Kauf Drops: Josh Hamilton Not Riding Off Into the Texas Sunset
Image: Cooper Neill/Getty Images
By Todd Kaufmann
The Texas Rangers are not playing well.
When you say those words, it’s not surprise to anyone nor will anyone argue that fact with you. This team is not the same team that got off to a hat start through the first month of the season and who held an eight-game lead in the AL West at one time.
Of all the weeks for Sports Illustrated to come out with a cover story about All-Star outfielder, Josh Hamilton, and what kind of contract he is going to want in the off season, this was probably the worst time for it.
While there’s no question this was well written piece and it gives a glimpse of a player off the field, it also provides a quote from Josh’s wife, Katie, that has started a panic among Texas Ranger fans. So much so that fans on twitter have said things like, “he’s not coming back,” “the Rangers will never be able to afford him,” among other reactionary tweets.
The reason for that panic is a quote in the article that talks about Josh and the kind of contract his family will be looking for. Not just for himself but for “a hurting world,” as Katie Hamilton says.
“Fans and reporters are so far off base with where we are. They’ll say, ‘Oh, Josh doesn’t care about the money.’ No, we don’t really care about the money so much for us, but we have huge plans for this money, and, no, it’s not strictly for our bank account. It is for a hurting world.
“The other thing they keep saying is, ‘Josh needs Texas; he needs the comfort of this team.’ Uh, we need Jesus. We need God. He goes with us wherever we are. Yes, we’re comfortable in Texas. But maybe God hasn’t called us to comfort. I mean, he didn’t call Jesus to comfort.”
That quote not only has fans up in arms but also local beat writers.
Take Randy Galloway of the Ft Worth Star Telegram. He wrote a piece on Thursday and, at the end of it, sounded a little bitter. “Hit first. Then talk. Then go save the world with Yankee money, or Red Sox money.”
Really? Save the world with “Yankee money?” Josh and Katie Hamilton say they want to do something with the money from a new contract to help other people and the reaction to that statement is bitterness and a slight scent of contempt?
This reminds me of when Josh Hamilton said, “I don’t feel like I owe the Rangers” during spring training. The firestorm of media and fan reaction was amazing.
We always talk about baseball as being a business. In fact, most front offices are famous for saying that when they don’t re-sign a fan favorite or sign a guy fans want. But, when a player uses the same tactic, you would have thought he insulted someone’s family.
People are already assuming Josh Hamilton is playing in his final season as a Texas Ranger. It’s why the “could the Rangers trade Josh Hamilton” talk began around the social media networks late Thursday afternoon.
Trading him would be nothing more than the equivalent of waving the white flag on the 2012 season. I say that because there is not one player in baseball who can replace the kind of offensive production Josh brings to this lineup as well as the Gold Glove caliber defense in the outfield.
While Galloway makes it clear in his article that Josh Hamilton is all about the money, even his wife makes it clear that we don’t know anything in terms of what they will or won’t do.
But why are fans jumping overboard? Why are fans so ready to write off Josh Hamilton and forget that he was even a member of the Rangers?
I’m not ready to do anything of the sort. In fact, I’m going to stay on the bandwagon I’ve been on since the beginning of the season. While the Rangers have said they won’t negotiate a contract during the regular season, and despite the quotes from Katie Hamilton, I fully expect the Texas Rangers to reach an agreement with Josh Hamilton some time after the 2012 season comes to a close.
While Texas has a certain level of comfort for Josh and Katie and while Josh has rejuvenated his career in Arlington, my reasons have nothing to do with either of those. My reasoning comes down to the same word Galloway used in his column.
We know the Texas Rangers aren’t the kind of team who will throw $180 million at a player they don’t feel is worth it. It’s the reason they didn’t pull out all the stops to make sure they acquired Prince Fielder when he was a free agent this past winter.
It wasn’t that Fielder isn’t a great player and a solid offensive threat in anyone’s lineup, the front office was not comfortable going as far as they would have had to to sign him. While the money was this side of assinine, the years were far beyond what CEO Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels would ever reach for.
Over the last 24 hours, fans and media alike have talked about how the Hamilton’s are looking for “the next big contract.” What those same people haven’t mentioned or asked is, “over how many years?”
That is going to be the million, or multi-million, dollar question.
The Rangers are going to make him a competitive offer and they will put up a number higher than we’ve seen this front office go before. Why? Because it’s Josh Hamilton. This is the guy they want for the long run. Injury concerns or not, this is arguably the best hitter in the game right now
Texas isn’t going to be the only team involved in the bidding war and they know it. The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees among several others will do whatever they can to land the most coveted free agent of the off season.
But, when it comes right down to it, where does Josh and his wife want to be? Some don’t want faith to be a part of the decision nor do they understand why Josh and Katie rely on it when it comes to the next step in this journey.
However, God ultimately has the decision when the clock strikes midnight. And when it does, I believe Rangers Ballpark will still have a center fielder beloved by so many.
A Texas Rangers jersey will still hang in the clubhouse and ‘Hamilton’ will still be printed on the back. Daniels and Ryan aren’t ready to step aside and let any team sign the player they really want.
It’s not time to write a book about his legacy as a Ranger, because there are many more chapters still to be written.