signing, putting him in left field. Considering the money they would have saved on Giambi, they could have as easily signed Rondell White, too, to play right field.

I love how one little interview sparks so many questions. We’ll never know how Yankee history would have unfolded had Giambi re-upped with the A’s in 2001. But it’s fun to think about for sure.

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Giambi praises the Cap’n

Praising Derek Jeter for his leadership has become something of a baseball cliché over the years. There is, after all, a reason why some fans derogatorily call him Captain Intangibles. But in a recent Bob Klapisch piece, Jason Giambi praises Jeter’s leadership and sounds genuinely sincere in doing so. “I’ll thank Derek until the day I die,” Giambi said. “What he did for me, after what I’d been through, made it possible for me to keep playing in New York. The fans forgave me because of Derek. I’ll never forget that for the rest of my life.”

While I generally think that Klapisch painted an accurate picture of Giambi’s complex tenure in New York, I don’t like how he compared the situation to A-Rod‘s. In comparing Giambi’s steroid problems to A-Rod’s he praises Jason and says the current Athletic is “unlike A-Rod, who’s had two chances to come clean (and still hasn’t).” This is a point blank attack that serves no purpose and is grounded in nothing more than unhealthy skepticism. It doesn’t help what is otherwise a solid example of a profile piece.

Report: Giambi to return to Oakland

Via MLBTR comes the news that Jason Giambi and the A’s are nearing agreement on a one-year deal. Mychael Urban at MLB.com believes the deal will contain an option. While no dollar figures have been released yet, Giambi will probably be getting less than $10 million for his services. The Yanks had no need for him anymore, but the A’s clearly do. The Giambino can still hit for power and average get on base, and he will give a significant boost to an offense that scored just 646 runs last season.

Open Thread: Tex vs Giambi

Earlier today I posted a breakdown of how much value the 2008 Yanks’ offense provided, and shortly after that I received an email from reader Diony, basically asking how much of an upgrade Mark Teixeira is over Giambi. Using the same Fangraphs data I used in the post earlier today, let’s take a look.

Mark Teixeira
Batting
: +45.7 / +35.0
Fielding: +11.7 / +2.1
Replacement: +22.8 / +22.1
Positional: -12.2 / -11.7
Value Runs: +68.0 / +47.6
Value Wins: 6.8 / +4.8
Value: $30.5M / $19.6M

Jason Giambi
Batting
: +21.5 / +19.9
Fielding: -1.8 / -2.6
Replacement: +18.8 / +16.1
Positional: -12.0 / -11.1
Value Runs: +26.5 / +22.2
Value Wins: +2.7 / +2.2
Value: $11.9 / $8.8M

The first number is the player’s 2008 stats, the second number (after the slash) are their average over the last three years. The most cited difference between the two players is defense. Last year there was a 13.5 run difference between the two, nearly one and a half wins. Over the last three years that difference is just 4.7 runs, but remember that Giambi is going to 38 in a week while Tex is still in his prime. It’s not unreasonable to expect Tex to maintain that 13.5 run difference. For arguments’ sake, let’s round it down to 10 runs, or one win.

Offensively, the difference between the two is Tex’s ability to hit for average, which also gives him an advantage in slugging percentage. As you can see, Tex has been more than 15 runs better than Giambi over the last three years, and nearly 25 runs better last year. If you want to split the middle and say Tex is expected to be 20 runs more productive than Giambi next year, I think that’s fair.

So add it up: 10 runs (defense) + 20 runs (offense) = 30 run upgrade, or 3 wins

Three wins is a ginormous upgrade. It’s ever so slighty more than the difference between Marco Scutaro and A-Rod last year, and just a tad less than the difference between Melky and Matt Kemp. Sure the homer and RBI numbers might not look much different, and obviously this is just a quick-and-dirty analysis, but don’t kid yourself. Replacing 38 year old Jason Giambi with 29 year old Mark Teixeira is a massive upgrade for the 2009 Yankees.

Use this as your open thread for the evening. The Knicks are in Charlotte, and the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl (Ok. State vs Oregon) is on as well. I’ll be watching House. Make sure you check out Blueseat Blogs as well, I’m filling in this week while Dave’s on vacation. Okay, you know the routine. Have fun, play nice.

Bay Area calls some ex-Yankees

While the Yankees are sleeping soundly this week knowing that their Christmas presents are safe and sound in New York, across the coast, some former Yankees are making headlines. In concrete news, the Giants have signed the Big Unit to a one-year, $8-million deal. He will join a rotation that includes Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez. If the team can find some offense, they may just have the pitching to compete in the NL West in 2009. The Giants appear to be a potential trade partner for the Yanks in their efforts to move a spare outfielder.

Across the Bay, we know that the A’s are interested in bringing back Jason Giambi, and according to recent reports, they’ve been in touch with Bobby Abreu too. Abreu is the classic Billy Beane guy. He’s a high-OBP outfielder who should come at a decent price. The A’s would be well served to have both Giambi and Abreu around for 2009.

Giambi market taking shape

Jason Giambi, soon to be 38, wants a three-year deal, but it sounds as though he’ll soon get a two-year offer from the A’s with an option. While Tampa has expressed some interest in Giambi as well, my bet is on a return to the Bay Area. He would DH for Oakland and slot in nicely behind Matt Holliday. While Jason once said he’d love to return to New York, the Yanks have so far expressed no interest in having Giambi return.

Rays meeting with former Yanks

While nothing may come of this news, at least it’s real and tangible. The Tampa Rays, as evidenced by a photograph and confirmed report on the St. Petersburg Times’ Heater blog, have met with Jason Giambi and plan to talk to Bobby Abreu as well. Giambi makes a lot of sense for Tampa. He could play the Cliff Floyd role and would do so better than Floyd did in 2008. I’m not quire sure what Tampa wants or needs with Abreu, but they’re just checking out all the options.