**Warning: The statements in this post are those of Jacob Larsen and do not represent the thoughts and opinions of staff of DRays Bay. Viewer Discretion is advised. -Jake**
Josh Hamilton is in town, a former prodgical son who has found glory in the 2 years since we made a now-apparent 40-Man roster snafu and left him unprotected and eligible to be picked in the Rule 5 draft. "The Hammer," is a legitimate contender for baseball's near-impossible Triple Crown feat and isn't succombing to the demons the once almost ruined his career.
"What if we would've kept him? How many games would we be over .500 with his bat added to an already decent team?"
Questions like that, regretfully, make me angry. Yeah, it puts a bad taste in my mouth and makes me wonder if some fans can never see the brighter side of things or just are so screwed up by past humongous failures by the former ownership that they just find ways to not believe in the current product. That's another story for another day, so I'll just explain why Josh Hamilton may not exactly be what this team needs or wouldn't have turned out to be what he is today.
Putting his dominating stats aside, Josh Hamilton needed to be left off the 40-Man roster and become Rule 5-eligible. It's kinda like nature, where young animals are left to fend for themselves without a safety net. Andrew did the right thing for Josh, he got Hamilton back on track, getting him cleaned up and back into playing baseball again. Friedman basically could only get him from Point A-to-Point B, Josh had to put the rest of the work in to become successful.
However, I don't believe we gave up on Hamilton as much as people have been led to believe. We could've not spent all the money that we did, rehabbing him in various programs and pushing for his reinstatement as much as we did. We made a gamble, which turned out to be wrong, but when it happened...we didn't have any real worries. Hamilton was barely hitting close to as much power in short-season as he had shown in the past and he had to undergo knee surgery. We had Delmon Young too, who was believed to be our franchise RFer. We had solid outfielders all around, at the time.
Who were we to know that Delmon would be traded?
Who were we to know that Rocco would have a rare blood disorder?
Who were we to know that Dukes was a raving lunatic?
Outside of Dukes, nothing was really foreshadowed and we were alright with the risk that we may lose Hamilton.
Hamilton needed to be shown that he was expendible. He was a kid who was probably handed things all his life, never really punished for his actions and that's where his descent into drugs got started. In an article long ago, his parents said that they had no problems with Hamilton getting 6 tattoos right before he was to go to his 1st big league Spring Training. To them, it was believed his tattoos were just him being a kid enjoying himself. Nothing else, just good ol' wholesome fun.
Our lack of protection from the Rule 5 draft lit a fire under Hamilton. His thought process probably straight from sadness to revenge, he was going to work his ass off to prove to everyone that it was a mistake for letting him go....especially now that he's cleaned up. If anything, he should be thanking Friedman and everyone else for getting him to where he is.
If we would've protected him, who is to say that he wouldn't have relapsed? Who is to say that this "fire" would've been lit?
Change of scenary is something that some people need, we've seen that numerous times with this current roster. However, noone really can compare to Hamilton because noone on this team would be driving past his former drug dealer on a consistent basis like Hamilton would have(had he have stayed).
As the old saying goes, "You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't."