It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Hambone

Texas Rangers right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (17) and left fielder Josh Hamilton (32) are pictured during the Boston Red Sox vs. the Texas Rangers major league baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington on Thursday, May 28, 2015. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

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.

CDn1OtYWAAIUD1TWhile 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.

Cody Barfknecht
Born, raised, and currently live in Lewisville, TX. LHS Fighting Farmer, class of 2010. Fightin' Texas Aggie Class of 2014. Former Intern for the Norm Hitzges Show at Sportsradio 1310/96.7 FM "The Ticket". I currently work for Cumulus Media in Dallas, TX. Of course, I'm a die hard Ranger fan to a fault.

6 comments

  • Yes, your article makes sense. Yes, have we seen this in baseball before. But as a fan I have to see the end of the story. This is Josh Hamilton arguably the most successful Ranger in the limited years of time he has spent with the team, and of course my personal favorite. His unpredictable nature is the draw, but the Rangers still need a leader. Can he be the guy again, probably not, but I will always put down a $2.00 exacta on Jon and Josh, even though one of them is a long shot. I say lets see him run, whatever the outcome. He deserves it.

  • Good piece, Cody. We took friends to last night’s game and this same discussion occupied most of the drive home. We agree with what you’ve said. And, his defense is also suffering, because of his lower half. I think the old Josh gets to Peralta’s liner that bounced off his glove for a triple, and maybe it’s a different game. And then, there are the mental and emotional issues.

    Finally (and I’m saying this to myself most of all) our expectations as fans were totally unrealistic. What we are seeing was totally predictable, we just didn’t want to hear it.

  • Cody Barfknecht

    You make a valid point when you reference stooping to the Angels’ level, which I agree with. I just don’t think it’s too quick to write him off because this is the way his career has gone. He hasn’t shown that he can stay healthy and produce for an extended period of time since the first half of 2012. I agree that there isn’t anybody in the minors that is good enough to be an everyday outfielder on this team, but if you watched the game last night, I don’t believe that Josh is good enough either. They have an above .500 record with a Martin-DeShields combo in CF and LF. I think he wants to be here and produce on this team, but his body simply doesn’t have that ability anymore. He hasn’t been a good player since June of 2012, that’s the bottom line.

  • Your a little quick to write Josh off. I was scratching my head at the thought of bringing Josh back as well when the rumors started spreading, but you had to know this was coming. He was not in baseball shape when he was first brought up and he’s still not in baseball shape. He simply has not had enough time to just be in good shape to perform as a professional athlete. The Rangers needed him bat in a bad way (even though the Rangers needed another LH bat in the lineup like they needed another shoulder surgery from Profar) but it just seemed like the move was a no-brainer. There is not any position player in the minors that is deemed ready for the bigs that deserves playing time. Any position player that seems like a viable option such as Michael Choice or Jared Hoying is not that good to begin with. For the next month you have to stick with Hamilton to see if the Rangers can make a push towards the top of the division or a wild card spot. Giving up on him now would be the same type of immature and irresponsible move that the Angels made earlier this year.

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