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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coker: Josh Hamilton, Angels Slugger, Downsizes Role of Anti-Drug “Accountability Partner”

Crutch/crutches.

John Hamilton came to your Anaheim Angels of Anaheim with a big stick and a lot of baggage. The first overall pick in the 1999 Major League Baseball draft spent most of his first eight seasons in the minors or suspended due to drug and alcohol addiction. He’s gone on to become a lifetime .295 hitter, five-time All-Star outfielder and 2010 American League MVP in the Bigs. By his side on and off the road has been an “accountability partner”—think a life chaperon. But the Angels and Hamilton have announced that’s about to change.

The franchise released a statement that says Hamilton has, in his own words, “downsized the role” of his accountability partner, having him only accompany the slugger on road games and not dress for games in a uniform like an additional coach. Among the partner’s duties is handling the 32-year-old’s meal money.

“It’s time to cut the cord a little bit,” Hamilton says in the Halos’ release. “I don’t really use it for home games. I go to the park, I do what I need to do, I know what I need to do, and I have my family. That was one of the main reasons.”

Filling the role for most road games during the 2014 season will be Boyd Bassham, who attends Hamilton’s church in the Dallas area. For games in Texas, Chad Harrington, who has known Hamilton for five years and, according to the player, “loves me a lot,” will step in. Neither Bassham nor Harrington are all that interested in baseball, which Hamilton considers a good thing, according to the Angels statement, which quotes him saying of Bassham’s influence that it’s “more of a spiritual thing.”

Repoz Posted: February 26, 2014 at 11:50 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels

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   1. Nasty Nate Posted: February 26, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4662797)
Excellent author/headline synergy for this one.
   2. Dale Sams Posted: February 26, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4662801)
I've never heard of this magazine.
   3. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 26, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4662843)
I'm pretty sure whoever assigns stories at the paper was giggling in his office after this
   4. Scott Ross Posted: February 26, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4662846)
Always hurts when the first word in your piece has a typo.
   5. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 26, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4662847)
The Angels needed to issue a press release for this? Does Josh have no privacy?

But it's another question mark on why they gave him that contract, for sure.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 01:32 PM (#4662862)
But it's another question mark on why they gave him that contract, for sure.

Well, if he has a drug relapse and is suspended, they don't have to pay him.
   7. tfbg9 Posted: February 26, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4662867)
Well, if he has a drug relapse and is suspended, they don't have to pay him.


That's why they're gonna start leaving 8 balls in his locker.

"Sorry Josh. It's a business thing.- Artie M."
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 01:39 PM (#4662871)
That's why they're gonna start leaving 8 balls in his locker.

"Sorry Josh. It's a business thing.- Artie M."


Long-term contracts for guys with drug problems is the new market inefficiency!
   9. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 26, 2014 at 01:47 PM (#4662878)
"Accountability partner"?

Was Jesus busy doing something else?
   10. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 26, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4662914)
He was always far, far too high maintenance to warrant that kind of contract. Some of us said so contemporaneously.

The Angels needed to issue a press release for this? Does Josh have no privacy?

Not really. Why would he? He carries out his trade publicly and is effectively paid by the public. His employer has an interest in keeping its customer base informed about the people whose salaries they're paying.
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: February 26, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4662932)
He was always far, far too high maintenance to warrant that kind of contract. Some of us said so contemporaneously.


You may be right in general, but this story is about him becoming lower maintenance.
   12. Pooty Lederhosen Posted: February 26, 2014 at 02:41 PM (#4662938)
It could be that Hamilton suggested that the story be released in the interest of honesty and accountability.
   13. cardsfanboy Posted: February 26, 2014 at 02:52 PM (#4662955)
C'mon...nobody sees the self serving purpose of this article from a guy named Coker? He's just biding his time until he can get "John" alone.
   14. Moeball Posted: February 26, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4663001)
Who is “John”’s accountability partner to make sure that he stays away from the temptation to swing at pitches that aren’t anywhere close to the strike zone? That’s what Hamilton really needs help with...
   15. BDC Posted: February 26, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4663011)
He was always far, far too high maintenance to warrant that kind of contract

