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Checking In With Josh Hamilton's Contract Hunt

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Like most of the Rangers hitters right now, Josh Hamilton has hit a cold patch.

    This is a normal part of any season, even one that features the Roy Hobbs-type display that Hamilton put forth in that magical week earlier this season. This isn't a normal season, however. It is the final year of Hamilton's contract and that puts everything under a microscope.

    A bad week here or there probably isn't going to wind up meaning all that much at the negotating table, but don't totally dismiss the notion of at least thinking about it as part of the profile. You can be sure that Hamilton's side will use that week for the ages as part of their pitch, so it makes sense to point out that there are all kinds of weeks over the course of a season.

    And it does appear that the team will have an entire season's worth of weeks to look at as they try to hammer out a deal. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the team hasn't ruled out signing Hamilton before the end of the season, but that they expect Hamilton to become a free agent. Beyond that, Heyman repeats what we've heard before about the team's negative feelings about giving Hamilton the lengthy contract that Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder signed last offseason.

    Per Heyman, part of the issue has to do with the need to have a sobriety coach alongside Hamilton. The Rangers should be lauded for taking that step, protecting themselves and Hamilton, but Heyman says those who know what the coaches must do say that it is "a very demanding job." That could be a bit of gamesmanship by the Rangers as they try to push other suitors out of the ring, but it fits with what we know about Hamilton.

    He's had two relapses and is clearly still fighting the demons that almost ended his baseball career before it really got started. Those difficulties are in clear display in S.L. Price's cover story on Hamilton in Sports Illustrated, a cover that quite properly refers to "The Fragile Brilliance of Josh Hamilton."

    Throughout the article there are anecdotes and quotes that make it a lot easier to see why the Rangers would think twice about entering into any kind of long-term relationship with Hamilton. He's got a team of people supporting him, a family that wants to see him well and a team that has done everything they can to make life easy for him, but there have still been setbacks and there's no way to feel totally certain that more of them won't be around the corner.

    The things we know about Josh Hamilton make him worth just about any investment. They also make him about the riskiest player ever to enter conversations about contracts worth this much money.