Life is good for Jason Giambi.
Of course, it hasn’t been so easy for the Yankees’ slugger for the past few years, as he found himself embroiled in the BALCO steroids controversy, battled a mysterious illness and watched his status as one of the fiercest hitters in the game wither away in the blink of an eye.
Those experiences could have destroyed Giambi’s career. Instead, they strengthened his resolve.
“I’ve gone through some tough times, so I’m definitely stronger,” Giambi said Sunday. “I might have come over here as a boy, but I’m a man now. There’s no doubt about it.”
Giambi has realized his desire to win outweighs his desire to post numbers for the back of his baseball card.
“Over the last couple years, being hurt with my wrist and my knee, I didn’t go on the DL,” Giambi said. “I may have sacrificed some personal numbers, but it gave me more gratification when we won. It was better than hitting .290 and not making the playoffs. You learn that as you get older that it’s all about winning.”
Part of me likes Giambi – probably because it’s said that he’s a good guy and most people seem to like him. However, there’s a part of me that feels like you cannot count on him – because he’s going to breakdown at some point in the season.
And, I really can’t shake a vibe that I have now on him that suggests to me that he’s going to be a bust in 2007.
With Melky Cabrera on the team, it will not be a huge blow if Giambi had some sort of injury that will prevent him from playing for a long time. Matsui, Damon and Abreu would fill in at DH and Melky would sub in the outfield. Still, it would be a blow to some extent – as Melky’s OPS will not match what a healthy Giambi would provide in terms of reaching base and slugging. And, of course, having Giambi out and having Melky playing full-time means that the Yankees bench will be shooting blanks from that point out.
I suppose that a long-term Giambi injury could be good news, in a way, to a prospect like Eric Duncan. It could open a door. However, that would require Duncan to show something this Spring – and get off to a good start in Triple-A.
Hopefully, I’m wrong on this feel – and Giambi will be “The Man” for the Yankees this year – the full season, meaning every month.
But, it I had to place a bet on Giambi being the team MVP this season, or him being a disappointment in the end, my head would win out over my heart and I would lay the money down on the latter.