Tag:Josh Hamilton
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:53 am
Edited on: April 14, 2011 10:23 am
 

Hamilton's slide talk of baseball

Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans

When a MVP suffers a significant injury, it's noticed all around baseball -- and Josh Hamilton's case was no different.

Wednesday several players, coaches and managers made note of Hamilton's "mistake" of sliding head-first into home.

"It's like Russian roulette," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "If you do it long enough, it's going to beat you."

The Braves go as far as fining minor league players $50 every time they slide head-first into home.

Matt Young"I do it all the time," said Braves rookie Matt Young, who slid head-first at home in Milwaukee last week (pictured at right). "I'm not very good [sliding feet-first]. I mean, I can do it, but I'm not very comfortable. I feel more in control [head-first], getting to the bag and whatnot.

"I think if you go about it the right way, you're good. You've just got to go hard."

Reds manager Dusty Baker said he doesn't like his players sliding head-first into home, but he did it once as a young player.

"I had Donn Clendenon with the Mets, he called me over immediately. He said, 'Hey, kid, don't you ever slide head-first into home,'" Baker said, according to MLB.com. "This was a guy from another team that told me this. He told me, 'Jerry Grote, Randy Hundley and Johnny Bench would break your neck.'"

And that's one of the main reasons players are told not to slide head-first into home. The chance of injury against a catcher blocking the plate are higher (although, don't tell that to Robin Ventura) than sliding feet-first. That said, Hamilton's play was different. He was diving to the plate, trying to beat a catcher, also on the run, to the plate. And that catcher, Victor Martinez, was also tried to dive head-first. It seems like Hamilton's head-first slide was not the typical play at the plate, so normal rules don't apply.

"You always hear not to do it, but we've all done it," Granderson told the New York Times. "Everyone in this clubhouse has done it, even though we've been told not to. Your job is to get there any way you can."

And then there's the fact it's faster to go head first, or at least says David A. Peters, Ph.D., the McDonnell Douglas Professor of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, according to this article from Science Daily in 2008 (thanks to Nick Hurm of the Cincinnati Enquirer for the link.)

"It turns out your center of gravity is where the momentum is," Peters said. "This is found half way from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes. In the headfirst slide, the center of gravity is lower than halfway between your feet and hands, so your feet don't get there as fast. It's faster head-first."

Hamilton usually slides head-first, so in that situation, isn't his natural reaction safest?

"I remember, with us, he slid head-first a lot. Those things are going to happen," Reds third-base coach Mark Berry told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com of Hamilton, who played for the Reds in 2007. "All players are aware of the dangers you face going in headfirst, not only at home plate but any base.
"We've always discouraged it. In the years I've been in the game, we've always talked about never headfirst at home. Everybody talks about it. But we all know, most of us that played the game, instincts take over."

In most cases, head-first slides into home aren't the best course of action, but in this one, was it really the slide -- or the fact third base coach Dave Anderson sent Hamilton -- that's to blame? Or is it just an unfortunate incident?

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Posted on: April 13, 2011 7:13 pm
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Posted on: April 12, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 8:25 pm
 

Hamilton out 6-8 weeks with upper arm injury

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton left Tuesday's game after two head-first dives against the Tigers.

UPDATE: Hamilton has a fracture in the upper area of his humerus bone -- which is the bone between the elbow and shoulder -- and will miss at least six weeks. Some outlets are calling for an eight-week absence. David Murphy will replace Hamilton in left field and Chris Davis appears headed to Texas as the roster replacement. (Dallas Morning News via Twitter)

Hamilton, the Rangers' designated hitter in today's game, slid head-first on an RBI triple in the first inning. Brandon Inge fell into Hamilton on the play. After his triple, Hamilton tried to tag up on a foul popup between home and third. Inge caught the ball and threw it to catch Victor Martinez, with both players diving, Martinez tagged Hamilton out. Hamilton walked to the dugout in apparent pain after making the third out. He seemed to be holding his back.

He was not happy about being sent home by third-base coach Dave Anderson.

"It was just a stupid play," Hamilton said. "I definitely shouldn't have done it. They had a good angle to cut me off where I was going. It was a little too aggressive. The whole time I was watching the play and I was listening. I was like, 'Dude, I don't want to go. Something is going to happen.' But I listened to my coach and I went." (Foul Territory )

The next time Hamilton spot came up in the lineup, Ian Kinsler was in his place. Hamilton was initially diagnosed with a strained right shoulder. X-Rays later revealed the fracture.

Just yesterday, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram asked Hamilton  about being more cautious with his head-first slides after two feet-first slides in Monday's game. Hamilton said he wasn't being more cautious.

