Tag: Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland Reportedly Agrees to Contract with Red Sox

Free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland was one of the more appealing options on the market for teams looking to add power to their lineups, but he has reportedly chosen his next team.

Moreland has agreed to a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Prior to the deal, Moreland was also being pursued by the Cleveland Indians, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Toronto Blue Jays were also talking to Moreland, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.

Moreland, 31, had spent his entire career with the Texas Rangers, hitting 22 or more home runs in three of the past four seasons. In 2016, he hit just .233 but added 22 homers and 60 RBI. It was a bit of a down year after an impressive 2015 that saw him hit .278 with 23 home runs and 85 RBI.

Moreland can be utilized as either a first baseman or a designated hitter, though he’s best suited to a platoon in either role, given his struggles against left-handed pitching. In the past three seasons, he’s hitting .245 against lefties, with just 10 of his 47 home runs in that time frame coming against southpaws.

Boston was in the market for a designated hitter after David Ortiz’s retirement. 


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Texas Rangers Shouldn’t Add Any More Major Offense: Keep Economic Mitch Moreland

I am a firm believer that the Texas Rangers‘ 2014 offense is set for Opening Day. That means the club should turn away from making any further significant signings to upgrade the offense. 

Instead, the Rangers should be very pleased with the lineup they will field next season. There is a nice mix of high-paid star talent and value guys who outplay their contracts.

One of those high-value guys for the Rangers is Mitch Moreland, who figures to be Texas’ designated hitter. But Moreland is especially valuable to the Rangers.

For one, he is a dirt-cheap 20 and 60 hitter, who represents a legitimate power threat in the lineup. Secondly, he is an above-average defensive first baseman. His presence on the team provides manager Ron Washington with some options to fill the DH spot. If Wash wants to field a particularly strong defensive infield, he can pencil in Moreland at first while Prince Fielder is the DH. 

Meanwhile, I’ve heard many Rangers fans say that they’d like Jon Daniels to pursue Kendrys Morales and make him the full-time DH in the Texas lineup. If Morales were signed, it’s very likely that Moreland would be put on the trade block.

Texas should keep Moreland. Above all, his overall abilities help to balance the payroll. 

Let’s do a quick comparison of Moreland and Morales, and what each player brings to the club. 


Mitch Moreland

He’s almost two full years younger than Morales. The 28-year-old’s biggest plus to the team is his affordability—his extremely economic power and production. Granted, last year he really struggled at the plate average-wise. He posted career lows in both batting average at .232 and OBP at .299. That is an alarming number. 

But those were career lows that one would assume can really only improve. Especially with the patience and on-base skills of Shin-Soo Choo and Fielder, who will work to wear out the opposing pitcher by the middle innings. As a result, Moreland will usually be hitting against a pitcher who is slightly more worn down than he was facing the Rangers last season.

Again, the batting average and OBP can’t get any worse. Still, though, he hit 23 homers and 60 RBI in 2013, which was a bargain for just over $500,000 last season.

After the Rangers spent a combined $268 million on Fielder and Choo, it can easily be argued that Moreland‘s value to the team has increased because he is so cheap.

Defensively, Moreland is superior to Morales. He is a better athlete and has better range. He showed that on several occasions last season. He complements Fielder’s liabilities on defense beautifully. Still, I expect Moreland will DH around 90 percent of the time.

He’s arbitration-eligible in 2014, and he should definitely make less than Morales per year. Unless he makes $10 million in arbitration—he shouldn’t get even close to that—he’s an overall better value, all things considered, than Morales.


Kendrys Morales

Yes, Morales is a better contact hitter than Moreland. He’s also a switch-hitter. But their power ability is close to even. Signing the 30-year-old would be expensive in both cash and by surrendering a first-round pick—to the division rival Seattle Mariners. I don’t think that’s a wise option, considering Seattle seems like it’s poised to make at least one more major move this offseason. 

Last season, he hit .277 with 23 homers and 80 RBI with the Mariners. It’s true that his batting average was 45 points higher, while his OBP was 37 points higher.

