With Jim Tracy’s resignation last week, the Colorado Rockies have started the search for just the 6th manager in their 20 year history. The initial list of candidates includes bench coach Tom Runnells, AAA coach Stu Cole, and a soon-to-be-former player, the wildly popular Jason Giambi.
While many will roll their eyes, Giambi deserves serious consideration for the now vacant managerial post for the Colorado Rockies. Here’s why:
From the fan’s perspective
Jason Giambi should be the team’s next manager because he is among the most beloved members of the team. His hiring would be something to get excited about in an otherwise dreary situation. After the veteran calm and wisdom he brought to the team when he first arrived in 2009, it is not completely irrational to think that he could find success because of the credibility he carries in the locker room and because of the way players will rally behind him. Many of us just might be willing to overlook his lack of experience or his lack of strategic expertise for a guy who will excite the players and the fan base, while hoping he learns the nitty gritty managerial stuff on the job.
From management’s perspective
Because they would be taking a chance on Giambi despite the fact he has no coaching experience whatsoever, his expectations for the position might be different than a traditional candidate’s would be. The unique circumstances under which the Rockies would hire him might just be the best chance they have to justify the continuation of their bizarre management structure, where vice president Bill Geivett travels with the team and has an office in the locker room. Such a heavy handed approach turns off most experienced managers and probably pushed Jim Tracy out the door. The new manager will have no say in the coaching staff decisions and minimal say on personnel decisions. Giambi might be open to the idea because of the tradeoff for him to jump straight to manager. For a Rockies front office that is the subject of scathing criticism these days, it represents a chance for them to make a popular decision while still getting what they want behind the scenes.
It is also an opportunity to regain some goodwill with their players, many of whom hinted at some uneasiness with how the 2012 season concluded. The starting pitchers’ collective resistance to the four man rotation was completely ignored, and the players expressed genuine concern for the way Jim Tracy unexpectedly resigned his post, directing some healthy skepticism towards management in the process. If Giambi is as popular as we are told, this will be a chance for the front office to show the players that their opinions are not ignored.
Is either reasoning solid enough to justify hiring a manager who has no prior coaching experience and spent almost his entire career in the American League? It is tough to say, but I will say this: the Rockies may never have a better opportunity to take a chance on an unconventional candidate. It has worked other places in the league in recent years (see St. Louis with Mike Matheny and Chicago with Robin Ventura). Additionally, they may never be more desperate to re-energize their franchise and their fanbase than they should be this offseason.
Hiring Jason Giambi would be risky, to be certain. But due to an intersection of unique circumstances in the present moment, the Colorado Rockies will never find a better time to take that risk.