INCONSISTENT DEZ A BIGGER RISK
If you're going to spend mega millions on a player, spend it on youth.
Just not in this case.
Hamilton, who has his foibles, is the better bet for a team to get its money's worth, even if his 31-year-old body might be closer to 40 years old. He has demonstrated more ability on a consistent basis over Bryant. He is recognized as an All-Star. He has the ability to do things on a baseball field only a handful of guys can do.
Bryant has not demonstrated that ability on a consistent basis. He hasn't been to a Pro Bowl. It's easier to find wide receivers in the NFL than power hitters in baseball.
The same things that have been said about Bryant during this training camp and preseason were the same things being said last summer. Last year was supposed to be his breakout season, and he caught 63 passes for 928 yards and nine touchdowns.
Good numbers, but not breakout numbers. Maybe this is his breakout season. Or maybe he is just a tease.
The Cowboys will face a tough decision on Bryant in a couple of years.
These new "rules" could help keep him on the right path or be so restrictive that they take away some of the kid's joy of playing the game. The Rangers appear to have a plan in place for Hamilton -- at least in season -- that works. The Cowboys do not know if this plan will work.
Hamilton will command more money than Bryant because baseball does not have a salary cap, but the total dollars don't matter as much. In a salary-cap world, teams are hamstrung if a player gets in trouble or does not perform at a high level. By having a cap limit, football teams can't just shuffle money around that easy. If Hamilton does not work out, it's not like the Rangers can't spend more money. It would be their choice not to spend more money. And, hey, if they need to, just ship him to Los Angeles. The Dodgers seem to like those bloated contracts these days.
And if Hamilton struggles in the field, he can always serve as a designated hitter. Bryant wouldn't have that luxury.
CAN'T PUT MONEY ON HAMILTON
Josh Hamilton has been more productive for the Texas Rangers than Dez Bryant has been for the Dallas Cowboys. Hamilton has also been less of a headache than Bryant since they've been playing on Randol Mill Road.
Hamilton, however, is a much bigger risk than Bryant. The reason: He'll have a much bigger contract.
As far as money goes, Bryant isn't much of a risk at all. The remainder of his rookie contract is worth a little more than $6 million over the next three seasons. Bryant's talent is a bargain if his babysitters/security guards can keep him out of trouble.
Hamilton, who has made it clear he'll go to the highest bidder in free agency, will probably make that kind of cash in the first two months of his new contract.
The daily battle Hamilton fights against drug and alcohol addiction is a secondary issue when it comes to his contract talks. Sure, there has to be fear of his next relapse resulting in something much worse than a hangover and a guilty conscience, but that isn't why the Rangers should be hesitant to fund Hamilton's Help a Hurtin' World Foundation.
How can the Rangers not only count on Hamilton but commit a huge chunk of their budget to him? He's a 31-year-old with a long history of injuries and a past that significantly increases the odds of his body breaking down.
It's a huge gamble to pay this guy $150 million over six years -- or whatever it will take to keep Hamilton. Especially when every single dollar is guaranteed.
There's no doubt that Hamilton has justified all the hassle that has come along since the Rangers traded for him. He has been one of the best players in baseball and a central figure in what is by far the most successful period in franchise history.
That makes his babysitters/accountability partners wise investments. It makes his displays of mental fragility, such as blaming his blue eyes for daylight struggles or attributing a two-month slump to divine intervention caused by him dipping, mere nuisances.
It's all well worth it for an MVP candidate with a below-market deal. How about for a declining veteran with one of the biggest contracts in baseball history?
Hamilton and Bryant both have their demons that require extraordinary measures to manage.
The dollars and threat of decline make Hamilton the much bigger risk.
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