But think about this: If Moreland is the DH the vast majority of the time, does he need to have superior on-base skills? It would be nice, but I think just the additions of Choo and Fielder will help trickle down a better OBP through the lineup.

As long as Moreland is hitting a home run here and there, and can drive in between 55 and 65 runs, that is completely acceptable. 

Morales is older, more injury-prone and a weaker defensive player than Moreland. He isn’t athletic and would be another slow body in the middle of the order hitting behind Fielder and hamstring-hobbling Adrian Beltre.

Remember most of the Rangers’ speed is at the top and bottom of the lineup. Moreland isn’t fast, but he can move well for being a fairly big guy. 

Put it this way: With the offense Texas already has, which might be the best in baseball, is just 20 more RBI worth the additional money and draft pick Morales would cost? I don’t think so.

Having another switch-hitter along with Jurickson Profar is a great advantage, but at what cost? Keep in mind that signing Morales means a Rangers’ first-round pick going to Seattle. I don’t like the sound of that. 

One thing is guaranteed here. Moreland, as long as he is making less than $2 to $3 million per year, will always be outperforming his contract. It’s no guarantee that Morales will outperform or even live up to what he could be paid this offseason. 

Like signing Masahiro Tanaka, this is a question of a need versus a desire. Moreland is sufficient for the role he’ll play this season. Morales, if signed, would likely be the full-time DH like Moreland. I expect Morales will command between $12 and $15 million per year for two to three years. Also keep in mind that Scott Boras is his agent. You know Boras will find a way to squeeze more money out of whichever club signs him. There’s no debating that. 

No, Texas should stand pat with what it currently has offensively. It would be a better option, if anything, to sign Jeff Baker and DH him against lefties. Moreland and Baker combined would likely cost less than Morales, while the Rangers would keep their draft pick.


All stats provided by ESPN.com.

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Best Available First-Base Options After James Loney Deal with Rays

And then there was one.

With news Friday that James Loney has re-upped with the Tampa Bay Rays for $21 million over three years, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, there aren’t many first basemen of note left on the free-agent market.

In fact, it’s pretty much just Kendrys Morales, the former Seattle Mariners slugger, who hit .277 with 23 homers and 80 RBI last year.

Recently, other free agents like Mike Napoli (Boston Red Sox), Justin Morneau (Colorado Rockies), Corey Hart (Seattle Mariners), Garrett Jones (Miami Marlins) all inked new deals, leaving the pickings rather slim.

And yet, there are still teams searching for and in need of help at first base, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Athletics, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros.

That’s why aside from Morales and the few other bottom-of-the-barrel free agents, there’s also a trade market developing at the position. Here, then, are some names to follow among readily available first basemen.

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Early Standouts You Must Pick Up

With the first week of the Major League Baseball season almost coming to a close, it is time to check your waiver wire and pick up that potential bench player who will soon be a fantasy must-start. 

This first player has been amazing in minor leagues and even better in spring training this season, hitting nearly .391. He also just happens to be  the No. 2 bat in the Kansas City Royals’ lineup: center fielder Lorenzo Cain.

Now I know what you are going to say: spring training is nothing. However, this 25-year-old will provide a right-handed bat between leadoff man Alex Gordon and No. 3 hitter Eric Hosmer, both lefties. This will skyrocket Cain’s fantasy value as he will not only receive more at-bats but he would be on base in front of more accomplished hitters. 

Cain also has a ton of upside in terms of power, speed and can hit for a high average as well. He’s projected to hit 15 home runs this season and has potential to get 20-plus stolen bases and a .280 batting average. He has had seven successful seasons at the minor league level with a career batting average of .295.

Even in the major leagues, Cain didn’t sweat: He had a batting average of .306 with seven stolen bases in just 43 games playing for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010.

Kansas City is giving Cain a full-time gig now and he will get playing time everyday. More importantly, he is owned in just 39 percent of ESPN Fantasy Leagues. 

