Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Are Making a Mistake with Josh Hamilton

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IDecember 13, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 21:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers grounds out to shortstop against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the second out in the second inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 21, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)
Jeff Golden/Getty Images

According to ESPN Dallas and the Twitter feed of ESPN's Buster Olney, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have signed Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contact. It is a headline-grabbing move and one that will send shockwaves throughout baseball.

And within a few years, it will be a signing the Angels will be regretting.

The Angels had several problems last year as they won 89 games, but fell just short of the postseason. But they were not lacking in dynamic offensive stars.

The team had Mike Trout, whose Rookie of the Year season got its share of MVP consideration. They also had a fellow named Albert Pujols, who overcame a slow start to put up solid numbers. Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo put up their share of big hits and homers along the way.

Yes, the team lost Torii Hunter to the Tigers, but they had a deep and solid outfield in 2012 going into the new season.

The team stumbled through August where the rotation and bullpen betrayed their solid lineup.

On August 1, 2012, the Angels took a 7-1 lead in the fourth inning against the division-leading Texas Rangers. A win would pull the Angels within two games. But starter Garrett Richards got knocked around and the team's defense and bullpen collapsed to lose the game 11-10.

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That started a 5-11 slide that featured a humiliating four-game sweep at home by the Tampa Bay Rays. The pitching was horrible in that stretch and the Oakland Athletics surged past the Angels (and eventually the Rangers) in the standings.

Winning championships, presumably the goal of the Angels, relies on pitching depth rather than depth in the lineup.

The arrival of Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson might make up for the losses of Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. But their focus should have been on Kyle Lohse, Anibal Sanchez or even Edwin Jackson to give ace Jered Weaver the support he needs.

For the next five seasons, the Angels will be devoting $50 million a season to Hamilton and Pujols, neither one the best player on the team.

Hamilton's five-year deal is probably two years too long. The 31-year-old outfielder, who slumped in the second half of 2012, has already put a lot of wear and tear on his body both with injuries and off-field issues.

The idea that Hamilton will still be an elite player after Barack Obama is done with his second term is a stretch.

Remember, Vernon Wells' contract looked good when he signed it.

So the Angels took the spotlight away from the Dodgers for a moment this winter. But they may regret it for many winters to come.

They got the publicity, but the problems that sunk the team's hopes are still there.

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