The Texas Rangers just need to do it. Team president Nolan Ryan just needs to grit his teeth and pull the trigger on a trade for All-Star slugger Josh Hamilton. This column is a debate with Rant Sports columnist Peter Ellwood, who thinks Texas should keep Hamilton. You can read Ellwood’s take here.
Look, Hamilton was a great story, but the key word there is “was.” He puts up big numbers, then slumps with the worst of them all while battling some serious injury each season. Throw in his yearly alcohol relapse and you’ve got a real headache.
Hamilton started the 2012 MLB season on a historic page, leading all of baseball in every major batting category. His former Rangers teammate, Los Angeles Angels pitcher CJ Wilson, even predicted Hamilton would break Barry Bonds‘s single-season home run record. However, things have certainly taken a turn for the worse.
Things seemed to cap when Hamilton hit four home runs during a single game in early May. Since then, it’s been all downhill.
Hamilton’s latest alcohol relapse in February really put the Rangers in a dilemma; the team was about to award the slugger with a hefty new contract that would all but ensure he retired a Ranger. Now, in the final year of his contract, Hamilton has dug himself into a hole.
Hamilton is batting just .145 in June, was booed by the Texas crowd after striking out twice against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday and was then taken out of the lineup.
No, that doesn’t mean Hamilton’s trade value is at an all-time low right now. Slumps happen in baseball and that’s why he’ll be a hot commodity until the MLB trade deadline officially passes.
The Rangers need to get rid of him now because right before that deadline is when franchise-changing moves happen. Hamilton needs this team way more than it needs him. It’s his fault and no one else’s that he doesn’t have a big new contract now, yet he has the audacity to basically say ‘I’ll be more expensive later if you don’t sign me now.’
That’s not what a leader does. The Rangers are loaded with talent and they need leadership. Hamilton can’t hit four home runs in a game if he’s in a rehab clinic this time next year.
Texas can patch up the few holes in its lineup by using Hamilton as trade bait. The rotation definitely could use some work, especially after Colby Lewis’s season-ending surgery. The Rangers could use a more consistent slugger than Hamilton and that might be relatively easy to acquire with his big name in the pot.
In short, Hamilton just isn’t worth it anymore. If he was truly trying to become the leader the Rangers need him to be, then this debate would be pointless. However, he’s not and that’s hurting the team. If he’s not dealt, Texas fans can kiss a third straight World Series trip goodbye.