Third baseman for sale

The Brandon Inge situation has become all consuming for the Free Press and News. In all fairness, things have been pretty quiet on the Tigers beat with the Willis signing the only news since the Winter Meetings. In the first article of substance though, Lynn Henning gets in touch with Dave Dombrowski and it’s looking more and more like Inge maybe a Tiger in 2008. Given the market for Inge, this is probably best for all parties.

Dombrowski has shown a willingness in the past that when it’s time to move a player who has generally been a good citizen, he’ll try to do it in a favorable way. He found decent situations for both Craig Monroe and Mike Maroth last season. When he cut Pena he did it early in the spring to give him more time to find another job rather than stringing him along. I have to believe Dombrowski is doing his best to honor Inge’s wishes to be moved. But unlike those other situations, Inge could still fill a need on the Tigers and probably carries more value for Detroit than any other team. Part of that is Inge’s contract which nobody wants to eat. Part of that is Inge supressing his own value with an awful offensive season in 2007.

Thankfully Dombrowski doesn’t seem intent on dealing Inge for nothing. For Detroit they have nothing to gain by moving him right now. Best case scenario is that Inge can re-establish himself in 2008 and he can be dealt for something in 2009. Worst case scenario is that Inge struggles again and the Tigers end up eating his contract – which is pretty much where they are at right now.

I understand that Inge wants to be a full time player, but he also needs to realize how unlikely that is unless he can show that he can hit like he did in 2004 through 2006. Versatility and general athleticism is what kept him the league when Pudge Rodriguez was acquired and that same versatility is his best hope at finding a starting job at some point in the future. With a DH that hasn’t played a full season since 2005, and a first baseman with creaky knees, there is a decent chance that there will be significant playing time for Inge even as a reserve (not implying that he’d play those positions, but it would create other oppotunities). Not to mention the Tigers might be kind of good this year and even a bench role isn’t exactly a death sentence.

Inge has been staying silent, which I can’t really hold against him. What exactly is he supposed to say at this point? What will be interesting is if Inge still considers himself a member of the team and participates in next week’s Tigerfest and Caravans. A low profile will be hard to maintain starting a week from today for Inge, whether or not he comes North for the festivities.

Tigers: Inge trade tricky

Brandon Inge’s giving spirit connects with local fans


  1. Mat

    January 5, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Last season’s performance for Inge was typical of his career numbers. Numbers dampened by early struggles resulting from playing on a bad team and being rushed? Sure, but still not that far off his “career” year in 2004.

    Even if he goes back to hitting 240 with 20 HRs or so, with his current contract, Inge isn’t an asset. His salary would be better used on a lower cost comparable replacement (Raburn) and some relief help. Given that, dealing Inge for nothing would be completely acceptable IMO. If the tigers could “cut” him (NFL style) I think they would.

    That said, and since cutting him isn’t an option, I would agree that there will be plenty of opportunity for him to play. The chances of Ordonez, Sheffield, Guillen, etc all making it through the season healthy is pretty small. Even with full team health and standard resting, Inge could get a ton of playing time if he is willing to move around. There is nothing from preventing him from being a bench player who gets the playing time of a starter. His fate is in his hands. If he makes the mistake of insisting on being a starting 3B on a bad team he will only have himself to blame.

    As for the Tiger fans who see Inge as a “favorite” simply because hes been around longer than the other players, you need have no sympathy for the guy. If he moves on it will be his decision – and his stubbornness and unwillingness to adapt. Nothing prevents him from realizing he is poor hitter, accepting a utility player role ,and saying “I want to be a Tiger and win a World Series.” His reluctance to do so hurts his value, and it diminishes the potential of this team to be great.

  2. Kathy

    January 5, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    That’s why we have Ryan Raburn (whom I love), Timo, Marcus and Santiago. Just how many playing opportunities do you honestly expect he’ll get Honestly, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. It would behoove him to stay healthy and ready to go if and when some 3rd baseman gets injured somewhere. Personally, he’s never been a fan favorite of mine. He has a great glove and is very durable but not worth 6 million dollars unless some contender needs a 3rd baseman real bad

  3. David

    January 6, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Jim Leyland vs Barry Bonds

    On the Inge front I agree

    It looks as if he will remain a Tiger – not many teams need a 3rd baseman and those that do probably do not want to pay 6mil/prospects/relief for him.

    Plus I do think that it would be crazy to assume that our lineup wouldn’t suffer some major injuries and allow him a shot to reestablish his hitting.

