Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sorry Inge, It's Worth's Time Now

By Sean Gagnier

When the Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder in the off season it kind of screwed up Brandon Inge's plans, he had planned on not "being a nice guy any more" while playing third base in 2012. But with the new signing he was, once again, ousted from a position on the field. Many thought that at that point it was the end of the relationship between Inge and the Tigers, but he sought to stay with the team and make a run at the second base job this season.

Early in spring training things looked to be going well for Inge, sure he was the last player to show up to camp, but he took to second base well, even making a number of highlight reel quality grabs. But even early in March Manager Jim Leyland qualified his answers about how Inge was doing at second by saying that he needed to bring his bat. And if this season was anything like 2011, Inge would need a boat oar for a bat to have a decent batting average.

The spring started well for Inge, but soon enough he returned to 2011 form. In his 14 games this spring Inge has done little at the plate to justify earning a call up to the Tigers in April. In his 38 at-bats, Inge has only recorded seven hits - a .184 average. Well, on base percentage can save him right? Wrong, Inge has an OBP of .225 to go with his seven strikeouts.

As Leyland said, if his bat isn't there it will be hard to bring him up to Detroit. As good as a Ryan Raburn is doing this spring, he looks to have secured the starting job at second base but the debate is over the last roster spot. With the Tigers also carrying Ramon Santiago there is a need for another infielder that can prove to be versatile.

That player is Dannny Worth. Worth has played in 15 games, but has just 24 at-bats and has seven hits for a .295 average. His OBP is an impressive .357 with three walks and four strikeouts. With Worth, the Tigers also get a player that can play second, third and shortstop. His versatility is something that will come in handy for the Tigers this season.

The only problem with leaving Inge in the minors, or cutting him entirely, is that he is due $5.5 million this season and an additional $500,000 next season. That is a substantial amount of money to have in the minors or sitting on a couch somewhere.

While money should not be considered, the overall success and health of the team may come second to those greenbacks when camp breaks. General Manager Dave Dombrowski and Leyland may decide to give Inge 'one last shot' to turn it around in the majors and ship the deserving Worth back to Toledo.

If those men truly care about making a trip to the World Series this season they will break camp without Inge. He serves no purpose on this team and as such can only cost Detroit runs and wins in their attempt to win their first title since 1984.

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