A Chapter Closes

Wow – what a season, huh?  The first chapter in what will hopefully be a long and prosperous Texas Rangers era here in Hickory has come to a conclusion.  Does anyone else feel like it was just yesterday when this season was gearing up?

Funny, how they all seem to flash by in the blink of an eye.  This season was one that was filled with ups and downs.  One in which the on-field expectations, at first glance, proved to be loftier than reality would enable this team to climb.  After all, none of the Crawdads coaches or Rangers brass wanted a .500 season, and you can be sure the players didn’t either. 

But, this is where a second glance is necessary, a little bit of a deeper perusal into the threads of the season, in order for the true successes to become evident.  It is true that this Crawdads team has hung up the cleats for the offseason, however, many 2009 Crawdads still have baseball to be played. 

Nine players who spent considerable portions of the season with the ‘Dads are currently getting ready for the 2009 California League Playoffs as members of the Bakersfield Blaze, who are in the postseason for the first time in the last eight years.  In fact, starting on Aug. 7, the Blaze won 24 of 29 games to secure their playoff berth – a time period that coincides interestingly with the influx of players they received from the Crawdads.

This is where the Crawdads true success lies this season – in the role that this team played in helping the Rangers system.  It is undeniable that these coaches and players wanted to win here in Hickory, and wanted to continue playing for a championship, but it is also important to keep in mind that system success and the advancement of players is part of the goal as well.

The overarching bench mark of success is how many players make it to the big leagues.  The Crawdads have nine currently playing a crucial role with the playoff-bound High-A affiliate, an 18 year-old prospect in AA in Martin Perez and Jared Bolden finishing the season in AAA hitting .350 with a home run — not too shabby, eh?

So, while playoffs and a race for the SAL championship here in Hickory would have definitely been a welcome occurrence, one cannot discount the very real success of the Crawdads in advancing numerous players into meaningful roles throughout the higher levels of the Rangers farm system.  And the best part of it all is, with the closing of the 2009 chapter, we all now get to look forward to picking the proverbial book back up in 2010 to begin the next journey, one that will hopefully end with some hardware in Hickory!

As always, Go ‘Dads… and the Blaze!


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