Amidst all the analysis of whether Giambi's defense will offset his hitting, and whether you have found it in your heart to forgive Jason for not always loving you most, one development has gotten precious little attention: in reporting the Giambi signing, the S.F. Chronicle reported that "Giambi primarily will be a designated hitter for the A's, at least initially, with Daric Barton remaining at first base and Jack Cust playing in the outfield." Now perhaps that is only speculation or a bad assumption, or perhaps it comes from inside sources who have in fact indicated that this is the plan.
At the very least, one has to consider at least the possibility that we may have assumed incorrectly that Giambi was being signed to play 1B. If the plan is in fact to DH Giambi and play Cust in the OF, then Giambi is displacing not Daric Barton but rather Buck and Cunningham. What are the implications of the A's displacing their young OFers, not their young 1Bman?
Cunningham is more easily explained, as he is only turning 23 in April and could arguably use more time in AAA. Buck could be explained by the theory that you really need four starting OFers because invariably one is often going to be injured, ineffective/platooned, etc. A's 4th OFers have wound up getting plenty of playing time in recent years, but they have been veterans, like Jay Payton and Emil Brown, not young players who need to be everyday starters somewhere.
The signing of Giambi, combined with the talks with other OFers (Abreu, Anderson), the Rule 5 selection of Ben Copeland, and the A's continued lack of depth at SS and the current rotation, makes me wonder if Beane has been having conversations, throughout the off-season, that would improve the team at a vital position but would require Oakland to part with one of its talented young OFers (Buck, Cunningham, Sweeney). How many OFers can a team add or consider adding while not having a single desired option at SS or a #2 starter? You just wonder.
Whatever is, or isn't, going on behind the scenes and under the radar, let's consider the possibility that the Chronicle is reporting accurately and that Giambi's signing will push Cust to the OF and leave Barton at 1B. Your thoughts?