I still don't quite see this, though. Hamilton played quite a while in Texas, and though he'd have a well-publicized beer or few every winter, he never melted down or went AWOL while here, though he made a lot of money and faced a lot of temptations. And as Nate says, he seems to be more and more in control as he gets older, though call no man happy till he is dead, I understand.
   16. bigglou115 Posted: February 26, 2014 at 06:32 PM (#4663159)
You know, I've read his book and I suspect he'll be fine. While I have no doubt he was seriously addicted to his drugs, it also provides glimpses of someone who was driven to addiction by depression. I seem to recall a few academic articles which posited that drug abuse which stems from depression is easier to treat once the depression is taken care of than drug abuse as the result of an "addictive personality." I'll look and see if I can find them.
   17. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: February 26, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4663170)
I still don't quite see this, though. Hamilton played quite a while in Texas, and though he'd have a well-publicized beer or few every winter, he never melted down or went AWOL while here, though he made a lot of money and faced a lot of temptations. And as Nate says, he seems to be more and more in control as he gets older, though call no man happy till he is dead, I understand.

The tobacco fiasco was the last straw for me, as noted herein as his free agency approached. The usual gaggle of mislaid scoffs and guffaws ensued, continuing through the very eve of his 250/307/432 disaster.

The Angels owe him $32M in 2016 and $32M in 2017, his age 35 and 36 seasons. Wow. If Arte Moreno accidentally swallows a poison near payday in 2016, he certainly won't have to worry about inducing vomiting.
   18. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: February 26, 2014 at 06:54 PM (#4663171)
My anti-drug is alcohol.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: February 26, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4663181)
The tobacco fiasco was the last straw for me, as noted herein as his free agency approached. The usual gaggle of mislaid scoffs and guffaws ensued, continuing through the very eve of his 250/307/432 disaster.

The Angels owe him $32M in 2016 and $32M in 2017, his age 35 and 36 seasons. Wow. If Arte Moreno accidentally swallows a poison near payday in 2016, he certainly won't have to worry about inducing vomiting.


I wanted the Red Sox to sign Hamilton, so I was wrong (probably) about the contract being a decent idea.

But if you use his $32M salaries in '16-'17 as a ghoulish depiction of the Angels' future investment in him, it is only fair to note that his salary for '13-'14 is $17m per year. 150 games of 108 OPS+ is certainly bad for the first year of this deal, but it may be less of a disaster than commonly thought.
   20. BDC Posted: February 26, 2014 at 09:07 PM (#4663233)
Well, Bear, it's true that Hamilton might be very bad at baseball by the end of his contract, but so might lots of big-$$ free agents. That has little to do with his maintenance level.
   21. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 26, 2014 at 10:00 PM (#4663256)
Well, if he has a drug relapse and is suspended, they don't have to pay him.


What if he has a drug relapse and isn't suspended? What if he shows up to the park every day looking "bleary"? The league can't suspend him for drinking or having sex with more girls in public rest-rooms (that's what I call having really well publicized beers).

The Angels got something of a discount by limiting the length of the deal, but gave some or all back in AAV. Given standard injury/aging/decline risks, and adding the addiction risks, I think they should have gotten a bigger discount.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: February 26, 2014 at 10:20 PM (#4663266)
Are there pro-drug accountability partners?

Per the JDA

1) there is no regular testing for drugs of abuse
2) there is reasonable cause testing but it only covers use within the last 12 months
3) if drugs of abuse are found (or arrested or ...) then there is an evaluation and, if warranted, a treatment program set out
4) if the player has to be absent from the club for treatment, they get full pay for the first 30 days and half pay for the next 30
5) if the player does not comply with the evaluation request or treatment program, they are in violation

1st offense 15-25 games
2nd 25-50
3rd 50-75
4th 1 year
5th Commish discretion "consistent with the concept of progressive disciline"

In short, Hamilton would have to relapse more times in one year than even Robert Downey has in his life to get the Angels out of that contract.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: February 26, 2014 at 10:25 PM (#4663268)
1) there is no regular testing for drugs of abuse


No, but Hamilton has a clause in his contract requiring him to take three tests a week.

