The Prince Fielder signing this week probably came as a surprise to most, if not all of the Tiger fan base out there.
The act of one Brandon Inge after such deals like this, was probably a surprise to no one.
Perhaps, it’s time to cut him loose. Not to Toledo, but out of the organization.
We’ve seen this act before from Inge, where it seems that his spot on the roster, or position in the field is being taken over by someone else. Usually, it’s by someone who’s a better fit, whether it’s positionally or in some cases, offensively. We all remember when Ivan Rodriguez was signed prior to the 2004 season, and Inge was still the catcher. Of course, those of us who weren’t living under a rock assumed that Pudge would assume full-time catching duties, even if Inge couldn’t accept that someone was signed to essentially take his place. Ultimately, he would land at 3B, where (defensively) he’s been solid.
But if it seems like his place is being taken by someone, it’s probably for a good reason. In this case, a blurb that I saw this week which read (paraphrasing) “I love Miggy, but I plan on being the everyday third baseman.” Well, Brandon, if Victor Martinez doesn’t shred his knee doing his offseason workout program, I’d believe that. But here’s the thing:
Victor is hurt. Mike Ilitch thinks that throwing a Brinks truck full of money at Prince will help fill the void. Miggy has experience playing third base. Miggy also hits the ball to places other than the opponents gloves. So I guess you’re the odd man out again, mm-kay?
Brandon Inge has been known to be stubborn, and hard to change. Which is confusing, considering that if you bat sub .200, you should get help w/ that. Not turn it down. Also, if you’re asked to not start at third base for 140 games, well, you’re supposed to be a team player and accept your role. Any one of us would love to be in Inge’s position this season: back end of a career, playing a few innings per week while “earning” your $5.5MM paycheck for the season. But if he’s going to sulk his way through the season, there’s no room for him on the roster, period.
So why even keep him? Utility man extraordinaire Don Kelly is extremely competent as a back up, able to play third base when needed. He could easily fill that role if it’s ultimately decided that Cabrera and Fielder split time DH’ing or playing first base. As I see it, Inge is no more than a defensive replacement in the late innings, and Jim Leyland intimated this week that he wouldn’t likely be taking Miggy out of the lineup late in games (though I suppose if the game were far enough out of hand…). If I’m Dave Dombrowski, I’m getting my Designated For Assignment paperwork ready. I’ve defended keeping Inge before, especially last season, since he did sign what is now a ludicrous 2-year, $11MM deal. At this point, why does money even matter, especially since Prince will be hauling almost $24MM annually for the next 9 years?
It’s time to let Inge and his attitude go. Maybe he can find a home somewhere where he can get some “regular” playing time. But he’s not going to get it in Detroit anymore, and it’s time for the club to cut its losses and send him packing. It sounds unceremonious, but today it’s a necessity.