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View Full Version : "This guy might be the best I have ever seen"



klw
03-19-2007, 04:20 PM
Even long term scouts love Hamilton.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/col/madden/index.html

Plus Humbert Snachez may be damaged- a future trade target:)

KoryMac5
03-19-2007, 04:29 PM
I always like Madden's columns and living in NY I often get to see him on SNY. He is a good baseball writer, with a nice article giving the Reds some credit for picking up Josh. I did think until hearing it on XM that Narron gave the idea to Krivs about drafting Josh. Nice pickup by Krivs.

GullyFoyle
03-19-2007, 04:53 PM
If the Reds really want to be proactive they would get Narron's brother some training in drug counseling. I'm glad Hamilton will be rooming with someone he knows and trusts, but will Narron's brother know when to set limits and when to back off?

I keep seeing Strawberry...

Eric_Davis
03-19-2007, 05:37 PM
May as well post the article....

Monday, March 19th 2007, 1:02 PM

TAMPA - A bunch of veteran scouts were sitting around the table in the dining room at Legends Field the other day when the topic of conversation turned to Josh Hamilton, the one-time No. 1 draft pick whose well-chronicled battle with drugs and alcohol derailed his career and nearly killed him. After three years out of the game on baseball's restricted list because of his repeated drug offenses, the 25-year-old Hamilton is seeking to make it all the way back with the Cincinnati Reds, who purchased his contract for $100,000 from the Chicago Cubs in December after the Cubs selected him in the Rule 5 draft from his original team, the Tampa Bay Devil Days.

And it appears he is succeeding beyond anyone's wildest expectation. Entering the weekend, he was hitting .548 for 31 spring at-bats with two homers, two doubles, a triple, 26 RBI and only three strikeouts.

"Josh Hamilton," proclaimed longtime Baltimore Orioles advance scout Deacon Jones, "is the story of this spring training. This guy is not to be believed. I saw him the other night, with that power, that bat speed, that plate discipline and then that throwing arm and I said: ‘Whoaaaa. What is this? This guy might be the best I've ever seen.' At one point, I got up and yelled to him: ‘This game ain't this damn easy!' I never saw him before, but now I know why he was the No. 1 pick in '99. This guy's a real player."

Yankee VP of scouting Gene Michael, sitting across the table from Jones, nodded in agreement.

"He's legitimate five tools," Michael said. "It's all there and he hasn't lost anything from what I've seen. The Reds got themselves a tremendous player, but it's always going to be a question. The drugs are always going to be there, waiting to get to him again."

Michael knows what he's talking about, having been the point man in the Yankees' reclamation projects of drug-troubled Steve Howe (1991) and Darryl Strawberry (1995). But Hamilton's story is far more harrowing than even theirs - culminating with his arrival on the doorstep of the Raleigh, N.C., home of his 75-year-old grandmother, Mary Holt in October 2005. Sweating profusely, his eyes glazed and some 40 pounds underweight, the gaunt, disheveled Hamilton was barely recognizable to her. So powerful was the hold crack cocaine had on him that, on one occasion, he reportedly burned his left (throwing) hand with five lit cigarettes. A few days earlier, he'd tried to commit suicide - for the fourth or fifth time, by his count - by overdosing with pills. "I'd let so many people down," he said, "I didn't want to live anymore."

But at the urging of his appalled grandmother, he checked himself yet again into rehab and, finally, last year MLB agreed to lift his suspension and allow him to play the last three weeks of the season for D-Rays' New York-Penn League team in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. You would think that after all the investment in time, money (over $4 million) and patience, the D-Rays would have made certain that they would be the ones to benefit from any comeback by Hamilton.

Nevertheless, they elected not to put him on the 40-man roster last winter, leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. GM Andrew Friedman explained later they didn't think any team would take a chance on him. Making it look even worse for the D-Rays was the fact that a few days after losing Hamilton in the draft, they non-tendered outfielder Damon Hollins, who then wound up signing in Japan. So not only did they waste a roster spot that could have been Hamilton's on a player they knew they weren't going to keep, they didn't even get any compensation for him.

"They told me they never dreamed anyone would take me," Hamilton said. "I understand. That's the business of baseball. It was a call they had to make. (His wife) Katy and I just looked at it as God put me here with the Reds."

