Kauf Drops: More of Mitch

by Todd K | Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2012
Mitch Moreland - Baltimore Orioles v Texas Rangers

Image: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

By Todd Kaufmann

Sr Columnist



It’s not being about right or wrong. Ok, maybe a little bit.

I remember getting into several debates with fans and bloggers alike about the Texas Rangers and CEO Nolan Ryan saying they were committed to Mitch Moreland at first base when all the talk centered on acquiring free agent first baseman, Prince Fielder.

You really couldn’t blame them. Aside from Albert Pujols, Fielder was the big free agent name during the winter meetings.

There weren’t many who agreed with Nolan’s assessment. Though, to be honest, most said “don’t believe anything the Rangers front office says, they’re not going to show their cards.” While that might be true for some front offices, the statements being made by Ryan, as well as general manager Jon Daniels, I took as the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Not to say Texas never made an offer to Fielder because I’m pretty convinced that they did. Just not one Fielder was willing to take because it wasn’t the most amount of money or years as the Detroit Tigers put on the table.

Some wanted a power hitting corner infielder and some wanted Fielder just for the name alone. While I agreed Moreland wasn’t going to be a 25-30 home run guy, I did believe he could hit .280 to .290 with 20 or more home runs and could push the limit of maybe 75-80 RBI.

Even during our Rangers podcast, myself, Mike Mcgehee and Jeff Johnson talked to Jason Cole of Lone Star Dugout and he agreed that if the Rangers got those kind of numbers from Moreland that they would absolutely take that and call it a victory.

The Rangers didn’t need him to be the lone star, no pun intended, in this lineup. That’s what they had Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, and Nelson Cruz for, not to mention Ian Kinsler who was coming off a 30 home run season in 2011.

Then there were comparisons made between Moreland and former Rangers’ first baseman, Chris Davis. They are comparisons most would understand because Davis was a guy who tore up just about every minor league pitcher he saw.

But every time Texas brought him back to the big leagues, and I mean EVERY time, Davis just couldn’t get the hang of things. Leaving most, myself included, to wonder where the disconnect was between his dominance of the minor leagues and struggles in the big leagues.

I didn’t ever think Moreland was going to be another Chris Davis but I understood the concerns some had about overhyping a particular player. Some had that exact same reaction when another minor leaguer, Mike Olt, was called up earlier this month.

Moreland got off to a slow start to the season, finishing the month of April with a .231 batting average through 17 games (52 at bats). He wasn’t getting to play every day but, even when he was, the results weren’t the greatest.

He had a much better second month of the season, finishing with a .324 average with 5 HR and 14 RBI in 24 games (68 at bats), the kind of numbers Moreland fans had been waiting to see.

However, the injury bug would bite Moreland as it did with other members of the Rangers this season. A strained hamstring would sideline him for more than a month and it made me wonder what kind of player he would be when he finally got to make his return.

So far, he’s shown to be better for the time off. He’s provided clutch hits, including a big RBI double on Thursday night against the Baltimore Orioles and a grand slam, his first official one of his career, on Wednesday night against former teammate Tommy Hunter.

Manager Ron Washington says he’s not surprised by what Moreland has been able to do but he’s got to be at least a little impressed, right?

Again, it’s not about being right or wrong about what Moreland was going to be this season and it’s not about how he would affect this team over acquiring Prince Fielder.

There are some players you have an idea about. The same could be said about those who have been in the corner of Matt Harrison for the majority of the season. He’s had his ups and downs, same as every starter in the rotation but, for the most part, he’s been one of the top starters the Rangers have. He’s the guy you would hand the ball to if you were beginning game one of a playoff series.

You can’t expect one player to be another and you shouldn’t discard them just because you want the other guy with the bigger name.

As of right now, Fielder does have the better numbers but he also has over 200 more at bats (449) than Moreland (227) at this point in the season.

Say what you want about wanting one player over the other, you have to admit that sticking with Moreland wasn’t exactly the worst decision by the Rangers. He’s played out of his mind since coming off the disabled list, hitting somewhere in the neighborhood of .340 and has 6 RBI in just his last two games.

He’s not going to be Josh Hamilton or even Adrian Beltre, but as long as he gives you solid defense at first base, continues to come up with clutch hits and a little bit of power on any given night, I think you’ll be more than happy with him.

There’s no debate or comparisons between him and Chris Davis nor should there ever be again. It was never about being right or wrong, it was believing in something others weren’t sure they wanted to.

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