Josh Hamilton's best fit as a free agent may be Milwaukee, but unfortunately for Hamilton, the Brewers don't need Hamilton -- at all.
Personal problems and injury concerns aside, Josh Hamilton is one of, if not the, top free agent available in the 2012-13 free agent class. Needless to say, Hamilton is a unique player -- both mentally and physically. Hamilton can be the most talented player in all of baseball one week, then completely lose his focus the next week.
Hamilton's strange mental attitude at the plate and on the baseball field may or may not stem from his off the field problems, but it's irrelevant either way -- he's issues both on and off the baseball field. Because of this, Hamilton likely can only thrive in certain baseball markets, which greatly reduces his legitimate suitors this winter, as the free agent looks to cash in for a contract in excess of $100 million dollars.
The Milwaukee Brewers have been one of Hamilton's rumored suitors so far, and for Hamilton, there may not be a better team to play for come 2013. Milwaukee is a mid-sized market, if not a small market, and the demands of success in Milwaukee aren't half as high as they are in cities such as Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York or Arlington.
Anchored by Ryan Braun, the Brewers already boast one of the most potent lineups in all of baseball. Should Hamilton join the fray in Milwaukee, he'd certainly receive a fair share of pitches to hit.
Perhaps most importantly, Jerry Narron is Milwaukee's hitting coach, the same Narron that served as Hamilton's accountability partner while Hamilton was in Texas. Hamilton, of course, has an accountability partner to help avoid relapses in his personal life, as the slugger has moved on from past addictions. With Narron already in Milwaukee, Hamilton can at least feel somewhat comfortable -- if he signs there.
There's only one problem with the Brewers and Hamilton: the Brewers don't need Hamilton. At all.
Milwaukee already boasted the National League's top scoring offense in 2012 without Hamilton. Milwaukee's left field, where Hamilton really should be playing, is occupied by Milwaukee's face of the franchise, which would leave Hamilton either to play center field or right field -- neither of which are ideal for the 2010 American League MVP.
Money is also a problem for Milwaukee. Milwaukee isn't exactly known for dolling out nine-figure contracts, save for Braun, who is the face of the franchise. The Brewers let Prince Fielder, a home grown superstar, walk away in free agency last winter. The Brewers let CC Sabathia, who they paid a hefty price for at the trade deadline, walk away in free agency, and watched him sign with the New York Yankees.
Further, Hamilton doesn't satisfy a need for the Brewers. Milwaukee needs pitching more than anything -- especially after failing to sign Zack Greinke to a long-term extension, and subsequently trading him to the Los Angeles Angels. Shaun Marcum is also set for free agency, and will leave a hole in Milwaukee's rotation.
With money being an issue in Milwaukee, and Hamilton not filling a need for the Brewers, there's little to no reason for Milwaukee to commit a large financial investment on a luxury.
Of course, it's fun for general managers and fans to dream of "what if" lineups, but that's not how baseball works. What if the Brewers sign Hamilton? Well, they'll have a bad ass lineup, but they'll also be setting themselves up for failure in the long run, with huge commitments to Braun and Hamilton.
Would Hamilton take less money to play in a market where he'll probably be comfortable? Probably not, especially considering he won't give the Rangers a discount, but given how he's unlikely to remain a Ranger, it might be wise for Hamilton to take less to play for Milwaukee.
Simply put, the Brewers don't need Hamilton. Hamilton, though, might just need an environment like Milwaukee.