Texas Rangers: Josh Hamilton
Shout out to Ian Kinsler. Best of luck in your new venture, buddy.— Josh Hamilton (@thejoshhamilton) November 21, 2013
Interestingly, the departure of Hamilton helped create the need for the Rangers to make this deal. The Rangers were searching for a left-handed power bat in the middle of the lineup, a spot that used to belong to Hamilton. But when Hamilton signed with the Angels, the Rangers never did find a replacement. Until now.
So Fielder will slot into the middle of the Rangers lineup, and Kinsler, who played with Hamilton for five seasons in Texas, goes to Detroit.
Hamilton was "honored" with an unofficial Josh Hamilton Appreciation Night by A's fans in right field Monday night in a tribute to his drop of a routine fly ball in last year's final game of the regular season, helping Oakland steal the American League West crown from the Texas Rangers. The fan appreciation night was not sanctioned by the A's, instead organized by a fan on Twitter.
Fans tossed Butterfinger candy bars onto the field during batting practice. Hamilton actually picked one up and ate it, according to one report on MLB.com. He was applauded when his name was announced during the first inning and reportedly took the fans' tribute in stride.
Hamilton's problems at the plate get worse: Hamilton has 32 strikeouts in 25 games. His batting average dropped to .202 entering the final day of April. ESPN's Buster Olney takes an up-close look at Hamilton's hitting woes here .
The federal lawsuit accuses North Carolina-based ScriptureArt -- which features Hamilton modeling a "Play Hard, Pray Harder" T-shirt on its website -- of marketing a slogan already claimed by Dallas-based Play Hard Pray Harder LLC. Corporate filings show the Texas company formed in January.
The lawsuit was filed in Dallas on Friday and seeks unspecified damages.
According to an October news release, Hamilton's wife, Katie, co-founded ScriptureArt in January 2011 "with a mission to develop high quality products and designs that inspire others to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ."
Kelly Shiley, the registered owner of ScriptureArt, said Saturday she was unaware of the lawsuit and declined to comment on the dispute. She said the Hamiltons helped launched the company but were no longer involved.
According to the lawsuit, Play Hard Pray Harder began using the slogan as early as April. The company says it later filed trademark paperwork on the same day as ScriptureArt, but claims it was using the slogan first.
The Los Angeles Angels introduced Hamilton on Saturday as their newest outfielder after signing him to a $125 million, five-year contract. Hamilton became a free agent after five years as an All-Star with the Texas Rangers.
The 31-year-old Hamilton, who originally is from North Carolina, has a history of alcohol and substance abuse that derailed his career early before his return with the Rangers. He is candid about his past and credits his sobriety to his relationship with God.
Josh Hamilton, who appeared at a news conference at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney in Anaheim on Saturday with his wife, Katie, was asked about the Texas Rangers' approach to negotiations during the 2012 season and in the offseason. The Rangers and Hamilton's representatives agreed in the spring that he would test the market rather than enter into negotiations to sign him to a long-term deal before he became a free agent.
"I gave them everything I had for five years," Hamilton said during a news conference televised on MLB Network. "I'd be lying to you if I said it didn't bother me a little bit that they didn't put the press on."
Hamilton then said he liked how his wife explained it, comparing it to dating. He urged Katie to share her feelings, and she did.
"My take on it was that we were with them for five years and if you're going to date somebody and that's going to be your man or your woman, you make it official and you make it known pretty quick or at some point that you want to be with them," Katie Hamilton said. "They let us date other teams. Josh said he'd give them the first chance, and they didn't take him up on that. They let us go out and date people and kind of give our hearts away."
Josh then said: "She said, 'You should have put a ring on it.'"
"In hindsight, I'm so glad they didn't," Katie said. "We feel so strongly that this is where God has moved us and planted us and we could not be more thankful to the organization and more excited about our family's adventure out here. We love the game and definitely like to win. We're looking forward to it."
