Thursday, December 13, 2012
Hamilton doesn't ensure playoffs for Angels
By David Schoenfield
Josh Hamilton has signed with the Angels for five years and $125 million. Ten quick thoughts:
1. The Angels? The Angels? Sure, why not? It's not that surprising if you consider the Angels just took the money they wanted to give Zack Greinke and instead gave it to Hamilton. Factor in that the Angels have cut loose the 2012 salaries of Torii Hunter ($18.5 million), Dan Haren ($12.75 million) and Ervin Santana ($11.2 million), and it becomes more obvious that once Greinke signed with the Dodgers, the Angels were a logical destination for Hamilton.
2. Hamilton essentially replaces Hunter in the lineup. While the upgrade from 2013 Hunter to 2013 Hamilton may be sizable, the upgrade from 2012 Hunter to 2013 Hamilton probably isn't anywhere near what many fans will believe it to be. Hunter in 2012 created about 88 runs in 584 plate appearances; Hamilton created about 115 runs in 636 plate appearances. Considering those are the most PAs Hamilton has had since 2008, if we downgrade him to 584 PAs, he's at 106 runs created. But Hamilton created those runs in a higher run-scoring environment; Rangers Ballpark is one of the best hitting parks in the league while Angel Stadium was one of the better pitcher's parks. That makes Hunter's runs created slightly more valuable. Then factor in defense and ... well, Baseball-Reference rated Hunter at 5.5 Wins Above Replacement in 2012 and Hamilton at 3.4. FanGraphs has it a little closer -- Hunter at 5.3, Hamilton at 4.4.
3. You get the idea. Hunter probably isn't a 5.0-win player in 2013. For the Angels to improve in 2013, they will need it to come more from other players as opposed to just replacing Hunter with Hamilton. The Angels' run differential in 2012 was 33 runs worse than the Rangers' and 31 runs worse than Oakland's. Hamilton doesn't make up 30 runs.
4. In 2017, the Angels will be paying a 36-year-old Hamilton $25 million and a 37-year-old Albert Pujols $26 million. Think they will be worth it? Think Arte Moreno cares?
5. What does the Angels' lineup look like now? Something like this:
CF Mike Trout
SS Erick Aybar
1B Albert Pujols
LF Josh Hamilton
DH Kendrys Morales
RF Mark Trumbo
2B Howie Kendrick
3B Alberto Callaspo
C Chris Iannetta
The Angels were third in the AL in runs scored last year. I wouldn't be surprised to see them lead the league this year, considering the Rangers have now lost Hamilton and Mike Napoli, and the Yankees will lose Nick Swisher and have health/age issues throughout the lineup.
6. The Angels will have Joe Blanton (4.79 ERA over the past three seasons in the National League) in the rotation. And injury risk Tommy Hanson. And unproven Garrett Richards or fifth-starter-type Jerome Williams. They'll need C.J. Wilson to be healthy after minor elbow surgery and for Jered Weaver to remain a stud. I see some questions here that won't be answered until we play some ball.
7. The Rangers struck out on Greinke, Hamilton and apparently Justin Upton, making them 0-for-3 this postseason. WHY DOES EVERYONE HATE DALLAS? Where does that leave them? They still have money to spend (if they want to) and flexibility to make a trade (if they want to). What they do with the Elvis Andrus/Ian Kinsler/Jurickson Profar situation will be interesting, although maybe that resolves itself by having Profar start the season in Triple-A; he's 20 years old and there's no need to rush him. Barring a trade, I guess they have to decide whether to make a strong pitch for one of the best remaining free-agent starters: Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse or Edwin Jackson. On the bright side, they did dump overrated good guy Michael Young.
8. Still trying to wrap my head around $125 million for an outfielder in his 30s with a problematic history of addiction, injuries, chewing tobacco withdrawal and an 8 percent increase in his strikeout rate last season -- during a year in which he led all hitters in percentage of swings on pitches outside the strike zone. But it's not my money, and 43-homer hitters don't exactly fall out of orange groves.
9. Hey Mariners fans, you still have Jason Bay! And Delmon Young is available.
10. Best rivalry in baseball in 2013: Rangers-Angels? Dodgers-Giants? Dodgers-Angels? Mariners-Astros? Southern California: center of the baseball universe in 2013?