The Cleveland Indians are not gaining any value when Jason Giambi comes off the disabled list for the weekend home series against the Toronto Blue Jays. While his locker room presence may encourage team moral, he doesn’t create runs on the field. As harsh as it may seem, Giambi has been hanging around major league ball parks for the past five seasons because of his accomplishments from 1995 to 2008. After all, he batted .183 and maintained an on-base percentage of .283 in 216 plate appearances last season.
Far too many people have handed the 43-year-old a pass on production because he is respected as a baseball legend. Based on his approval rating it seems as though Giambi could make big league rosters well into his 40s, regardless of his play. Fans are still caught up in the honeymoon stage of Giambi’s walk off home run against the Chicago White Sox during the late playoff push. A combination of an unlikely hero and Tom Hamilton’s flare has won over the Indians following to the point of no return.
Once you can detach your emotions from reality, Giambi bogs down the 25-man roster with a fly ball induced bat and virtually no mobility on the base path. Did I mention he doesn’t field either? In three of his past five seasons Giambi has found himself on the wrong side of zero totaling a negative WAR, with 2010 totaling an even 0.0.
In 2013, Giambi had an 85 wRC+ (100 league average), .291 wOBA (.320 league average) and a walk percentage of 10.6 percent, the worst BB he’s recorded since his third season in the league with the Oakland Athletics (1997). For what it’s worth, at class AA Akron, Giambi has zero hits in eight at bats.
After being turned down last offseason for the vacant managerial job with the Colorado Rockies, Terry Francona demonstrated his love for “G” reaching out to the 42-year-old to join his crew in Cleveland. Francona’s philosophy of surrounding his teams with good people equally brings its benefits and shortcomings. In this case it has been a mistake to bring Giambi back for a second tour in Northeast, Ohio.
In a city that exiles it’s failing players through harsh criticism, Giambi has enjoyed praise instead of disdain. Cleveland fans nearly ran right-handed closer Chris Perez out of town with pitch forks, even during his All-Star season in 2012. Since when did a passionate sports city such as Cleveland, that so badly craves a winner, ditch a gamer for a personality?
During the Tribe’s opening series against the Minnesota Twins, we saw Matt Underwood and Rick Manning conducting an in-game interview with Giambi in the Indians’ dugout, looking the part of a major league bench coach. There’s no shame in admitting that role best suits him, because after all, he is 43 years old. When it comes down to it, keeping Giambi around to receive his retirement package is more of a chore than a strength for Francona’s ball club.