A's will fill more holes by adding Giambi

January, 6, 2009
Jason Giambi appeared headed for a one-year contract from the moment he hit free agency, but there's no real reason he should take one year (with an option that's likely to be exercised) when Raul Ibanez gets three and Pat Burrell gets two. But it appears Giambi is about to.

Giambi's main drawback as a player is that he can't play the field -- he could fake first base, but it's really better for everyone concerned if he's glued to the bench for Oakland's defensive half-innings.

Oakland needed bats this offseason, badly. They finished last in the AL in runs scored in 2008, last in OBP and a very distant last in slugging (almost 200 total bases behind second-to-last Seattle).

The acquisitions of Matt Holliday and now Giambi address those concerns. Oakland's designated hitters posted a .229 BA/.337 OBP/.397 SLG line in 2008, with 224 total bases and 208 times on base; Giambi, in almost 100 fewer plate appearances, had six more total bases and reached base three more times. He is, of course, slow and defensively challenged, but for one year, he's a significant upgrade -- probably two full wins -- at a very weak spot for Oakland. Add to that Holliday's four- to five-win upgrade in left field, and the A's are suddenly not that far behind the Angels in the AL West chase.

The A's still could use a boost at shortstop -- even if Bobby Crosby is healthy, he isn't a great bet to produce on offense -- and they need a full year from Mark Ellis, who's coming back from an unusual shoulder injury but who was both a plus hitter for his position and a plus defender in 2005 and 2007.

The only teams remaining with potential openings at DH are the Angels (who may wish to hold that spot to give Vladimir Guerrero some time off his legs) and the Mariners (who are rebuilding and unlikely to commit major dollars or years to older free agents). This, again, limits the options for Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu and Manny Ramirez, as teams are more cognizant of the negative defensive value of this type of player.

Keith Law

ESPN Senior Writer


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