It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Hambone
Speculation. That’s the main thing that enveloped Ranger Nation on and around April 27th, when Josh Hamilton was traded back to Arlington from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for not much more than a bag of batting practice baseballs. Speculation from a few that maybe Hamilton could somehow recapture the magic from the 2010 ALCS (.350/4 HR/15 RBI) or the night of May 8, 2012 (4 HR/18 total bases). Speculation from many that believed he may be the same Josh Hamilton that dropped a routine fly ball in an elimination game to lose the division to the A’s in the midst of one of the worst offensive months in club history. The Josh Hamilton that the club and the fans received is man who wants to give everything he has to help his team win, but who’s body is simply spent. With a newly strained groin threatening to put him back on the disabled list for an unknown amount of time after just two games off of it (he left Friday’s game and missed the weekend), only one solution remains: it is time to let Hambone go for good.
The attempt to bring Hamilton back to the franchise that gave him his first real chance to succeed was admirable on the front office’s part. He was brought back to a team that was struggling mightily at the plate and, with the Rangers picking up only about $7 million out of the $82,220,000 remaining on his deal, gave fans a nothing-to-lose attitude. That thought was only made better after Hamilton’s first series back in Arlington against the Red Sox in which he hit to the tune of 6/14 with a pair of homers and a pinch-hit walk off winner in the series finale on May 31st. While the sky seemed the limit after that day’s win, Hamilton then went to the disabled list the following afternoon with a strained hamstring, raising a red flag that is still displayed today.
Hamilton is no stranger to injury. Since 2009, Hamilton has spent a whopping 269 games on the disabled list, by far the most of any Rangers or Angels player in that time span. Unlike most players who have recurring stints, Hamilton has suffered from a large array of maladies. With bruised ribs in 2009, a fractured humerus in his left arm in 2011, pneumonia in 2012, left thumb and shoulder surgery in 2014, and an almost two page long injury history on Baseball Prospectus, Hamilton has been one of the most injured players in baseball history relative to the amount of time he has been a professional. Thus far, 2015 has been no different. Hamilton was unable to participate in Spring Training with any team after shoulder surgery in the offseason. Once finally joining the Rangers after being traded from Anaheim, he dealt with the aforementioned hamstring issue. Just about a week ago, he was brought off the disabled list and now appears ready to go right back on with a strained groin. After years of cocaine abuse that included two relapses in his professional career, it appears that Hamilton’s body is simply unable to perform any longer.
While Hamilton is enduring his own injury issues, his absence is affecting the Rangers as well. In a season that seems to be headed back downhill after a decisive sweep by the rival Angels, each roster spot is very important. At the moment, the major league roster spot that is being occupied by Hamilton is simply a waste. A waste of time on the fan’s part who wants to see Hamilton play. A waste of money on the part of the front office. A waste of energy on the part of the Ranger coaching and athletic training staff. There are quite a few players who would benefit further from having the spot that Hamilton currently occupies on the active roster. Pitchers Nick Martinez and Alex Claudio have both shown that they can compete at the major league level and would benefit greatly from more time facing major league hitters and working with pitching coach Mike Maddux. Even reserve infielder Hanser Alberto would fill a void should Rougned Odor or Adam Rosales go down with an injury. With Hamilton facing another lengthy DL stint in a month, it seems unlikely that he will ever be able to be the effective player he once was.
Even though the Rangers have not gotten the production out of Hamilton that they had hoped for in 2015, this should not be viewed as a failure for Jon Daniels. Yes, JD will be vilified, just as he always is, by a portion of the fan base when one of his moves goes a bit sour. This time, however, the reward if Hamilton would have been successful far outweighed the risk of trading what amounts to just $7 million cash for him. Being looked toward to improve a sputtering offense, Daniels looked to a player that had made him look like a genius in years past. With Hamilton’s body failing and not appearing as if it will ever be fully right again, the time has come for the Rangers to get rid of him and move on for good.