As the pieces in the Angels blockbuster signing come together we can start to analyze the acquisition bit by bit.
The deal will have 31 year old Josh Hamilton in Anaheim for 5 years, with a cushy $125 million salary with it. Everything on the surface seems to have gone remarkably smooth, with no long back and forth from the Rangers. But is this a deal that will prove worthwhile down the road?
I hardly need to go into detail about Hamilton’s substance abuse saga, but it’s the pink elephant in the room that won’t go away. Fears of Hamilton going to bigger market cities like New York and LA have been warranted, as he’s finally settled down upon his arrival to Arlington. Now Hamilton is on the move and to the City of Angeles, where the pressure to perform is heightened and temptation is everywhere. Should the Angels have given this a little more thought?
Drug and alcohol issues aside, Hamilton is extremely injury prone, having played at most 135 games once in 4 years. There’s also going to be the adjustment period to take into account, and the frustrations that can come with it. Rangers stadium was a hitter’s dream, with balls leaping out like batting practice. Hamilton had a .143 average, not a single homer and zero RBI’s hitting in Anaheim last season.
Hamilton admitted that he has issues with discipline, and used that to explain a lengthy slump he fell into midway through the season. Hamilton fell back into using chewing tobacco, a vice he can’t seem to give up. There’s also been rumors of trouble with his marriage, and how his wife was seeking a divorce. These are the exact triggers that the Angels can’t afford to sweep under the rug, and they must understand that with Hamilton’s immense talents come a list of responsibilities, they can’t halfway do this.
It would be grossly unfair to judge someone off their past, especially if they’ve worked hard to be above their past transgressions. But with the case of Josh Hamilton special attention needs to be paid in how they go about this deal. No more rose colored glasses, this isn’t Pujols all over again, this is hard work coming their way, and both Hamilton and the Angels need to understand that he may not get off to the greatest of starts. While I won’t call the deal a bad or good thing definitively, right now what I can say is it will be entirely up to Hamilton how things go.
Talents like Josh Hamilton come along rarely so it only makes sense that the Angels should move quick to swoop him in and ask questions later. In an age where we’re seeing the back end effects of mega contracts, with Arods demise, it’s amazing how many teams keep churning them out to the prettiest free agent that dares look their way. The case of Hamilton is a unique one, because one needs to analyze not only his on the field merits, but a deeper and much darker truth to the matter–Hamilton is mortal. So many times we view players of his ilk as nameless, faceless beings whose numbers do all their talking. But with Hamilton we have another side, less romantic, way less heroic and down right scary. One relapse, one God awful slump, one season where the Angels are on the outside of the post season looking in despite their formidable offense and this deal is going to get ugly–fast.