    I hope he comes to the Tiger fest (I’m going) and would love to get his autograph if I could.

    But he is worth 4.9mil b/c that is what he got paid last year, just like Granderson was worth 410k.

  4. MickeyC

    January 6, 2008 at 12:11 am

    Inge reminds me so much of Tommy Brokens from the tigers teams of the 70″and 80″s. Good glove no bat(unless I talked bad about him) But he did end up with a ring. Sorry Brandon, your value to other teams is not hard to see. I wish you the best you have been a good team player and even contributed once in a while.

  5. Mike R

    January 6, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Honestly, if he wanted to win Detroit is the best place for him to do that. His contract is too big to trade him given his offensive production until he re-establishes his value. He’ll still be getting paid mad cash, and as a super-sub he could learn the 3 OF positions (he’s athletic enough) he could play 3B and I know he’s against moving behind the plate, but he could spell Ivan behind the dish. He didn’t want to move to 3rd when we moved him there but he came to like it. I think there’s plenty of opportunities to get him 350-400 AB’s by DH’ing Guillen, moving Cabrera to 1st, Inge in at 3rd, etc etc. And who knows if Vance Wilson will be good enough to be the back up catcher this year. If not, it might be in Inge’s best interest to concede to spelling Ivan behind the dish while also playing other spots around the diamond. Like, a more athletic Shane Halter.

  6. Joey the K

    January 6, 2008 at 2:30 am

    I hope Brandon will come around to being a super-sub. I know he loves the team and hopefully talk of sending him to the Pirates will make him think twice about wanting to win. He might not be an Everyday starter in’08, but I could see him getting A LOT of playing time all over the diamond. He could be a GOOD Shane Halter!

    And I agree that we should not give him away for nothing, he is still an asset to us that we can definitely use.

    I went to Lakeland for a week last spring, and the closer we get to Spring Training, I think I need to make the cross country (from Oregon) trip again!

  7. BobS.

    January 6, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Value and cost are two different concepts,David.
    Inge differs from Brookens in that the latter acknowledged his limitations.Unlike most Tiger fans(except for a few who’ve fallen in love)Inge seems to have a problem recognizing his own.
    I wish I had a nickel-okay,a dollar-a hundred dollars?-for every time over the past five years(while boring someone with my opinions)I said that Inge was a perfect bench player for a championship contender.Perfect except,we see,for the ego.I’d still like the guy around(being paid by Mike Illitch and not me) if he came back to Earth.

  8. Dave

    January 6, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    As much as I love Inge, he’s starting to piss me off. He could stay on the team as a catcher, but Inge doesn’t WANT to catch. He could stay on the team as a utility player, but Inge doesn’t WANT to be a utility player. The man needs to stop burning his bridges.

  9. Blake

    January 6, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    This is why I think Inge is smart to say nothing now. Of course he wants to start at 3B somewhere, but since that initial statement we’ve heard nothing from him. It maybe he needs to re-establish his value before he’s traded. Or wait for an injury. However, I don’t think he’s really demanded a trade. The guy has been a stand up guy (so what if he can’t hit much) since he got to Detroit, I think we should give him a break and see how it all plays out.

  10. charlie

    January 6, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    if i was brandon inge i would come back in 08 and be the very best player i could be…play anywhere they need me and possibily win a championship ring. and if all that plays out chances are in 09 i would get to play for someone else and have champion in my resume…and that means a lot.

    cheers all

  11. potthole

    January 6, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Inge is supposed to show up at a Grand Rapids Griffins game in a few weeks for a “Detroit Tigers Night” promotion. It’ll be interesting to see how that all unfolds.

    IF he were to be traded before that point (which I’m doubting will be the case), I would wonder if they’d still have him. If he’s still on the team, I would wonder how ‘into’ the whole night/event he would be.

  12. Tim D

    January 6, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I’d still rather see Inge at 3B and Cabrera in LF. Sign Cabrera to the long term deal and then tell him he’s playing the OF.

    Keep Inge for now. Someone will get hurt, he’ll get in the lineup and maybe get hot. Then move him to a contender whose 3B just blew out his knee. Maybe you get a relief arm or a young catcher for him.

  13. ron

    January 6, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    This is why these players should not even be paid 10% of what they are being paid. Money has clouded Brandon’s thought processes. He actually thinks he’s worth 10 mil a year and therefore should be a starter.

