Some thoughts as Angels land Josh Hamilton

Texas Rangers v Boston Red SoxSo Josh Hamilton signed somewhere besides Seattle. That shouldn’t be a big surprise. The fact he landed with the Angels? OK, knock me over with a rally monkey. Nobody saw that one coming.

I felt all along that Hamilton would wind up back with Texas, which supposedly was going to get a chance to respond to any offer their free-agent slugger got elsewhere. While many people didn’t want to believe Jack Zduriencik, the Mariners GM said from the start he didn’t think Seattle would be in on Hamilton at the end.

Zduriencik told me that after having some initial conversations with Hamilton’s agent, Mike Moye, in November. Reports that emerged late in the Winter Meetings the first week of December suggesting the Mariners were “close” to signing Hamilton seemed little more than a frustrated agent and player trying to get the market moving a little.

The Mariners were never close on Hamilton. Yeah, they talked to him at the Meetings. They talked to lots of people. They’re looking at every option. I’m guessing Hamilton talked to anybody who was interested as well. Why not? The bigger the market, the better the options … and ultimately the contract.

(Update: Since this was posted, I’ve since learned the Mariners actually were pushing hard to sign Hamilton right up til the end, so I stand corrected. Here’s my update on that front).

The real question now is what do the Mariners do now? With Hamilton off the board, the free agent market should start to move a little quicker. Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn are the two best remaining outfielders and I’ve always felt they were more realistic options than Hamilton.

But are they interested in Seattle? And will they be worth the price? Those are questions that remain to be seen. Bourn isn’t the big bat the Mariners need most, but he is an excellent baseball player, an outstanding center fielder and quality leadoff hitter.

He’d help the Mariners because he’s a good player and every team needs as many good players as they can get. He’d be a great piece of the puzzle to add. I don’t buy the notion that he’d just be another version of Ichiro or could be the next Chone Figgins. Those are unfair comparisons.

Bourn is 29 and plays center field, which means he’s still in his prime — a decade younger than Ichiro — and would still allow the addition of a power hitter in right field, whether that came now or in the future.

Is Bourn interested in Seattle? Maybe we’ll find out, now that Hamilton has moved. But it is worth remembering that he’s represented by Scott Boras, so those negotiations could drag out.

As for the Figgins comparison? Don’t even start. Figgins didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean every leadoff hitter is doomed to failure. In fact, I’d feel far more certain that a quality left-handed hitting speedster would succeed in Safeco Field than a right-handed hitter like Justin Upton, who has built his power numbers largely at friendly Chase Field in Arizona.

And the D-backs don’t sound like they’re trading Upton anyway. Not to mention his no-trade clause that includes the Mariners. So put that one to rest. If Zduriencik is going to work the trade route, it’s not going to be for Upton.

As for Swisher? Sure, he’d help the Mariners. Switch hitter, consistent production (if you eliminate playoffs), has some power and personality. I’d be happy to see Swisher wind up in Seattle as well. But all these free-agent negotations are two-way streets. Players are looking for their best situation in regards to contract, a team’s ability to win, a city and stadium they like, a region they’re familiar with, etc, etc.

The Mariners are in a tough spot right now. Seattle is a beautiful city, the team has some payroll flexibility, but the club hasn’t contended recently and Safeco Field is a tough place to hit. We’ll see how much the fences coming in changes that, but right now, it remains an unknown for hitters.

Did Hamilton really consider Seattle? We may never know. Do Swisher or Bourn make for a match? Or does Zduriencik comb the trade possibilities to add offense, or just sit pat and continue building around a young nucleus that holds much of the key to Seattle’s long-term success regardless?

We shall see. We shall also see how the AL West plays out now with the Angels dropping another winter bombshell. Last year it was Albert Pujols. Now it’s Hamilton. The Angels continue spending like crazy, hiking their payroll to about $165 million for next year.

The Angels will owe Pujols $16 million in 2013, then $23M, $24M, $25M, $26M, $27M, $28M, $29M and $30M. We’ve not heard yet how Hamilton’s $125 million will be spread out over five years, but it’s pretty easy to see that the Angels are going to have significant payroll for years to come.

Is that smart business, with players already in their 30s? The Angels didn’t win the AL West last year with Pujols at age 32. Instead, the A’s won the West … with a $55 million payroll.

I’m not saying the A’s will win it again. The Angels should be a force to reckon with. But it certainly does go to show that you just never know in baseball. Some things you just never see coming. Including Josh Hamilton signing with the Halos.

