Giambi will start a rehab assignment in Tulsa tonight. Image: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Upcoming Jason Giambi Dilemma

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The Tulsa Drillers are about to get a whole lot beefier, as Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki are both scheduled to start rehab assignments with the Rockies’ AA affiliate starting tonight. Tulowitzki is working his way back from groin surgery, while Giambi is recovering from a stint with fatigue.

Tulowitzki needs to return to the field this season. He needs to get back on the field and establish himself again as the face of this franchise. Tulo has even said he needs to get back out there for his own confidence as he enters the offseason and prepares for 2013. There are good reasons for him to return from injury, even with little season left and with the Rockies in dead last.

Can anybody give a good reason for Giambi to return this season?

I rolled my eyes when the Rockies added the Giambino back in 2009. I didn’t want the juicer who sold out and went to the Yankees. I never imagined that he would be somewhat likable, let alone one of my favorite Rockies. Years later, as he continues to choose returning to the Rockies over any other option, including DH opportunities in the American League, his likability is off the charts. He is a leader. He is calm and measured in his thinking. He brings veteran wisdom. Even for fans, his presence in the dugout is soothing in the most tumultuous of the Rockies’ struggles.

If Giambi was a jerk, the upcoming dilemma his team faces would be a whole lot easier. His likability complicates an already sticky issue.

The Giambino simply does not fit if the Rockies are not playoffs contenders. His power off the bench is a luxury in meaningful games. His limits as a player are a hindrance in games that do not matter. This franchise needs to gather information about its young players to see what it has and what it doesn’t have as it tries to recover from an abysmal season. They already know what they have with Giambi. Even with regular first baseman Todd Helton out for the season, it will never make sense to play Giambi at first base ahead of Tyler Colvin or Matt McBride.

The Rockies will be saved by expanded rosters in September, so they can afford to keep the beloved veteran on the roster. But it is still a dilemma. Even when it comes to a single pinch hitting opportunity in a game, it is hard to justify inserting Giambi ahead of a younger player. Jim Tracy needs to be thoughtful about when he uses Giambi, especially when young players who need to play are available.

Because I am entitled to the irrational hypocrisies that come with being a fan, I will still be excited when Giambi strolls to the plate in September. But anytime he does appear, it will be in a nuanced and difficult situation. Giambi is a perfect fit off the field for a young team that is trying to learn on the job, yet he is never going to be a great fit on the field for that same team. Such is the upcoming dilemma the Rockies will face.

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