Although the 2009 season is essentially over, it is, without a doubt, the best season the Rangers have had since their 5-year peak in the late 1990s. Here are a few things I can recall over the past decade. Feel free to add in your remembrances and significant events of the past 10 years.
Rangers enter the millenia as best in the West and cede that position within the year. Juan gone for Justin Thompson, Francisco Cordero, Frank Catalanotto and others. Pudge has his greatest season in just over half of a season, but the Rangers fall apart shortly after his thumb is broken when it collides with Mo Vaughn's bat.
A New Era is announced with the signing of ARod, potentially the greatest player of his generation, as Hicks intends to reshape the Rangers in the mold of the large payroll Yankees.
ARod's True Ranger MVP Year, likely the finest short-stop year of the PED era. Just another losing season for the Rangers.
ARod's MVP Year. The next George Brett arrives. However, the New Era comes to an end with the trade of ARod, who does not want to play with "24 kids" and feels betrayed that the team isn't chock full of veterans (ironic, considering his spoken promise to Hicks that he wouldn't take steroids is now publicly admonished by Hicks as a betrayal). Hart announces the team now needs "financial flexibility" in order to remain competitive.
The Fighting Showalters. Second best season of the decade, thanks to surprising seasons from Drese, the Gambler, Mayday Mahay, Brian Shouse, and Coco. Also, the team appears to be on the verge of having the best infield in baseball with young, potent hitters at 3B, SS, 2B and 1B: Hank, Young, Soriano, Teixeira.
Fighting Showalter. Lots of front office jockeying behind the scenes. Some grumbling from the players. A risky trade after the season sent Alfonso Soriano packing and brought back Wilkerson, Armando Galarraga, and Terrmel Sledge.
Firing Showalter. A late-season sweep by the Devil Rays is generally believed to have been a mutiny, but, perhaps, Showalter's push to acquire Adam Eaton prior to the season at the expense of Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young was really his undoing. However, a risky trade was made after the season, sending John Danks to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy. Ironically, Showalter and at least Jim Reeves loudly complained it wasn't the manager but the lack of pitching that was the problem. The trade appears to confirm this opinion.
A player's manager was brought on board, but it seemed to have little impact on the field. A massive haul of talent is brought into the minor league system through the trade of Teixeira for Harrison, Salty, Beau Jones, Elvis, and Neftali along with June draftees Beavan, Main, Borbon, Hunter, Mitch Moreland & Tim Smith (now in KC with Danny Guetierrez a Ranger), and July international FA signees Martin Perez, Tomas Telis, Ezequiel Rijo, Edwin Garcia, Guillermo Pimentel, and Juan Grullon. Oh yeah, the Rangers final Draft and Follow signee was inked this year: Derek Holland. On Dec 21, the Rangers acquired Josh Hamilton in exchange for Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera.
Spectacular minor league seasons from Holland, Feliz, Chris Davis, Elvis, Max Ramirez, Martin Perez, Tommy Hunter, and others carry the Rangers minor league system to the top ranking. Rangers add Smoak, Robbie Ross, Richard Alveraz, Joe Weiland, Richard Bleier, Tanner Roark, Edwin Escobar, and Esdras Abreu.
A New Hope. Best season of the decade, by far, stemming almost entirely from drastically improved run prevention, initiated by the offseason move of MY from SS to 3B, accelerated by the spectacular in-season growth of Elvis Andrus into a ML SS, and fortified with contributions from young pitchers Holland, Harrison, Hunter, Feldman, and Feliz. Rangers' farm graduates Holland/Feliz/Davis/Elvis and replaces them with Scheppers/Perez/Smoak/Profar/Sardinas. Other notable June draftees and July signees include Braden Tullis, Robert Erlin, Braxton Lane, and Ruben Sierra Jr, whose father unretired from baseball in 2000, joining the Rangers and posted a nice comeback year for the Rangers in 2001.