This past weekend for the Texas Rangers was busier beyond belief. In a football town that will see the Dallas Cowboys kickoff the preseason this week, all the talk on The Ticket this morning was about the Rangers. The increased coverage wasn’t just because the Rangers won yet another series against the Angels, making them 9-3 against the Halos this season nor because the Rangers are now tied with the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card. While the on-field performance was very news worthy (especially one certain pitching performance), the majority of the headlines came from off the field actions.
Rangers Bid Farewell to the Nicaraguan Headhunter
While the Rangers were just a few hours away from starting what was easily the biggest series of the year, they decided to make a major roster move. That move was designating Vicente Padilla for assignment, and announcing that Dustin Nippert would replace him in the rotation.
Quick aside on the term “designate for assignment” (DFA) as it can be quite confusion since you have likely heard all or some of the following: the Rangers have effectively released Padilla, the Rangers can trade Padilla, or Padilla could be placed on waivers. So which is it? The answer in short, is all of the above. The Rangers have removed Padilla from their 40-man roster, has been placed on waivers and as of Friday afternoon, they have 10 days to decide which action to take with him.
What this means is that a team can claim Padilla on waivers and pick up the $3 million he is owed for the remainder of his contract. According to the waiver rules, the Rangers could decide at that point to work out a trade with the claiming team, or simply allow the team with highest waiver priority to have him. The Rangers cannot put Padilla back on the 40-man roster after a DFA as it is a different move than just placing him on waivers as they did earlier in the season (and then later placed him back on the active roster). If none of the above occurs in the 10 day period, the Rangers must either send him to the minors (which they have said they won’t) or release him and pay off the remainder of his contract.
So as far as Padilla goes, come Monday, August 17, he will be without a team.
Why is this? Well simply put, the Rangers have made it quite clear they want nothing to do with Padilla. He has been put on waivers once and has gotten a wonderful bad teammate label. Just take a look at this quote from Marlon Byrd:
After the game, OF Marlon Byrd said it had become “redundant” to talk about Padilla’s penchant for hitting batters. On Friday, he said Rangers management did their part to back up the rest of the team.
“It’s about time,” Byrd said. “When a player disrupts a team, eventually there is going to come a time when management has enough. They have seen enough. We are fighting for a playoff spot. The last thing we need in the clubhouse is a distraction like that. There are 25 guys in this clubhouse who are behind management on this. They showed that they are serious. They did their job. That just serves as assurance that they are doing the right thing here.”
If that doesn’t send a clear message to the rest of baseball the Rangers don’t want him, I don’t know what else does. You don’t trade for, nor claim off of waivers and pick up a tab for a guy a team clearly doesn’t want. You let the Rangers eat the $3 million and try to get Padilla for a better bargain if you want him.
Padilla was “disappointed” by the move. He also flat out denied that he never had any issues with the club or that he was laughing at Michael Young getting pegged in retaliation for yet another bean ball he threw:
“If they say that, they are saying something I am not,” Padilla said. “Why don’t players say it to my face if I’m a bad teammate. We’ll talk about it.”
“I was laughing at Michael?” Padilla said. “That’s crazy. I was in the clubhouse.”
“They know I throw inside,” Padilla said. “If I throw inside they have to move. It’s natural. It doesn’t matter who it is. You have to throw second or third hitters inside if it’s Sammy Sosa or Barry Bonds.”
“I had a good time,” Padilla said. “The fans treated me well. I don’t know what has happened this year. I never had a problem with them. I had three years with the organization. I’m going to keep training. I can pitch if I get the opportunity. They want to wash their hands of me? That’s fine.”
I’m convinced from these quotes Padilla has completely lost it.
Tiexeira has told the media that he complained about Padilla’s headhunting before, as he was the favorite retaliation target when he was a Ranger. I have heard both Hamilton and Kinsler go on record (via radio interviews) that they have done the same thing as well.
In Padilla’s last start he lost to the Oakland A’s, in the first inning he surrendered a home run to Scott Hairston, two batters later he hit Kurt Suzuki.
Two innings later, the A’s retaliated by plunking Michael Young. Immediately after that the TV cameras caught Padilla, sitting in the dugout, smiling a smirk face. When asked about it later, he denied laughing at Michael saying he was in the clubhouse.
Yeah I watched the game, I saw exactly what was said, right after Young was hit he was smiling in the dugout, not the clubhouse.
Denial is fun.
As far as his “throwing inside” excuse, it is laughable. Nolan Ryan threw inside and backed people off the plate and he never reached a number like 49 hit batters in less than three seasons. That just doesn’t happen by accident. Throwing inside means you brush someone back and more often than not, they can get away, or they get an occasional smack on the arm, jersey or back if you really misfire. But no, Padilla throws at people, throws it where they can’t avoid it and he consistently does this to people he doesn’t like (see: Mark Tiexeira) or people that have good success against him (see: Kurt Suzuki).
I love how he is wondering why the fans and the organization turned on him. I mean, I isn’t like there was a huge backlash for him assuring the Rangers had no chance in the Yankees game when he mentally gave up and plunked Tiexeira twice because he felt like it. It wasn’t like the Rangers sent him a clear message by placing him on waivers either.
Hamilton: Sober Since 2005, If You Forget About January, 2009
Oh boy, I’m sure Josh’s wife loves the fact that these are floating around the internet.
