Written 4 months ago on Sporting News:
The Texas Rangers are becoming relatively dysfunctional, and the man with the talent to be the best player in the world is at the center of it all.
Josh Hamilton isn’t the only concern for the two-time defending American League champions and current AL West leaders, but he is a major one.
Yu Darvish has not been the ace the Rangers were hoping for. (AP Photo)
The Rangers were among the best teams in baseball as the calendar peeled toward July. They went 19-9 in June to move 21 games over .500 for the season, and they had a 6 ½-game lead in the division. Things shifted in July. They finished that month 9-14 and saw their lead shrink to three games by Aug. 1.
The problems are real:
• Yu Darvish is an incredibly expensive middle-of-the-rotation starter and not the No. 1 guy the Rangers think he can become. The rotation lacks an ace, and the deadline deal to get Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs started off badly (eight earned runs, nine hits, two homers allowed in 4 2/3 innings in his first start). Then again, Dempster’s career 4.31 career ERA in the National League didn’t exactly scream ace. Dempster did rebound on Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox in a win (zero earned runs in 6 2/3 innings).
• Injuries have hurt as well. Although none of the starters in Texas’ infirmary are aces, the now-depleted rotation depth was soothing. With Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis done for the season after elbow surgery, help is nowhere in sight.
• Roy Oswalt, who signed as an in-season free agent, is moaning about being moved to the bullpen despite his 6.49 ERA in six starts. And the front office won’t answer inquiries about whether Oswalt or his agent has requested a trade. That likely means Oswalt has given a “start me or trade me” ultimatum. Yeah, good luck with all that, Roy. Oswalt and manager Ron Washington 'cleared the air' on the situation this week.
• Then there is the biggest problem, a problem that will extend beyond this season and into the winter: Hamilton.
First and foremost—because baseball is a business and winning is the top priority—is Hamilton’s lack of production since his scorching May. Through the first two months of the season, Hamilton was the best player in baseball and the greatest hitter we’ve seen since Barry Bonds in 2004. Hamilton hit .368/.420/.764 with 21 home runs, 57 RBIs, 19 walks and 39 strikeouts in his first 207 plate appearances.
Then he fell off that sky-high perch and splattered all over the batter’s box, leaving a mess no one seems to be able to clean up. Hamilton was chasing pitches out of the strike zone at an alarming rate; he also did this while he was hot, but he saw fewer of those bad pitches and hit more of them. Pitchers realized if they didn’t want Hamilton to pummel them, they simply had to stop throwing him strikes and wait for him to get himself out.
Sure enough, just like the scouting reports suggested, Hamilton sabotaged his own at-bats. Since June 1, he is hitting .209/.285/.384 with eight home runs, 34 RBIs, 21 walks and 65 strikeouts in 232 plate appearances.
According to fangraphs.com, Hamilton (entering Tuesday) is swinging at pitches out of the strike zone at a higher rate (46.3 percent) than ever. His previous high was last season’s 41 percent. The percentage of out-of-the-zone pitches he actually makes contact with is also the lowest of his career (53.2).
Of the pitches he sees (not just swings at), a career-low 34.5 percent are in the zone. He also is swinging at more pitches overall than he ever has before (59.6 percent), and he is swinging and missing at more pitches than ever (19.8 percent, compared to his previous high of 15.5 percent in 2009).
It isn’t like Texas has ignored the problem. Sources say the Rangers are at wits’ end with Hamilton because they sat him down and instructed him how to solve his deficiencies—but Hamilton has failed to make adjustments.
That led team president and principal owner Nolan Ryan to publically criticize Hamilton’s approach and say, “I just don’t know where Josh is.”
Ryan isn’t alone. It seems nobody can figure out Hamilton, and we aren’t just talking about in the box. Sometime in June, Hamilton decided to quit using chewing tobacco but hasn’t been able to. Last week, he admitted that lack of discipline is affecting him.
Then there were last week’s shouting incidents with Texas’ first- and third-base coaches after Hamilton’s baserunning mistakes, one of which was clearly his fault as he didn’t take the extra base on a throw to the plate. The play was in front of Hamilton, meaning the decision to move up was his.
That incident reeked of Hamilton’s tantrum last season when he blamed third-base coach Dave Anderson after he fractured a bone in his upper arm sliding (unsuccessfully) headfirst into home when Anderson sent him on an errant throw.
