Jason Giambi is a real candidate for the Rockies managing job. This is no joke. (Though an executive on a rival team who knows him well burst out laughing when the possibility was brought up to him a couple weeks ago.)
Anyway, the Denver Post, which has been saying all along that Giambi might be considered for the manager job, reported that he is indeed getting an interview for that very post. And judging by what Rockies people are saying behind the scenes, the team does appear to be taking this seriously.
Giambi has never managed at any level. And he has a reputation as a fun-loving, happy-go-lucky guy. You know, the sort who would never become manager.
But Giambi brings a lot of positives to the job, potentially. Rockies people believe he has a tremendous feel for the game. Rockies people love him on a personal level, and that's a big plus going into any interview.
Giambi has what Rockies writer Rafael Rojas called a "presence'' in the young Rockies clubhouse, and that's the perfect word for it. Giambi is a terrifically nice guy, and it isn't hard to imagine that everyone likes him. Giambi was one of the few among the many accused steroid users who did the honorable thing and testified openly and honestly. It isn't hard to imagine the guilt he felt, and still feels.
Rockies people also recognize that Giambi struggles with his past and hasn't quite figured a way to let it go. They also would have preferred him to be out of the game a few years to have gained a different perspective. But they recognize there are no perfect candidates. And they may just be ready to embrace this imperfect one.
Those who covered and knew him in his younger years might have a different perspective of him. They might perceive him as something of a goofball. Remember the lucky clubhouse thong? He would seem to be an odd fit as a manager, especially for the very team that has at times trumpeted its religious values.
Nobody around the Yankees in the 2000s would have imagined Giambi as a managerial candidate. Joe Girardi, serious and studious, yes. Mike Gallego, Mike Stanley, Chili Davis, Luis Sojo, all yes.
Giambi, no way.
But I say, why not?
The one question I'd have is whether Giambi is too nice. And the Rockies surely know him well enough to understand that is an issue, too.
Giambi was the sort who did anything to avoid confrontation. No matter how many times he'd be ripped in the press, he'd always have a smile and kind word for the writers. But being a nice guy shouldn't automatically rule someone out as manager. The players certainly will love him, especially at the start.
The Rockies didn't seem serious about this possibility a couple weeks ago, but maybe back then they thought he might try to continue playing. Now it has become evident that he is a real candidate.
Maybe this is the right team. Jim Tracy quit as manager with a year to go on his contract, ostensibly because he wanted more control than the Rockies are willing to give at this time.
Rockies management understands they are in a unique setting in Colorado and Coors Field, with extra challenges, and they want to limit what the manager does. Tracy, who had managed previously with the Dodgers and Pirates, didn't want to limit his control. He didn't want to just run the game. So he quit with a year to go on his contract.
Tracy was dead-set against the four-man rotation with strict and low pitch limits tried by Rockies management as a way to combat the difficulties of pitching at Coors, and it had become clear he wasn't the right fit. So when he quit, it couldn't have been a major surprise.
Rockies people are suggesting they are just getting started in the interview process. But it's possible they jump at one of the in-house candidates if they feel the fit is right.
Longtime third-base coach Tom Runnells was interviewed. Triple-A manager Stu Cole will get an interview, though he's more realistically a major-league coach candidate at this time. Sandy Alomar Jr. and Brad Ausmus, who already have received interviews elsewhere (Alomar with the Indians and Ausmus the Astros and Red Sox) are seen as among the potential outside candidates.
It is going to take a special person to do this job in a difficult environment where the manager has less control. The manager has no little or say in things like call-ups, scouting, video, rehabs -- things managers have some say in most other places. Rockies people already love Giambi, who understands the set-up, so maybe this isn't as crazy as it seems. It isn't hard to see the non-confrontational Giambi going with the flow.
One Rockies player recently told the Denver Post, "We are essentially being run by the front office now. I'm really wondering what kind of manager -- I'm talking about a good manager -- would come in here and accept this.'
Assuming Giambi wasn't the one who said that, this might not be as crazy an idea as it first seemed.