Now that Walt Weiss is (finally) gone, the Rockies are now tasked with finding a new manager. Making their lives even harder, it was announced yesterday that the Rockies will be parting ways with four other coaches, including Eric Young, a surprise decision for some including myself. Yet they kept Darren Holmes, the coach in charge of the bullpen that produced an ERA of over 5 last season, whose greatest hits include big hits from other teams. But I digress.
There’s been speculation as to who will replace Weiss as the skipper, one of which can be put to bed now that Young’s been canned. Another recently announced as a potential candidate is first base coach Eddie Perez, currently with the Braves organization. Glenallen Hill, manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes, has also been tossed around for consideration. Both of these men have experience with losing ball clubs, but how exactly does that help the Rockies?
Bud Black, former skipper for the San Diego Padres, seems to have a unique need that the Rockies may want to capitalize on. As a former pitcher, himself, there may be some worldly advise he can part on the young arms maturing in the rotation, and perhaps even in the bullpen (do not expect the bullpen to improve with Holmes in charge). Between Steve Foster’s development of pitchers like Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, and Tyler Chatwood, there’s definitely some room for development, but headway has already been made and Bud Black may be the one to push them further down the road of success.
However, I believe there is one man that deserves some consideration that nearly beat out Walt Weiss for the job in the first place. His name Jason Giambi.
Most folks know Giambi from his playing days with either Oakland or New York, or from the scandal involving steroid usage which he confessed to. For Rockies fans, Giambi will be remembered as the power bat that served as a backup first baseman well after his prime, providing memorable moments such as the three run pinch hit walk off home run that pushed the Rockies past the Dodgers back in 2012. He was also a finalist for the manager’s position, but ultimately lost it to a man who would accumulate the worst record for a manager in franchise history.
Since that time, Giambi retired from professional baseball as a player, but left the window open to coaching. Although originally offered a coaching position by the Indians before his official retirement, Giambi declined and opted to pursue other opportunities, although he did accept a position as a guest instructor at the Indians’ Spring Training in the preseason earlier this year.
Giambi is a risk. He has no managerial experience. But he’s had an incredible professional career, albeit tainted by steroids. He’s learned from the best managers in recent baseball history. An induction to the Hall Of Fame is not out of reach. He brings a lot to the table in terms of batting. And for a GM like Jeff Bridich, who seems confident in retaining current pitching staff, perhaps it’s the best decision.
Pitching will never be a strong area for the Rockies due to the altitude. But in terms of a home record, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. If visiting teams can run up the scoreboard, there’s no reason the Rockies can’t do the same. Although individually, the Rockies’ batters are incredibly talented young men, collectively they are always one key hit short. Giambi may be able to finally connect those dots that produces a true powerhouse of bombers not seen since the 90s.
Fielding was also never a strong subject for Giambi as a player, and undoubtedly it could translate into his coaching. Known for his errors, he was used primarily for his bat and was mostly used in a DH capacity for the Yankees and Indians. The Rockies, of course, have no such position and finding ways to use jim became challenging. Without adequate backup, Giambi could leave the Rockies clueless on the field.
One other note to make is that being a great hitter as a player doesn’t always translate as a coach. A recent example showing that very point is Barry Bonds. Love him or hate him, the home run king could swing a bat. But when hired by the Miami Marlins to impart that wisdom on their ballplayers, he seems to be there mostly for show. As a result, the Marlins fired him after a season that started full of promise ended in tragedy. Giambi may suffer the same as a manager if bat quality fails to improve or even gets worse.
But all hope is not lost. Again, four coaches have been banished from Blake Street and replacements could easily be found that have the fielding acumen Giambi doesn’t possess. One name that may come up to resolve this problem is Glenallen Hill. However, Hill’s coaching is incredibly lax and may not provide the spark needed to encourage the team’s players to really go after the ball. Having seen his work while managing the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, it’s not great.
I do believe Giambi is worth the risk, especially since management doesn’t seem interested in solving the fiasco in the bullpen this season. Perhaps taking a chance on a proven player may only show an unproven manager who can’t produce, but given the Rockies’ chances of being in the playoffs next year, I say sign the man up.