Last week the Angels inked Josh Hamilton to a five year, $125 million contract. Not bad. One of the kickers in his contract is that there is no special language within the deal that protects the Angels should Hamilton succumb to his past demons and relapse. On the surface, that is an incredibly risky move. Addiction is a monster that can rear it’s ugly head at any moment, and Josh has had two, very public, alcohol related relapses in the last two years.
Dec 15, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Newly signed Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton speaks alongside with wife Katie Hamilton during a press conference at Downtown Disney. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
With that history in mind, it almost seemed imperative that a team would want some sort of contractual insurance should Josh have a moment of weakness. Anything really. Josh is not allowed within 300 yards of Long Beach. Mr. Hamilton is not allowed to buy shady real estate on skid row. Josh is not permitted to be a patron at any strip clubs. OK, that’s a little harsh, but topless only. The Angels, for the next five years, are banking on the hope that Josh’s demons are 100% behind him. It also could be the reason that the deal came together as quickly as it did.
One of the worries that some fans have voiced is, “What kind of affect did Josh’s drug abuse have on his body? And will it age him quicker than a normal player?” Which, is a valid concern. So, what does one do when they don’t know the answer to a question? They turn to Google. Well, I do. I find it hard trust anything with the word “yahoo” attached to it. What I found was quite comforting. Josh Hamilton, structurally speaking (ligaments, bones, etc.), will not experience any deterioration because of the cocaine. If he has bad genetics, that’s another story. His heart, liver and lungs aren’t so lucky. Thank goodness for the AL and the DH rule so he can get a “catch his breath” day, amirite? Guys?
Luckily, there’s a good comp for Josh in one, Willie Stargell. Both for performance and personal reasons. Please direct your attention to the chart below.
Pretty close, huh? Pops was fingered as a greenies dealer in the late 70's during the "greenies heyday." Stargell vehemently denied any wrong doing, but Barry Bonds also denied steroid use, so there's that. What I was more interested in was, how well did Stargell play in the five years after his age 31 season.
Well, how about that. Pops got better. Playing first base no doubt saved his legs. I wonder if there’s a comparable way to rest Hamilton? Oh, hello DH.
Is Josh Hamilton going to perform like Willie Stargell? Who knows. He could very easily spend the next five years playing like Tim Salmon. I love Timmy, but after producing 22.8 bWAR from ages 26 through 31, he would compile a 7.3 bWAR over his next five seasons.
What we do know, is that even though Hamilton blew through millions of dollars doing lines off of strippers bellies, that period of excess will not be to blame should he fall flat on his face during the life of his contract. Unless of course he gets caught stumbling out of a strip club in Long Beach, and then proceeds to drive to his newly purchased, but shady home, located in the middle of skid row. Then, we’ll wonder why no protection was put into the contract during negotiations. On second thought, no strip clubs either Josh.