I am the biggest Josh Hamilton supporter there is, as I am sure my friends at Nolan Writin will be glad to tell you. But Hamilton has a ton of baggage. He made his name through baseball and threw it all away for drugs and alcohol. He has God given talent that most mortal men would kill for and he was willing to crush it. The greatest part of Hamilton was that he was able to get his butt in gear and come back to the game he was born for.
Yet as awesome as that story is, it will haunt him forever. The damage he did to his body has helped make him the injury prone player he is. While many would love to compare him to Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols the easiest thing to point out is that in the past three seasons he has missed at least 29 games per season. Fielder has missed one game in three seasons; Pujols has missed 20 games total in three seasons. In the absences he had others had to come in and take up the slack.
Mike Napoli is a great guy and he had a phenomenal partial year with the Texas Rangers. According to Mr. Hunter, Napoli walked away from the Angels. This is an urban myth, as he was traded with Juan Rivera from the Angels to Toronto for Vernon Wells and cash. Then Toronto traded him to the Rangers for Frank Francisco and cash. In the single season he has been with the Rangers he played 113 games down 49 games from a full season. Yes he is a catcher and can’t play every game behind the plate, but he also played at first and the designated hitter. He stepped into the position that Yorvit Torrealba proved he couldn’t handle. Napoli was, for the record, an Angel during the 2010 Series run.
Napoli had a phenomenal season for the Rangers and is a clear fan favorite. His 2011 offensive line of .320/.414/.631 is so far over his career numbers of .264/.359/.514 that this is the best time for him to go for a huge money and time contract. But these numbers are also so huge that the question about 2011 being an outlier season have to be answered. If he can repeat the numbers for closer to a full 162 game season then he will get the amounts he want, but Jon Daniels isn’t a fool.
Both of these players can leave and the Rangers will be fine, I on the other hand will probably have a stroke and cry like a baby for a week. They will still be great because of Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan. While Nolan is the face of the ownership group and the most liked Ranger of all time, he is not the reason for the success. He completely backs the ninja, the architect, or whatever you want to call him, the youngest General Manager in MLB history, Jon Daniels.
JD is the reason for the success. He started building for this success under one of the worst ownership groups the Rangers ever had. He put the pieces together to make the trade for Cliff Lee possible that allowed the 2010 run to occur. JD made the moves to get Adrian Beltre, soothe Michael Young and get Elvis Andrus. JD started 2011 having just lost Cliff Lee to the Phillies in free agency, Scott Feldman to injury, Neftali Feliz to declining to go to the rotation and deciding to go with Alexi Ogando. No one would have thought this team would go through this season like it did, with the wire to wire lead in the American League West, the American League Championship, and only the second trip to the World Series.
Hamilton is a model for kids to show them what not to do and decisions not to make, Napoli showed us all that a player can become better than anyone thought. The Rangers can lose them and still be great. I honestly don’t think that either will leave. But either way in JD we trust.