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.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.