There were erroneous reports last week that the Tigers had already placed third baseman Brandon Inge on waivers and that he had been claimed and pulled back by the Tigers. Those reports came from ESPN’s Buster Olney, who quickly corrected himself when he found out he had been mis-informed.
This afternoon, Olney is again reporting that Inge has been placed on waivers, as has Johnny Damon. Olney says both men hit the waiver wire yesterday.
Inge will draw interest from at least a few clubs and Damon’s is a bat that would help out many a contending team. The market for Inge appeared to be centered in the National League as playoff hopefuls in Atlanta and St. Louis had been dealing with holes at third base.
Just yesterday, however, both of those clubs made moves to attempt to shore up their weaknesses. Atlanta will move Troy Glaus back to third base when he returns from injury, netting a new first baseman in Derrek Lee in trade with the Cubs. St. Louis added Pedro Feliz from Houston to take over at the hot corner.
Before we get into the how and why of whether or not the Tigers actually should trade Inge, or Damon for that matter, let’s see what kind of market remains.
Just a guess here, but it seesm like the Braves will be content with their current roster. They have Omar Infante and Martin Prado who both have experience at third (the other one would play second), they have Glaus if he’s healthy, and they also have Eric Hinske and Brooks Conrad who both own a third baseman’s mitt (not that I would recommend either using it too often). The addition of Lee probably means that Atlanta is no longer interested in Inge.
St. Louis, on the other hand, still has a hole. Feliz was once one of the better defenders at third, but age has taken its toll on both his range and his offensive prowess. Feliz fell out of favor in Philadelpia last year, then signed a much-larger-than-expected contract in Houston. Despite playing in a right handed hitter’s haven in Houston, Feliz has been Gerald Laird-like with the bat this year. There’s no reason to think he’ll suddenly turn the clock back to 2007 for the final six weeks of this season. I’d say that the Cardinals are still very much in play as a suitor for Inge.
As for Damon, I see a fit in as any as four National League clubs. The Padres, Giants, Reds, and Braves could all use a veteran outfield bat. Damon is not a strong defender, but can cover enough ground that he could play a handful of games in centerfield yet, which makes him attractive to San Diego, Atlanta, and Cincinnati in particular.
But should these guys actually get traded? I think Damon should. The Tigers could certainly have interest in bringing him back next year and Damon has already said he would like to stay, but they’re not going to talk about things until after the year. There will be openings in Detroit’s lineup next year and whether or not he’s dealt, Detroit could make a play to bring him back in the offseason.
The same really goes for Inge in that regard. Unlike the Damon situation, however, the Tigers have a vested interest in Inge. He’s been with the club since 2001, he’s still an outstanding defender and he’s been a model citizen, frequently changing positions without disrupting the clubhouse (he’s complained about it, but not too loudly). On top of that, the only real option to play third next year is Jhonny Peralta, who is very similar to Inge offensively, but isn’t half as good with the glove.
It would be a sad day for me if Inge were to be traded, but I understand the business of baseball and sometimes these things happen. In my heart, I wouldn’t want to see Inge playing for someone else, even if the Tigers brought him back next year. It just feels wrong.