Josh had to answer some hard questions about what went down in Arizona before spring training was underway. It appears that he had just a *slight* relapse into his alcoholism:
“I’m embarrassed about it, personally, for the Rangers, for my wife, my children and my family,” Hamilton said at his locker with a handful of his teammates joining the crowd of media that had formed. “It reinforces one of the things that I can’t have is alcohol. It’s unfortunate that it happened. I was out there getting ready for the season and took my focus off the number one factor in my recovery – my relationship with Christ. I hate that this happened. I am human.”
“I wasn’t mentally fit or spiritually fit,” he said. “It just crossed my mind ‘Can I have a drink?’ Obviously, I can’t. One drink leads to two and two drink leads to 10 or 12. When I was in AA, one saying I heard was one drink is too many and 1,000 is never enough. Alcohol just doesn’t mix well with me.”
The photos show Hamilton dancing with girls, licking whipped cream off one, and having whipped cream licked off him in another. According to the report on Deadspin, which cited unnamed sources, Hamilton asked where he could also purchase some cocaine. Hamilton said details of the night remain foggy, but wouldn’t be surprised if he asked the question. He is, however, tested three times a week for recreational drugs, including cocaine and has apparently passed every test. Before the January incident, Hamilton had been sober October 2005 after being suspended on multiple occasions by MLB for failed drug tests. Alcohol, however, is not on the list of substances for which Hamilton is tested.
“When I drink, it always tends to lean that way,” said Hamilton, whose drink of choice in the past was Scotch. “As far as I know, I don’t believe I [took drugs].”
Given the frequency of his MLB-mandated testing program, its unlikely that Hamilton would have passed a test he says he took no later than two days after the incident if he had cocaine in his system.
Though Hamilton’s mentor and Rangers coach Johnny Narron accompanied him to Arizona, Hamilton said Narron did not accompany him to dinner on the night in question. He went out on his own.
“When you get some time under your belt, you start to take things for granted,” Hamilton said. “Obviously, I didn’t have enough time under my belt. ”
Hamilton said, however, that he spoke with everyone in his “support staff” immediately after the night to make them aware of the situation and to apologize. That support staff, includes the Rangers front office, After Care counselors who work with MLB’s Drug Abuse prevention program and his family. Hamilton and Daniels both said they were aware the story might eventually find its way to the public, but opted not to be proactive in addressing it.
Now, let me get a couple of things out of the way before I continue on with my thoughts on this. First off, I don’t believe he took drugs that night as he is tested like crazy by baseball. I also think it is commendable that he informed the Rangers and his family about his slip up. I also am not faulting him for making a mistake because, and make no mistake about it, he is a recovering addict, and recovery at times does includes moments of weaknesses and taking a few steps back on occasion.
That being said, there are a couple things that concern me about this situation.
The main issue I have is that, post-January, he had been said nothing publicly about this incident until the photos came out. I fully believe he told the Rangers and his family about this, but I am wondering why we didn’t hear anything until these photos were leaked to Deadspin. Now it isn’t like I want Josh to keep me updated for everything in his life, but as public as he has been on the issue (he wrote a book about it for crying out loud) and how much people look up to him, wouldn’t it have been prudent to at least mention this?
Having a slip-up is one thing, but hiding something like this hurts his credibility and that isn’t something that can be explained away as easily as a few drinks and some compromising photos. Considering just how much he has been public about his struggles the potential for strong backlash and cries of hypocrisy are quite high, which is just simply sad and unfortunate. Not only did he hide this from the public, but he didn’t tell Johnny Narron, the man he credits to keeping him sober, about his fall of the wagon either, which is also extremely concerning as well.
I’m glad he addressed this when he did and took full responsibility for it, but it seems to me like this was a dark cloud hanging over his head all season. While he claims that this incident has not affected his season, I find it interesting that he seems to be playing a lot better after he learned about the photos:
Hamilton said there is no connection between the relapse and his subpar offensive season. He blamed injuries for the lack of offensive production. Ironically, just as he learned of the photos Friday, he went 2-for-5 with a three-run homer on Friday.
Considering that he was 4-for-13 (.307) with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI, which is a far cry from how he has been batting lately, I seem to think a weight has been lifted off his shoulders that he doesn’t realize.
I could very well be reading too much into this as far as his performance, but I do hope he can move on. He still has the support of his teammates which I’m sure will go a long way. The day after he went public, C.J. Wilson backed him via Twitter:
I’ll only say this once about Josh so listen up- he’s a bigger man than anyone I know. Who else can admit EVERY mistake they’ve ever made?
However, when the Rangers come to him for contract talk, I have a feeling the offer my not be as generous thanks to this incident.
Mr. Holland’s Opus
Let’s close with something bright and happy shall we?
Derek Holland closed out the series by composing quite a masterpiece of a start, going the distance for his first complete game (and a shutout at that) giving up only 3 hits, 1 walk, and struck out 8. He did so by throwing only 96 pitches, 73 of which were strikes. He also threw 5.2 innings of no-hit ball.
Superb doesn’t even begin to describe that start…dominate might though.
When folks ask why I didn’t want to risk trading Holland in a deal for Roy Halladay should hopefully now have their answer. Why would I want to rent Halladay for two years and big money when the Rangers can have Holland for far cheaper and far longer?
It should be obviously clear that he not only has the tools to succeed in the bigs, but he has the tools to be the stud everyone has projected him to be.
Hopefully Feliz will be able to come along in the same way very soon. Just imagine a future rotation front-loaded with Holland and Feliz and try not to have a big smile on your face about that.