http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?news ... 6370&rfi=6
The longer Travis Hafner's slump continues, the more likely it seems that it's something other than a lack of the proper mechanical adjustments at the plate that is the problem.
Hafner's beyond that.
He has been a productive major league hitter, a star quality hitter, for three years. Hitters of that caliber don't suddenly lose it at an age when they should be moving into their prime.
Ok, except for Carlos Baerga.
So at this point it seems fair to assume that Hafner is more mentally distracted than mechanically challenged. It seems fair to assume that he's being distracted by outside issues. Like what? Oh, I don't know, like maybe his contract situation?
As you might recall, negotiations on a extension for Hafner, who can become a free agent after 2008, progressed into the opening weeks of the regular season, but then they were abruptly halted without an agreement being reached.
Is Hafner's season-long slump being caused by some internal distress over the money he left on the table? Is it caused by his disappointment over the Indians' offer? Is it caused by the knowledge that it's a gamble to turn down millions of dollars when one ill-timed injury can prevent you from ever getting the contract you think you deserve?
None of us can climb into Hafner's head to know what he's thinking when he steps into the batter's box. But he's clearly been distracted this season, and his contract situation is the most logical explanation.
According to one source, the deal Hafner turned down from the Indians was for five years and $70 million. Another source said that's a little high, and that the offer was actually one year and $10 million less than that.
Either way, that's a lot of money to walk away from, even for a guy who leads the league in walks. Jake Westbrook, who certainly could have gotten more in the free-agent market, jumped at the Indians' three-year $33 million offer. Westbrook signed that contract, and a week later he was on the disabled list with an injury.
Think that might have gotten Hafner's attention? I'm not saying Westbrook was right or wrong to jump quickly at the Indians' offer, nor am I saying Hafner is right or wrong by not doing so.
But with all this stuff swirling around Hafner, who has never before been in this situation -- i.e. impending free agency -- it's not unreasonable to assume that when he steps into the batter's box there's more going on inside his head than trying figure out how to pull a 95 mph fastball.