ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 07: Outfielder Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers bats smiles the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 7, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
When the headline for a blog post is entitled "Josh Hamilton lacks mental toughness," I think it is pretty clear what message the writer is intending to send.
And Jean-Jacques Taylor rips Hamilton for coming out of yesterday's game because of a "sinus headache." Taylor contrasts Hamilton's decision -- which looks even worse given that he'd made an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" the day before -- with Adrian Beltre demanding that Ron Washington put him in the lineup the day after he suffered what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury. Taylor says Hamilton's coming out of the game "seems more about mental toughness" than physically being unable to perform.
This is a tough thing to weigh in on from the outside...I'm not there, I'm not sure how bad Josh Hamilton's situation really was or what his pain tolerance is, and really, its not like Hamilton being in centerfield instead of Leonys Martin for the whole game would have made any difference in terms of the ultimate outcome.
But this is one of those things that, as Taylor points out, makes Hamilton's pending free agency so complicated. You aren't just dealing with an addict, you aren't just dealing with someone who is injury-prone, you are dealing with someone who seems to have picked up a reputation for being a little bit of a headcase on top of all that.
When you combine those issues with the fact that he's 31 and has the type of swing-at-everything approach that doesn't age well, and you can understand why the Rangers are leery of moneywhipping Hamilton to get him to stay, even though he's been instrumental to the Rangers' success the last few seasons.
My guess is that the Rangers would like for him to stay, but on their terms, with a four year deal in the $20-22 million per year range and a fifth year vesting option based on playing time or staying off the d.l. That may, given the current free agent landscape, be enough to keep Hamilton around. It may be that no other team is willing to do the sort of 8 year, $200 million guaranteed deal I suspect Hamilton and his agent are looking for.
But I wouldn't bet on it. And if Hamilton does leave, much like C.J. Wilson last season, I expect the organization will be disappointed about losing the performance, but happy about getting rid of the associated baggage.