|2009 Texas Rangers|
|Major League affiliations|
|General manager(s)||Jon Daniels|
|Local television||Fox Sports Southwest|
KDFI, channel 27 (MyNetworkTV)
KDFW, channel 4 (Fox)
Tom Grieve, Josh Lewin
|Local radio||KRLD 105.3 FM (Weekdays)|
KRLD 1080 AM (Weekends)
Eric Nadel, Dave Barnett
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2009 signified the continuation of a strategy implemented by General Manager Jon Daniels in the summer of 2007. The plan to improve the club emphasized the acquisition and development of prospective talent within the Rangers' organization. Several young players such as SS Elvis Andrus, OF Julio Borbon, and pitchers Derek Holland and Tommy Hunter made their big league debuts in 2009 after spending time in the Rangers' minor league system. Ranked as the #1 farm system by Baseball America prior to the start of the season, the organization began the season with several of its heralded prospects still in the minor leagues. Emergence of these prospects on the Major League level gave the franchise and its fan base a brighter hope for the future, in line with the objective of competing for the A.L. West title in 2010 and beyond.
Notable performances from several core players as well as a well-coached pitching staff contributed to a greatly improved record and allowed the Rangers to compete for the division and wild card playoff berths well into the final weeks of the season.
* spot starter
Opening day of the 2009 season saw the Rangers open the year at home for the first time in four years. In a 10-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians, the club roughed up reigning A.L. Cy Young winner Cliff Lee. A sweep of the Indians was quickly forgotten as the Rangers were swept by the Tigers in Detroit over the first weekend of the year. The Rangers dropped 5 games in a row before bouncing back in their last game against the Orioles on April 15. That day, MLB's "Jackie Robinson Day", 2B Ian Kinsler went 6-for-6 at the plate, hitting for the cycle. Kinsler became the fourth player to perform the feat in a Rangers uniform and the first player since 1890 to record a 6-hit cycle. The Rangers dropped the next two games at home to the Royals, and before Sunday's game many observers openly questioned manager Ron Washington's job security. In that game, the Rangers' oft-criticized bullpen recorded four scoreless innings in relief, allowing the lineup to rally in the 8th inning. In a 5-5 tie game, 3B Michael Young led off the bottom of the 9th inning with a 427-foot walk-off home run, the first of his career. Washington's position as manager appeared to be saved as the Rangers headed to Toronto, where they bested Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay in the first game. Game 2 of the series saw the Rangers debuts of LHP prospect Derek Holland and newly acquired RHP Darren O'Day. O'Day, who arrived in Toronto after first pitch, quickly joined the team at the stadium and was informed upon arrival that he would pitch that night. Wearing Kason Gabbard's #60 jersey, O'Day met his new manager, catcher, and teammates on the pitching mound in the 11th inning. O'Day would be credited with the loss after giving up the winning run. While in Toronto, CF Josh Hamilton made a diving catch against the wall in left-center, suffering the first of several injuries in 2009. The Rangers took 3 of 4 games from another series with the Orioles before ending the month against their first division opponent, the Oakland Athletics, splitting the 2-game set.
The Rangers performed exceedingly well in the month of May, enjoying one of the best months in team history to date. The club quickly went 13-3, a stretch which saw the return (and subsequent re-injury) of Josh Hamilton, several superb outings by Matt Harrison, and mounting concern over the quality of 1B Chris Davis. Aside from two walk-off hits, the 23-year-old was batting .203 by the end of the month, a stark and inexplicable contrast to the breakout season he posted in 2008. Notable was a 3-game sweep of the division rival Los Angeles Angels in Arlington. Domination of each series over division opponents helped the Rangers reach first place in the American League West, and a record 10 games above .500 by the end of May. Young pitchers Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland each earned spot starts during May, each showing flashes of what could be achieved in the future.
