Thursday, April 26, 2012

Brandon Inge Released

After a twelve-year career in Detroit, Brandon Inge was unconditionally released by the Tigers today.  When the Tigers moved Miguel Cabrera to third base upon the acquisition of first baseman Prince Fielder, Inge requested an opportunity to win the second base job.  The Tigers did give him an opportunity as the right-hand half of a platoon, but it quickly became clear that it wasn't going to work out.  Not only did he continue to struggle at the plate even against left handers, but he also did not adapt very well to his new position.

Throughout his career, Inge has been the most bipolar Tiger among internet fans.  Most fans either supported and defended him or they disliked everything about him. I was somewhere in between and never really understood the controversy.  I saw him as the Tom Brookens of the 21st Century, a player who probably would have been better cast as a role player, but maintained a regular job mostly as a third baseman.

Like any player, Inge had his strengths and weaknesses.  He was never a good contact hitter and holds the all-time Tigers career strikeout record.  He was, however, a strong defensive third baseman in his prime and had decent power.  The Tigers probably kept him a little longer than they should have, but that tends to happen with long-tenured players.  This situation never should have been the big deal that fans made it out to be.

With Inge out of the picture, Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago will split time at second base.  There was some thought that the Tigers might replace Inge with infielder Danny Worth, but the Tigers will go in a different direction.

Instead of recalling Worth, the Tigers will purchase the contract of first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter Brad Eldred.  The six-foot-six 270 pound right-handed batter is the ultimate journeyman having played with twelve teams in six different organizations since 2002.  He was not in the team's plans when the season started but he is off to a monster start at Triple-A Toledo.  He is batting .388 with 23 extra base hits and 13 home runs in 20 games!  The Tigers will likely hope to catch lightning in a bottle by platooning him with the left-handed Dirks until he cools down.


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