Inge to return

Brandon Inge has come to terms, sort of, about losing his starting gig. He will report to camp with pitchers and catchers and is ready to do what ever it takes to get on the field.

In breaking his media silence Inge said he was disappointed. He also went on to explain his mindset a little bit

“I look at it this way. My absolute preference would be to stay in Detroit as the starting third baseman. My next preference would be to stay in Detroit, starting at any other position. Next on the list would be to start elsewhere at third base — and fourth would be to stay in Detroit as a bench guy.”

As for catching, Inge said, “I can still do it. I’ll do whatever helps this team win as many games as it can. That’s the hand I’ve been dealt and I have to make the best of it.

Inge lovers and Inge haters are likely to break down his statements (and there’s more than just the quote, click through for the rest) in the same polarizing way they break down much of what Inge does. I’ll do what I usually do and hang out right in the middle.

The Good

The guy just wants to play everyday. I can’t fault a guy for that attitude and it’s pretty much exactly what I’d hope for from a player. He also sounds very hungry, which could bode well if he can translate any of that into performance. He’s also advocating doing what he can to help the team win. He’s also got an eye towards being the starter in 2009 which could help the Tigers who don’t have a ready replacement.

The Bad

He still doesn’t seem to own any of his demotion and views it as something that happened to him. I have no problem with that attitude if he had replicated 2006 last year and they still went and got Cabrera. But Inge played his way out the starting role. Much like the Ted Williams comment, and the Babe Ruth comment, and the other statements made during his struggles this last year, he hasn’t recognized that his performance is part of the problem.

As for what it means for the team, this settles any ambiguity about what will happen if Vance Wilson isn’t ready. The Tigers also have a player they can stick all over the field and get some solid defense. It also gives Brandon a chance to re-establish some value for either a future starting gig or a possible mid season trade. This is pretty much what had to happen for both sides, and I’m glad it’s working out.

27 Comments

  1. Hawk

    January 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    I admit – I enjoy watching great defensive plays over offense. Inge has been a joy to watch at third. I think he will prove to be invaluable as a role player, spelling IRod, Cabrera, and all 3 outfield positions. I really do wish he could show a bit of maturity and come to grips with the fact that he put himself and the Tigers in this position. Trading him would be best for all, but DD will not just give him away. As Bilfer alluded to, I think a midseason trade may be more likely, especially if Inge can show something with the bat.

  2. Lee Panas

    January 28, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    All along I thought the supersub role would be great for him so this is good news. It gives the bench a lot more flexibility. I’m actually kind of hoping Wilson will not be ready to start the season because I think they’ll have a better bench without him.

  3. Ian C.

    January 28, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I agree that it’s a concern if Inge doesn’t take accountability for his play last season. But if this is something that Inge works into one of those “chip on his shoulder” scenarios, and it helps fuel some reinvigorated play, he can tell himself whatever he wants. If he remains stubborn to change, especially in regards to his work with Lloyd McClendon, then that attitude could definitely be a problem.

    But for now, he appears to be taking his medicine like a man.

  4. Rings

    January 28, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    It’s an expensive solution, but the money was already spent. Outside of an inconsistent stick (at best) from Inge, he’s a perfect utility guy and gives Leyland a great deal of lineup flexibility with a group that has little without him.

  5. Brian P

    January 28, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I find myself agreeing with Lee. Wilson would not be a significant improvement over Inge at catcher, and Inge’s late-innings third base capability obviously makes the decision easier. Not to mention Vance’s health and physical conditioning uncertainty.

    Inge should be able to rack up a good amount of at bats playing at third and backup catcher, allowing him to demonstrate a return of offensive ability to interested teams. Or perhaps a starting catching role for ’09. But, for now, we’ll just let Pudge call the signs from the dugout. :)

  6. Chris in Dallas

    January 28, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Well, for what it’s worth, the Fielding Bible has Inge at +61 at 3B since 2005 (2nd best in MLB) while they’ve got Cabrera at -37 (worst in MLB). I hope he gets at least a *little* bit of time at the hot corner, with Cabrera in LF.

  7. Kathy

    January 28, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Billfer got it right on.

  8. Sam

    January 28, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    You know, the Tiger’s excercised Pudge’s option for 2008 but beyond that he is unsigned. If Inge plays well at Catcher and Pudge has another sub 300 obp, could Inge be the Tiger’s catccher in 2009??

    -Sam

  9. Joey the K in Portland OR

    January 28, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    I would think Brandon would be able to get a fair amount of AB’s being a supersub. I guess we no longer need to pull a stunt like playing him at every position in one game tho…

  10. BobS.

    January 28, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    I don’t think Inge will want for at-bats this year,and once he realizes that fact he’ll more easily accept his ‘demotion’.The irony is,he could become more widely appreciated(inside and outside of Detroit) with his ability to play all around the diamond.Off-hand,the only guy I can think of playing today who would be a more productive(better bat and exceptional base runner)utility-player is Chone Figgens.
    The Tigers also have a recent tradition of ‘versatility’,with Tony Phillips and,to a lesser extent, Shane Halter.In fact,maybe we can look forward to Inge playing all nine positions,a la Halter.

  11. Vince in MN

    January 28, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Here’s a slightly different take on the interview. Make of it what you will:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/ne.....;type=lgns

  12. Rings

    January 28, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Sentiments here are probably correct.
    If Wilson isn’t recovered, he’ll probably be DL’d or released…which puts Inge on the team as the backup. (…which also means that both Raburn & Santiago probably make the team, with a bench including them, along with Inge and Thames.)
    Inge would get 40-50 starts as at C, and likely another 20-50 at other positions, so he’ll be a big part of the team no matter what. (That’s still too many AB’s for my taste, but a fair compromise for the situation and a guy who figures to play a bigger role in ’09 if he can handle catching duties and at least maintain his ’07 or better offensive performance).

