Let the bidding war begin for Hamilton
Among the amazing feats Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton accomplished in his undoubtedly phenomenal four-home run game Tuesday was producing this guttural and impulsive and in unison reaction from Adrian Beltre and Michael Young as they stood in the on-deck circle and watched the final home run leave his bat. Here are two accomplished pros, better than accomplished, and they were in awe. What they said is what everyone watching felt and the emotion Hamilton tends to elicit in people because of the ferocity with which he plays the game.
If I am remembering correctly, what I said was “Holy *&^% balls.”
In the afterglow, though, Twitter exploded with emotionally slutty utterances of how the price is only going to go up for Josh Hamilton, how the Rangers need to pay him, how the Rangers absolutely have to re-sign him.
And therein lies the fallacy of can’t-miss free agents.
We all love to talk about how a team would be stupid not to re-sign a player, yet we are basing this on a very emotional response to what he has done. The best general managers are trying to extrapolate said result out two years, five years and nowadays 10 years to figure out what that player will be doing and what it is worth. Those equations rarely are pretty, so they have to factor in how much they are willing to eat, how many dead years on the back end of the contract are acceptable. And still somebody is going to muck it up with their desperation.
Free agency more and more has become this crazy bidding war where an owner, desperate for a savior and with a wallet fat with cash, can single-handedly skew what a player is worth.
For example, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
They mosey into Texas this weekend for a three-game series with Hamilton and his Rangers and do so with what is quickly becoming the poster child for this kind of risk — Albert Pujols.
Watching him a year ago in the playoffs and really almost every at-bat leading up to his playoffs, everybody was saying what people are now saying about Hamilton:
a) Holy &^%*.
b) Re-sign him.
c) He’s going to get paid crazy money in free agency.
And Los Angeles obliged, signing Pujols to 10-year, $240 million contract this offseason despite him being 32 years old and based entirely on what he did in St. Louis — which was spectacular.
Now what people are saying as Pujols is batting .198 with a home run and 11 RBI almost six weeks into this seasons is:
b) Blankety blank blank
c) What were the Angels thinking?
My point is not that Pujols’ best days are behind him (they are not) or that the signing will not reap rewards for Anaheim (it probably will). It is more to point out how much risk there is in these big-name free agents — Alex Rodriguez, Pujols, Jayson Werth, Joey Votto, Hamilton _ and how much risk there is in anything really that asks you to commit to 10 years from now based on what you see right now.
There is also risk for the player. Take Pujols, again.
If he had stayed in St. Louis, he would not be getting booed. Not because he’d be hitting any better, although he might be just on comfort factor with the National League pitchers. No, the patience would come because he has skins on the wall and rings he has won them.
Of course, it is not there in Anaheim.
Not only is he not producing, he is not living up to a crazy-contract that came with the unwritten guarantee that this guy is worth it, he is going to be outstanding and he is going to help us win.
Why? Because he did so in St. Louis.
This is why you sign him, and this is why the Rangers would re-sign Hamilton.
Texas has started negotiating again with Hamilton, according to reports, after shutting them down after his offseason binge drinking that broke his sobriety. I read somewhere that a fair price for him would be about $110 to $120 million for five years.
If this deal is out there to be done, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels absolutely should jump on it.
Maybe, he has to eat a year or two.
Of course, there is a risk with Hamilton’s very public battles with drug addictions, slips with alcohol and his injury history. This deal feels like a good risk, though.
The problem is this deal will not be there, not if Hamilton keeps having games like he had Tuesday.
If so, somebody is going to throw 10 years at him or at very least, seven with money falling anywhere between $150 to $200 million.
And that is just not a deal I would do.