Divorcing Josh Hamilton Was Exactly What the Rangers Needed to Do
It's somewhat buried about three-quarters into his story, but Chen mentioned that Hamilton isn't a baseball fan. He quoted Hamilton as saying, "I think it's boring. I never check box scores; I never watch ESPN."
It concerned me at the time, but as Chen also pointed out, Hamilton always looked like he was having so much fun playing. But I suppose you can only have fun playing a game you view as "boring" for so long, before it just becomes, well, really boring and you stop caring.
We may never know the full story of what the Rangers' front office really thought about re-signing Hamilton, but I think most of them are relieved to see him go elsewhere because they saw the same ugly, inexcusable behavior we all saw from Hamilton as the 2012 came to a close.
Sure, it hurts that he's now with a division rival, but it was time to move on.
Even with the disappointing end to his playing days in Arlington, Hamilton's acquisition ranks among the very best and impactful in Rangers' history. In fact, I think he earned a place on the franchise's version of Mount Rushmore, joining Nolan Ryan, Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Young.
Texas was fortunate to have Hamilton for what are likely to be his most productive years as a ballplayer, especially at an average of $5.4 million annually. But to have come anywhere in the same zip code of the five-year, $125 million offer he received from the Angels would have been irresponsible and set a bad precedent for the organization.
Stop trying? Oh, well. No worries. Here's a guaranteed $125 million contract that will make you the second highest paid player in baseball in terms of average annual value. And on top of that, how about a $10 million signing bonus and no clauses in the contract that protect the team should you have another drug or alcohol relapse?
So is Angels' owner Arte Moreno crazy then? That answer is coming in the years ahead, as Hamilton and Albert Pujols earn more money every year they get older. (Although agreeing to absorb nearly all of Vernon Wells' contract two years ago might be all the evidence needed that Moreno's unbalanced.)
Maybe the move to Anaheim will make the game fun again for Hamilton.
And maybe Hamilton's the guy to put Moreno's club over the top, but most likely not. I'm not a fan of using WAR (wins above replacement) as the ultimate evaluation of a player, but it's still a useful way of comparing players in terms of overall impact.
Baseball-Reference rated Hamilton at 3.4 WAR (tied for 52nd in baseball) this year and Torii Hunter, the player he's replacing in Anaheim, at 5.5. FanGraphs has it a little closer -- Hunter at 5.3 and Hamilton at 4.4.
Simply put, that means Hunter was worth between one and two more wins to Anaheim last year than if Hamilton had been there instead.
The AL West was won this year with pitching, and until proven otherwise, that will be the recipe for success in 2013. Oakland finished eighth in the AL in runs scored and 13th in batting average, but second in ERA and batting average against. Last I checked, Hamilton doesn't pitch.
Kudos to Jon Daniels and the Rangers for letting Hamilton date other teams this offseason. "Hambone" turned out to be everything we could have asked for and more in his five years here, but five more would have felt like being trapped in a loveless marriage.
Sam Merten is a former Dallas Observer staff writer. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2007 and tweets about the team @SamMerten.