Texas Rangers Should Move On from Josh Hamilton and Not Re-Sign Him
As he walked back to the dugout on Friday night after striking out for the second time and leaving the tying run on second, the realization became more clearer:
Something isn't right with Josh Hamilton.
The former AL MVP is usually one of the most clutch hitters in the game and always strikes dangerous fear into the eyes of pitchers when he steps to the plate.
But Hamilton looked more like a baby cub than a ferocious lion for the last month of the 2012 season. He batted .259 in September, struck out 31 times, only had 15 RBIs and missed six games. There's a good chance that if he played in those games he missed, those stats could've been much worse.
Not saying that he was the only reason that the Rangers collapsed the way they did, but he was surely the biggest.
In Texas, a winning culture has been built from Ron Washington, Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan. And when your superstar doesn't do the things that he's capable of doing on a game-by-game basis, there's cause for concern.
It took eight pitches on Friday night to get Hamilton out four times.
He has always been notorious at swinging at the first pitch, but the pitches he was swinging at are ones that he knows not to hit. Could it have been a vision problem? Perhaps, but ever since coming back from that vision problem in mid-September, he has never come out saying that his vision was a problem.
So what else could it be?
A sign that he doesn't care?
Tough to believe for a man of Hamilton's caliber, but it could be true.
Maybe he has lost the competitive fire that he has brought to Texas for the last five years. Maybe, in his ideals, God has told him that he should move on from the Rangers and look elsewhere for a team that will pay him the money he wants.
Because after that game against the Baltimore Orioles, Hamilton lost a lot of money, and the Rangers won't, and should not, pay the kind of money that he wants after a dismal finish like the one he had.
A chorus of boos shouldn't be the way that Hamilton's tenure in Texas comes to an end, but if that's what it comes down to, then so be it. It's almost impossible to fathom that this man batted close to .370 through the first two months of the season. Many were calling the AL MVP race over when he hit those four home runs against Baltimore back on May 8.
But when Hamilton wasn't at his best, the Rangers weren't at theirs.
Back in July, when Hamilton was hitting that atrocious .177 mark, Texas was only a few games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for first place in the AL West. By mid-August, Hamilton was batting over .310 and the Rangers were six games up on the Oakland A's.
Hamilton wasn't the run producer he's capable of being. That, along with his body language over the last few weeks, are the biggest red flags that management should take into consideration before even thinking of giving him a new contract.
Do both parties want each other?
Hamilton, barring the mixed messages he has been sending, probably wants to stay in Texas and, hopefully, finish the job and bring a championship to Texas.
But do both parties need each other?
That's up for debate in the Texas front office right now.
Again, it comes down to the contract and what the Rangers feel is a reasonable offer. Hamilton cost himself a lot in the month of September, in the final three games against Oakland and the Wild Card game against Baltimore.
Texas has a great foundation of players at their disposal, even without Hamilton, and the Rangers won't be afraid to use money to get key players of their own. Not to mention they won't be scared to go into their farm system and find another Jurickson Profar or Mike Olt.
In the end, it's up to what the front office thinks.
After they get a new contract for Mike Napoli, of course.
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