The Texas Rangers may have gotten an early Christmas present this offseason – even if most seem to view it as a lump of coal.
Earlier this month, Josh Hamilton finally completed the decision he clearly had made a long time ago, that being to leave the Rangers. But he gave the dagger an extra twist by signing with the division rival Angels, for roughly 125 million over five years. The fact that he never gave the Rangers a chance to match the offer when there was supposedly a verbal agreement to do so more or less confirms that signing back with Texas was never really in his plans.
With that, everyone is making the same predictions. Of sure, in 2-3 years, the Angels will regret the backlog of that contract, but for the next two years, Josh will make the Rangers pay. And the Angels have already wrapped up the 2013 World Series.
Where have I heard that before?
But hold the phone. Clearly DFW is a place where people love to predict failure on their teams as much as wackos love to predict the end of the world (at least predicting failure for teams not named the Cowboys).
One of the biggest reasons I’ve soured on the idea of signing big-name free agents is the track record of how often it fails, both in the short AND long term. There’s a long list of players who get the big deal and then proceed to mail it in the rest of the way, at least until the chance for the next big deal comes. Rangers have already been burned too many times by the likes of Chan Ho Park and Kevin Milwood.
First, look at the team Josh went to. Los ANgeles of Anaheim Orange County SoCal or Whatever is the ultimate destination for mail-it-in players. Gary Matthews Jr., Hideki Matsui, Vernon Wells… for now, it even looks like Albert Pujols has decided to take it easy now that he has the big bucks and a new home on the sunny California beaches.
And everything Josh did over the last month of the season is a pretty big indicator that he was already beginning to mail it in. His misplayed fly ball in Oakland became the target of critics everywhere along with his hitting plummet in September. Has his drop off already begun?
This is a pretty big accusation toward someone who was one of the most feared hitters in the game for the past five years. But we’re also talking about someone who, by his own admission, doesn’t even really like the game he plays. Josh rarely watches baseball on TV, even to check the scores. It’s clear that, especially after giving the Rangers their first “hometown discount,” he was gunning for the big payday all along. WIll he truly be the same player now that he got what he wanted?
I will not just shelve away the memories of what Josh Hamilton did with the Rangers. They would not had emade the World Series twice without him. But I do feel it was time to move on. And the Rangers may find themselves better off with what they have, while the Angels – the Yankees of the West – may very well find year another prize free agent they poached to be fool’s gold.