It always has been difficult, even taboo, to question Hamilton’s mental makeup because he is a recovering addict. He has overcome so much negativity that it seems unfair to criticize him, especially when it comes to his head.
Then again, Hamilton chose his career and is being paid to perform. And after this season, he is going to be paid much more by whatever team accepts the risks involved in signing him as a free agent.
If his slump and childish antics continue, the Rangers are less likely to be the organization that puts itself on the line and signs Hamilton to a nine-figure deal. According to a source, people within the organization have questioned Hamilton’s mental toughness throughout the season and those concerns have grown lately.
Maybe the lineup can survive Hamilton’s slump, which got him benched over the weekend. The Rangers have enough offense to mask the struggles of their No. 3 hitter, but they don’t have the pitching.
And when you add those concerns to the Hamilton saga, Texas looks more vulnerable and more like a team that has October failure in its future.
What a mess. Nothing like having an up close witness to really describe the missteps and transgressions of someone that looks so great to so many here.
Thats long bags.lol.still trying to finish reading it.
Quote from Mass Blog Live Everyone has baggage the Mass bloglive I posted said there was baggage when we got Manny. Yes Manny was alot different but still baggage
Here's what else Manny carried.
He carried the Red Sox to not one, but two World Series titles. Of course he had plenty of help, but let's be clear here. Manny was the 2004 World Series MVP.
Is there a more lasting memory of the 2007 postseason run to glory than Manny, arms extended in the air, celebrating his dramatic Game 2 walk-off home run that all but destroyed any hope the Los Angeles Angels had of winning the ALDS?
Since the Red Sox dealt Manny Ramirez in the summer of 2008, the team has scored plenty of runs but has not been as successful. The offense has been potent, but it hasn't felt the same. Even when Adrian Gonzalez was in that memorable groove back in May of 2011, he wasn't in the same type of groove Manny used to get in.
Most players never get hot with the bat in the same manner Ramirez used to. And even if the influence of PED's now hovers over his accomplishments, most players still don't possess the raw talent and strength to strike fear into opposing pitchers the way he once did.
numbers dont lie...
last 3 seasons? .313/.370 OBP/146 OPS+
Now, the great season a couple yrs ago inflates that a bit but i'd expect something like .290/.355/.560 SLG..
He'd INSTANTLY become the sox best hitter and Ortiz/Hamilton would instantly become one of the best 3/4 in the game...
You complain about his attitude, But a team doesn't need 25 men who are great marketable personalities...If a team plans on winning you have to sacrafice a great "team guy" for a superstar who has a bit of baggage on occasion.
IMO with hamilton/edwin jackson...The sox would be on route to making things VERY interesting.
It is not a real shock that Yu Darvish has not become a true ACE ( cough Dice-K)
Josh Hamilton will be overpaid but welcome to the modern day offseason!
Please look at Hamilton's stats against the AL East...OBP .438 (BAL) .415 (NYY)
.394 (TB) not to mention a .444 vs us!
He has my vote to make this lineup scary for at least the next 3 years
Manny's issues were nothing like Hamilton. Manny has ADHD, plays with remote control cars, and is generally a spoiled kid, with a monomania for hitting a baseball.
We got Manny when he was younger and he's a considerably greater hitter than Hamilton.
Hamiltons hr count will go down in Fenway compared to Arlington.
What complaint? Here is an article by someone that clearly knows the Rangers and Hamilton better than anyone here. It should concern any objective fan of the Red Sox.
don't ever compare manny to Hamilton
Manny had a wOBA over .400 12 straight years...... that is insane
He was a great hitter who chemistry helped out - significantly.
Speaking of this supposed great productive hitter Hamilton, here is a sobering fact.
If you take his career, and translate it to a 625 plate appearance season, he averages 110 RBI's. given that great hitters park he has been in, and that great line-up, in those great batting positions 110 is frankly not impressive.
How about vs LHP: .280/.327/.481 - meh. Who said he'd form a top notch 3/4 with Ortiz? Not vs LHP it appears.
How about away? .292/.354/.507 - 22% worse that at home, the average player is 4% better at home than the road. Is it the park, or home cooking?
HR factors in 2010:
Average park: 1.00
Arlington 1.160 (7th)
Fenway .871 (21st)
That means for every 3 HR hit in Fenway 4 were hit in Arlington.
Significant for a slugger whose power is directed to some of most difficult parts of Fenway one has to conclude.