In this The Great Lost Season for your Texas Rangers, sponsored by Nolan Ryan All Beef Hot Dogs, the person labeled as the main culprit is general manager Jon Daniels. Everything JD has reportedly touched since Nolan Ryan "left" has bombed.
Prince Fielder. Shin Soo Choo. Counting on Matt Harrison. Jurickson Profar. Nelson Cruz. The crisis in the Middle East.
JD has been scolded accordingly for his various moves, but back in the day he did make a shrewd call. His decision, which was approved by Nolan, to let Josh Hamilton walk via free agency to the Anaheim Angels was one of the better moves he ever made.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said over the weekend the player that Josh is for the Angels is not the same player he was with the Rangers.
Scioscia told reporters before the Angels' loss against the Rangers on Sunday:
"Josh is not the same as he was when we were looking in the other dugout in Texas. Right now, he's not in the batter's box with the confidence that we know he has. He's working hard to try to find it."
Since leaving the Rangers for the five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Angels, Hamilton has been fairly close to a bust. In two seasons with the Angels that cover 223 games he is batting .255 with 29 home runs and 114 RBI.
He contiues to show a trend that began in the second half of his last year with the Rangers when he was giving away at bats. It's as if he is defeated before he steps into the batter's box.
This is not about ability but care. Baseball is a burden to Josh.
One of the primary concerns the Rangers had concerning Hamilton was not his well-documented problems with addiction but rather the degree he cared about the game. Baseball was something Josh did well, but it was not always something he loved. Like many athletes, he played ball because he was good at ball.
Baseball has become a means to something else for both he and his family - he can provide a high standard of living - but it does not mean he loves to play the game. His contract is guaranteed, meaning the financial incentive is gone.
You get the sense he would rather play beer-league softball at the local park with his buddies than to play with the best players in the world at Fenway Park.
Josh is 33 years old, and has three years remaining on his contract. He is young enough to reverse this trend and produce the type of numbers he did with the Rangers. The question is whether he cares enough to do it.
The Rangers, and JD (and Nolan), decided it was not worth the risk to find out. The decision to let Josh walk does not absolve JD from this disaster season, but it does mean he got this one right.
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