Hamilton talked about how he said the club would get the first shot to re-sign him. He never did answer about the idea that the club could at least have a final conversation or a chance to try to match a final offer.
"It came out of my mouth that they'd get the first shot," Hamilton said. "And they let me date. I mean, it is what it is."
Josh Hamilton, talking to the media Saturday for the first time since agreeing to a five-year, $125 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels, said it was "time for me to move on" from Texas.
Hamilton said he met with general manager Jon Daniels about a week ago and "shared my heart with him completely."
"I praised him and thanked him for everything he'd done for me and my family," Hamilton said in a news conference from the ESPN Zone in Anaheim that was televised by MLB Network. "I talked about the fans and the coaching staff and all of the above, how much heartfelt appreciation there was. But (I was) feeling like it was time for me to move on, just in general. There was no specific thing like, 'Hey, I'm upset or anything like that.'
"It's time to turn the page and move to a new season and chapter of life."
Hamilton said he came to the decision to play for the Angels and leave Texas through prayer.
"When you pray about something and God gives you peace about a decision, more than likely that's His will for you," Hamilton said. "When you don't have peace about it, it's not. I prayed a lot about it and understand I had such a great time in Texas. How easy and how comfortable would it be to stay there? But a lot of time God likes to take us out of our comfort zone so, one, you can grow spiritually, and two, we can affect people in different places. That was the main thing."
But Daniels did acknowledge that he could meet with Moye on Tuesday night or Wednesday.
Daniels claimed he saw various reports the Rangers and Hamilton were close to a multiyear deal. Daniels disputed those reports, stating that outside of texting to talk about getting together at some point, he hasn't had any contact with Moye.
Read the rest of the story here.
Asked if he would be speaking to Hamilton's representatives at some point in Nashville, Daniels responded: “We may, but I don’t have anything set in stone right now.”
Daniels and Hamilton were on the same flight from Dallas to Nashville on Sunday and the two chatted, though they weren't hammering out contract details. Daniels said he assumes Hamilton is in Nashville to speak to other prospective clubs. The Rangers remain interested in the free-agent slugger, who could get a better idea of his market value this week. It’s possible Hamilton returns to Arlington, assuming the bidding doesn’t go crazy and the club could land him with a shorter-term deal, maybe three years with a vesting option for a fourth year based on Hamilton’s health.
Daniels said he doesn’t know where the market is for Hamilton at this moment, but he isn’t buying the idea that it’s “soft.”
“I don’t believe any of that stuff,” Daniels said. “Not specifically to Josh, but any time somebody says, ‘We’re out on this guy or we’re not going big,’ it’s usually the opposite.”
Daniels joked that he’s going the other direction, saying the team is “in big on everybody.”
“It’s the time of year where everybody is out on everybody until they sign them to some huge contract,” Daniels said. “We’re the same. The (Yu) Darvish thing last year, I’m not going to pretend that we didn’t downplay that a little bit. There’s value to not having your business all over the place. This is a very tough time of year to do that.”
But it’s clear that the Rangers want him back, if the right deal is available. Daniels doesn’t know if anything will get resolved or if the picture will get clearer this week. But it isn’t stopping the Rangers from exploring other options on multiple fronts -- like Zack Greinke, for instance. Daniels said if the time comes when they need to make a call on one thing that would impact Hamilton, they’d try to speed up Hamilton’s timetable. But they’re not there yet.
How can we quantify the impact made by Hamilton?Click here for more goodness from Justin Havens at ESPN Stats & Info.
From 2003-07, the Rangers team OPS was .781, they averaged 5.2 runs per game and about 1.3 home runs per game. From 2008-12 – the “Hamilton era” – the Rangers team OPS was .783, they averaged 5.1 runs per game and about 1.2 home runs per game. In other words, the Rangers offense simply remained steady after the arrival of Hamilton.
When one compares the Rangers production to the major-league average over the two five-year spans, it becomes clear just how much better the Rangers’ offense was with Hamilton.