  14. Tim D

    January 6, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Ron: Sorry but I disagree 100%.

    1. The players are worth what the market will bear. If you think they make too much quit buying tickets and the products they advertise during the games.

    2. There is no evidence to suggest that Inge’s thought processes have been clouded. He’s been a starter, he’s 30, he had a lousy year, and he wants to keep playing every day. His career has maybe three to five years left. What is wrong with him wanting to start? If he doesn’t play much this year he will likely never get a chance to start again.

    3. If he thought he was worth $10 mil I doubt he would have taken 6.

    4. Looking at what several teams trot out there he should be a starter.

  15. ron

    January 6, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    I’ll betcha he wanted 10, the team offered 2 and they settled on 6. I have not bought a ticket since 1984. I love it when fans say the player is worth what the market will bear. Value, cost, worth; what the heck, are we buying a car? Yeh, it’s a business and it’s getting in the way of enjoying the game.

  16. billfer

    January 7, 2008 at 6:58 am

    The money has nothing to do with his thought processes. Brandon didn’t think he deserved to get bumped out of his position when Pudge came in and Inge was making the league minimum at the time. Tim’s right. Inge has been a starter for 3 years and at his age and experience level most players aren’t making the transition to super-utility guy. There’s certainly pride involved, and probably some stubborness, but money isn’t the cause of this.

    Whether you like it or not there is a ton of money in the sport and the players deserve their cut. MLB had $6 billion in revenue last year – should it all go to the owners? If you want to rail against public funding of stadia for a sport that rich I have no problem with it.

    It’s always been a business, even before free agency. The players just have more leverage now.

    Do baseball players contribute more to society than teachers or nurses? Of course not. (caveat: many players give back considerably outside the game, but in terms of their main “job” I can’t argue it carries the same weight) But look at the pool of people who can be teachers or nurses compared to the pool of people capable of playing baseball professionally. Then look at that pool of professional players to see how many can actually make a 40 man roster. Further then drill down to see how many can make a 25 man roster. Let’s keep drilling to see how many can stick on a 25 man roster for six full seasons to become eligible for free agency. It’s a tiny percentage. They are the best of the best at what they do and they get paid like it.

  17. Kathy

    January 7, 2008 at 8:52 am

    As usual Billfer sheds some light on this situation. He’s right, there’s plenty of money and it’s not about the money, but his performance for said money. If you take a look at his contract, you will see all the incentives the Tigers’ organization gave him (MVP for placing 1 thru 5, gold glove, silver slugger and a whole bunch more. Evidently, they believed after 2006, Brandon was peaking and might actually attain some of these goals. Sure, his glove is almost golden, but his performance wasn’t enough if you can get a guy like Miggy.

    I had no idea that Inge was upset about Pudge taking his spot behind the plate. That alone tells me a lot more about Inge than anything else. Good Lord!!

  18. ron

    January 7, 2008 at 9:26 am

    They are the best at what they do and they get overpaid for it. They have too much leverage. Why should Brandon care if he swings at balls an American Legion player wouldn’t swing at. He’s set financially for life if he should retire today. A nurse or teacher should feel so secure. Brandon would be a much better player if he earned less money and had to struggle somewhat financially. I’m sure he would spend a lot more time in the winter months hitting off a tee in his basement ala Trammell trying to hone those God given skills of his that so few of us possess. These players are playing a game, not giving us injections, instructing young minds or delivering the mail. Pride? These players have their whole future laid out by financial advisers and they could care less about an Olde English D or being a Pirate. They’re going where the money is and obviously with the blessing of a lot of fans. Keep buying those tickets. We’re headed toward a 10 billion dollar industry.

  19. BobS.

    January 7, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Money may not be the cause of the Inge melodrama,but it is certainly a prime factor.I don’t know whether it would be allowed under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement,but considering the Tigers seem to be having a problem trading Inge,and (probably correctly) assuming that his outsized contract may be responsible for (at the very least) part of that difficulty,the Tigers could make an offer to Inge to bilaterally abrogate his contract and allow him to seek a starting 3B position as a free agent at his ‘true’ market value.If he accepted their offer,it would be clear that his desire to start outweighed any other consideration.If not,then it would be clear that the security of his current contract was his main motivation.And we could rightly expect him to sit down,shut up,and enjoy life as a well compensated reserve on a contending team.

