Rangers have to go on sans Hamilton pronto
He said. She said. Who cares?
That’s about all you can make of Josh Hamilton jilting the Texas Rangers to head to the rival Los Angeles Angels for the next five years.
Should Hamilton have given the Rangers a chance to match the offer of the Angels as the club hoped? Maybe. Should the Rangers have been more aggressive in their pursuit of Hamilton if they really wanted him to return to the club? Maybe.
But Hamilton also told the Rangers last week that he felt like maybe it was time to part ways. So even if the Rangers would have matched or surpassed the $125 million he’s getting from Los Angeles, there’s no guarantee he would have remained with the team in which he turned from a neat story about redemption into a superstar with a movie on the way.
The bottom line is after five years of good times, bad times and peculiar times; Hamilton is property of the Los Angeles Angels.
The sooner the Rangers accept that, the better as they’ve still got to find a way to compete against defending West champion Oakland and the Hamilton-fueled Angels in the West. And even though the sting is still there, it looks like they’ve already started to do so.
Four hours after Jon Daniels got indigestion at a media lunch after getting a phone call from Hamilton’s agent Mike Moye letting him know that Hamilton was heading west, Daniels was moving on.
It was a departure from his first meeting with beat writers when he talked about the disappointment in the way the Hamilton camp handled the deal. Whether or not Daniels still felt the sting of rejection, at least he put on a better face publicly.
“Just that a five-year deal and a lot of money and a great team like Los Angeles, I don’t begrudge any of that,” Daniels said after having time to digest both his lunch and reality. “It’s more just the relationship and how we found out and the communication and the process. I don’t have any issue with him making that decision. I hope it works out well for him and his family. I hope they don’t win, but I hope it works out well for him and his family.”
There’s a definite sting the Rangers are feeling with the Hamilton departure. But maybe it’s more personal than business. Over the last five years the club has supported him on and off the field. They were there for him after his two alcohol relapses. They were there for him when an errant toss of a foul ball into the stands led to a fan’s death. And don’t forget his battle to kick the dipping. Or the addiction to caffeine that led to his eye issues. They were there for him when he needed an accountability partner to help him get through the day-to-day grind of being a recovering addict playing in the majors.
That’s a big investment for anyone, especially in a bottom-line business like baseball. And when they wanted Hamilton to be there for them when he had a $125 million offer in hand from the Los Angeles Angels, instead they got the Moye call that it was over with the Rangers.
But really, what did they expect? That’s the price of doing business and feelings shouldn’t matter. Just ask Michael Young. The Rangers traded the club’s all-time leader in hits to Philadelphia on Sunday.
Young had been the club’s best player in the lean times before Hamilton came to Arlington. Did Young ever get a call from Daniels once the deal starting to come together? No. What about team president Nolan Ryan? Nope.
He was miffed by that but he moved on. So should the Rangers now.
The best way for the Rangers to get over an offseason that’s seen them lose Hamilton, Young, Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara, just to name a few — is to get back to the business of baseball.
Hamilton isn’t the only free agent out there. If the Rangers feel they need to add a bat, they can find one even though they’ve missed out on their top two targets in Hamilton and Justin Upton. Adam LaRoche and Nick Swisher are still free. They aren’t Hamilton, but few players can match his numbers anyway.
If they want starting pitching, they’ll have to overpay but it can be had. They still have to find some more relievers too.
The quicker the club gets back to the business of baseball, the quicker some of a suddenly anxious fan base will start to feel good about their team again.
The cupboard isn’t bare even if the Rangers stand pat, which is also a possibility. While the Rangers can’t counter the 1-3-4 punch of Mike Trout, Hamilton and Albert Pujols, they still have Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz likely in those spots. That’s not bad.
Maybe now it’s also time to give Jurickson Profar a shot at second base and move Kinsler to first, which is what Daniels hinted at in the first of his three meetings with the media Thursday. And what about Leonys Martin in center? The Rangers are paying him $1.25 million in 2013, his third year with the organization.
The Rangers aren’t going to give up because Hamilton is gone.
“What we don’t believe in is just going down the checklist until you get a guy, that’s not us,” Daniels said. “There were a few guys who were clearly above the line for us and unless we can add one of those guys, it may still be possible, I’d rather go with our own guys and believe in the chemistry and makeup and talent on this club. The pennant is not won today, it’s not won on Opening Day, it’s not won on July 31, but all throughout those different deadlines and periods are chances to get better whether internally and externally.”
However the Rangers get going, they’ve got to get going soon. And they know now that however it went down, Hamilton isn’t part of the equation.
“The reality is Josh isn’t here anymore,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “We’ve got to move on.”
That’s got to start now.