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Monday, September 26, 2011
2011 timeline: Early offseason (Nov-Dec)

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Do you remember everything that happened leading up to and during a 2011 season that produced the Rangers second straight AL West title? Well, we won't attempt to document every event. But we will highlight many of the key ones through a timeline. Check back on the blog all this week as we take you through the club's journey from the end of the World Series in November 2010 to now.

Early Offseason: November 3 – December 31

Key date: Dec. 13 – Cliff Lee calls GM Jon Daniels to inform him that he’s heading to Philadelphia to join the Phillies’ stellar rotation. Lee said that’s where he was most comfortable, though his camp tried to see if the Rangers would guarantee a seventh year and the club would not do that. He agreed to a 5-year deal worth a guaranteed $120 million with a vesting option for a sixth year. The Rangers made an offer as high as six years at $138 million with some money deferred and a vesting option for a seventh year at $23 million. In the end, it wasn’t enough to keep Lee from going to Philadelphia. You can read all about it here.

Big awards: Nov. 15 – Neftali Feliz is named 2010 AL Rookie of the Year after setting a rookie record with 40 saves. He moved into the closer’s role a week into the season and was dominant.

Nov. 23: Josh Hamilton wins the AL MVP Award, joining Jeff Burroughs (1974), Juan Gonzalez (1996, 1998), Pudge Rodriguez (1999) and Alex Rodriguez (2003) as MVP winners in Texas. Hamilton led the majors with a .359 batting average and .633 slugging percentage and was in the top-5 in most offensive categories. He won the award despite missing the final month of the season with fractured ribs.

Other moments during that timeframe:

Nov. 3: The Rangers host a rally for fans to celebrate winning the ALCS and advancing to the first World Series in club history. Many of the club’s key players, including Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, and Michael Young were in attendance with members of the front office. The team announces that the mutual option on Vladimir Guerrero won’t be picked up.

Nov. 4: Manager Ron Washington gets a well-deserved 2-year deal after leading the club to the World Series.

Nov. 14: Clint Hurdle accepts managerial job with the Pittsburgh Pirates, meaning the Rangers are searching for the third hitting coach in as many seasons. Hurdle fit in very well with the team culture and helped make the offense more versatile.

Nov. 16: Rangers president Nolan Ryan, managing general partner Chuck Greenberg and general manager Jon Daniels meet with Cliff Lee and his agent, Darek Braunecker, in Arkansas. It’s the start of the club’s push to try to sign the top pitcher.

Nov. 17: Ron Washington finishes second to Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire in AL manager of the year voting.

Nov. 23: The Rangers hire Thad Bosley as the club’s new hitting coach. Bosley was the hitting coach in Oakland from 2000 to 2003 while Washington was the club’s third base coach.

Nov. 29: Yorvit Torrealba agrees to a two-year, $6.25 million contract, becoming the club’s starting catcher.

Nov. 30: Rangers GM Jon Daniels and club president Nolan Ryan meet again with Cliff Lee and his agent in Arkansas as they continue to try to get the ace to come to Texas. That same day, the club signs reliever Yoshinori Tateyama to a one-year deal with club options for 2012 and 2013. Ryan says he believes Lee will make a decision before Christmas.

Dec. 4: Jon Daniels is named Baseball America’s 2010 Major League Executive of the Year.

Dec. 7: The Rangers meet with Cliff Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, at the Winter Meetings to gauge where things are. Lee’s agent met with a handful of teams at DisneyWorld during the Winter Meetings and the Rangers are very much involved.

Dec. 7: Texas listens to offers for Michael Young, though Nolan Ryan stresses the club isn’t shopping the veteran. His name did come up in discussions with Colorado, though the two sides never could agree on any deal.

Dec. 8: The Yankees make an offer of 6 years at about $140 million to Cliff Lee. Ryan asks Lee’s agent to tell the Rangers what it would take to land Lee and admits that while six years is past his comfort zone, Ryan admits that’s likely what it would take to get the pitcher. The club appears willing to do that.

Dec. 9: As the Winter Meetings come to a close, general managing partner Chuck Greenberg, assistant GM Thad Levine and co-chairman of the board Ray Davis fly to Arkansas for one last attempt to lure Cliff Lee to Texas. The Rangers present what Greenberg calls a “menu” of options. But in the end , Lee chooses Philadelphia.

Dec. 23: Rangers agree to a one-year deal with veteran left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes.

Dec. 26: Brandon Webb agrees to terms on a one-year deal for $3 million guaranteed and a possible $5 million more in incentives as he tries to return from injury.

Dec. 31: Former Arlington mayor Tom Vandergriff, who was instrumental in bringing the Rangers to Arlington, passes away.