Rangers put Josh Hamilton contract talks on hold after relapse

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The Rangers and Josh Hamilton were expected to do their best to get an extension done this spring, but those plans have changed now following Hamilton’s night out at a Dallas-area bar earlier this week.

GM Jon Daniels and Hamilton’s agent, Michael Moye, confirmed the decision to put talks on hold to ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon this afternoon. Hamilton concluded his news conference on Thursday by saying, “It would be nice if it was talking about a contract, but we’ll put that on the back burner for a while.”

Hamilton, the American League MVP in 2010, is entering the final year of a two-year, $24 million contract and will be eligible for free agency for the first time after the season. Any long-term deal with him is going to be a risk. Even if one wants to discount his history of drug and alcohol abuse, there’s still the matter of injuries: the 30-year-old Hamilton has averaged 118 games per season in his five years in the bigs and there’s a real possibility he’ll be even less durable in his 30s than he was in his 20s.

One wonders how Hamilton’s relapse could have affected the Rangers’ talks with Prince Fielder had it happened a couple of weeks earlier. Might the team have been more willing to meet Fielder’s asking price and potentially let Hamilton walk at season’s end had they known what was coming? That’s not a question Daniels or Nolan Ryan figures to answer out loud anytime soon, but they’ve surely had the subject on their minds.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.