As Michael pointed out, however, the demons within are a constant threat to rise up and strike Hamilton out again, although the Reds feel they may have the best protective environment for him. Reds manager Jerry Narron's brother Johnny coached Hamilton when he was 15 in the Raleigh youth league and the plan is to have Johnny Narron travel with the Reds this year and room with the fragile prodigy.

"I feel I have a comfort zone with Johnny and Jerry," Hamilton said. "God's been good to me. There's no reason why I should be here and back playing baseball on this level. If I came in here worried about what might happen, it might not happen. I didn't have any reservations, but I haven't held anything back either. Every day, something is going to cause me to stop in my tracks, making me realize how lucky I am."

"He knows he's made some bad choices and that he's accountable to a lot of people," Jerry Narron said of Hamilton. "It's funny. When (Reds GM) Wayne (Krivsky) came to me last December to run it by me, what he was thinking of doing, he had no idea I'd known Josh since he was 15."

About the only tool Hamilton has so far been unable to showcase for the awed scouts is his foot speed on the bases and in the outfield, as he's been playing with a case of shin splints. But it certainly hasn't hindered his hitting and, barring a major injury, it's safe to say he's made the club. The question is, with all this previously untapped talent, how can the Reds keep him out of the everyday lineup?

"What's impressed me most is his plate discipline," Narron said. "He uses all fields and he sure doesn't look like a guy who's been off three years. I kind of liken him to those players who went away to World War II and came back and were just as successful. The reason was they had outstanding ability. So does Josh. The difference is, he's never even been to the big leagues." Say hello to a real life Roy Hobbs.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don't know where the writer got "26 RBI's" from when he has only 6 RBI's. If he actually believed he had 26 RBI's in 31 AB's, then that might have changed his approach to the article. He also only has 1 HR, not 2 HR's, and 3 Doubles, not 2.....and....after going 1-1 today, he raised his average to .487......but, that's OK...his point is that he's been doing well.

Eric_Davis
03-19-2007, 06:06 PM
For what it's worth....there are no "demons within", as the writer so illiterately states.

SunDeck
03-19-2007, 07:25 PM
I keep seeing Strawberry...

Spot on. They keep treating Hamilton like he's got it licked. I hope he does, but he's only reached the point where he can see the top of the hole he has to climb out of.

Yachtzee
03-19-2007, 10:44 PM
From the title of the thread, I thought maybe someone was talking about Sid Finch. ;)

MartyFan
03-20-2007, 02:05 AM
Spot on. They keep treating Hamilton like he's got it licked. I hope he does, but he's only reached the point where he can see the top of the hole he has to climb out of.

I think if he holds himself accountable to his wife, family and God he will have it licked.

I know we've all heard the stories of people with addictions who relapse time and time again...and who knows. He may go down that road but nothing is impossible if you put your trust in God.

No sermon, just telling you he has his eye on a prize and baseball is barely a fraction of it.

Jr's Boy
03-20-2007, 02:50 AM
If this kid's the real deal,the Reds will be a force to reckon with in the Central.Still way to early to tell,but really something positive coming out of spring training for a change.

mth123
03-20-2007, 05:43 AM
I think if he holds himself accountable to his wife, family and God he will have it licked.

I know we've all heard the stories of people with addictions who relapse time and time again...and who knows. He may go down that road but nothing is impossible if you put your trust in God.

No sermon, just telling you he has his eye on a prize and baseball is barely a fraction of it.

Not disagreeing with you, but we've heard talk of players turning to faith in the past when recovering but it was only talk and they regressed. We don't really know Hamilton and whether he's changed in his heart or is just talking. I think Strawberry declared himself similarly changed in one of his comeback attempts.

Hamilton comes off as genuine from what I've read and heard, but we don't really know.

RedsBaron
03-20-2007, 05:53 AM
If the Reds really want to be proactive they would get Narron's brother some training in drug counseling. I'm glad Hamilton will be rooming with someone he knows and trusts, but will Narron's brother know when to set limits and when to back off?

I keep seeing Strawberry...

Good point.

