It was a bad day yesterday to be a former star of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Former 1996 National League Cy Young award winner John Smoltz was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox and former 2000 American League MVP Jason Giambi was dealt the same fate by the Oakland A’s.
For those of you not familiar with the term “designated for assignment or DFA’d,” it means that the team the player was on has 10 days to try to trade him, or the player can accept a minor-league assignment, or if all else fails that player will be released and is free to sign with any ball club. I will talk about Smoltz first since I have more to say about him than I do Giambi.
I am very surprised things didn’t work out for Smoltz in Boston. I envisioned Smoltz as a guy who could have given the Red Sox five solid innings every time out. I thought Smoltz could have been to the Red Sox in 2009 what Bret Saberhagen was to the Sox in 1999. Saberhagen was basically a five inning pitcher at that point in his career, but still won 10 games and had an ERA of 2.95.
Saberhagen he was not. In eight starts, Smoltz was 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA. Outside of his one solid start against the Orioles where he gave up one run over five innings while striking out seven – Smoltz was dreadful. Smoltz’s two biggest problems this season – he couldn’t get lefties out and missed location.
Left-handed batters were hitting .444 with six HR’s off of Smoltz in just 90 AB’s. However, right-handed hitters were only hitting .232 off the future first ballot Hall of Famer. That is why I think Smoltz still has value in the major leagues.
I think Smoltz could have value as a right-handed specialist out of the bullpen. He can clearly still get righties out. In the bottom of the seventh, ALCS, two on and two out and Alex Rodriguez, Evan Longoria, Torii Hunter, or Miguel Cabrera is up – I still would trust Smoltz to get that out.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Smoltz over the next 10 days. If he chooses to pitch, I think he still can help any team in baseball as a reliever if he chooses to accept that role.
The other player DFA’d yesterday was Jason Giambi. Giambi who is one of the poster boys for a “moneyball type” player (slow, terrible defense, hits HR’s, high OBP) and to be honest – the Steroid Era was DFA’d by the Oakland A’s. Like Smoltz with the Red Sox, I am surprised this didn’t work in Oakland.
When Giambi returned to Oakland (a place I don’t think he ever wanted to leave in the first place), I figured he would hit somewhere between .230 and .240 with 25-30 HR’s, 75-85 RBI, and have an OBP in the .370’s. After 83 games in Oakland, this was not the case.
Giambi was having a terrible year with the A’s. He was only hitting .193 with 11 HR’s and 40 RBI. He is currently on the 15-day DL with a strained right quadriceps muscle.
Can Giambi help someone down the stretch? I think it is possible. Believe it or not, Giambi is close to a .280 lifetime pinch-hitter and he still has a great eye at the plate. Despite hitting only .193, Giambi’s OBP was .332. That is pretty impressive.
A role of a pinch-hitter late in the game against righties might serve Giambi and a contenting team well.
Between Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, John Smoltz, and Jason Giambi – it has been a bad year for aging veterans in baseball.