  20. greg

    January 7, 2008 at 11:20 am


    Whether you like it or not there is a ton of money in the sport and the players deserve their cut. MLB had $6 billion in revenue last year – should it all go to the owners?


    Again, we have to remember when we talk about what players ‘deserve’ that MLB doesn’t have to compete the same way other businesses do. They have a monopoly, with, essentially, 30 franchises. If MLB’s anti-trust exemption was taken away and their monopoly broken up, the teams, and subequently the players, would a small fraction of what they make now. So their ‘unique skill’ would still be unique, it just wouldn’t pay like it does now. There are tons of people with ‘unique skills’ outside of baseball that don’t get paid squat because there’s little to no demand for said skills.

  21. Kathy

    January 7, 2008 at 11:34 am

    I don’t begrudge them their money so long as they have the talent, play their hearts out and give it 100%. Millions of guys would give anything to be in their shoes not just for the money but to play the game at the major league level. It is fun to see some of the AAA guys come up and see their enthusiasm and effort and reinvigorate the team. Maggs deserves every penny of his $75 million dollar contract. He made a memory that will live for generations and he would have done it no matter what he was paid. Perhaps, like movie stars, they are overpaid but I’m willing to pay that price for the entertainment. Cheap teams like the Marlins just grow the talent and rich teams get to enjoy it.

    Here’s Buck O’Neil’s take on one ball player named Willie Mays

    One day it happens
    Can’t catch up with the fastball
    Can’t run faster than fly balls
    You might lie to yourself for a while
    But you can’t lie forever
    Gotta start a new life
    No cheering
    No crowds
    No teammates patting you on the back
    A little piece of you dies.

  22. greg

    January 7, 2008 at 11:42 am


    Don’t misunderstand. I don’t begrudge them at all. Guys like Maggs are just taking advantage of a truly unique opportunity. Speaking of that memory… I was there when he blasted that walk off to clinch the Pennant. Man that was special. The energy in the stadium that night was something to experience.

  23. ron

    January 7, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Thank you Greg. Inge’s main motivation is to negotiate a contract beginning in 2010 as a starter for any team rather than a sub for the last two years of his current contract. I guess my thought process was cloudy thinking Inge might want to be part of a championship team rather than worry about his negotiation position two years hence. An overpaid championship team by the way.

  24. ron

    January 7, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Let’s see, Clemens does not know the difference between Lidocaine and linocaine. If he stammered anymore on that lie detector question….Oh, what a web we weave… It wasn’t the money, it was for the team.

  25. ron

    January 7, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    When people who used to go to 15 games a year can only afford to attend a couple games now, that is bothersome.

  26. jim-mt

    January 7, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I heard Price say on the radio this summer that Inge is his own batting coach-that Inge knows his swing better than anybody else, so Inge doesn’t think he needs a batting coach. After all the check swing strikeouts last year, I would say he needs professional help. He also has a tendency to make errors on routine plays in critical times. He was one of my favorites, but …..

  27. Kathy

    January 7, 2008 at 12:58 pm


    It was really something. I was there too. Only the 3rd Tiger game I’ve ever attended.

  28. Dave

    January 7, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Chiming in as the third attendee of the pennant-clincher

  29. billfer

    January 8, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Greg – you’re right about the anti-trust exemption, but it is the landscape and it isn’t going to change any time soon.

    Ron – how should we minimize the player’s leverage? Already they have to acquire 6 years of Major League service time – which often times means 8-10 years of professional baseball time – before they can even talk to other teams. Players don’t even get any relief until they have 3 years of major league experience before teams are forced to pay them anymore than the league minimum. Should we make it that when they reach free agency, they can pick 3 names out of a hat and those are the only teams that they are allowed to negotiate with?

    And your arguments aren’t even consistent. On one hand you are saying that Inge should be focusing more on hitting off a tee and honing his skills to help his performance and by extension his career (which is quite presumptuous to assume that he sits around like a sloth during the offseason anyways – maybe he doesn’t train but you and I don’t really know what he does). And then you fault him for thinking about his career and his next contract. And really, what does struggling financially have to do with hitting off a tee. Trammell was a millionaire when it wasn’t such a common thing and it didn’t inhibit him from training in the offseason.

  30. ron

    January 8, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Bilfer, didn’t realize the players had to wait so long to loosen the bonds and achieve financial security. Presumtuous and inconsistent, indeed. Glad you picked up on that.

