Mitch Moreland has been a pleasant surprise in Texas

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Entering tonight’s game against the Tigers, Mitch Moreland has a .921 OPS with ten home runs and has arguably been the Rangers’ most dangerous hitter thus far in the 2013 season. Going into the season, first base was assumed to be a weak spot for the Rangers as Moreland had been more or less average offensively despite seeing right-handed pitching an overwhelming majority of the time.

As Gil Lebreton of the Star-Telegram points out, members of the media weren’t the only ones who slept on Moreland. Even the Rangers themselves were looking elsewhere for first base options, only to settle on Moreland when none of them materialized.

But the truth is that they’re probably just as taken aback as us media heathens by Moreland’s current rampage. They’ve been shopping for a “real” first baseman, truth be told, since the latter half of 2011, when Moreland hit .241 and only five home runs. In the postseason that year, Moreland had only three hits in 29 at-bats.

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Even after signing free-agent pitcher Yu Darvish from Japan, a $111-million investment, the Rangers were reported to be avid suitors of free agent Fielder. His courtship lingered into the third week of January, 2012.

Rangers fans will wince at the memory of this, but part of the hangup was Josh Hamilton, himself a future free agent.

Lebreton also warns, however, that Moreland also had good stats through May 18 in the past two seasons as well, perhaps a harbinger of things to come.

The Cards dealt Stephen Piscotty to the A’s, in part, so he could be near his ailing mother

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Last night we wrote about the rumored deal between the Cardinals and the Athletics for Stephen Piscotty. The deal is now official, with Piscotty going to Oakland for minor leaguers Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock.

Something else emerged about the deal today: a big reason why St. Louis traded Piscotty to Oakland as opposed to another team was so that he could be near his mother, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease last May. Piscotty and his family are from Pleasanton, California, about 35 miles from Oakland.

Here’s Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:

This was certainly a baseball trade — Piscotty became expendable for the Cardinals after they acquired Marcell Ozuna yesterday — but it was one which could’ve been made with any team with a couple of red or white chip prospects. That Mozeliak considered Piscotty’s personal situation in making the deal with the A’s is a credit to him and his staff.

The 26-year-old Piscotty hit .235 with nine homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games last season. He has hit .268 with 38 homers and 163 RBIs in 2+ major league seasons. He agreed to a six-year, $33.5 million contract extension last spring.

As for the prospects in return: Munoz, 22, hit .300 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs this year for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. Schrock, 23, batted .321 with seven homers and 46 RBIs for Midland, and was a Texas League All-Star.