Starting Rotation: Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, Holland, Harrison, Hunter*
As the summer months began, the Rangers faltered. Vicente Padilla, an enigmatic presence in the clubhouse and a pitcher that previously led the majors in hit batsmen, was placed on outright waivers June 3. With very little explanation from the club, the Rangers essentially gave up their number two starter to anyone that would have him. Rumors about Padilla's negative attitude in the clubhouse abound, though the official party line was that management was disappointed with the way the right-handed handled adversity after a start the previous afternoon. Though Padilla cleared waivers, this issue would remain unresolved. In conjunction with the roster issues, a major power outage up and down the Rangers' lineup haunted the club throughout the month of June. On June 9, Josh Hamilton reportedly underwent surgery to repair an abdominal muscle, and RHP Brandon McCarthy was sent to the 15-day DL for shoulder issues. LHP Matt Harrison and closer Frank Francisco found themselves on the disabled list as well later into the month. These consistent injuries prevented any major gains in the standings. The last day of June saw the call-up of rookie OF Julio Borbon and the Rangers' lead on the A.L. West slowly dwindling as the second-place Angels encroached.
DH Hank Blalock drilled a walk-off home run on the evening of July 1 against the Angels, the beginning of a month in which the Rangers would bounce back from a dreadful June. Rumors in the media continued to circulate about the club's finances, including one that suspected Major League Baseball was loaning money to Hicks Sports Group in order to pay its debts and continue team operations. A great deal of speculation surrounded the Rangers' ability to acquire talent through trades due to a financial impasse. In part due to the return of OF Josh Hamilton on July 6, 1B Chris Davis was optioned to AAA to allow him to work out his issues at the plate. Davis, known for his defensive prowess at first base, failed to continue improving at the Major League level. Hank Blalock was given the first base job for the time being. On the 9th in Anaheim, California, OF/DH Andruw Jones hit 3 home runs in a game, essentially the highlight of an otherwise unspectacular season for the veteran. At the All-Star break, the Rangers remained in control of the A.L. West. Representing the team at the 2009 All-Star Game in St. Louis were 3B Michael Young, OF Josh Hamilton, and RF Nelson Cruz, who like Hamilton in 2008, earned second place in the Home Run Derby. By July 20, the club was 49-41 overall as closer Frank Francisco returned to the DL with pneumonia and several other players miss time late in the month due to bouts with the flu. With the trade deadline looming at the end of the month, the Toronto Blue Jays were assumed to be interested in trading their ace, RHP Roy Halladay, and Rangers observers began speculating on whether or not the club should make a bid. Many felt that a fair trade could be headlined by LHP Derek Holland. As talks reportedly heated up between the teams and an agreement was close, on the eve of deadline day Holland took the mound against Seattle and threw 8 scoreless innings (4 perfect innings), allowing only one hit. Halladay and Holland would remain with their respective teams for the time being.
Starting Rotation: Millwood, Padilla, Feldman, Holland, Hunter, Nippert*
The Rangers traveled to Oakland, precipitating the call-up of RHP Neftalí Feliz from AAA Oklahoma City for the first time. Feliz came out of the bullpen to debut in relief on the night of August 3 and immediately struck out 5 of his first 6 batters faced in two innings of work, his fastball averaging 98.8 mph and maxing out at 100.5 mph. Despite the A's walk-off win that night, Feliz easily secured his place on the big league club. On offense, similar struggles experienced in June seemingly returned to the Rangers in the dog days of the season and many critics pointed to tenured hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, known for his aggressive philosophy. A surprising development on August 8 occurred when number two starter Vicente Padilla was designated for assignment. After his placement on waivers in June, Padilla's issues with teammates and the front office had not been smoothed over and following a particularly poor start against Oakland, the team decided to end its relationship with the Nicaraguan right-hander.
This was a culmination of events over time...We're putting together an organization that pulls together, that stands for something. We intend to have a team in every sense of the word. When one guy doesn't take that to heart, it is apparent. It's not about throwing at batters in specifics. It was about not being a good teammate.-- Jon Daniels, August 8, 2009
Around the same date, photographs of OF Josh Hamilton surfaced on Deadspin.com, showing him visibly intoxicated at an Arizona bar with various women. Hamilton, whose long struggle and recovery from substance abuse was well documented in the public eye, admitted to relapsing in January 2009 and acknowledged that he notified his family and Rangers officials immediately thereafter. Hamilton remembered little of the night, but a drug test several days later came up negative. The weekend of August 15 saw the Boston Red Sox arrive in Arlington tied with the Rangers for the A.L. Wild Card berth. After rallying on Friday night in the top of the 9th inning against closer Frank Francisco, the Rangers stormed back on Saturday. In that game, Neftalí Feliz earned his first Major League save, and on Sunday afternoon the Rangers won the series as Francisco successfully converted the save. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia went on the 15-day D.L. with symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, leaving Taylor Teagarden as the only catcher on the roster. Career minor-leaguer C Kevin Richardson was called up for the first time to spell Teagarden, while the front office worked a deal to re-acquire former Ranger Iván Rodríguez.
