Calling the transaction that was ironed out over the weekend between the Los Angeles Angels and the Rangers a trade is misleading. The Angels are just giving Josh Hamilton to the Rangers, in addition to paying the vast majority of the $80 million left on Hamilton's contract. No players are headed to California.
As for the one headed back to Texas, the mercurial Hamilton is just a shell of the preternaturally gifted force of nature that was an essential piece of the two most successful seasons in Rangers history, 2010 and 2011. He hit just 31 home runs during his two-plus years with the Angels and recently suffered his third reported relapse into drug and alcohol addiction -- this time, reportedly, it was cocaine.
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Major League Baseball did not suspend Hamilton for the latest incident, much to the disappointment of the Angels, who publicly questioned the league's decision. Hamilton's relationship with the team was irrevocably damaged, it seems, so the Angels are simply dumping him, with MLB's blessing.
As a Rangers fan, it's impossible not to be conflicted about the move. During his first turn in Texas, Hamilton put on an unforgettable show of power during the 2008 Home Run Derby, relapsed at least twice, won the 2010 American League MVP, hit the home run that should have won the 2011 World Series and blasted DFW as not being a "baseball town" on his way to California.
Hamilton has never been more productive than he was in Texas, and it seems Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels is willing to risk a lot of potential distraction for the chance Hamilton will be able to recover that magic on the cheap.
Here's guessing he won't, but that doesn't mean this isn't a good trade. In a season that's already hopeless, the Hamilton circus, which will only get bigger as details emerge from his pending divorce with his wife, Katie, will provide a welcome distraction.