  31. Birdy

    January 8, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I personally don’t blame the players for it, but I realize that there’s some reason for cynicism when it comes to baseball and money. But is this situation really that hard to figure out? Inge is in the league because he is an outstanding fielder. Now you say to him at 30 years of age, you have two choices:

    you can play everyday and continue to hone your skills in the game you love to play, in the only career you’ve ever known, which will likely extend your career in this sport

    or you can sit on the bench, play a few different positions and essentially watch the beginning of the end of the career from the bench, in the sport you love – but you’ll have a better chance of winning a championship.

    I personally think that money and championships mean less to Inge than just getting to play the game he loves.

    And I’m just sick of fans acting like a dumped girlfriend when they suspect someone wants out – for whatever reason. Do the Detroit area’s residents have some sort of inferiority complex? Are these posters re-experiencing the rejection that comes from being from a broken family? I’d like to see some sabermetrics on that.

    Tim D, I’m with you for the most part. Someone will need a 3B at some point. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a contributor for Inge then. I’m not sure if Cabrera in the outfield is the answer. Thankfully, I have Jim Leyland to make that decision for me. I do know there’s going to be a collective groan from Tigers fans the first time a pop fly in foul territory behind 3rd base eludes Cabrera instead of winding up in Inge’s glove.

  32. Mike R

    January 8, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    I don’t have a thing to say about the money these players make because if I was ever good enough to stick in the bigs long enough to his free agency, I am running for the biggest pile of cash I can find — and I’d argue that 99 out of 100 people would do the same.

  33. Kathy

    January 8, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Birdy makes a valid point about the moans and groans that probably will come from missing Inge’s glove. Miggy is still young enough to learn and hopefully improve his defensive skills and keep the weight off. Personally, I think Brandon is a cancer in the clubhouse with his exhaulted opinion of himself. He’s the last reminder of that godawful team of ’03. He was the best of the worst and is the last reminder of a franchise that almost turned out the lights.

  34. Dave

    January 8, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    “Do the Detroit area’s residents have some sort of inferiority complex?”

    You’re just learning this now?

  35. Tim D

    January 8, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Nice to see an interesting argument generated.

    Most professional ballplayers make squat. They don’t get big bonuses, they toil in the minors for nothing, and they might get a brief shot at the bigs. 2 of 3 professional careers end due to injury. It’s like trying to make money as an actor in Hollywood. Make sure you can wait tables.

    Inge agreed to a contract. He should GIVE THAT UP? To prove that he really wants to play? How far has he come? Why should he give anything up? Would anyone in his position do that?

    Notwithstanding the high prices, the multi-millionaire players, the publicly funded stadiums, the strikes and/or lockouts and the steroids, baseball attendance is at an all-time high. There are WAY more season tickets sold as a percentage of tickets than ever in the past. More fans, not less, go to multiple games per year. Fans pay double, triple and more the face value of tickets on Stub Hub and so forth: money that the sport generates that neither the players or owners share in.

    If you don’t like it and don’t want to support it that’s fine, and exactly what I suggest. Just don’t give me a knee-jerk “the players make too much.” It’s capitalism. A lot of people think autoworkers are overpaid. If Ford had more demand than Toyota they could give the UAW a better deal. I doubt the UAW would give it back.

    We are a sports-crazed culture. If you don’t like it, write a book, or vote for people who will change it or speak out on behalf of the downtrodden, etc. Don’t bang on Brandon Inge for knowing a good deal when he sees it.

  36. Kevin in Austin

    January 9, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Hello friends – sorry to go off subject here, but my Scoresheet league has a few available teams. If anyone is interested, email me at

  37. BobS.

    January 9, 2008 at 9:22 am

    That’s a good observation about the failure of most professional players to reap the rewards of their sport,Tim D.Personally,I’d be happy to see more of baseball’s $billions diffused downward,possibly in the form of pensions and health care for the majority of the players who fail to make the bigs.Similarly,I could do without the welfare to the rich that’s masked as public stadium financing and the anti-trust exemption.
    I’m not advocating Inge give anything up.My own advice to him would be to take the money and sit(assuming the Tigers are unable to pull off a trade).But,so far as I know,his contract does not guarantee him to start at third base.Assuming THAT’S his highest priority,he could probably reach an agreement with the Tigers to abrogate the contract and negotiate a deal with a team in need of a third baseman.If he’s the player he seems to think he is,he should welcome the opportunity to sell his superior skills on the free market and improve his present situation(it’s capitalism).

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