The second player of today’s must-pick-up fantasy stars happened to play 134 games, had over 464 at-bats, hit 16 home runs, drove in 51 RBIs, and had a batting average of .259 while battling hand and wrist injuries all throughout last season: Texas Rangers first baseman Mitchell Moreland.

This power hitting lefty was on fire in the early part of last season before fading down the stretch due to the hand and wrist ailments mentioned above.

Moreland had surgery in the offseason to repair those injuries and is back to 100 percent and will look forward to getting a ton of at-bats this season. 

The trouble with Moreland is, because he is left-handed, he struggles against left-handed pitching: In his career against lefties, he’s hitting just .229 with one home run and 13 RBI in 131 at-bats. So be prepared to play him on a match-up basis.

That was evident when Rangers manager Ron Washington took Moreland out of the lineup this past Friday because the Chicago White Sox were starting left-hander John Danks, and Washington said he wanted as many right-handed hitters in the lineup as possible.

Moreland is a worthy pickup, especially against right-handed pitching and is owned in 81 percent of ESPN leagues. He is also the third most-added first baseman this past week. 

Next on our list, and least-owned (available in 95 percent of ESPN leagues) is San Diego Padres starting pitcher Edinson Volquez.

Baseball fans might remember Volquez from his days as a Cincinnati Red when he was selected to represent the NL in the 2008 MLB All-star game. That season, Volquez was 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA, striking out 206 batters in only 196 innings. Since then, he has been battling injuries, failing to put together a full, healthy season.

The right-handed Volquez came to San Diego in an offseason trade for Mat Latos and moved right into the Opening Day role after Tim Stauffer was placed on the DL. In his first start this past Thursday, Volquez gave up three runs on three hits, but struck out seven batters and was stuck with the loss. 

However, it was a solid performance and the move to San Diego’s Petco Park makes this high-strikeout righty worth a look in all formats. Petco Park is a pitcher’s ballpark, and as long as Volquez remains healthy he will be a solid starter to add to your rotation.

Stop whatever it is your doing and get on your laptop or cell and immediately pick up one of these fantasy gems. If you are at a family event or church for Easter, just excuse yourself to use the bathroom and then just add, drop and these players will take care of the rest. 

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Texas Rangers 2011 MLB Preview

Texas Rangers (2010 record: 90-72)

The Texas Rangers won their first American League pennant, but eventually lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants. Their drive to the Fall Classic was spurred by an MVP season from LF Josh Hamilton, a Rookie of the Year campaign from closer Neftali Feliz, and all-star efforts from five players.

The defending American League champions lost southpaw Cliff Lee through free agency this winter. It seems to me that Lee’s loss, in combination with the loss of several quality prospects they traded to Seattle in exchange for him, will be difficult to overcome in the short term.

The Rangers needed another starting pitcher after his departure, and while Brandon Webb may prove to be a nice addition, he’s more likely to be this year’s version of Rich Harden. I expected the front office to jump on Carl Pavano once Lee bid them adieu, and I suspect they may regret not jumping in on him.

Notable additions: 3B Adrian Beltre, OF Endy Chavez, LHP Arthur Rhodes, C Yorvit Torrealba and RHP Brandon Webb.

Notable subtractions: DH Vladimir Guerrero, LHP Cliff Lee, C Bengie Molina.


Catcher: Mike Napoli

Infield: Mitch Moreland (1B), Ian Kinsler (2B), Elvis Andrus (SS) and Adrian Beltre (3B)

Outfield: Josh Hamilton (LF), Julio Borbon (CF) and Nelson Cruz (RF)

Designated Hitter: Michael Young

The offense will be formidable if it can remain healthy. Nearly all of the key contributors have had trouble remaining on the playing field throughout an entire season.

The attack will again be led by a pair of oft-injured corner outfielders—Josh Hamilton, the reigning AL MVP, and Nelson Cruz, who would almost certainly be an MVP candidate in if he remained healthy for an entire season.

Hamilton has alternated healthy and injury-plagued seasons, but when healthy has produced outstanding numbers, as evidenced by last year’s OPS+ of 175.

