I never thought that I would have to write this but I would like to say goodbye to Josh Hamilton. His time with the Texas Rangers is winding down and he will soon hit the free agent market. There will be a foolish team out there who will overpay for him and I wish that team the best of luck. If I sound bitter it's because I am.
Josh quickly became my favorite player when he debuted with the Rangers in 2008. I remember being in awe of him, along with the rest of the country, in that year's home run derby. He hit mammoth towering home runs like no other Rangers player since the days of Juan Gonzalez. In 2010 and 2011 he helped the Rangers to their first two World Series appearances.
Then this year happened.
He was unable to work out a new contract with Texas in the offseason and it didn't bother me that much as I knew that he would command a long term high dollar deal and it was not in the best interests of the team to oblige as he had repeated history with injuries and was prone to relapses with alcohol. He ended up relapsing before the season again when he ended up drinking at a popular Dallas bar. Not a smart decision by a guy in a town where everybody knows who he is. I felt bad for him as I knew that he was struggling with addiction but I was frustrated as well.
He began the season on a tear and at one point it seemed as though he could actually win the game's first Triple Crown in 45 years. He fell into a major slump in June and July and later said it was due to the fact that he had begun to use chewing tobacco again and God was punishing him. Some people laughed at that notion for the simple fact that they didn't realize just how deep his faith is. I didn't laugh. I just saw it as a player making an excuse. All he had to do was admit that he was in a slump and fans would have believed it. It happens to everyone including the best of players.
He found his swing again and began hitting like the Josh that we all knew only to slump at the end of the regular season when his bat was needed most. This time it was because his eyes were drying out from a condition called ocular keratitis. He said it was brought on by too much coffee, energy drinks and chocolate combined with taking cold medicine as he believed he had a sinus infection. I didn't know what to think. But I pressed on and believed him as ridiculous as it sounded.
His attitude on Wednesday, in the most important game of the year, was the final straw for me as a fan though when he dropped an easy fly ball in center, appeared to laugh off manager Ron Washington in the dugout afterwards and continued his lackadaisical approach at the plate. Too many times he struck out on three pitches this season, acting as though he didn't care because he knew he was going to get paid in the offseason.
And get paid he will. If you look over the list of upcoming free agent outfielder there is not a single one out there who can hit for a near .300 average, hit 40 home runs and drive in over 130 base runners. The question is will he be the same with a new team? Will another GM hire an accountability partner to follow Hamilton around and make sure he stays in line? How much is he really worth? I have always said that I would give him no more than three years at $15 million per with a fourth year team option. Anything more than that is absurd. He would never accept that though.
But what does the future hold without Josh?
One thing for certain is that the team will be hard pressed to replace him without making a move via trade. There are players such as B.J. Upton, Angel Pagan and Michael Bourn who will be available as free agents but neither hit for average though Upton can hit home runs and would see an increase in his numbers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. I have the utmost faith in Jon Daniels and company to do what it takes and get a deal done in the offseason. This team is built to win for at least the next five years if not more. It just won't happen with Josh Hamilton in the lineup and I'm okay with that.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com, clawandantlernation.com and a member of SABR. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland.
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