When Josh Hamilton was taken first overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1999 MLB draft, the Devil Rays knew what they were getting: a ballplayer who hit .529 in 25 games in his senior year in high school, was 6'4" and could even throw 96 miles per hour off the mound.
Fast forward 13 years and Josh Hamilton is a not only a completely different ballplayer, but a completely different person.
After failing his first drug test in 2003, Hamilton's once-promising career was in serious jeopardy. By 2004, he was out of baseball completely. In 2007, he finally returned to the game with the Cincinnati Reds, who consequently traded him in December of that year to the Texas Rangers.
The most important person inside the game of Major League Baseball for Josh Hamilton is Johnny Narron. Narron served as the Reds' Major League video and administrative coach in 2007. When Hamilton got traded to Texas, Narron followed him and became the Rangers assistant hitting coach, as well as Hamilton's off-field accountability partner and confidant.
The two became fast friends, and Narron was regarded as an instrumental tool in keeping Hamilton in line mentally.
The new hitting coach of the Brewers is Johnny Narron.
"I have nothing but love for Josh and I wish him all the success in the world," Narron told MLB.com after he accepted the Brewers' job. "I think he realized that this point could probably come, and I think Josh is at the point now, with his resources and the support system that will remain in place, that he'll be fine. He knows that any time he needs to talk to me, I'm always here for him."
On February 2, 2012, however, it was reported that Hamilton had suffered a relapse with alcohol by having a few drinks at a local bar and invited Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler out to "talk" to him.
He apologized immediately afterwards to the Rangers and his fans. It is apparent that Josh Hamilton needs Johnny Narron a lot more than Johnny Narron needs Josh Hamilton, but their relationship transcends baseball.
It just so happens, that the Milwaukee Brewers need an outfielder.
By moving Corey Hart permanently to first base, and outrighting Nyjer Morgan to AAA, the Brewers current outfield has Ryan Braun in left field, Carlos Gomez in center and Norichika Aoki in right.
Gomez, who turns 27 on Opening Day, is the most logical trade candidate of the group. He's cheap enough for a team to take a chance on him in exchange for a desperately needed middle reliever. The fact that he was once the centerpiece in a trade for Johan Santana doesn't hurt either. Now imagine the Brewers lineup with Gomez gone and Hamilton signed:
The best thing to happen to the Brewers since Fielder was in town? Yes.
Braun and Hamilton could quite possibly be the next Yount and Molitor. Re-read that if you're a baseball fan. Highlight that if you're a Brewers fan.
“We've got the connection with Johnny Narron, but we don't have the connection with U.S. Bank." Brewers GM Doug Melvin has recently stated. Tell that to Ryan Braun and the $40 million in contracts they have gotten out of by trading Zack Greinke and dumping Francisco Rodriguez.