15 Comments

My problem is that it doesnt seem like this orginization wants to win…. Just because you have a group of young guys doesnt mean you dont need that one true vet to come in and lead this team. Look at the last three years and guys that we could have made the push for. Dunn, Fielder, Hamilton. Look at allof their stats and avg them out and tell me that those guys wouldnt have made this young 1 run difference game losing team, a contender. Sfter losing more 1 run games the last 3-4 years it proves that One big bat will potentially take us a lot farther than we think. Especially with all of the younger guys getting stronger. All these rumors, Butler, Hamilton, Bourne “who wouldnt do us any good” and Swisher “who wouldntbe the guy he was in NY” but what did we really accomplish? If Jack wants to stick witht eh full youth movement than fine. But dont lead us on to believe that “This is the year we geta good Bat” It makes us fans resentful

Good comments Jim but too honest/logical. Jack gets his salary regardless and we get higher priced tickets. Lastly, we now will have a bigger screen TV in the outfield. Let’s hope they show sitcoms or news so we at least see some action. Help, help, help – this is killing me…

Please see if anyone has any interest in this trade. Jack Z. for two hot dogs and some garlic fries. The guy is drunk and we will be the ones with a hangover all next year AGAIN.

I used to work for the Dodgers years ago when Sandy and Don and The Guys played. NO ONE WHO HIT 260 WOULD HAVE MADE THE CLUB. 260 is the top hitter we have from last year. I want the team to get better so let’s spend some money and get a 200 hitter. Sound like a good idea to anyone?

It comes down to …you’ve got to close the deal! Of course we may have had to spend a little more but for Gods sake, we need to get a deal done. If we don’t , it just looks like b.s……talking about making offers ……….

James , I agree but Jack may be gone, if he can’t get a deal done…….and we don’t get better.

Miles……I hope you meant a .300 hitter, not a .200 hitter! Unless you were being facious!?

I’m sure it is hard to get hitters to come here but how hard is it to ask….how much more than your best offer ,will it take to get you?

Going more than 5yrs@$25mil/per for Hamilton would be crazy but we don’t know what Jack offered. He said before that the M’s probly wouldn’t be a player and fans didn’t believe him. Oh well, something good will happen and the M’s will play 162 games again his season!!!

Everyone needs to understand that the highest bid doesn’t always win. If Hamilton isn’t interested then he isn’t going to sign. Plain and simple. Same with any free agent.

I agree with Patrick on this one. I mean we can’t bash the Mariners for not getting Hamilton. I’m sure they are going hard for a big bat. The thing is as Jack Z says. It’s a two way street. The player has to WANT to play for us…if they don’t then they won’t sign with us. If they wind up not getting anyone siginificant which I hope they get someone to help our offense it won’t be for a lack of not trying.

I am not bashing Jack for not getting Hamilton, I am bashing the last 3 years, and not getting anyone…… Let me give an example…. Chone figgins is a guy that everyone looks at that was a terrible mistake. I DON’T, well kinda, Chone figgins was an OBP guy who drew walks, and just plain got on bas and created Havoc for pitchers… he was an all star…. Not bad signing because he bombed though. Bad signing because we didnt need a singles guy. We needed a run producer. Dunn, Fielder, Hamilton… who else…. Swisher isnt going to get the job done. Honestly, Jack isnt going to get anything done with a proven Veteran so lets hope that this rediculous Farm system that he built is actually going to be the real deal. If not than we will be in the Toilet the next several years

I just did a survey on an article from the Seattle times. The question was “who should the mariners go after”. They listed a couple of the usuall subjects and also the response I chose, which was “losing hope”. So far 42% of the people chose that response. I hope that “Z” or one of his people see that and understand.
I love the fact that he is rebuilding but we need a spark bigger then Bay. No offense. I live in Spokane, and signing Hamilton would have made me come to a game across the state. Not a screen(though tempting) not Bourn, not swisher. Let’s hope that the mariners will pull out an A’s kind of season. Or do we just watch baseball for the fun of .500 baseball.

I will still love my M’s and watch them during the 2013 season. I will not be too disappointed or angry even if the M’s wind up getting nobody good to help their offense. I believe Z is doing his damnest to try and find someone to help his team.

In my opinion it just might be best to go the trade route for a big bat. Free agency might be difficult because the player will have to want to be in Seattle. M’s to offer players big money but still be down to if they want to play for us. Ichiro for example is accepting less money to stay in New York cause he wants to be with them…he got offered alittle more money from the Phillies and Giants but turned them down.

the problem witht eh trade route is that you still have to pay the money for someone big, you still have to give up your team, and if the trade is worth it for you than it has to be worth it for them. AND you dont know how long you are going to have him. If he is a proven guy than chances are he doesnt have 4-6 years on a contract left. We should have jumped on the one FA that would have made the difference… just like last year and just like the year before

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