By Tom Duerr, CBS 11 News

NOTE: This blog is a result of a conversation I had with CBS 11 Sports Producer and pragmatist, Chris Bullock.

145454889 Thinking The Unthinkable: Time To Trade Josh?

ARLINGTON, TX – MAY 26: Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers jogs off the field between innings against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 26, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

One week into June, the Rangers have lost seven of their last ten, they have a losing record over the past 38 days, and the question is — what needs to be done?

A lot of fans are calling for the Rangers to make a big trade. I honestly think we’re a little early to start shipping people out of town. The team has been dealing with a nasty illness in the locker room along with struggling offense and defense. In fact, you can put it this way, anything bad that will happen to the Rangers has in the past month.

This is a fad. And this too shall pass, just like the Rangers’ hot start in April.

While I think it’s a little early to look at making a major move to jump start the team, one has to wonder about what we can call the “inevitable.” What will happen to Josh Hamilton at the end of the season?

The slugger is having one of the best offensive years of his career. He’s also at the end of his contract and has made it somewhat clear that he plans to see what he’s worth at the end of the season. (He has not said that in so many words, but he’d be foolish not to.) In that case, wouldn’t it be fair and smart of the Rangers to see what he’s worth?

I ask the Rangers fan here and now — what is Josh Hamilton worth to the Texas Rangers?

As of June 8, Hamilton has hit 22 HR and driven in 59 runs. He’s a fan and clubhouse favorite and sparks excitement every time he steps to the plate. But history has proven he is an injury risk, he’s strikeout prone and his off-the-field incidents are reason to pause for the Rangers.

If Hamilton intends to test the free agency waters after the season ends (whenever that may be for the Rangers), wouldn’t it be a smart move to see what the Rangers can get for the outfielder and offensive machine? Given the choice of letting Hamilton walk for free, or using him as trade bait for what the Rangers need now and in the future, I think most fans would chose the latter.

Losing him would remove a bat from the lineup. But I honestly don’t think its something the current Rangers batting order couldn’t absorb. Defensively, the team may take a hit. But defensively, I think Craig Gentry could become a solid everyday centerfielder if given the opportunity to own that job — at least in the interim.

Right now the Rangers need a strong, dependable starting pitcher, a veteran outfielder who can provide some pop and a really good pinch hitter (preferably a switch-hitter). There are a lot of teams out there who would give up an awful lot for the ability to write “Josh Hamilton” on their lineup card everyday. Maybe it’s time to see what we can get for him.

I ask again — what is Josh Hamilton’s worth to the Texas Rangers? Is he the player who brings home a World Series crown? Or is he the player who can bring us the players who will bring home a World Series crown?

I want to know what you think. Leave a comment on my blog and let me know what you think.