Yesterday, rumors became confirmed reports that the Baltimore Orioles are actually, seriously pursuing Josh Hamilton.
It makes sense. We (sort of) need a left fielder. We definitely need a more consistent offense. No one questions what Josh Hamilton is capable of, nor can anyone question the giant question mark he also is. Hamilton’s struggles with addiction have been well-documented, and of course that is a concern for any team looking to give Hamilton a huge contract. But let’s step back and take a look at what made the Orioles so successful last year.
If you had to boil down the O’s success into one word, what would you choose? To me, that word is chemistry. How else does a team win so many one run games, so many extra-inning games? (Yes, an outstanding bullpen has a lot to do with it.) But this team always felt like they could win any game. We heard it over and over this season “they never feel like they’re out of any game.” This team always knew that if one guy was struggling at the plate, his teammate was right behind him to pick up him, whether it was defensively or with a clutch hit in the bottom of the 15th. These guys really liked each other. It was absolutely evident in their play, and in their interactions before and after games. Certainly, this type of atmosphere in the clubhouse is part of Buck’s recipe for success.
Now let’s imagine a scenario where Josh Hamilton joins the club. Maybe he produces. Maybe he REALLY produces. Maybe he hits 4 homeruns in a single game at Camden Yards again (and again and again!). I’ve been dreaming of this as I’ve been wrestling with how to feel about these Hamilton in Baltimore rumors. But then I saw this on the ESPN Dallas site:
“Reliever Mike Adams said this week he wasn’t sure which Josh Hamilton was going to show up at the ballpark each day and isn’t sure whether re-signing the free agent outfielder is in the best interest of the Texas Rangers.”
Does this type of personality fit in with what I’ve just described as the O’s ultimate recipe for success? If Adam Jones showed up to play only sometimes, would the chemistry of the Orioles be the same? I don’t think so. Josh Hamilton is without question a risky pickup. But who knows, maybe it’s just time for him to move on from the Rangers organization. He certainly looked as though he didn’t want to be there, especially at the end of the season.
Maybe the O’s will offer him a ton of money to come to Baltimore, and maybe he will thrive from a change of scenery, and it will end up being a great investment. If the Orioles do sign Hamilton, without question I’ll be a fan of his from day one. Time will tell.