Hamilton said he's continued to wear the flak-jacket he wore after suffering broken ribs last season. He said that's kept him from holding back.

"If I didn't have my rib pads on, I might consciously do it," Hamilton said on Monday. "When I have these on, it doesn't matter."

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 9:58 pm
 

Five players to improve, five to decline for 2011

By Matt Snyder

Well, it's almost opening day, which means it's time for all us writers to put ourselves out there and make some predictions. In the end, every season is unpredictable and we're bound to be wrong on several of these. That doesn't make it any less fun. It's supposed to be fun, remember?

In this entry, we'll take a look at five players sure to improve upon what we saw in 2011 and five that are going to regress.

Five players who will improve upon 2010

A.J. Burnett, Yankees. He was pretty brutal last season, but it's a new one. Opening day is time for rebirth and we have to turn the page. His xFIP and strand rates from last season both show us he wasn't nearly as bad as his 5.26 ERA showed. His stuff wasn't sharp at all, either, as his lowest K-rate since 2001 illustrates. There are many instances where spring stats don't mean anything (like CC Sabathia, to name a different Yankees hurler), but for someone needing to turn the page like Burnett, it's important to throw well. He did this spring, putting together a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings. More importantly he struck out 11 and walked zero.

Derek Holland, Rangers. The youngster hasn't fared well in the majors thus far, but he's still only 24. He has lock-down dominated the minor leagues since being drafted in 2006. Last season in Triple-A he was 6-2 with a 1.87 ERA. He's 23-9 with a 2.47 ERA in his minor-league career with an outstanding 3.68 strikeouts for every walk. It's time to start showing this potential at the MLB level, and I believe 2011 will be the first step toward doing so.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers. He's refocused after a step backward in 2010. Which is weird to say, considering he had a 107 OPS+ and 28 bombs as a 25 year old -- but it really was a step back from his 2009 season, in which he won both a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove. He's having a solid spring and seems to be happier under Don Mattingly. Expect to see improvements in nearly every category -- except games played, since he appeared in all 162 last year.

James Shields, Rays. The traditional stat categories looked awful for Shields in 2010 -- 13-15, 5.18 -- but he really wasn't that bad. His strikeout rate was the highest of his career, balls in play were hits far too often (.341, as compared to a .308 career mark) and his xFIP was 3.72. If you don't like all the sabermetrics stuff, that's OK, but all of it says he's going to have a huge regression to the mean this year. In layman's terms, expect more 2008 (14-8, 3.56) than 2010.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks. He appeared headed for superstardom in 2009, but took a step back in 2010. Still, like Kemp, he's awfully young (23) and his OPS+ was still good (111). This season, expect Upton's walk rate to continue to rise, as such he'll run more. Also, his power took a significant dip last season and he wasn't fully healthy. He is now, so look for a big step forward in '11.

Five players who will decline from 2010

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays. I once worked with a guy who liked to say, "just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true." Just to clear the air, I don't think Bautista cheated nor do I think last season was anything other than a continuation of his last month in 2009, which resulted from a new swing. I do not, however, think he's ever going to hit more than 40 homers in a season again. He hit 54 last year. Even if he comes through with another big season, he's going to see a huge regression. Think about it, if he hits 35 bombs, that's a whopping 35 percent less than last year.

Mat Latos, Padres. His shoulder issue right now is concerning, as are the giant leaps in workload the past two seasons. Plus, he began to falter down the stretch last year anyway -- going 0-5 with a 8.18 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in his last five starts. And his team is now worse. Basically, I hope you let someone else draft him in Fantasy.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers. Led the majors in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. Won the MVP. Are those things going to happen again? Technically speaking, it's pretty easy to say he's going to regress even if he has a solid season. If you wanna dig deeper, OK, his BABIP was a stupid .390, his isolated power flew off the charts and his ability to stay on the field must be questioned -- he couldn't even do that last season.

Buster Posey, Giants. His numbers were pretty insane last year in a short time. He struck out at a much lower rate than he ever did in the minors and didn't lose any of his power. There's a reason the "sophomore slump" term has hung around for a while, and it's not because guys automatically just play worse in their second year. It's because advance scouts, pitchers and pitching coaches have a large sample of at-bats to study and can start to find small holes in a swing. Some guys are immune. If Posey is, I'll be wrong in this pick -- and I'm fine with that. He's a very likeable guy.

