Dr's R/X on Josh Hamilton in Safeco
Check the HR's with Safeco overlaid

Q.  The arguments against giving Josh Hamilton a $200M Prince Fielder type contract are ...

A.  ... Too obvious to waste time typing out.  If you're going to play two people at once, like Steve Martin's good cop bad cop in Pink Panther, you might at least ask questions that some people haven't thought of the answer to....

Suffice it to say that in rotisserie baseball, good owners split the difference on guys like Hamilton.  In his MVP year he was worth $39 in 5x5.  So you pay $25 for him.  That's the right thing to do.

Life mirrors art.  You pay 2/3 of what you'd pay for a healthy Josh Hamilton and that's plenty gamble enough.  Dr. D remembers his roto mentor, back in the middle '90's, going "Mark McGwire is the biggest gamble in our game.  If he's healthy, whoever owns him is going to win the league.  But he probably won't be healthy."


Q.  What's the least you'd pay Hamilton?

A.  Glenn DuPaul makes the extremist case against, capping him at 5/$80M.  DuPaul's an economist and his pencil is nice and sharp.  But pencils as sharp as that sign no free agents, and they figure that's just as well.  

The question is going to be:  if Josh Hamilton could be had at the 7/$120M given to Jayson Werth, Matt Holliday and Carl Crawford - or, analogously, 6/$140M -  would you do that?


Q.  What are the false arguments against?

A.  I don't buy the idea that LF's and power hitters are overpaid generally, because I don't buy the idea that WAR is the end of the discussion.  And a player pool at a position can have a skewed replacement level ... that's another subject.

As we've shown many times, it's a logical fallacy to go from "The average cost of a WAR, in the past, has been X" --- > to "The correct payment for a WAR, in the future, in every situation, will be X."  No successful businessman, and I mean none I ever met, thinks like that.  You make money not by applying rules, but by finding and exploiting their exceptions.  

And who even says that the goal is to give ownership a rebate check on payroll?  Do you know any teams working with hard salary caps?  This ain't the NFL.  What is the Angels' salary cap?

I don't worry much about Hamilton's age.  You're talking about a Mickey Mantle level of ability.  That magnitude of talent, you figure it's going to be okay at age 35.

There have been outstanding articles written about his plate discipline.  Great, but those don't affect his free agency.  Just 'cause he got over-amp'ed in his walk year doesn't mean he can't hit.

I don't worry much about his drinking.  I'd have a clause in there about opiates.... oh, wait, they have those clauses, don't they.  The way people have connected his "falling off the wagon" (three drinks in a lounge) with the horrors of his past ... um, no.  Let's be fair to the individual as well as to corporate society, and not overstate a problem just because we find it unseemly.


Q.  What are the good arguments against, in your view, if you're talking 7/$120M or maybe 6/$135M?

A.  I'm not sure I can think of one.  You're looking at 120 games a year, of course, but you've already gotten a rebate check on that.  The arguments against, are going to pretty much be the arguments that sabertistas make against all pricey free agents.  Remember, Albert Pujols' deal was panned mercilessly.  Pujols his ownself.  An argument against Hamilton at 7/$120M may be simply an argument against FA's.


Q.  What are the good arguments for, in Seattle?

A.  Say he plays 120-130 games and gives you 4.5 to 5.0 WAR, like in 2011-12 ... or 6.0 WAR, like in 2010-12.  Now you play some other outfielder for 30-40 games and collect his WAR, too.  Do you know any teams that have a large collection of young outfielders who could participate in job shares?

People seem to doubt that DH'ing brittle players keep them healthy, because they haven't seen the data.  Moe and Lonnie and I have seen the data:  Edgar Martinez.  You can pay Josh Hamilton and you can DH him.  When the time is right.

Hamilton's physical power is .... well, we're getting obvious again.  If you've seen an HR derby, you know that Hamilton's the guy to transcend Safeco.  That stupid Hit It Here Cafe was built for Junior.  One of these days they'll get that neon arrow blinking.

You don't have your choice of any player in baseball, on which to deploy your $5.023 million per WAR.  You have your choice of only a very few FA's and trade targets.  You're not measuring with sextants; you're measuring with yardsticks.

Josh Hamilton or Justin Upton?  For the same money?  I'll take the left handed player.   Does Upton's 2012 HRTracker show 40 blue dots that lie (way) beyond the Safeco overlay?  How many does it show?

When you pay $35,000 for a car, you don't want be MEEHHHHHH about it.  Only pay that if you are electrified by it.  If the M's are going to make a big commitment to a player, they should be happy with the level of ability.  WAR is not ability, as Chone Figgins and Carlos Silva found out.

