I'll start out by admitting my bias: Josh Hamilton is a once in a lifetime talent. He hits the ball like a skinny Babe Ruth, and works really hard to set the same kind of example too ... Except, you know, minus the alcohol and tobacco. ... Most of the time.
He's mashed the ball this season. Look at these numbers this year.
Someone really wants a new contract. At least, that's what the number suggest. He's making contributions to his team all the time, and he also seems to thrive from the daily grind. At least it presents little opportunity to get into trouble.
But there's several things that come up in the con category:
Can he really stay sober?
There's the question of his potential to relapse. Ending up in a bar earlier this year isn't helping him get a new contract any faster. While this could affect his ability to get a long-term deal done, it certainly isn't going to stop certain teams from backing up the Brinks truck to the Hamilton abode. Plus, when you really look at it, he's had only two relapses in seven years. That's not bad for someone who is recovering from substance abuse.
Is he really worth that much to the Rangers? Don't they have a ton of talent that can step up and fill his shoes?
Yes and no. Texas is extremely talented; that's what's allowing them to be at the top of the league. But Hamilton is the team's ringer, and above all, he gives them someone whose job it is to step up in the clutch and secure the wins. Like I said, he's a once-in-a-lifetime talent - in the same league as Albert Pujols and Felix Hernandez - and letting him walk away would be stupid. He instantly makes the Rangers better, no matter who else they have on the team.
The Ballpark in Arlington is a launching pad, and there's no denying that. Hone run hitters have been thriving in its cozy confines since it opened in 1994. That being said, Hamilton is one of the rare batters who is having a much better season on the road than he is at home. He has more home runs (11 to 10) and a high batting average (.383 to .348) away from Arlington. So, there's a lot to suggest he isn't just a ballpark-created monster and, you know, a legit hitter.
Can Texas even afford him?
Texas has become the major market team since Tom Hicks was forced to sell it a few years ago. Strong financial backing is key, but also a new local TV deal and a talented team that puts fans in the seats has Nolan Ryan and his group awash in cash. When they were talking briefly about Roy Oswalt before signing him, there were questions of where he fit into the budget. Then, ultimately, they decided they needed his services and inked him to a deal. Money isn't an issue in Arlington any more, and if they want him, they can have Hamilton at almost any price.
In short, yes, Hamilton is worth it, and the Rangers would be stupid to not try to re-sign him long term. There are risks, but that's what this sport is all about. You take a chance and hope for the best.