RedlegJake
03-20-2007, 07:26 AM
One major difference - Strawberry pushed away attempts at help, like having someone room with him who was there strictly for that purpose of accountability. Sounds to me like Josh knows he faces a monster and will do what it takes. There are no guarantees, of course, but I'm sure as heck going to be rooting for him - as a player and even more so as a young man with a wife and child trying to stay on the right path.

RANDY IN INDY
03-20-2007, 07:50 AM
I think if he holds himself accountable to his wife, family and God he will have it licked.

I know we've all heard the stories of people with addictions who relapse time and time again...and who knows. He may go down that road but nothing is impossible if you put your trust in God.

No sermon, just telling you he has his eye on a prize and baseball is barely a fraction of it.

:beerme:

MaineRed
03-20-2007, 08:02 AM
Spot on. They keep treating Hamilton like he's got it licked. I hope he does, but he's only reached the point where he can see the top of the hole he has to climb out of.

Who is they?

I would hardly let some quotes in the paper form any opinion on how the Reds are handling Josh Hamilton. There are 24 hours in a day and not even a fraction of that is being covered in these articles.

Why does Narron's brother need drug counseling? I'm sure Josh already talks to one of those. I don't see the problem with taking the human approach, putting Josh with someone he knows and likes. If he needs to live with a counselor, he is probably in the wrong place.

This is simply a move to make sure Josh is in his room at night. Its not like he'll be the only guy talking to the kid. I bet Hamilton will spend more time talking with Dunn, should Adam get some counseling too? What about Brook Jacoby? How will these two know when to "back off"?

If Narron's brother wasn't going to travel with the team, would anyone suggest that the team get Josh a roomate from outside the organization? I doubt it.

SunDeck
03-20-2007, 09:17 AM
Who is they?



Clarification: by "they" I meant the sports writers, like Madden, the author of the article from which the title of this thread came.

I have no idea what the Reds think of him, other than it seems they know he's probably pretty fragile. Otherwise, why would they have Johnny Narron tied to him at the hip? That's a smart thing, if you ask me.

So, even though the writers are really loving this guy as a story, I just think he's probably at the beginning of a long road ahead. Goodness knows that many addicts aren't able to stay straight and I am totally rooting for the guy to hang in there and become the feel good, disney movie rights story of the year.

princeton
03-20-2007, 09:46 AM
I think that baseball might be a tougher game for an addict than are a lot of other sports. There's a lot of failure, more pressure, fewer chances for redemption, a lot of sitting around, long road trips, plus there's lots of amphetamines.

and, of course, there's no crying in baseball. Crying would probably help.

Sea Ray
03-20-2007, 11:48 AM
Spot on. They keep treating Hamilton like he's got it licked. I hope he does, but he's only reached the point where he can see the top of the hole he has to climb out of.

Interesting that now the talk is only about whether he's got his drug demons licked whereas a month ago everyone questioned whether his baseball skills had eroded. That's a productive month in anyone's book.

While it's true that a drug addict is always one step away from going back to the gutter, I don't see Steve Howe and Darryl Strawberry here. When I saw those two I saw "punks". That word doesn't come to mind with this kid. I see born again Christian, family man, a "means well" kind of kid.

Roy Tucker
03-20-2007, 01:00 PM
Looking down the road, I wonder what happens to the support system and Hamilton if Narron gets canned? Seems that this is all tied to personal relationships and family history.

Not that that is all a bad thing, but all baseball managers get fired, it's just a matter of when.

Chip R
03-20-2007, 01:20 PM
I wonder if scouts sometimes sandbag teams with comments like these. Like they come out and say how impressed they are with Hamilton but they really think he'd hamstring the Reds if he were kept on their roster for a year.

membengal
03-20-2007, 01:29 PM
Pretty sure the Orioles scout isn't too concerned about sandbagging the Reds, Chip.

By the way, that beats the usual scouting report on Reds pickups:

"This guy might be the worst I have ever seen" (last uttered after the Joe Mays acquisition, I am sure)

jojo
03-20-2007, 01:33 PM
I think if he holds himself accountable to his wife, family and God he will have it licked.

I know we've all heard the stories of people with addictions who relapse time and time again...and who knows. He may go down that road but nothing is impossible if you put your trust in God.

No sermon, just telling you he has his eye on a prize and baseball is barely a fraction of it.