The financial issues often quietly mentioned in the media finally erupted on August 17 when the Rangers were unable to sign 2009 first-round draft pick LHP Matt Purke, who opted to attend college and pitch for Texas Christian University. Purke's representatives reportedly asked for a contract close to $4 million, but the club was unable to accept such terms. The Purke affair confirmed the fears of many Rangers fans that the front office's ability to improve the team was restricted by Hicks Sports Group's large debts.
With injuries taking their toll once again, the Rangers found themselves in second place in the West at the end of August, losing 6 of 10 heading into September.
Starting Rotation: Millwood, Feldman, Holland, Hunter, McCarthy, Nippert*
In the second game of a double-header on September 1, Michael Young strained his left hamstring running out an infield single. The injury sidelined the veteran leader for 2-3 weeks, an omen that the Rangers chances to make the playoffs were shrinking. With the ballclub 4 games back of the Angels on September 6 and the performance of staff ace Kevin Millwood unravelling, the Rangers got another bit of bad news when it was reported that Josh Hamilton would be out indefinitely with a pinched nerve in his back. The team pressed hard and generally did little to improve its place in the standings throughout September, and questions concerning the future ownership of the Rangers heated up as playoff potential cooled. Groups under Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg, Houston businessman Jim Crane, and sports agent Dennis Gilbert quickly became known amongst fans as the three main factions jockeying for rights to negotiate with Hicks Sports Group. The emergence of these prospective owners set the stage for a long, complex battle of attrition for ownership of the franchise over the next eleven months. Despite the team's fading hopes, Ian Kinsler joined the "30-30 club" by hitting his 30th home run on September 25 after stealing 30 bases in 2009. On September 27, the Angels clinched the A.L. West championship after defeating Texas 11-0 in Anaheim. Though a slim chance to win the A.L. Wild Card still lingered, this would not be achieved and the Texas Rangers would miss the postseason for the tenth year in a row.
Starting Rotation: Millwood, Holland, Hunter, Feldman
The season would end in October due to certain schedule oddities. The majority of concerns by the end of the regular season surrounded the multitude of arbitration-eligible players on the roster and securing key pieces of the team for the 2010 season. The Rangers ended their season after a 4-3 loss in Seattle at the hands of Cy Young candidate Félix Hernández.
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||97||65||0.599||--||49-32||48-33|
|Starts||Innings Pitched||Strike Outs||Wins||Saves|
|Kevin Millwood (31) : Scott Feldman (31)||Kevin Millwood (198)||Kevin Millwood (123)||Scott Feldman (17)||Frank Francisco (25)|
|Batting Average||Home Runs||RBI||Runs||OPS|
|Michael Young (.322)||Nelson Cruz (33)||Marlon Byrd (89)||Ian Kinsler (101)||Michael Young (.892)|
Note: Pos = Position; G = Games Played; AB = At Bats; R = Runs; H = Hits; HR = Home Runs; RBI = Runs Batted In; AVG = Batting Average; SB = Stolen Bases
Note: G = Games; IP = Innings Pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned Run Average; H = Hits Allowed; BB = Walks Allowed; SO = Strikeouts
|C. J. Wilson||28||26.0||3||3||6||3.12||24||14||19|
Stats updated through June 16.
Stats updated through June 17.
Stats updated through June 17.
Comeback Wins: 15, Largest Comeback: 4 runs
Blown Leads: 10, Largest Blown Lead: 4 runs
Walk-off Wins: 4
Walk-off Losses: 1
|AAA||Oklahoma City RedHawks||Pacific Coast League||Bobby Jones|
|AA||Frisco RoughRiders||Texas League||Mike Micucci|
|A||Bakersfield Blaze||California League||Steve Buechele|
|A||Hickory Crawdads||South Atlantic League||Héctor Ortiz|
|A-Short Season||Spokane Indians||Northwest League||Tim Hulett|
|Rookie||AZL Rangers||Arizona League||Bill Richardson|