Cruz has yet to accumulate 500 ABs in any single season. Last year, he was limited to 108 games by a hamstring injury. His .318 batting average was driven by a 35 percent hit rate—that should correct down to about 30 percent with a corresponding dip in his average (to the .260-.270 range).

Third baseman Adrian Beltre produced an outstanding effort during his lone season in Boston, earning him a six-year, $96 million deal with the Rangers. He has hit .265 or better, with 25-plus HR and 75-plus RBI, in four of his last five seasons. He has outstanding career numbers at Rangers Ballpark, posting a .306 BA and .521 slugging percentage in 51 career games.

DH Michael Young has been pinballed from second base to shortstop to third base during his Rangers career, and with the acquisition of Adrian Beltre he has now been removed from the field all together. He made it known he is not happy with this latest development and the team has attempted to trade him (and his $16 million per year salary).

Whether he spends the year in Arlington or elsewhere, he is a consistent contributor on offense, having amassed a .300 career average, 158 HR and 811 RBI.

Elvis Andrus will not provide much in the way of power or production atop the Rangers lineup (his 6 HR in 2009 were most likely an outlier), but the young shortstop has exhibited excellent plate discipline during his first two seasons in the big leagues.

He will likely hit somewhere around league-average (.270), but his walk rate (10 percent) should enable him to post consistently-solid OBPs. He has excellent speed and base-stealing instincts (65 SB in 2009-10), and should score somewhere in the vicinity of 100 runs with Young, Hamilton, Cruz and Beltre hitting behind him.

Second baseman Ian Kinsler made two trips to the disabled list last year. He struggled to hit home runs at the pace his team had become accustomed, but otherwise compiled strong statistics. He posted a .286/.378/.412 line on the season.

Mike Napoli comes to town from division rival Los Angeles, by way of Toronto. The front office hopes he will stabilize a catching situation that has been in flux for the last couple of years. He has 20-plus home run power, but has had trouble making contact (just a 71 percent contact rate over the last four seasons) and struck out a career-high 137 times last year. He has hit less than .250 in three of his five seasons in the big leagues.

When Justin Smoak was shipped off to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal, the Rangers turned to rookie Mitch Moreland at first base. They liked what they saw of him in the regular season, when he hit .255 with 9 HR in just 145 AB. They subsequently included him on the postseason roster. He rose to the challenge, hitting .348 with 7 RBI in 15 games.

Julio Borbon got off to a slow start last season, but improved as the year progressed. The fleet-footed center fielder was asked to incorporate the bunt into his offensive game and he responded with 17 bunt singles. This year, I suspect he will be asked to steal more bases, as he has the speed to steal 50-plus bases.

Pitching Staff

Rotation: LHP CJ Wilson, RHP Colby Lewis, RHP Tommy Hunter, RHP Derek Holland and RHP Brandon Webb.

Closer: RHP Neftali Feliz.

CJ Wilson moved from the closer’s role into the rotation and had great success. The southpaw went 15-8, with a 3.35 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, last year while striking out 170 hitters in 204 IP. With the departure of Cliff Lee, he is the unquestioned ace of the staff.

Righty Colby Lewis returned to the US last year after spending two year in Japan (he went 26-17, 2.82, in two seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball). When all was said and done, he may have been the biggest surprise in the major leagues in 2010, going 12-13 with a 3.72 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 201 IP. It was the most strikeouts recorded by a Rangers pitcher since Nolan Ryan had 203 K in 1991.

Tommy Hunter went 13-4, 3.73, as a starter last year, largely based on luck (27 percent hit rate and 75 percent strand rate) and getting more than six runs per game in offensive support.

I have questions as to whether he’ll develop into a consistent winner in the big leagues. His gb-fb ratio sits at 50-50, which isn’t the formula for success in Rangers Ballpark. He issues a fair number of walks and doesn’t miss enough bats to get out of difficulty when it presents itself.

There seems to be some debate about whether Matt Harrison or Derek Holland should be in the rotation, but it seems obvious to me that Holland should be the choice here.

