Angels Sign Hamilton, Mariners Fans Need to Calm the Hell Down

The Mariners have been searching for offense this offseason and there is no secret about it. They have expressed interest in nearly everyone available and to many fans frustrations, they have yet to acquire a big name bat. The biggest name out there this offseason was Josh Hamilton and the Mariners were linked to him the moment the offseason began. Well news broke today rather rapidly that the Angels signed Hamilton to a five-year $125 million deal. The Rangers and Mariners were believed to be the front-runners for Hamilton and the Angels really came out of nowhere. So that leaves the Mariners still without a bat and Hamilton is now with a division rival. This has pissed a lot of the fan base off.

No Hamilton is not going to be a Mariner but Mariners fans need to calm down. I hear you as a fan about the frustrations of the organization being interested in so many people but not having pulled the trigger yet. With that being said though, the club should not get desperate and sign a potentially bad, long-term deal that would lock us up for years to come. Signing Hamilton could do just this.

Hamilton comes with a long list of red flags that make the risk greater than the reward on such a long contract like this. First there is the past record of drug addiction but I am not going to get into that. The next thing that really stands out is his injury history. He has missed over 20 games in three of the last five seasons and missed a huge chunk of the 2009 season due to injury. Hamilton is 31 years old and is not getting any younger and you can only imagine that the injuries will increase as he continues to age.

Over at Lookout Landing and Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan has continuously brought up additional red flags about Hamilton, which includes his falling contact rates. Over at Fangraphs, he posted a table that did a pretty good job summing up the drop in the 2012 season:

Time

Zone%

Swing%

Contact%

Z-Swing%

O-Swing%

Before June

36%

57%

68%

83%

43%

From June On

38%

57%

63%

82%

42%

Even before the decline, the contact rates that Josh Hamilton was posting were worrisome. He has been able to stay productive because of the power in hit bat and as he ages we could see him lose some bat speed and the power numbers decline. He’s a guy that’s really hard to project moving forward and I am glad the Mariners did not make a long term investment on a guy who is already 31 and whom you have no idea what you’ll get from him in those last few years of the contract. Sure it would be great if the Mariners signed Hamilton and got a couple great seasons out of him but if he does in fact take a huge decline, which I think he will, then the Mariners are dealing with 2-3 years of a guy making $25+ Million in his mid 30s who is not producing like the money suggests he should. Just look at Alex Rodriguez.

I would have been fine with the Mariners signing Hamilton to a three-year deal worth more money annually but Hamilton just comes with too many risks to be worth such a long-term deal. And at the current stage the organization is in, a bad contract is the last thing we need. The club has been in this rebuilding process the last few years and things are starting to come together. Some of the young bats are showing signs of improvement at the big league level and there are more promising bats in the minors who could make an impact in 2013. We also have one of the best trios of pitching prospects in baseball who are all knocking on the door. The talent is getting close and locking ourselves up in a potentially bad contract down the line could really hurt us when these young guys become arbitration eligible.

I know it’s frustrating as fans to sit here and watch your club not make any moves when they have finished last in the division year after and have one of the worst offenses in baseball but it’s time to relax a little and not get so jacked up about the club not signing Hamilton. The Mariners would have really had to overpay to sign Hamilton and that kind of bad contract is not what the organization needs. I do not think he is worth that big of an investment and there are still other bats available on the market that can be had for much cheaper. Zduriencik knows that something needs to be done and I think we will see him acquire a bat sooner rather than later. You just have to relax, be to be a little patient, and show some trust in Jack Z.