As last week's Winter Meetings progressed the Seattle Mariners began to emerge not only as a potential destination for free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton, but one of two probable landing spots. The Texas Rangers were the other and by default had the odds in their favor while teams like the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies sat quietly on the periphery. The Mariners were the consensus Plan B.
And I became giddy.
That's not to say I'm actively rooting for the Mariners to land Hamilton. I don't claim to know what's best for the Mariners but it's hard for me to believe that breaking the bank for Hamilton is a smart move when it's hard for me to believe that Hamilton will A) remain healthy while B) remaining productive for the bulk of a four or five (or god forbid six) year commitment. He'll turn 32 years old this coming season, meaning he's facing natural age decline. He plays with reckless abandon, meaning he's liable to suffer a serious injury without warning. He's played with reckless abandon, meaning his body could deteriorate even more rapidly than the average 32 year old outfielder. Never mind what the years of drug abuse may or may not mean for his long-term durability. What if his 30s look like Ken Griffey Jr.'s 30s?
But still: giddy.
Josh Hamilton is a true superstar. Maybe not in terms of value -- he's no, say, Robinson Cano -- but he might cast the biggest shadow in the game. It's the story that we're all so familiar with that culminated in a truly magical showing at the 2008 Home Run Derby in old Yankee Stadium, a monster MVP-winning campaign in 2010, and back-to-back World Series appearances. It's the story that could be coming to a theatre near you. It's the story that sells more jerseys than anyone besides Gotham's golden boy.
Giddy. What if that story's next act takes place in Seattle?
The Mariners don't make moves like Hamilton. Ahead of the 2005 season GM Bill Bavasi inked Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson -- ESPN.com's # 2 and 10 free agents, respectively -- which was probably the flashiest flurry of activity in the history of the franchise, but neither player offered the transcendence of Hamilton. Beltre and Sexson were very good players. Hamilton is a very good player and a rock star. Regardless of whether you think a Hamilton signing would be smart, I wouldn't believe you if you made a claim against its excitement. Maybe a long-term Hamilton signing would be crippling to the team a few years down the road. Regardless, it would be incredibly arresting and energizing in the short-term.
I'm not for a Hamilton signing for the Mariners. I think I would feel more comfortable with a Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn signing. Safer. But when news broke that Zack Greinke -- a domino thought to be suspended directly above Hamilton -- signed a record-breaking deal with the Los Angeles Yankees of Dodgertown, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Given that much digital ink was spilt last week on the idea that the Rangers were hoping to spend their money on either Greinke or Hamilton, Greinke's decision seemed to push Hamilton away from the Pacific Northwest and closer to the Big D. Part of my brain let out a sigh of relief. A larger part yearned for the Mariners to be the center of attention.
What can I say? Blogging for five years has made me more analytical and even jaded with regards to baseball and the Mariners, but beneath it all I'm still just a fan who catches myself spreading sports talk radio bullshit at the water cooler.
As of now, it's looking like Greinke's domino weighed less than some thought. The Rangers could still opt to acquire someone like Justin Upton to replace Hamilton while obtaining rotation help some other way, like bringing back 2012 N.L. Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey via trade. It's no secret that Hamilton carries risk and it's no secret that the Rangers front office knows what they're doing.
Meaning the Mariners could still make that long-awaited splash, for better or worse.