    Note to Chris: As for Miggy, it sounds like that issue has been settled, barring injury, and its highly unlikely he’s playing any outfield. He’s the Tigers’ third baseman, no matter what the Fielding Bible says.

  13. TC Chris

    January 28, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Inge’s comments look extremely honest. This is kind of what people ask athletes to say – this is the antithesis of the say a lot but don’t say anything athlete-speak.

    It’s cool that he’s come out and said this, I’m happy to see the competitiveness. I hope he follows through on it, he can be an excellent sub and probably get a good bunch of playing time.

  14. Vince in MN

    January 28, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Our catcher comparison based on last year’s hitting:

    I Rod: .281 .294 .420 .714
    Rabelo: .256 .300 .357 .657
    Inge: .236 .312 .376 .688

    So, Inge represents a slight upgrade as the backup catcher, but nothing great. You could make the argument that he is at least as good offensively as Pudge, but then that isn’t saying much either. Hopefully both will recover some, but I am not anticipating much, since both, for whatever reasons, seem to have difficulty in making adjustments. Inge’s greatest asset is his versatility, which as Lee Panas mentioned above, would allow the Tigers to have a stronger bench than if Wilson is the backup catcher.

  15. Dave

    January 28, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Thank goodness he’s come around. I now can look forward once again to interviews in which Inge says he’s worked out his swing every single time he goes 2-4 in a game.

  16. Tim in TX

    January 28, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Let the psychological predictions begin; does Inge get it together to prove to DD and others that he is the player we saw in 2006 or does the whole thing play with his head so much that he is distracted and his performance declines even further?

    My opinion: winning cures everything. If the Tigs come out of the gate hot, Inge is happy and reclaims his title of “Everyday Man Hero”.

  17. Stephen

    January 29, 2008 at 2:21 am

    Give Inge 350 ab’s, let him hit .260 with 12 hr’s and 49 rbi’s. It’s not my money. When he’s your 10th guy his severe shortcomings don’t seem so short.

  18. Stephen

    January 29, 2008 at 2:23 am

    And slightly off point: I’ve not been paying as much attention the past month or so, but can someone tell what the Tigers did this offseason to upgrade their greatest weakness, uh, the bullpen? I’m psyched about the guys they added, but that bullpen still looks sucky.

  19. Dave

    January 29, 2008 at 8:29 am

    They added Cruceta. Problem solved!

  20. Sideshow Cecil

    January 29, 2008 at 8:52 am

    I am glad to see this quote from Leyland in the Freep:

    “You don’t trade for a young, franchise-type player like Cabrera and then take him out for defense,” Leyland said.”

    I was slightly worried we were going to pull Cabrera out in the 7th inning every time we had a one-run lead (like Marcus Thames/Sean Casey). It’s good that the higher-ups in the organization realize that Miggie is one of the 5 best offensive players in the game and that’s kind of valuable.

  21. Coach Jim

    January 29, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Cecil, you’re exactly right. Not only would that rob Miggy of 50 or so AB (and the stats they will generate), but it sends the wrong message to a star – you’re not good enough. The last thing we want to do is to have a booming bat start questioning his defense; that usually makes things worse.

    So if a trade is in the wind, who might it be? One of the teams that makes sense is the Twins. They have what we need, relief pitching, and a need for an upgrade at 3B.

  22. Chris in Dallas

    January 29, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Coach: You think the Twins need to upgrade over Nick Punto at 3B? He’s like Brooks Robinson and A-Rod rolled into one! OK I’m sorry I couldn’t say that with a straight face.

    Anyway, using Inge as a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy will probably help the team more than having him as an everyday guy hurt. The positives: obviously he plays well above average defense, and he can hit left handed pitching decently enough(.277/.349/.459 for his career). That gives you the option of using him in LF vs. LHP, or maybe even CF on occasion if Granderson continues to struggle against lefties. If Wilson can’t get it done, it looks like he’s willing to get behind the plate again too. Versatility is good.

  23. Ronnie DeLaura

    January 29, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Get that bum outta here. Geez, hes getting payed a lot of money to basically ride with the team all the way to a world series championship. He should just be grateful to be a professional athlete and the fact that people look up to him for doing something that he should just love doing. I swear I know a lot of people dont believe me but if I just had the chance to be a pro I would not try to get the most money. I would just want to play. Give me 1 mil a year just to play a game and I would be in heaven.

  24. Dave BW

    January 29, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    You’re right, Ronnie – I don’t believe you. If you could get two million dollars just as easily as one million, it would be ridiculous not to do the former.

  25. Walewander

    January 30, 2008 at 2:08 am

    If he can adjust to the role, Brandon has just the right attitude to be a supersub. It may irk people, but Brandon’s “everything’s going great, I’m gonna kick ass today” is certainly a valuable mindset when you have a bad day and have to wait a few for your next start. I really hope it works out for him here, I love watching him at 3rd, and in 05-06 generally.

  26. Kevin in Austin

    January 30, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I’m really disappointed with what Brandon said. Had he just said one time “I know that I sucked last year” then he could have complained all he wanted to. But man, as I read his comments, I couldn’t help but recall all the Ks and ground outs in late inning RS situations. He’s an expensive utility player, but I’d rather keep him around than trade him at his current value.

  27. Overseas

    February 3, 2008 at 6:52 am

    I really hope he gets more playing time at third and stick Cabrera in the outfield. He has golden glove numbers defensively and has only to improve on his plate appearances. Cheer up Inge you will be back full time at third base in a year. This should be a wake up to Inge to start hitting the ball to win games. If he puts up the numbers at the plate I see him back at third.