Josh Hamilton to the Brewers? | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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In his column today (Insider Only), Buster Olney adds his to a growing number of voices suggesting that Josh Hamilton might find himself wearing blue and gold at Miller Park next season. This is a rumor that seems to be have been popping up fairly regularly over the past few months, which is interesting, because it makes almost no baseball sense.

Clearly, Josh Hamilton has as much raw talent as any player in the game. Even after slumping to the finish line at the end of this season, he still finished with a park-adjusted wOBA 40% higher than the league-average, and he’s only ever been a below-average hitter in 2009, when he missed nearly half the season due to injury. He’ll provide a lot of value to whichever team ends up signing him.

However, he’d probably provide less value to Milwaukee than most clubs. The Brewers already have one superstar and two solid roleplayers filling their outfield spots. While Hamilton would be an upgrade over Gomez and/or Aoki, their competence limits how much of an impact he could have. Compare it to the Ramirez signing from last offseason. The Brewers were getting virtually no production from third base in 2011, so basically anything Aramis Ramirez produced was an upgrade. Josh Hamilton would take playing time away from Gomez and Aoki, so only his production above and beyond their expected production is an upgrade. While it’s worth trying to pursue extra wins wherever they’re available, this seems unlikely to be worth the cost of acquiring Hamilton.

Indeed, it’s hard in general right now for the Brewers to really improve by acquiring position players this offseason, as they’re likely to field average or better players at every position on the diamond with the current roster (with the possible exception of shortstop, but they obviously won’t acquire a new starter to block Segura). There are no obvious holes on the field to fill, but there are innings previously consumed by Greinke, Marcum, and Wolf which need to be replaced. Some of this will be taken up by Fiers, Rogers, Peralta, et al, but still, it’s hard to imagine Milwaukee not getting more bang for their buck pursuing pitching over position players.

And this analysis hasn’t even yet taken into account the real question mark with Hamilton, which is staying on the field. He played 148 games in 2012, which is the first time he exceeded 140 since 2008. As 2013 will be his age 32 season, it’s hard to imagine his injury issues becoming less severe going forward. Furthermore, the delicate topic of his history with alcoholism and drug addiction can’t be ignored. The damage caused to the body by drug use does not necessarily disappear once the drug used has ceased. I hope Josh Hamilton follows a perfectly normal aging curve for the rest of his career and suffers no lingering effects from his past mistakes, but we can’t eliminate the possibility that he won’t.

Of course, it is these very issues which make Milwaukee even a possible destination for Josh Hamilton. As Olney notes in his piece, if Hamilton commands a mega contract (specifically “four-plus years for $100-plus million”), there’s virtually no chance the Brewers sign him. But I’d argue that even at a discount, Hamilton is a player that makes far more sense for a large market team. For the reasons put forth previously, I imagine Hamilton will have to miss many games due to injury. He’d be a wonderful piece for a team that can afford to put together a good roster without him, and then throw him out there when he’s healthy. But for a team like Milwaukee with real payroll constraints, it makes much more sense to devote a finite resource to an area of real need.

The question remains, of course, why this rumor keeps popping up, even though it just doesn’t seem like a very good fit. The answer seems to lie in the presence of Johnny Narron on the Brewers’ coaching staff. Until accepting his current position as Milwaukee’s hitting coach, Narron worked in the Rangers’ organization as Hamilton’s “accountability partner”, a constant presence on the road to keep him from falling into old habits. Although normally the presence of friendly faces seems to have very little impact on free agent destinations, clearly Hamilton’s situation is unique, and Narron’s presence could make a real difference for him. However, I just can’t see that overcoming how little sense it would make for the Brewers to acquire Hamilton. Perhaps Josh Hamilton would like to come to Milwaukee for a reunion, but if so, he should be prepared to accept a much smaller contract than he might be hoping for, because I really don’t see this making sense for the Brewers otherwise.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Tim Schaefer says: October 16, 2012

    Maybe a little unfair, but Hamilton’s dollars/WAR was 3,125,000 last year. Gomez’s was 560,571. The eyeball test confirms that this is not wildly off their career numbers. I really don’t understand this rumor at all, given that the Brewers still have a lot of small market salary limitations.

  2. Beep says: October 16, 2012

    Its nice the Brewers are in the discussion for a top level player, but I agree that this one makes no sense. I’d love to hear some buzz about what pitchers are interested in Milwaukee.

    • Gman says: October 16, 2012

      Any fluky chance at all that he signs a short contract to be with Narron and quiet the doubters so he’s still set up for one more mega deal??