Hamilton's sheer talent is the magic sparkle dust here.  A week after you give Justin Upton huge money, you're praying that the park won't hurt him.  A week after you sign Josh Hamilton, you're giddy about his HRTracker overlay.


Q.  Who's in on Hamilton?

A.  DuPaul's fine article says, nobody:

  • The Yankees won’t be in the market, as they are attempting to dip beneath the luxury tax threshold
  • The Angels still have Vernon Wells on the books, so I don't see Jerry Dipoto bringing in another aging outfielder long term, and should be more concerned with locking Trout up
  • The Dodgers can't be possibly be in the market for Hamilton... unless they're printing money or something
  • The Red Sox just freed up a ton of payroll flexibility and have no left fielder, but they're probably going to use that money on Jacoby Ellsbury and starting pitching, not on Hamilton, especially with what just happened with Crawford
  • The Nationals want to be a big market club, but they already have Werth on the books
  • The Marlins spent crazy money last offseason, but the likelihood of them venturing down that road again is slim 
  • The Phillies need outfielders and Ruben Amaro Jr. loves long-term deals, so I guess it's a possibility, but still feels like a long shot
  • The Tigers and Giants are possible mystery teams that could maybe make a run at Hamilton

I'm not giving Hamilton $200M, end of story (though a TV cable situation might be a new bedtime story).  Guarantee you I'll take him at some price.  And that price may be higher for the Mariners than for anybody.  Plus it'd be fun.  Baseball's a pastime.




As Fielder was last year, Josh is this year. I dunno if he would come here (he legitimately loves the Texas fans and respects ownership for taking a chance on him, even if he's ticked off they didn't give him an extension - I dunno that he would pull a Damon and go to a rival) but money does talk.
More than (just) money, though, Josh wants to be wanted. Why is Peyton Manning a Bronco? Because Denver both respected his space and showed him how much they wanted him. Nobody wants to go to a new job in a new city if the old one was good to them.
Roll out the carpet, start up the band, have Felix explain to him how they only need the Felix of the Offense to start demolishing other teams, but more than that, these Mariners are growing up together and we are gonna give him youthful rejuvenation along with his mega-millions.
I don't believe we'll get him, but I do believe I want him. Certainly over Upton. I wanted Fielder because he was young enough and talented enough to beat the park and give us our money's worth. Hamilton isn't as young, but he's at least as talented. If he would come around for that 6-year deal, I'd absolutely cough up the dough.
I forgot to mention one of the other benefits of having a stuffed farm system: you can afford to drop 20 million on one player because you'll always have a few more making pennies in those much-needed club-control years. Helps you average out the bigger contracts for the mega-talents, doncha know.


The only way I would touch Hamilton is if he agrees - upfront - to put in sigificant time at DH. Wedge is too deferential to his veterans and without that agreement in advance, Hamilton will keep himself in the lineup for 2.5 glorious months, then break down, partially rehab and limp his way through the rest of the season. It's happening in Texas and it would surely happen in the colder, wetter NW climate.
It would be absolutely imperative to the M's that he be healthy and ready to deal some damage come October.

M-Pops's picture

Adding Hamilton to this M's team could create an '04 Angels-type situation. The Angels went from 77 wins to 92 and the division after adding Vladdy and Kelvim Escobar that offseason.
The M's should not let this MVP-caliber OF get away. Sign Hamilton up, ink Iwakuma and call it an offseason!


Thought I had a wild idea here.  Spec comes along and cosigns, shtick becomes mainstream.  G comes along and cosigns, shtick becomes the obvious thing to do.
And there goes my flame-war traffic, power-diving in a trail of black smoke!
Right, with the posse of club-controls bats, not to exclude Nicky, Zunino, Romero and Catricala, you'd better be thinking about one giant hand on the top of the first-ups bat handle.  And if that goes awry you've got some insurance.


Hopefully they won't get two comparable offers, both 6 x $22 or thereabouts, and the other team saying we want you in the OF.  In that scenario it's the tiebreaker...
Possibly Hamilton is simply "open to reason."  An open-minded individual would just see the logic to this request.


The Angels have gone to the playoffs 6 times in 25 years.  Five of those times were during Vlad's six years there.  5/6 with Vlad, 1/19 without him.
Talk about the straw that stirs.  I vividly remember how nuts Inside Pitch went when he heard the news.  "Stoneman is the most stealth GM in baseball!"  :- )

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