Well if God is on his side, he should definately be starting in center.... :cool:

GullyFoyle
03-20-2007, 02:12 PM
Why does Narron's brother need drug counseling? I'm sure Josh already talks to one of those. I don't see the problem with taking the human approach, putting Josh with someone he knows and likes. If he needs to live with a counselor, he is probably in the wrong place.



I didn't mean to imply that he needed to be a drug counselor... but if you know people that work with addicts you realize that there are simple things that you can do to either undermine or strengthen an addict's resolve (I don't mean having a beer in front of them, more nuanced than that). What you don't want to do set up is a codependent relationship but at the same time have someone there as a sounding board. It is all about setting the proper boundaries and learning what those are (from counselors) can help a great deal.

It is much more complicated than going to a counselor once a week or having faith in God (not to discount the positive effect that can have).

I'm only indirectly associated with some people that work with addicts, but I imagine you can see an example of the kind of relationship needed in the sponsor relationship put in place in AA (someone here probably has a stronger sense of AA then I do so correct me if I'm wrong).

I suspect he already has this, and doesn't need it from his roommate, but I would want the roommate to be on the same page... a sort of stop gap.

MartyFan
03-20-2007, 02:29 PM
Not disagreeing with you, but we've heard talk of players turning to faith in the past when recovering but it was only talk and they regressed. We don't really know Hamilton and whether he's changed in his heart or is just talking. I think Strawberry declared himself similarly changed in one of his comeback attempts.

Hamilton comes off as genuine from what I've read and heard, but we don't really know.

I'm not discounting that. Similarly just because someone turns their heart, attitude and life toward God doesn't mean they will not fail again...again and again...and their success or failure doesn't discount or lighten the impact of their choices or sincerity of their decision.

MartyFan
03-20-2007, 02:30 PM
Well if God is on his side, he should definately be starting in center.... :cool:

Right...because God is worried about him starting CF. :rolleyes:

registerthis
03-20-2007, 02:35 PM
Right...because God is worried about him starting CF. :rolleyes:

He's too busy helping the college teams hit their free throws.

TRF
03-20-2007, 03:07 PM
I believe Josh' father in law is a drug counselor, which is ironic in and of itself.

The thing about addiction is you can never beat it. Oh, you can fight it, even stave it off for the duration of your life. But only when your life ends and you have never used again from the moment you start the fight can it be beaten. It's always there waiting for any weakness.

Princeton is right. Baseball is filled with failure. For me, that's part of the appeal. .300 hitters fail almost 70% of the time. Yes we have better metrics to determine worth, but don't tell me Adam Dunn doesn't feel bad when he see's his BA in the .230's. Plus add in games where you just weren't a factor, or where half your game was good, say at the plate, but an error led to the opposing teams winning run. That's hard for anybody. An average guy might leave the park and drown his sorrows a bit. Josh doesn't get to do that. Ever.

So he has surrounded himself with a support group. His family, the Narron's, and probably others. Without crowding his privacy too much, I wonder how much support or even understanding he is getting from his teammates. How can a guy like Griffey, a renowned family man relate to a guy that nearly threw his away? How does a AAA lifer like Hopper feel about Hamilton? Or Deno? Hamilton is competing, no scratch that, Hamilton has been all but GIVEN his spot on the 25 man roster (OK really, Conine has it, but still...).

Hamilton is IMO slowly drifting out of the "zone". I'd like to know how well he handles failure. That will determine his future.

Sea Ray
03-20-2007, 04:26 PM
It's possible his drug history will dwarf any failure he experiences in baseball by putting 0-4s and errors into perspective. Baseball isn't life or death. He's seen life and death decisions failures up close. If he strikes out with the bases loaded big deal. At least he's not in a gutter stoned out of his goard.

TRF
03-20-2007, 04:29 PM
or conversely, he has a week where he goes 4-40 with a couple of errors and sinks into a depression. he might turn to that which nearly destroyed him.

That's why addiction can never be beaten. It's always there. I hope his support is always there too.

Jr's Boy
03-20-2007, 05:27 PM
This guys been through hell and back.I doubt if he slumps he'll fall of the wagon.

TRF
03-20-2007, 05:38 PM
This guys been through hell and back.I doubt if he slumps he'll fall of the wagon.

You think Strawberry and Howe hadn't been there and back too?