  3. Henry says: October 16, 2012

    This article mirrors what I thought when I started hearing this rumor. Just doesn’t make sense. Doing this would likely put a big dent in their ability to grab a decent starting pitcher and some more pieces for the bullpen, and those latter pieces are far more important to the puzzle than another slugger.

  4. Tom S. says: October 16, 2012

    The rumor is actually coming from the front office.

    I heard from someone before the trade deadline that the Brewers were planning to let Greinke and Marcum both walk, then invest the open funds into Hamilton.

    Whether this happens is yet to be seen, but it sounds like there’s more juice to it than just speculation. The Brewers definitely could use a few more arms in both the rotation and bullpen.

  5. Jake W. says: October 16, 2012

    The teams main off season focus needs to be on middle to late relief pitching. That being said, if the Brewers invest ~10 million for relief arms for just this season that’s also not the best move.

    Picking up 2 mediocre starters for depth that will likely be overpaid is also a bad way to spend. If they cannot add a top flight starter, or a cheap(ish) bounce back guy (Dan Haren) then it wouldn’t be smart to add starters

    I don’t think adding Josh Hamilton is the right move for the club, but over the course of the season his bat could could provide more of an presence in right than a few mid to late rotation arms would.

  6. Jason says: October 17, 2012

    Until I hear something about Gomez, Aoki and/or Schaefer getting traded, I’m assuming this is bunk.

  7. Bob says: October 17, 2012

    Adding a player of Hamilton’s caliber has undeniable appeal, but it doesn’t appear to make sense for the Brewers. In addition to the noted concerns about pitching, salary, and the Brewers currently solid OF, consider what the lineup would look like with and without Hamilton.

    Without: Aoki, Weeks, Braun, Ramirez, Hart, Lucroy, Gomez, Segura, Pitcher. You could switch Lucroy and Weeks, or Gomez and Weeks, depending on what you value at the top of the lineup.

    With: Aoki, Braun, Ramirez, Hamilton, Hart, Lucroy, Weeks, Segura, Pitcher. Braun isn’t a #2 hitter, but there isn’t anyone better suited in this lineup. Yet it would be a waste of resources to have Hamilton at 5, in order to have Weeks/Lucroy at 2.

    Ultimately I think the role Hamilton would fill in an offense has all ready been filled in Milwaukee.

    • Jacob says: October 17, 2012

      I agree that the Brewers have other priorities than Hamilton. The only way they should do it is if they can get him for a big discount which would be shocking.

      The lineup would be: Aoki, Weeks, Braun, Hamilton, Ramirez, Hart, Lucroy, Segura, Pitcher.

      Braun is going to be the 3rd hitter in almost every lineup in the league except for maybe one that includes Miguel Cabrera. That lineup looks like a lot of fun but a deal for Hamilton would mostly be for fun. Its a lineup that is impossible to pitch around.

  8. Dan V says: October 17, 2012

    Dougie and Mark kno where the teams needs are and what are constraints are. Rumors are rumors because well, people like rumors and it gives us something to discuss. I think all of know this really isn’t going to happen. If it did I would be genuinely upset knowing how hard it is for huge offensives to slug their way into October is. We’ve tried that. If our pitching was set, both starting and middle I’d start to entertain the notion of adding power.

  9. Bill says: October 17, 2012

    I have thought about the crew making a run for Hamilton, but the only way it works is if they are planning on using him at first base, trading Hart for bullpen arm(s), and keeping Gamel on the bench as an extra infielder (or trading Gamel as well). I think Aoki and Gomez will most likely be everyday starters with Schaefer as a back up to all 3 outfield positions.

    Plus moving Hamilton to 1st may help with some of the injury worries he carries with him.

    Hamilton would be best suited in the lineup as a number 4 hitter as his power numbers would probably be a little better than Rami. Plus having all those doubles coming out of the 5 hole with Rami would be great protection and result in a lot more runs.

    • BOB says: October 17, 2012

      The ONLY way the crew would benefit with Hamilton is if he played first!!! Braun, Hamilton, Ram would be a devastating 3,4,5.. But with our relief needs i just can’t see us affording that big contract? Aioki is a great lead off and a good outfielder! As seen this year.. You can have a killer hitting lineup but the pitching will screw you every time!

  10. ketrick lehmann says: October 26, 2012

    We lead the league in home runs and stolen bases We have a team that likes to play together We need a solid number 2 starter and to spend on the bullpen

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