Jayson Werth, Nationals. I do like that Ryan Zimmerman is his protection, but he's still going to a worse team in a worse lineup in a less homer-friendly ballpark. And now instead of playing behind Halladay/Lee/Oswalt/Hamels/Blanton he has to face them. Then, instead of facing the Nationals' pitching staff 19 times a season he's playing behind them. And he just got a huge, almost inexplicable, contract. It's hard to see him getting better.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 7:21 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 9:00 pm
 

3 up, 3 down: Jon Daniels' best, worst moves

DanielsBy Evan Brunell

The Rangers have handed GM Jon Daniels a four-year extension, rewarding the 33-year-old for steering the club to its first-ever AL pennant in 2010. For all of Daniels' talents, however, he's made quite a few missteps along the way. Here's a look back at Daniels' three best and worst moves as Rangers GM...

3 UP

1. The Teix Heist

The reason the Rangers made the World Series is thanks to the trade that sent Mark Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves. Consummated at the trade deadline of 2007, this deal represented the first time Daniels was trading away a major piece of a team and he needed to hit a home run.

He did. By dealing Teix and left-handed reliever Ron Mahay, Daniels hauled in catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus, pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones. The fact Salty stalled in Texas is concerning, but many viewed the backstop at the time as one of the elite young catchers in the game. Andrus would go on to blossom as Texas' starting shortstop while Feliz won the AL Rookie of the Year Award with 40 saves last season and is currently shifting to the rotation. Harrison is a young lefty who is battling for a rotation spot himself, while Jones is the one non-entity.

This deal will continue to pay dividends over time, as Andrus and Feliz will be in town for years to come while Harrison is valuable depth. Saltalamacchia's career is not yet over as he is slated to start in Boston, and the jury is out on Daniels' return for Salty in three minor leaguers.

2. Game Over

Daniels made another significant trade the day of the 2007 trade deadline when he dealt "Game Over" Eric Gagne and cash to the Red Sox for Kason Gabbard, David Murphy and Engel Beltre.

Gagne was impressive in his first season as an ex-Dodger and after missing the bulk of the 2006 season. He wasn't the lockdown closer of old, but looked as if he could be a quality part of the bullpen. Except as Red Sox fans know, he completely imploded and while he walked away with a World Series trade, he will forever be known as Gag-me in Boston. (For some reason, there are over 11,000 views of a video I took recording Gagne's Red Sox debut.) His saving grace in Boston was as a Type-B free agent, and the Red Sox would later trade the player they drafted with the compensatory pick to Cleveland as part of the Victor Martinez deal.

Meanwhile, David Murphy is one of the more valuable fourth outfielders in the game and would be a starter for many other teams. Beltre has his makeup questions but is developing nicely as Texas' center fielder of the future. Gabbard flamed out, but at the time was a possible back-of-the-rotation starter.

3. Draft Bonanza

A major reason why Daniels has stayed viable as GM of the Rangers is his drafting history. Of course, major credit goes to the people working under him that are in charge of the draft, but Daniels deserves credit for putting these people in those roles as well as having a hand in the drafting and development of these players.

His first draft pick, Kasey Kiker, has yet to develop significantly but is just 22 and does hold some promise. However, his following two have had major league time already: power-hitting Chris Davis who has unfortunately failed time and time again to lock down a starting spot in Texas and Danny Herrera, who is a member of the Reds bullpen currently and was used to get Josh Hamilton. Michael Main was used to get Bengie Molina, while Blake Beavan and Justin Smoak were packaged for Cliff Lee

Tommy Hunter was a viable member of the rotation last season and could have a nice career as a back-of-the-rotation pitcher, while Julio Borbon is prepared to start in center field. Tanner Scheppers ranked No. 77 on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects and  may have ranked higher if he was clearly going to be a starter. The club also came away with an impressive haul in the 2010 draft.

Honorable Mention: One would expect the deal bringing in Josh Hamilton to be one of Daniels' better deals, but it's hard to justify that as one of his best deals simply by virtue of giving up Edinson Volquez. There's no denying Hamilton's talent -- after all, he won the AL MVP award -- but Volquez has turned out pretty well for himself. There's a similar case to be made for the trade that imported Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz from Milwaukee in exchange for Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and Juan Cordero, so the honorable mention goes to signing Colby Lewis to a two-year deal prior to the 2010 season. Lewis was an utter failure stateside before heading to Japan and discovering his talent. Daniels didn't hesitate to bring in Lewis, and all he did was become the Rangers' best right-handed starter in the team's run to the AL pennant.