The Rangers’ run scoring went from about 9 percent above the league average to more 14 percent above league average. Similarly impressive advances were made in the team batting average and OPS.
Milwaukee is a place where Hamilton could thrive. Face it, Hamilton is going to get his share of media attention just because we vultures in the Fourth Estate know he's news. If he breathes, opines, succeeds or fails, he's going to get attention. And given his past issues with addiction, he isn't exactly going to be every team's idea of a hero in cleats.
But in Milwaukee, the focus will be on baseball while playing in front of a friendly fan base, and he'll get the benefit of playing in a media market where the ink-stained lifers tend to be supportive. And he'll be joining a team where he won't be the primary focus of attention -- Ryan Braun already owns that job.
Most importantly, the Brewers are an organization with plenty of experience in dealing with players who need a bit of extra consideration. Hitting coach Johnny Narron was Hamilton's off-field “accountability partner” for five years before taking his job with the Brewers in 2012. They don't just have somebody to help Hamilton on and off the field, they have perhaps the guy. And when it comes to handling media access for a player who might need special attention, the Brewers have their recent work with Zack Greinke to lean on.
That last part is key. Johnny Narron being in Milwaukee is a huge draw. And it gives the Brewers a real advantage in terms of doing their homework on Hamilton. Few know Hamilton better than Narron. For Hamilton, a support system is critical. He can put one together anywhere, but having a familiar face like Narron would have to give him some extra comfort.
Karhl lists other reasons Milwaukee makes sense: The lineup needs a left-handed power bat and it's time for the Brewers to "invest in winning now." Check out the entire story here. Keep an eye on the Brewers this offseason and see if they make a run at Hamilton.
It's the first look at what Hamilton's side could possibly think is a viable market for the slugger -- or, of course, a very high starting point by which they'd eventually drop to something that would still suit him. And I'll assume by seven, they mean guaranteed years.
I can't see any team taking that big a risk on Hamilton at his age (31), history and health issues (2012 was just his second season playing in at least 134 games since his first full big-league year of 2008). But, as my friends and those that chat with us regularly on ESPN Dallas during Rangers games can attest, I didn't think there was any way Albert Pujols would get a 10-year deal or Prince Fielder would find someone to give him a nine-year contract.
We know the kind of posturing that goes on this time of year. The free-agent doors fully swung open Friday, so we're in the early stages. The GM meetings are this week and then the Winter Meetings are next month, when things really heat up. I would bet many teams will wait to see what the Texas Rangers will do and how they feel about Hamilton.
Let's put ourselves in general manager Jon Daniels' shoes for a moment. Ignore the poker game and let's fast forward to the best offer. What's the most you're willing to offer Josh Hamilton for him to return on a long-term deal?
For me, it's three guaranteed years with a vesting option for a fourth year. Since we're talking absolute end games, I could be convinced to offer one more vesting option, but only with high limits on games played in the final few years of the deal for it to kick-in and only if I knew the market was close to giving Hamilton more than three years. For that type of deal, I'd pay him $25 million a year. But the only reason I agree to that is only three of those years are guaranteed. I'll pay more per year for the flexibility of getting out of the deal if he can't stay healthy.
On the surface, it doesn't appear that would land Hamilton in Arlington, does it? It takes just one team to break the bank. But Hamilton is an unusual case. When healthy, he's one of the most impactful players on the field. He can hit for power, drive in runs, make a great catch in the outfield and run the bases well. He has stretches where you wonder if he'll ever lay off a breaking pitch outside of the zone, but every hitter has slumps. He'll also put together some of the greatest months you'll ever see (check out April and May of this year).
But that health part is the tough one. And sometimes Hamilton misses games with the oddest of issues -- he even knows he's had some weird things happen. He had a vision problem where his focus was on one thing and he couldn't get it to move that forced him to miss five games of a big road trip late. He said getting off caffeine helped him and he returned to the lineup. He's had fractured ribs, torn adductors and a broken bone in his shoulder.
