"This is my decision. I want to go out there and see where I stand in the game."
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels met with Jaramillo on the final weekend of the season. Daniels told Jaramillo that the Rangers wanted him back. Club president Nolan Ryan conveyed the same feelings in a meeting with Jaramillo after the season. But the Rangers only offered a one-year deal and were surprised when Jaramillo turned them down.
"I was hopeful and expecting that he would accept our offer," Daniels said. "But I understand that he has put himself in a position that everyone in the game hopes to achieve, where you've got options. He's, if not the best, certainly one of the best in the field. He's at a point where he's got choices to make, and I've got to respect that.
"He felt that it was time for him to see what was out there, arguably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I don't think he meant that exclusively from a compensation standpoint, but also from a challenge standpoint [for] him personally."
The Rangers have extended invitations for all of their coaches to return but only pitching coach Mike Maddux is signed for 2010.
Gary Pettis has been invited back as the outfield/first-base coach and could get consideration as a hitting coach. He was a hitting instructor in the Brewers organization for two years before being hired by the Rangers. Minor League hitting coordinator Mike Boulanger could also get consideration. Former big league hitting coaches Thad Bosley and Gerald Perry are also possibilities.
"A guy of Rudy's status, you just don't replace that, but you go out there and try to find the best available guys that fits the needs we're looking for," manager Ron Washington said. "We haven't really started compiling the list yet, but there are certainly some very good hitting coaches out there.
"The main area that I'm most concerned with is the situational area. Team play. I think we were very inconsistent at that, and more than anything else, I think the players have to take the acceptance for not getting that done. But that's something we better harp on during spring training: play to the situation of the ballgame."
The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros are two teams believed to potentially have an interest in pursuing Jaramillo, who had served as Texas' hitting coach since 1995 and is widely considered one of the best at his role in baseball. The Rays and Indians have an opening for a hitting coach.
Jaramillo is under contract until Oct. 31, but the Rangers will grant permission to teams wanting to talk to him before then.
"I feel confident that I've proved myself in this game and people will realize that," Jaramillo said. "Even if they don't, I still feel this is something that I have to do."
Entering this season, Rangers hitters had captured 17 Silver Slugger Awards, four Most Valuable Player Awards, three home run titles and three RBI crowns under the tutelage of Jaramillo.
"I thought we had a very good meeting with Rudy after the season was over," Ryan said. "We sat down and discussed his observations, our observations, the areas that we thought we needed to improve in to move forward. I felt like it was a very productive meeting that we were all in agreement with. I think we were just surprised that Rudy chose not to come back."
The Rangers led the Majors in runs scored with 901 in 2008 but dropped to 784 runs in 2009.
"We felt like, and Rudy was certainly in agreement with this, is that our walk-to-strikeout ratio had to improve," Ryan said. "We were all disappointed in the number of strikeouts and the lack of walks that we had this year, and we felt like for us to move forward, that was certainly an area that we had to stress with the hitters.
"And maybe have a different approach with two strikes. We all feel like that is an approach we're going to have to see our guys adopt if we're going to move forward."
Jaramillo will be a tough act to follow in the clubhouse. Michael Young won a batting title with Jaramillo as his hitting coach and was his biggest supporter. Second baseman Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz were also All-Stars who flourished under Jaramillo's watch.
"I'm going to miss those kids," Jaramillo said. "I love them. I've been around Michael Young and Ian Kinsler the longest but that's the way this game is. It's hardball. But they've got to be pros about it. They've got to get back to business and help the Rangers win."