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February 21, 2008 at 7:06 am ET
Giambi at first? Joke’s on Yankee pitchers

Yikes! Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi reportedly told Jason Giambi during the off-season that he is counting on him to play a lot of first base this season.

Good God! Putting Giambi in the field any time it’s not an emergency is a horrible idea. I hope Girardi isn’t serious.

Giambi, 37, was an awful first baseman five years ago — and he’s slower and more brittle now. I’m not sure there’s a word to describe the terror Yankee pitchers will feel looking over to first base and seeing Giambi with a glove on.

Giambi should just burn his glove — it’s useless. He should become Frank Thomas and refuse to play first base because he’s afraid to embarrass himself, which he will.

Giambi can’t catch anything unless it’s hit right at him. Worse, though, is his throwing. Have you watched him try to throw the ball? It’s pitiful. Not only can he not throw the ball to second base, his tosses to pitchers are even an adventure. I breathe a sigh of relief every time a pitcher survives one uninjured.

If Giambi is their best option, perhaps the Yankees should forget it and just use 8 fielders. Let the pitcher cover first base. Or the second baseman.

I know the Yankees are trying to figure out a way to get Giambi, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon all into the lineup together. But, c’mon! Giambi at first base? Damon is probably already a better first baseman, and Matsui could probably do a better job with a couple of months to practice it.

The Yankees must figure Giambi is closer to the 37 home run, 113 RBI player he was in 2006 than the guy who hit .236 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI last season. To play him at first base, they have to feel they need his bat.

There is a problem with that, though. Play him at first enough and he will break down. Whether it’s steroids or just age catching up to him, Giambi has been beset by a variety of injuries the past several seasons and I see no reason to expect him to stay healthy in 2008 — especially playing the field.

Giambi started only 18 games in the field last season. In fact, as a Yankee he has never started more than 92 at first base. My guess is he will only start 50-60 games in the field this year and wind up playing in around 100. If Girardi and the Yankees want Giambi’s bat for more games than that they need to keep him away from first base.

Short of trading Matsui to open the full-time DH slot for Giambi, I don’t have an easy answer for solving this Yankee riddle.

I do, though, have a suggestion for Yankee fans watching the games while the Giambino is at first base. When the ball heads in his direction, cover your eyes. Nothing good is likely to happen.

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7 Responses to “Giambi at first? Joke’s on Yankee pitchers”
  1. NYinCalifornia says:

    Truly, it makes me quake in my shoes when I see Giambi at first base. But we can’t possibly trade Matsui; it may be just a personal feeling, but seeing him in left field or at the plate is usually a calming one.

  2. Ed Valentine says:

    Agreed about Matsui. If it’s a choice between Matsui and Giambi, I’m choosing Matsui. The Yankees, though, still seem enamored with Giambi’s home run potential.

  3. Adam C. says:

    No way in hell Matsui gets traded to make room for Giambi at DH. Not when Giambi can’t be counted on and especially not when he is in his final year as a Yankee. I see him with a limited role at DH and even more limited at first base.

  4. Ed Valentine says:

    I hope you are right. Personally, I think the Yankees could get just as much first base production out of a Shelley Duncan/Wilson Betemit platoon. I’m hoping to see more of those guys as the season wears on.

  5. Duder says:

    You should be hoping to see less of Shelley Duncan and more of Giambi. More of Giambi means he’s healthy, which means he is a getting on base machine. Oh, wait, Duncan’s got character and a strong grithustlebone.

  6. David Byrne says:

    I wouldn’t count on the Duncan/Betemit platoon. Giambi’s OBP was better in 2007, a woeful year for the slugger, than either Duncan or Betemit’s have been at nearly any level. Despite the fact that Duncan is young(ish) I would rather see Giambi’s awful glove at first than tolerate Duncan or Betemit at the plate. Let’s hope to see some serious Johnny D at first.

  7. Butch says:

    I’d rather keep Matsui, Giambi and Damon and rotate them through LF/DH. But trading Giambi is almost impossible; at least Matsui would have some value, especially for teams that would like the boost in Japanese fans. We don’t need him for that any more, thanks to Kei Igawa… ;)

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