DALLAS (AP)—The Texas Rangers will emphasize situational hitting over slugging next season. That new approach will come from a new hitting coach, too.
Rudy Jaramillo turned down a one-year deal Wednesday, ending a 15-year run during which the Rangers were among the most feared lineups in baseball and players routinely credited him for their success.
Jaramillo said his departure has nothing to do with the team’s shift in philosophy. It’s about the uncertainty that comes with the club being for sale and, at 59, wondering what it’s like to be a free agent.
“It’s just time for me to do right now,” Jaramillo said. “I just felt I needed to try to get some security.”
Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez(notes) and Alex Rodriguez(notes) won MVP awards under Jaramillo’s tutelage. Texas hitters won three home run titles, two RBI crowns and a batting championship, and the team consistently ranked near the top in power numbers and runs.
However, the Rangers made the playoffs only three times during his tenure, most recently in 1999, and have never won a postseason series. They mounted a surprising challenge this season, lasting until the final month.
The bigger surprise was that pitching and defense led the way—and that the offense lagged, slowed by Josh Hamilton(notes) being hurt most of the season and Michael Young(notes) being hurt down the stretch.
Texas hit .260 last season, 11th in the AL, but was second in homers. The Rangers were middle of the pack in runs and RBIs.
Jaramillo is a Dallas native. He previously worked for the Astros, helping Jeff Bagwell(notes) blossom into a dominant hitter. He said he’s leaving the organization on good terms, feeling “blessed to be here all this time” and that he hasn’t heard from any teams yet.
“Nobody thought I’d leave here,” he said. “I’m ready, I feel good about the decision. I’m going to miss all those kids. They’re great, all the Ranger people.”
Team president Nolan Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels met with Jaramillo last week and offered him a contract for 2010. They were surprised to be turned down, but understood his reasons.
“He’s put himself in a position that everyone in the game hopes they are able to achieve,” Daniels said. “If he’s not the best, he’s certainly one of the best in the field. He’s got a choice to make and I respect that.”
With or without Jaramillo, the Rangers were planning to try being more disciplined at the plate next season. The buzzword is “situational hitting,” such as stressing contact with two strikes, moving runners over and taking more pitches.
“We felt, and Rudy certainly was in agreement, our walk-to-strikeout ratio has to improve,” Ryan said. “We were all disappointed in the number of strikeouts and lack of walks we had this year. For us to move forward, that’s an area we have to stress.”
Manager Ron Washington said there’s no list of candidates yet.
“You don’t just replace a guy like that,” Washington said.
The rest of Washington’s staff will be back: pitching coach Mike Maddux, bench coach and catching instructor Jackie Moore, third base coach and infield instructor Dave Anderson, first base coach and baserunning instructor Gary Pettis, and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Dallas contributed to this report.