Jason Giambi is a serious candidate for the Colorado Rockies vacant managerial job. He impressed front-office folks during an interview last week, though team officials said yesterday they’d continue to interview other candidates. Still: Giambi as the Rockies manager? It makes sense, but for all the wrong reasons.
There’s no doubt people in the Rockies organization want someone they can control from the front office, which makes Giambi the perfect fit. The 41-year-old has been vocal about wanting the managerial job and said he’d retire from baseball if the Rockies gave him the opportunity. If the team were his, there’s little reason to believe—at least for now—he’d press the front office to change its ways and procure and produce the kind of on-field talent it’ll take to compete with the likes of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and even Arizona. Because the Rockies' owners would be giving him an opportunity he simply wouldn't get anywhere else, Giambi would be beholden to an organization known for its inability to produce the year-to-year quality that would allow this team to seriously challenge for a playoff spot.
Would it be a good story? Sure. By every measure, the former partyboy-slash-MVP-slash-steroid-user has turned his life around. From every account, he’s a great father and has been a tremendous mentor to young players on this Colorado team. He’s accepted his role as a pinch-hitter and backup first baseman with aplomb; he’s been a fan-favorite. The goodwill he’s earned is well-deserved. But Giambi as a manager also smells of rank opportunism, the kind fans saw this past season when 49-year-old Jamie Moyer made the team’s opening day roster. Regardless of how the Rockies tried to spin Moyer’s addition, it always seemed more like a sideshow attraction used to sell tickets than anything else. As great of a guy as Giambi is, hiring him a manager right now could be just the same: a ploy by a desperate team to steer attention away from what’s really going on in the field and in the front office.
So, for the team's sake, now is not the time to go with an unproven manager to turn this organization around. It’s unfair to fans and it’s unfair to Giambi. He might be a great manager someday, but it’d be nice to try him out as a coach first—or perhaps as a minor-league manager. A 95-loss season in 2013 wouldn’t help his cause. He’d just be seen as overmatched and unable to lead.
The millions of people who show up to Coors Field every year need a sign that the Rockies are serious about winning. Hiring your pinch-hitter to do the job doesn’t exactly engender that kind of confidence.
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