In case you hadn’t noticed, Josh Hamilton is having himself a nice year

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Josh Hamilton’s four-homer game last night puts him here as of this morning:

.406/.458/.840 with 14 homers and 36 RBI.

That places him well ahead of everyone in all three triple-crown categories and — close your ears, stats people — on pace to break the single-season home run record and RBI record, all while matching Ted Williams’ average from 1941.

No, of course he’s not going to do that because baseball doesn’t work that way and mid-May through late September still count in the stat-lines. But the magnitude of awesomeness emanating from Hamilton’s bat is something to behold.  For a player who always seems a hair’s breadth away from disaster, Hamilton is, so far anyway, putting up one of the better contract walk-years in recent memory.

Which makes it understandable that a lot of people are talking about his contract status this morning.  He’s poised to be a free agent at the end of the season. He’s kicking butt and taking names. But that’s exactly why the Rangers should do absolutely nothing about his contract at the moment.

It’s negotiation 101: you do not start talks with a person at the moment their leverage and stock is at its absolute highest.  You wait for things to settle down and for your position to improve. Hamilton will not, shockingly, hit four home runs a game that often.  And if history is any guide, he will spend some time on the disabled list this year, reminding everyone that he is a risky investment even when he’s playing his best. And that’s before we get into his substance abuse history.

So shelve the contract discussions, everyone. Nothing productive can come of them for the time being because the Rangers aren’t dumb and they’re not going to get swept up in some sort of “Oh noes! We might lose Josh Hamilton!” panic just because he had a huge game.  To the contrary, they’re going to wait until things calm down and the risks and rewards of signing Hamilton can be reasonably assessed.

In the meantime, they’re gonna enjoy the Josh Hamilton laser show.  Just like everyone, with the exception of the opposing pitchers, should too.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.