Josh's Contract Is A HamilTON of Bricks

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

$123 Million isn't what it used to be, but it certainly isn't nothing.

Before the 2013 season, the Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim, Orange County, California, United States, North America, Earth, Sol System made an aftershock of a signing, following the seismic occurrence that was the Pujols/Wilson free agent period the previous winter, by bringing in Josh Hamilton from the Texas Rangers. Though Hamilton had been a talented player, and for one bright, shining season, an MVP, he had also been a worrisome commodity; in the past six seasons, he had played in 148 or more games just three times. Since 2010, his production had tapered off dramatically.

But if there's one thing that team owner Arte Moreno can willingly convince himself of, it is the causal link between money and success, and much like the surrounding area's raison d'etre, Moreno has done his best to throw money at the problem for the last few years. And while 2013's outlook ended before it really got off the ground, the prevailing thought was that this year would be better.

Well, the Angels Sisyphean quest for relevancy took another blow with the news that outfielder Josh Hamilton will be shelved for the better part of two months, and that his injury is of a type that portends a decent amount of time to get back to normalcy, even after he's "ready" to play.

It is incumbent upon me to note that the Angels should have seen this coming. Not in the sense that injuries are predictable (though fellow SBN writer and all-around good-guy Jeff Zimmerman is doing some very intriguing research about it), but in the sense that:

A) Large contracts for players in their thirties are generally a poor return on investment
A-2) Large, long-term contracts are even worse
B) Players with injury histories might get injured again
C) Josh Hamilton isn't exactly known for taking the best care of himself, both on and off the field

He got off to a good start this year, hitting .444/.545/.741 in 33 plate appearances with a pair of home runs. But now, he'll be sidelined until June with a thumb injury that is likely to have some lingering effects on his swing. If this is a persistent thing, the Angels may be at the two-fifths pole of a new, more expensive Vernon Wells contract, particularly when you consider that Hamilton's swing is really the only thing of value he brings to the table, and even it is not set to age well.

He'll be 33 in May, and the Angels are on the hook for three more years after this one. The 2015 season is when the salary totals really kick up:

2015: $25,400,000
2016: $32,400,000
2017: $32,400,000

Players decline in their thirties. It's a testament to the perils of aging that we all must face in our own way. And in back-to-back seasons, the Angels signed two players - both Hamilton and Pujols in 2012 - that fit squarely into the "due for decline" category, yet signed them to contracts that would pay them a sum of $363 million for their whatever-you've-got-left-in-the-tank years.

If we're going to start considering the Dodgers the West Coast Yankees, it would seem fairly apt to start calling the Angels the West Coast Mets.

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