Today, for the first time in years, Brandon Inge will not be a member of the Detroit Tigers. Some fans are upset that their favorite player may have seen his last at-bats in a Tiger uniform; others are rejoicing in a move that should have been made two years ago when Placido Polanco left for Philadelphia. Polanco was recently voted the third base starter for the National League. Inge was batting .177 and had the worst slugging percentage in all of baseball for batters that qualify.
I said at the time, and still believe, that letting Polanco go was the worst move Dombrowski has made as Detroit's general manager. He's been a better defender than Inge for the better part of three years now and was the key to Detroit's offense in the two slot. Gone are the days where the top of our lineup is able to move runners over in order to put guys like Cabrera and Martinez in position to drive them home and Polanco's absence is the biggest reason for that. Instead, our third baseman has been an absolute hole in the lineup, striking out at a high rate and providing zero production in any offensive facet. Detroit has struggled to find a two-hitter all season and continues to shuffle various players into the spot with marginal results at best.
Inge is being replaced by Wilson Betemit, who is a marginal player that has made his rounds. His batting average is pushed by a high BABIP but his walk rate and power output are both lower than his career averages indicate so the two might balance out. Regardless, despite his defensive shortcomings, he is a massive improvement over Inge. At this point, Don Kelly was already a superior player. That's when you know a move needs to be made.
Many think Inge will be back, and I am one of them. As has been the case with him, however, it won't be the right move when it happens.