At least according to this.
   24. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 26, 2014 at 10:28 PM (#4663269)
Reviewing his last 3 years in Texas, he averaged 5.4 WAR and 134 games a year. It would probably be optimistic to expect much more than 3 WAR a year over duration of contract, given he was 2 years removed from his last season over 4 WAR (8.9 WAR 3 years before was a career year when everything went right) and he was going straight into his decline years. If 120 games per year is a reasonable expectation, averaging 3 WAR is even more difficult to surmount. Throw in the substance abuse risks and $24M AAV seems way too much.

In his prime in Texas he averaged 1 WAR per 30 games. He would have to do the same over this contract in his decline years to average 4 WAR a year over an average 120 games. His last 2 years he averaged 135 games, but took 37 games to produce 1 WAR. I think its reasonable the Angels should have held out for a $22M AAV or lower.

Of course his first year they got 151 games, but not the performance, pretty much the opposite of what I'm predicting. I don't mind being wrong, but I'd rather it be because Josh became so happy and healthy that he crushed all expectations. I'm a pessimist by nature, but still root for happy endings, esp. for Josh.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: February 27, 2014 at 01:55 AM (#4663334)
Interestingly, that article says: "There is also no clause to help the Angels if Hamilton happens to relapse to using drugs or alcohol, but they did include that Hamilton must submit a to a drug test three times per week."

I'm guessing/assuming that this testing is outside the JDA system (otherwise it couldn't be agreed to I don't think) -- i.e. he can't be punished for failing these tests. I wonder if him failing these tests is sufficient for "reasonable cause" under the JDA -- i.e. can the Angels share the results with MLB.

One could obviously consider Hamilton to always be under "reasonable suspicion" but there's nothing in the JDA to support 3 tests a week. Players can't negotiate away their rights under the CBA so it seems to me these have to be "toothless" tests.

As to the contract, yeah, it always seemd a bit optimistic. There are of course essentially no good career comps and his lousy age 28 and awesome age 29 make short-term comps a bit challenging too but what the heck. Ages 28-31, 15-19 WAR (Hamilton had 17), corner player, expansion era, OPS+>115.

That's 35 comps and he's right in an interesting bunch: Stargell, Berkman, Dw Evans, Mo, Billy Williams, Bobby Bonds, Hisle, Brock. Some guys aged well enough, some not. Looking at them from 32-36:

The best are Mac 29, Sheff 24, Jose Cruz 23. Then the Hamilton comps start:

Dw Evans 22
Williams 21
Stargell 20
Grace 18 (not in his comps)
R Smith 17 (just below Brock)
Cash 16 (also just below)
Berkman 16

I don't think I've even done a list where a group clustered tightly together at time 1 came out so perfectly at time 2. Anyway, those are 4 through 10 on the list so there was a pretty good chance Hamilton might produce along those lines. For the contract to break even, something around 18-20 WAR is needed though so these are the "close enough" comps. And obviously outside these 10, we start to enter disappointment land and half of the 35 never made it to 10 WAR.

Now it's fair to say that Hamilton is more athletic than Vaughn or Hisle who both bombed completely; also Stargell who didn't. Brock not quite as much power, Evans and Berkman too much OBP. Best comps then would seem to be Williams (good) and Bonds (bad ... and had his own addiction issues). Williams was essentially the same hitter over these years but the defense went south. Hamilton's age 32 is not much worse than Williams' age 31 ... or his age 35 (with a nice bounce back offensively at 36).
   26. BDC Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4663394)
Meanwhile, Hamilton appears to have strained a calf muscle severely while taking a lead off first base, and is likely to miss a couple of weeks of Spring Training.

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