Harrison’s numbers are pedestrian, and his walk rate is trending in the wrong direction. He had excellent peripherals early last year, and while he showed rust after returning from knee and shoulder woes, his early-season performance showed considerably more potential than Harrison has shown of late.

The last slot in the rotation should go to former Arizona ace Brandon Webb when he gets healthy—or maybe I should say, IF he gets healthy. The big righty has tremendous stuff, but he has made just one start over the last two years due to shoulder troubles.

The Rangers toyed with the idea of moving Feliz into the starting rotation this year, and while they have moved him back to the closer’s role the front office has said he will join the rotation next season. While he initially resisted the switch to the rotation, he later embraced the idea of his new role in the rotation.

For now, he will return to the bullpen as a dominant closer, with a fastball that regularly sits at 96 to 98 mph—with the ability to hit 100 mph. He has a good curveball that will cause knees to buckle on occasion, but it will flatten out and become hittable if he does not stay on top of it, or if he lowers his arm angle. His changeup is a work in progress.

Opposing batters get the ball in the air nearly half of the time when they make contact against him, and Rangers Ballpark is not a place where you want to give up a lot of fly balls.

Prediction for 2011:
1st place (92-70)

The Rangers should be good enough to repeat as division champs, but the road may be more difficult. For all of the talk about Cliff Lee, the Rangers accomplished what they did in 2010 without him, and when he arrived he was just 4-6, 3.98, in 15 starts—hardly the stuff of a Cy Young winner.

The offense will once again be very strong, if the lineup can stay relatively healthy.

Ultimately, the team’s success in 2011 will be predicated on the pitching staff—whether Webb can get (and stay) healthy, whether Lewis can repeat last year’s surprising performance, whether Hunter and Holland can develop into consistent performers, and whether the bullpen can repeat last year’s success (when their 3.38 ERA was good enough for second in the league).

If the answer to many or most of these questions is in the negative, then it is entirely possible the Athletics will overtake the Rangers for the division crown.

Top Five Prospects:

1. Tanner Scheppers, RHP
2. Martin Perez, LHP
3. Jurickson Profar, SS
4. Michael Kirkman, LHP
5. Engel Beltre, OF

Scheppers entered the 2008 college season as a highly-touted prospect at Fresno State, projected to go in the top ten in the June draft, but a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely and he dropped down to the second round. He did not sign and eventually played in the independent American Association. He was then chosen in the supplemental phase of the first round in 2009 and signed with the Rangers for $1.25 million.

The club kept him in the bullpen last year to protect his shoulder. While the front office says his future is as a starter, it is possible he may end up in the bullpen for the immediate future.

The big league club needs a closer and he has the stuff to be the successor to Neftali Feliz in that role. He has a four-seam fastball that sits at 95 to 97 mph and will tickle 100 mph when he works out of the bullpen. He has two off-speed pitches which are considered to be “plus” pitches (curve ball and slider). His fastball and slider are both considered to be potentially dominant pitches.

No matter which role the club eventually defines for him, he will need to work on the consistency of his mechanics and his release point. The sky is the limit, whether he is in the rotation or the bullpen.

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Texas Rangers Preview: Projecting the 5 Most Improved Rangers in 2011

Blessed with a solid core of dynamic hitters, talented pitchers and skilled defenders, the Texas Rangers possess an exciting, well-rounded team that will endeavor to defend their 2010 American League Championship. 

Stars like Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Adrian Beltre have track records to give an idea of what to expect from them in 2011. If health permits, the Rangers know what type of production they will likely receive from well-established players as they seek to return to the World Series.

To do so, they will need the production from the stars, as well as players stepping up their game throughout the squad. With loads of emerging talent throughout their roster, there is any number of players who could turn a corner in 2011 to make valuable contributions to the Rangers efforts to once again reach the playoffs.

As we steadily progress towards Opening Day, let’s check out some of the Rangers poised to make a leap in their development and become significant players for Texas in 2011. 

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