So the question for any team is how many years are you betting he'll stay healthy and how many of those years are you willing to guarantee? If I'm the Rangers, it's no more than three. Then it's a question of option years based on health.
That's my opinion. What's yours? Give me your best offer for Hamilton (not an introductory one).
The Milwaukee Brewers are a small-market team with a big-market mentality, backed by a fan base that has turned out in big numbers and inspired owner Mark Attanasio to think big. The Brewers made the bold midseason play four years ago for CC Sabathia, and then two years ago, Milwaukee aggressively traded some really good young players for Zack Greinke.
So keep all that in mind this winter, when it's possible that the offseason dominoes will fall in a way that puts the Brewers in play for Josh Hamilton, who will be the most noteworthy free-agent position player.
Here's the bottom line: If the Texas Rangers or some other team steps up and stuns the baseball world by giving Hamilton a whopper deal of four-plus years for $100-plus million, then the Brewers will almost certainly would be out of contention for the center fielder.
But if the concerns about Hamilton -- about his ability to stay in the lineup, about his off-field history -- constrain the bidding for the All-Star into conservative offers, that would shift Hamilton's potential deal into the financial neighborhood of the Brewers, who really aren't in a position to give a massive contract to anyone.
Olney goes on to note Narron's presence -- Johnny and Jerry are there -- and that if they can't get the starting pitching they want, making a splash with Hamilton could be in the cards. Olney brings up the point that the Narrons would help give the Brewers a better sense than many teams about who Hamilton is and what to expect.
I think Milwaukee makes some sense, but the bidding can't get out of control. Stay tuned. You can read Olney's entire blog here (insider).
Could you see Hamilton in a Brewers' uniform? How would you feel about it?
Editor's Note: This is the fifth of a five-part series looking at the issues surrounding Josh Hamilton and free agency as it pertains to the Texas Rangers.
Today's topic: Mental approach and attitude
Many of you have expressed your disappointment in Hamilton and much of it seems to be that he appears like he doesn't care at times. The image that is seared into many fans is Hamilton's drop in shallow center field against Oakland. If he comes in for that ball, gets in the proper athletic position and misses it, that's one thing. But he flipped his glove up and appeared to take a way too relaxed approach to the ball. He overran it and the error turned a 5-5 game into a 7-5 A's lead. Oakland went on to win the division and the Rangers' season ended two days later.
Hamilton did stand up and take responsibility after the game, saying he messed up the play. I thought that was important. But he also admitted that he was not in the proper, fundamental position to make the play. How was it possible that he wouldn't be in that correct position in Game No. 162 with the division on the line?
Hamilton has tremendous gifts. We've talked about many of them this week here on the blog. One that wasn't mentioned was he is a good outfielder, has a solid arm and can really run the bases. But to do all of that takes focus. At times, Hamilton shows that focus. Few pitchers in baseball could throw a fastball by Hamilton in April and May. But when they quit trying, Hamilton had trouble laying off the breaking stuff outside of the strike zone. When he did show plate discipline, he took walks and would then force pitchers to at least try to throw something close to the zone. If they did, Hamilton made them pay.
The problem was that those types of at-bats didn't happen enough down the stretch. He was 0-for-4 in the regular-season finale and saw eight pitches. He swung at six of them and never saw a ball. He came up late in the game representing the tying run with a change to erase the memories of his error or missing five games of a crucial road trip because of an odd injury that impacted his vision and instead struck out on an at-bat where he didn't look close to being in sync.
I know that at times it seems like Hamilton doesn't care. He appears to give away at-bats and doesn't take the approach that he's going to fight up there. He's aggressive by nature and will swing at the first pitch more often than most players in the league. But I also think that part of reason Hamilton looks like he doesn't care is that his personality allows him to quickly forget about things and attempt to move on.