3 DOWN

1. The Young and Heartless

In March of 2007, Daniels signed shortstop Michael Young to a five-year, $80 million extension, a contract that was strange at the time and now has snowballed. Two seasons later, Daniels bumped Young to third base in a contentious move to free up short for Elvis Andrus. Young's bat has continued to be solid, but he remained a defensive liability at third and in a much-publicized spat, is now headed to DH and first base after demanding a trade. However, thanks to Young's contract, it will be difficult to move him.

Daniels certainly shouldn't have signed Young to this deal, but that's not why this ranks as one of his three worst moves as GM. While there's a lot of "he-said, he-said" going on by both sides, the fact remains that Young is not very keen on speaking to Daniels and feels "misled." Whether or not you believe Daniels or Young (or think the true answer is somewhere in-between), Daniels should have done a far better job managing the crisis as this has become a nightmare, both in terms of Young's trade value and in public relations. Heck, it even made a three-year-old kid very upset.

2. A-Gone

It's hard to fault Jon Daniels for trading away Adrian Gonzalez as he needed pitching and had Mark Teixeira at first. But goodness, couldn't he have done better? In his second significant trade of his GM career -- the first was also pretty bad -- Daniels shipped away someone who would become one of the best first-basemen in the game in short order in Gonzalez to the Padres along with Chris Young, who fashioned a nice run for himself in the rotation for San Diego. Terrmel Sledge was a throw-in to get Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and Billy Killian in return.

Eaton was a disaster, making just 13 starts and moving onto the Phillies where he was even worse, while Otsuka became the Rangers' closer but fell to injury in 2007 at age 35 and has not returned to the majors since. Killian is now in independent baseball.

Hey, every GM has trades they regret. It's part of life. But this is one regrettable trade that makes one really cringe looking back on it.

3. A-Rod to Soriano to Nothing

OK, so Daniels wasn't responsible for the initial trade of Alex Rodriguez, but he certainly was responsible for turning Rodriguez's return in Alfonso Soriano into something. Unfortunately, his first major trade was a flop when he shipped Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Armando Galarraga and Terrmel Sledge. Sledge would be shipped in another terrible deal a month later in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, while Wilkerson couldn't arrest the decline he began in his final season for the Nats in '06. He did not top 350 at-bats in the two seasons he was a Ranger.

While Galarraga was and still is nothing to write home about, he chewed up almost 500 innings for the Tigers after the Rangers essentially gave him away, predominantly as a starter the last three seasons -- and of course, as the architect of the 28-out perfect game. He is now a Diamondback and expected to serve in the back of the rotation. These types of pitchers are far from sexy and you can't blame Daniels for tossing Galarraga in the deal, but it only serves to make this deal look even worse given he got absolutely nothing of value for Soriano, which in turn meant the team got nothing for A-Rod.

In Daniels' defense, he was handicapped by Soriano entering the final year of his deal, but Daniels should have looked for prospects in any deal, not an outfielder on the decline, a pitcher he would give away a couple years later and a bit piece that would go on to become part of Daniels' worst trade to date.

Dishonorable Mention: Not to pile on Daniels, who has turned into a very fine GM, but just like he has plenty of candidates for honorable mention, he has candidates for this category as well. Signing Kevin Millwood to a five-year, $60 million deal was head-scratching at the time and he stumbled badly on December 23, 2006 when he dealt away John Danks, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy and David Paisano. Danks and McCarthy were two highly-regarded prospects at the time, but Danks is the one that blossomed, while Masset would go on to bust out himself as an important part of the Reds bullpen.

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Posted on: February 25, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Imagining an MLB Combine

Michael Bourn

While our Eye on Football brethren are in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine not getting to watch guys run and jump, it got me to thinking how much fun an MLB Combine might be.

Among the drills the NFL draft hopefuls do that would be applicable to baseball are the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical leap and the Wonderlic Test. So who would be the best baseball players to participate? That's where the fun begins.

40-yard dash: Maybe for baseball, it'd be more fun to line the guys up and have them go 90 feet.

Favorite: Michael Bourn, Astros. A Sports Illustrated poll of players during spring training had Crawford picked as the fastest player in the majors, but the less-heralded Bourn finished second. Bourn has won two straight Gold Gloves in center, and much of it is because he can seemingly cover the entire outfield. In a division blessed with fast center fielders (Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs), Bourn covers more ground than anyone. Oh, and he's led the National League in stolen bases each of the last two seasons.

Others: Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Luis Durango, Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, Andrew McCutchen, Chone Figgins, Ichiro Suzuki, Emilio Bonifacio, Carlos Gomez, Carl Crawford

Adam DunnBench press: At the combine, players bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible, testing not only strength, but endurance. For baseball, maybe the best test would be a home-run derby-like format, but adding the distances of balls hit.

