It’s unreasonable for a 30 year old man to need to be accountable to someone in order to ensure he doesn’t fall into trouble. I have no doubt about this. But it’s also unreasonable to waste away a ton of promise and potential through excess alcohol and drug use.
If it’s Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers’ belief that something unreasonable, but ultimately harmless, will keep him from doing something that’s unreasonable and harmful, it would be unreasonable to argue against it. And so, Josh Hamilton requires an accountability partner to travel with him and ensure that he doesn’t back slide into the world of drinking and drugs again.
For years that role has been filled by Johnny Narron who was an assistant hitting coach with the Rangers. He left that position this winter to become the hitting coach with the Milwaukee Brewers. Less than two weeks ago, it was announced that Hamilton’s father-in-law, a former counselor who originally assisted Hamilton in getting clean, would step into Narron’s former role as an accountability partner.
Unfortunately, after some time to think about the duties involved, the former AL MVP’s father-in-law decided that he couldn’t do it.
As Jon Daniels and the Texas front office weigh the possibility of signing Prince Fielder to a long term contract, I wonder if this carries any added significance. While it’s far from certain that locking Fielder up would negate a contract extension for Hamilton, who is eligible for free agency at the conclusion of this coming season, it’s certainly unlikely that the Rangers would give multiple years to two players with question marks attached to their durability.
Yes, Fielder has been the model of that very characteristic over his first six full seasons in the league, but there has never been a player with his body type in the history of the game. We have no way to predict how he’s going to age. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s reckless playing style combined with the abuse his body went through during his dark years also makes it difficult to project his future decline.
Getting Blanked contributor Matt Klassen recently compared the two players in these terms for Fangraphs, coming to the conclusion that Fielder is a safer bet. If the Rangers are swayed similarly, Hamilton’s need for a guardian should be taken into consideration and push the team further in Fielder’s direction.
It’s tough. No one wants to discriminate against someone in need of a second chance, and Hamilton has been just as good to the Rangers as the team has been to him. However, when dollars, cents, pennants and World Series titles are involved, everything becomes a factor. Unfortunately for Hamilton, “everything” in his case includes a shady history and the current need for extra attention that only serves to remind his team about that history.