Perhaps that was something he developed when dealing with his daily fight against a drug and alcohol addiction. How many times did we see Hamilton look absolutely lost in a couple of at-bats and then hit a tough pitch for an RBI double or deliver a big homer? That would happen in the same game. He had two of the best months you'll ever see this year and then two of the worst. After a terrible July, some players might have spiraled down offensivley and never figured it out. Hamilton had a great August and helped lead the Rangers' offense back from a two-month slump. Then, when the games counted the most, he was out for five games ocular kerotitis, dropped a routine fly ball and couldn't hit in the final week of the season.
He's impressive and maddening at the same time. That's Hamilton.
Where the Rangers have an edge over everyone else in terms of doing homework on Hamilton is they know what kind of personality he is and the drama that surrounds him. The question is how much of it they are willing to put up with and for how long. And, of course, what that's worth to them in terms of how it impacts any offer they may choose to give him.
How much does attitude play in your minds when it comes to whether Hamilton should return for next season and beyond?
Editor's Note: This is the fourth of a five-part series looking at the issues surrounding Josh Hamilton and free agency as it pertains to the Texas Rangers.
|Ben and Skin tell you how Josh Hamilton will be remembered through an unbiased, unemotional point of view.
We've looked at what a contract offer for Hamilton might look like and how he's done in terms of health and at the plate. But what about his popularity?
That topic does matter when you consider the overall picture of Hamilton and what he means to not only the Rangers, but another team. For general managers, this topic isn't important. You decide if Hamilton can help you on the field, how long you think he'll be on the field and what his overall worth is to obtain him. Whether he's popular with fans is very secondary.
But in the overall context of Hamilton as a business, it matters. Ask owners of some of the teams that might go after him and they'll wonder if getting a player with Hamilton's fame won't help them put more people in the seats. All you had to do was take a walk around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and there was never a question as to the jersey name and number you'd see the most. I'll bet even some of the people booing Hamilton down the stretch have his jersey at home somewhere.
Yu Darvish and Ian Kinsler have made runs at Hamilton in terms of popularity, but they still can't catch him. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA released a list of the top-20 selling jerseys (Majestic Athletic jerseys) since the All-Star break. Derek Jeter was No 1. Hamilton was No. 2.
Darvish ended up No. 7 on that list, but you figure that his breakout season and the fact that he's a rookie should put him high up on the list (not unlike Mike Trout, who was No. 5). Kinsler, by the way, was 14th.
But Hamilton seems to always show up on these lists near the top, no matter what. Just imagine how he'll do if he's not in a Rangers jersey in 2013. Fans will be rushing to get that one, won't they?
It's difficult to quantify what Hamilton might mean to ticket sales and sponsorships, where his 2013 club wouldn't be sharing any of those profits with other big league clubs. But it's clear that he's still a popular player and one who fans want to see. You don't know what you might see from him. Ask the Baltimore Orioles fans who were there that night in May when Hamilton hit four home runs. He has incredible athletic gifts and he's one of those athletes that fans want to see. Combine his talent with a tremendous comeback story and you have a perfect storm of popularity. We'll see how that may impact his value this offseason.
|Matt Mosley joins Ben and Skin to discuss, debate and analyze the current state of the Texas Rangers.
We've talked about what kind of offer the Rangers might consider for Hamilton and what all that entails and we've discussed his injury history. Now, let's focus in on just what he does in the batter's box in terms of production.
When the Rangers made the decision to trade for Hamilton, it wasn't an easy one. The club didn't have a ton of pitching prospects following the 2007 season and obtaining Hamilton meant shipping Edinson Volquez to the Cincinnati Reds. But there were scouts in the room as general manager Jon Daniels discussed it with his group that insisted Hamilton had MVP talent. And 2010 was proof they were right.
When talking about Hamilton's production, you have to look at what he's done to at least provide a guide as to what he might do in the future. So a brief history. Hamilton didn't waste any time making an impact in Texas. In 2008, his first full year in the big leagues, he played in 156 games, still a career-high, and hit .304 with 32 home runs and 130 RBIs, also tops in his career. He introduced himself to a nation with an incredible display at old Yankee Stadium in the 2008 Home Run Derby and got a chance to tell his remarkable story of overcoming drug and alcohol addiction to become a star in the big leagues.
