I’m not breaking too much ground with that headline. Most of us know the Josh Hamilton story. A former number-one-overall pick who struggled with drugs and alcohol for years then finally got his life turned around, becoming a star outfielder for the Rangers. Hamilton had a relapse back in 2009 and then again Monday creating a major fork in the road for the Rangers.
Hamilton is eligible for free agency after this season, and the Rangers need to make a long-term decision on him. The Rangers front office said one of the reasons they didn’t aggressively pursue Prince Fielder is they wanted to hold money back to lock up Hamilton long-term. Now that decision needs to be re-examined.
In his comeback, Hamilton has been aided by an accountability coach, Johnny Narron who would track his movements particularly on the road. Narron has moved on to become the Brewers hitting coach and can no longer be that guy. There was a thought of his father-in-law taking the position but he eventually backed out due to family commitments. The Rangers need to ask themselves this: Are we going to invest many years and $100+ million dollars on a player who needs an accountability coach?
History has shown us the difficulty athletes have getting past their demons and that difficulty is only compounded when big money starts rolling in. This is by no means questioning the probability of recovery for addicts or underplaying the strength of addiction. It’s about the front office doing what’s in the best interest of the organization. I think, for the team’s and Josh’s sake, they do the right thing and deny him the $100 million payday which will in all likelihood do more harm than good. Hopefully the other teams in baseball follow suit.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, but I also know there are many people who think differently. Which side of the fence are you on?