Favorite: Adam Dunn, White Sox. According to HitTrackerOnline.com, Jose Bautista had more "no-doubt" home runs than Dunn (19 to 16), but Dunn's homers averaged nearly 10 feet more, with an average "true distance" of 411.1 feet. Mark Reynolds' 32 homers averaged 415.6 feet, so he's certainly in the discussion. Dunn's been consistently hitting long home runs, so he gets the nod.

Others: Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Mark Reynolds, Wily Mo Pena, Mike Stanton, Travis Hafner, Russell Branyan, Jose Bautista

Dexter FowlerVertical leap: While it's not something that you associate with baseball, it's a good test of athleticism, but is also practical at the wall as players just to rob home runs.

Favorite: Dexter Fowler, Rockies. At 6-foot-5, Fowler was recruited as a basketball player in high school, but he showed his leaping ability in an unusual place in the 2009 NLDS. In the eighth inning of Game 4, Fowler was on first when Todd Helton hit a grounder to Chase Utley. Fowler was running toward Utley and hurdled him. Utley then threw errantly to Jimmy Rollins and Fowler was safe. (You can see the play here.)

Others: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Shane Victorino, Mike Cameron, Hunter Pence

Craig BreslowWonderlic test: A 12-minute, 50-question test used for testing applicants for learning and problem-solving. Harvard's Pat McInally is the only confirmed 50 score at the combine, while another Harvard alum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, scored either a 48 or 49 in nine minutes. So, it makes sense to look to the Ivy League for our baseball picks.

Favorite: Craig Breslow, Athletics. Breslow graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Seriously. The Sporting News called him the smartest player in sports, while the Wall Street Journal suggested he may be the smartest man in the world. Not only that, batters hit just .194/.272/.348 against him last season, with lefties hitting .181/.245/.340 against him.

Others: Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Young, Fernando Perez, Mark DeRosa

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: February 23, 2011 9:35 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:25 am
 

You oughta be in pictures

Andres TorresA documentary is being made about Giants outfielder Andres Torres and his 10-year journey in the minor leagues and life-long struggles with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has the whole story, but it got me to thinking -- what other big-leaguers would make a good movie?

Brian Wilson -- Torres' teammate would be perfect for a comedy, or he could have a  fake documentary like Joaquin Phoenix's I'm Still Here.

Dirk Hayhurst -- The Rays reliever already has the book, they can just turn it into a movie. It would be high on comedy, low on juicy details. Hayhurst was living with his grandmother, close to quitting baseball when he turned his career around. It's not the perfect ending, he's had a handful of big-league appearances, but is with the Rays on a minor-league contract.

Josh Hamilton -- Everyone knows the story, and it's perfect for Disney.

Jon Lester -- Unless Disney decides to do Lester's story instead. Lester was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma as a rookie in 2006. The next season he won the game-clinching game for the Red Sox in the World Series. The season after that, he threw a no-hitter. Last season the lefty finished 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA.

Miguel Cabrera -- We're not sure how this one will end yet -- it could either be a feel-good story, or a tragedy. We'll stay tuned.

Coco Crisp -- Forget that beer commercial guy, Crisp may be the most interesting man in the world.

Ugeth Urbina -- The two-time All-Star reliever is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence in his home country of Venezuela after being convicted on two charges of attempted murder. In 2005, Urbina attacked five farm workers on his property, accusing them of stealing a gun. He attacked the men with a machete and tried to pour gasoline on them. (Suggested on Twitter by @23yanksgoyard.)

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 4:06 pm
 

Rangers, Hamilton agree to 2-year deal

Josh Hamilton The Rangers and Josh Hamilton have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a two-year deal for $24 million, Sports Illustrated 's Jon Heyman tweets .

Hamilton was in his second year of arbitration. The deal buys out his arbitration years, but will still be a free agent following the 2012 season.

Hamilton was asking for a record $12 million in arbitration, while the Rangers were offering $8.7 million.

In a somewhat interesting tangent, both MVPs this season were arbitration-eligible and avoided arbitration by having their remaining arbitration seasons bought out, but giving up no free agent years. Joey Votto signed a three-year, $38 million deal with the Reds.

On the surface, it seems like a great deal for the Rangers, who were facing a losing proposition in arbitration. So not only do they pay him the $12 million he'd presumably make this season, but also keeps him around the same rate for next season. For Hamilton, he gets that money the next two years and doesn't lose his free agency leverage.

UPDATE: Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets Hamilton will make $7.25 million this season and $13.75 million next season, plus a $3 million coming as a signing bonus.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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