Injuries dominated his 2009 season, allowing him to play in just 89 games. But he still managed 10 homers and 54 RBIs to go along with a .264 batting average. It was his worst statistical year thanks in large part to lengthy time on the DL. In 2010, Hamilton returned ready and hungry to show what he could do. And it all came together for him in an MVP year. He was so good -- .359 batting average, which led the league, 32 home runs and 100 RBIs -- that when he fractured his ribs and missed all of September, he still earned the MVP award.
Hamilton became a truly feared hitter in 2010. Just ask New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who either intentionally walked him or had his pitchers try to pitch around him. Hamilton was named MVP of that ALCS, going 7-for-20 with four homers, a double, seven RBIs and eight walks, five of them intentionally in six games. He set an ALCS record for intentional walks, tying the most in LCS history.
In 2011, Hamilton and the Rangers started the season off hot, but then the slugger tried to tag up on a foul ball down the third-base line in Detroit and had a nondisplaced fracture in his right humerus bone that sidelined him nearly six weeks. Still, Hamilton produced when healthy the rest of the year. He batted .298 with 25 homers 94 RBIs. He played part of the end of the regular season and the playoffs with a sports hernia (not to mention torn adductors) and hit .271 with seven doubles, a homer and 13 RBIs in 17 playoff games.
This season, Hamilton was up and down. And when he was up, he was way up. He was AL player of the month for April and May. He joined Matt Kemp as the seventh and eight players since 1921 to have at least nine homers, 25 RBIs, 20 runs and 34 hits in an April. He was just the third player in Rangers history with at least 12 homers and 32 RBIs in May. But while the highs were high, the lows were low too. He hit just .223 in June and .177 in July, hitting just 11 homers and driving in 39 runs in the two months combined. That coincided with the Rangers' offensive woes as well. As a team, the club had the fewest number of runs in July of any AL team.
Hamilton came back with a good August, hitting .310 and driving in 28 runs. The Rangers scored the most runs of any AL team that month. Is all of that a coincidence?
Hamilton finished 2012 with a 2-for-13 showing in a huge three-game series in Oakland and he missed most of a crucial road trip because of vision issues. It was not the ending he wanted has he went 0-for-4 and faced eight pitches in the Rangers' 5-1 loss to Baltimore in the AL wild-card game.
But put it all together and you're talking about a player who has produced when healthy. If you go purely by the numbers, there have been few players to show as much power and ability to drive in runs the last three seasons than Hamilton. At 31, he's one of the top middle-of-the-order bats in the lineup.
So any talk about what to offer Hamilton starts with the idea that he's the best hitter on the market. And if he can stay healthy, history says he'll be a producer. Of course, that's not the entire package that is Hamilton (and we've already talked about some of that and will discuss more tomorrow), but teams will be paying Hamilton to give them big offensive numbers in the middle of the order. His brief history says he will do that. What teams don't know is for how long.
The Texas Rangers will not be making any offers to Josh Hamilton before he hits the open market in free agency.
|Ben and Skin tell you how Josh Hamilton will be remembered through an unbiased, unemotional point of view.
"If you've gone this far, you're going to test the market," Daniels said. "The realities are when a guy goes out and tests the market and it's this close, you're not going to pre-empt it. I think he's going to go out and test the market and see what's out there and get back to us.
"No door has been closed. We're also very realistic about when a star player hits free agency at this point and the history of them returning to their original club. So we have to prepare both ways and prepare the club for the possibility that he's not back."
Hamilton, 31, just completed his fifth season in Texas and batted .285 with 43 home runs and 128 RBIs. But he struggled at the finish, missing five contests in a crucial six-game road trip because of vision problems diagnosed as ocular keratitis. Hamilton said too much caffeine was to blame, and when he cut down on his sports-drink consumption, his condition improved.
Read more here.