The past couple of years in Major
League Baseball has seen a rise of many young former players getting as hired as
managers with little-to-no experience.
Mike Matheny, age 43, was hired
two years ago to manage the St. Louis Cardinals, and recently former Israel
skipper Brad Ausmus, 44, was hired to lead the Detroit Tigers. These are just
two of many such examples.
The Jerusalem Post spoke to current Cleveland
Indians and potential one-day managerial candidate Jason Giambi about young
managers being hired and other various topics.
Giambi was a slugger for
the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees. He had a brief stop in Colorado
and recently signed with Cleveland one a second one-year deal.
be my 20th major league season" said Giambi, who is 42 years old.
body can hold up I would love to play. But I just started a family; I have a two
year old daughter and I have a son on the way so we¹ll see. But I really, really
love playing the game." Giambi was drafted by the A¹s in the second round of the
1992 MLB entry draft. During his tenure with Oakland he played with his younger
brother Jeremy for two seasons.
Giambi recalls that moment as "awesome,
It was like little league, it was like going to the park everyday like a little
leaguer, you get to ride with your brother, you can hang out." He played with
the A's until he became a free agent in the year 2001, when he signed a then
massive $120 million contract for seven years with the Yankees.
always been a dream of mine to play for the Yankees. Mickey Mantle was one of my
favorite players growing up. That was my dad¹s favorite player. So it was a
dream come true." He wore the number 25 in New York "because [the two digits]
added up to 7, which was Mantles number." Giambi enjoyed his seven years playing
for the Yankees, and especially the clubhouse.
"The Yankees clubhouse is
great," Giambi explained. "You're basically playing with 25 superstars." The
Yankees went to a World Series in 2003 but lost to the Florida Marlins in six
games. That was the closest Giambi ever got to winning a World Series. When
asked if it still bothers him that he never won a World Series after winning an
American League Most Valuable Player Award and two Silver Slugger awards, he
notes, "I would have loved to win one but it just shows how hard it is to win a
World SeriesŠ but that is one of the things that I still keep striving for and I
got one more year, so hopefully this will be the year." After playing for the
Rockies in 2012, he interviewed to be their manager in a surprise move around
Giambi did not get the job but he says of that time: "That was
definitely a gift that was a blessing. I was so honored to even be mentioned
because at that time in my career I didn¹t really know if I was going to play
"I didn¹t have a job at that time so when we interviewed, I
actually learned so much about not only about myself but maybe what I wanted to
do in this game later on in life.
"I think that¹s what made me even
better today and that's what helps me out at Cleveland because it did make me
think outside the box." That interview definitely helped him this past season as
a crucial cog in the Indians clubhouse, not only as a player but more
importantly as a role model.
"I tried to play a mentoring role, more or
less try to help some of the young players get over the hump and try to become
the next superstars of the game, and as well contribute. I still had the ability
to contribute as a teammate, and still play that role that I can show the kids
that I can still walk the walk." Giambi is definitely one of those veterans that
helps younger players as a way of giving back.
"I've had a lot of ups and
downs in my career, so I felt that the biggest gift that you can give back to
this game is share what you have. I got so lucky when I first got to the big
leagues, Mark McGwire took me under his wings and really taught me a lot about
the game, so I really feel that is how you pass it along." When asked about
performance enhancing drugs in baseball today Giambi was optimistic about the
"Baseball has done an incredible job of the testing policy, guys
are going to make mistakes like you've seen, eventually they¹re going to catch
up." Also this past year, Giambi finally got to play for one of his favorite
people in baseball, Terry Francona.
"I¹ve known Tito since we worked in
Double A together. So I¹ve known Tito, this will be my 20th year in the big
leagues, so I¹ve known Tito for 22 years, played against him," Giambi
"I played against him in Double A when Michael Jordan played
for Birmingham, where Tito was at in Double A. That's where I met him for the
"I had a former high school teammate that played for Terry
Francona, and all he did was rant and rave about how incredible he was. And not
only as a person but as a manager. So when I met him in Double A we would laugh
and joked around and we became really good friends.
"It took me 19 years
in the big leagues to finally play for him but I¹m telling you what it was worth
every moment. He is incredible. It¹s hard to even put into words. He¹s
definitely a gift to this team." So why are all of these young managers getting
hired with no experience? "Well I think a lot of these younger guys with little
experience, they definitely bring a different aspect to the game," Giambi
surmised. "The game has changed, the players are a little bit different then
when I first got to the big leagues. A lot of the kids are younger now and with
the money they signed for they are rushed to the big leagues now because some
teams want to get these young players going and try to develop them a lot
"So I think they bring a different aspect of the game where the
kind of yelling and screaming and the hard manager it doesn¹t work in today's
game now. It's more philosophical and its more computer-generated now, where
they've got all these stats now because of the computer age and the scouting is
a lot different. They relate a lot more and I think that¹s why you've seen they
are having a lot of success because these young kids could really relate to
them." Of the Brad Ausmus hiring, Giambi said, "I think Brad's going to do an
incredible job. When I played against Brad there was probably nobody
strategically that knew the game better than Brad Ausmus because he was so good
behind the plate as a catcher and guys really liked him and guys enjoyed
pitching to him.
"I think he¹s going to bring a different aspect to the
team and I think will do an incredible job." Giambi believes to be a good
manager is more about "pure honesty" than anything else.
"The big leagues
are not about developing players, it's about winning games.
So a lot of
these young kids you need to be honest with them when they come up and you teach
them to play the game hard," he elaborated.
"I think the biggest thing
also is the confidence that you show in your players. Sticking with them because
there is going to be a lot of ups and downs in the season but as long as you
stay true to who you are and how you treat them I think that's how you get the
best results out of them.
"You're the one that has to be level-headed
through the whole season to keep guys on the right path, keep them going, keep
their confidence going when they are struggling, because they are going to have
ups and downs." This past year, the Indians were one of the two wild card teams
to make the playoffs Giambi loves the idea of this second wild card
"I think it's the greatest thing that's happened." Too bad the
Indians lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild-card game, because the winner of
that would have went to Boston to play the Red Sox.
Francona would have
returned to the city where he won two World Series as a manager and Giambi,
after playing with the Yankees for seven seasons, definitely had some good
moments at Fenway.
"That would have been incredible, I would have loved
to see that. That would have been fun." Well, there may be more time for that to
yet happen. Giambi's tank as player seems to have a little more gas left, and
even after he no longer wields his dangerous bat, it doesn¹t seem like he will
be leaving the majors for a long time.