It's finally started, the 2009 MLB season. The other professional and collegiate sports are or can be entertaining some of the times, but the one thing they all have in common is that none of them are baseball.
If 2009 is anything similar to the 2008 season, we are in for another entertaining and record-breaking season.
With Spring Training just getting underway, all 30 teams have the same goal in mind and each truly believes this is their year. And the Rangers are no exception.
At times last season the Rangers seemed like an AL West contender or at least showed some playoff potential. But in the end the lack of quality pitching, timing of fielding errors, and the inconsistency of clutch hitting kept the Rangers out of the playoff mix late in the season.
But 2009 is a new year, and this team is once again young and hungry for some success.
Many of you might have heard from baseball analyst, sports writers, or even me that the Rangers organization is playing for the 2010 season. But don't take that statement as though the team, coaches, and players has already given up on this season. Not by a long shot.
These players are working toward an AL West title. That's the team goal, and that mind frame is exactly what these seasoned veterans, young pitchers, and up-and-coming rookies need to be successful not only today, but in 2010 as well.
This past offseason saw the free agent departure of players like Milton Bradley, Ramon Vazquez, and the trading away of catcher Gerald Laird. But on the flip-side the organization brought in veteran players like Andruw Jones, Derrick Turnbow, and Omar Vizquel and the return of Eddie Guardado. The Rangers youth movement that started last season will continue again this year with players like Elvis Andrus, Guillermo Moscoso, Jose Vallejo, Omar Poveda, and Greg Golson making the 40-man roster.
Along with the chemistry of the new acquisitions and veteran players, other questions like the styles and eventual success or lack of success for newly appointed pitching coach Mike Maddux (last season he was the Milwaukee Brewers pitching coach and is also the brother of Greg Maddux). Other interesting questions are how will the young pitchers handle another season at the Ballpark, the transition from shortstop to third base for Michael Young, the emergence of Elvis Andrus, can Josh Hamilton have another power hitting season, and many other questions.
What we do know is that once again the team is going to rely on its youth with some veteran experience to win games. Yes, the Texas Rangers are the number one overall ranked farm system in all of baseball. But getting similar success at the Major League level is the toughest part, the success of the Tampa Bay Rays last season is a good sign.
This team is built for a playoff push in 2010 (I first said that in 2004, believe me you can ask my best friends), but that doesn't mean these players and coaches are not looking for a winning season this year, 2009.
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