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.