Jason Giambi: “he’s not a veteran, he’s the veteran”

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Those are the words Terry Francona used to describe Jason Giambi this morning, responding to a question about the “veteran presence” Giambi brings to the Indians clubhouse. Francona is strongly of the view that Giambi is not just veteran presence. He’s almost like an additional coach. And not just for the young kids. He’s an influence on everyone, from the rookies to the old guys and everyone in between.

It’s been a weird six months for Giambi. As the season ended I think most people would have bet the farm that his career was over. He interviewed for the Rockies manager job, backed out when it was clear that they were only offering candidates one-year deals (like the one Walt Weiss eventually took). He also passed on the Rockies’ hitting coach job.  I asked him about that this morning and he said that it just would have been weird, having been on the team the past few years and having a new manager in the dugout.  He worried that it could create problems for Weiss trying to establish himself if anyone — as often happened when he was a player — came to him for advice due to their comfort with him in situations when they should be talking to the manager.

With his power gone and his coaching ambitions on hold at least for a while, one would have assumed that he’d fade away for a time. He did too, actually, and was as surprised as anyone when Chris Antonetti and Terry Francona called him. But he still feels like he has some gas in the tank and is happy to contribute however he can, even if it’s only once or twice a week. He’s happy to be a coach in the dugout. He said it’s probably no accident that his locker is next to Jason Kipnis’, and that he views it as part of his job to help guys who will be the Indians’ team leaders in the coming years to grow into the role.

About all that: one of the things that has amazed me about Giambi’s path is that he is one of the few MVP-level superstars who successfully transitioned into a role player late in his career. Some just quit when they’re no longer a starter. Some do it against their will, but don’t really take to it. Giambi, though, has been filling small roles for four years now, going into a fifth. And he doesn’t seem to mind. I asked him why and he said “the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.”

And that’s the question: will his name be on the back of an Indians jersey when the Tribe breaks camp at the end of the month?  Over the weekend it was reported that Giambi looks destined for the 25-man roster. When asked about it this morning, Francona says that he’s not yet thinking about the roster decisions, and even if he were, he didn’t want to signal those decisions yet because the guys in the clubhouse can do the math too, and he doesn’t want anyone thinking the deck is stacked against them.

But you listen to Giambi talk and — more importantly — you listen to Francona talk, and it seems like the old gray slugger is going to have one more season in the bigs.

The Cardinals lost because Trevor Rosenthal forgot to cover first base

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The Cardinals dropped Thursday afternoon’s series finale to the Mets in heartbreaking fashion. With the game tied 2-2 in the ninth inning, closer Trevor Rosenthal was trying to see his way out of a jam. The Mets had runners on the corners with two outs.

Jose Reyes swung at the first pitch he saw from Rosenthal, grounding it down the first base line. Matt Carpenter snagged the ball and it looked like it’d be an inning-ending 3-1 putout, but Rosenthal didn’t cover first base. By the time he made his way to the bag, it was too late. Yoenis Cespedes touched home and Reyes stepped on the bag safely, walking the Mets off 3-2 winners.

The Cardinals, now 46-49, have dropped both series since the All-Star break.

MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh has post-game quotes from Rosenthal and Carpenter:

Survey says: Yankees still the most hated in baseball

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FiveThirtyEight commissioned a survey through SurveyMonkey, polling 989 self-described baseball fans about their baseball fandom. They were asked which teams were their favorites both overall and by census region, which teams they found favorable among 10 randomly assigned teams, and which teams were their least favorite.

The good news for Yankees fans: the Yankees had the highest share of respondents who selected them as their favorite team. They came in at 10 percent, followed by the Red Sox, Cubs, and Braves at eight percent. The Yankees (28 percent) and Red Sox (23 percent) also made up more than half of the favorites in the northeast census region. The Yankees were third in the south (nine percent), 10th in the midwest (three percent), and sixth in the west (six percent).

The Yankees, however, were the only team with a higher unfavorable rating than favorable. 44 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the Yankees while 48 percent were unfavorable. The Phillies were next at 33 percent favorable and 29 percent unfavorable. The Yankees’ unfavorable rating was by far the highest; the Mets came in second at 35 percent.

A whopping 27 percent of respondents selected the Yankees as their most hated team. The Red Sox came in second at 10 percent followed by the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks (what?) at five percent. The Yankees were also selected as the most hated team in all four census regions: 34 percent in the northeast, 25 percent in the south, 28 percent in the midwest, and 26 percent in the west.

There has been some thought that the Derek Jeter-less Yankees, replete with up-and-coming players like Aaron Judge, may actually be likable. But this survey shows that, at least right now, they’re still the bane of many baseball fans’ existence.