Tigers bungled the Inge situation

In his last six seasons as a Tiger, Brandon Inge hit .226 with a .375 slugging percentage.

What one fan called “Detroit’s long divisive nightmare” is finally over. After yesterday’s loss to the Mariners, the Detroit Tigers announced they were releasing Brandon Inge. The love-him-or-hate-him veteran had spent his entire 12-year career with the Tigers, but hadn’t been an effective player since at least 2009.

Sure, there’s a contingent of fans – many of them 16-year old girls and so-called Motown Cougars – who are shedding tears at the exit of Inge, but this was the right move by the Tigers. Finally.

The truly sad thing about the entire Inge Situation has been the way the team handled it in 2012. General Manager Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland should be taken to task for clinging to Inge for so long. Some of us can say “I told you so” as far back as 2010 when it comes to Inge and his playing time, but the decisions that the Tiger brass made this spring have had consequences that have cost the Tigers dearly.

When the Tigers broke camp last month, Inge was hurt, but he was on the 25-man roster and Leyland assured us that he would give Inge starts at second base when he got healthy. Infielder Danny Worth came up while Inge was on the disabled list and got into a handful of games before he was sent to Toledo, a place where he’s proven over the course of four previous season, that he can hit and pick it at second base. But Inge was till given a spot on the roster. Presumably because Leyland and DD thought Inge would be a good option against left-handed pitching. Also, Inge can play third and even the outfield when needed.

But Inge never hit, going 2-for-20 with a homer while playing second base like he was wearing oven mitts. Meanwhile, Worth has three homers at Toledo and is slugging over. 500 for the Mud Hens. Worth, who at the age of 26 is entering his prime as an offensive player, is getting jerked around. Dombrowski and Leyland have never given him a chance to show what he can do in Detroit. Like Scott Sizemore, another good middle infield prospect (and an even better offensive player than Worth, but who was traded for practically nothing last May), Worth is being overlooked because Leyland loves scrappy veterans like Inge.

But the worst thing about the Inge fiasco is how it cost the Tigers Clete Thomas. Thomas was placed on waivers about two weeks ago to make room for Drew Smyly. Instead of doing something with Inge at that time, Thomas, a hard-hitting left-handed batter who can play all three outfield spots and run well, was waived. Since he was out of options (meaning he couldn’t just be sent to Toledo), any team was free to grab Thomas for the waiver claim fee. The Twins snapped him up, Thomas hit a homer in his first game for Minnesota, and Inge remained a Tiger. For about 11 more days. So, for 11 days of Inge, The Tigers lost Thomas.

Adding insult to injury, Leyland admitted that the Tigers have bungled the crowded second base situation this spring. He admitted that the team shouldn’t have tried to shuffle Inge, Ryan Raburn, and Ramon Santiago at the position and expect them to get into rhythm and produce. Gee, really? Shouldn’t that have been obvious to a veteran manager? That’s inexcusable.

Dombrowski called Inge a “warrior” and a “soldier” in the press conference after he was released. But for much of his career, Inge’s batting stroke was like “The Unknown Soldier”. Since 2007 – that’s five full years and the 20 at-bats this spring – Inge has hit .226 with an anemic .375 slugging percentage and a strikeout every 3.5 at-bats! His slugging percentage the last six years against right-handed pitching is .344, a figure you expect more from a pitcher than you do an everyday player.

The Tigers brass – namely Dombrowski and Leyland – must be held accountable for the mess that is the Tigers second base position, and the loss of Thomas. Now, they’re also on the hook for more of Inge’s salary as well, seeing as he made the opening day 25-man roster. This all could have, and should have been handled better.

The Tigers front office allowed sentimentality to rule their decision-making process. Was it that owner Mike Ilitch loves Inge? I don’t want to believe that that had something to do with it, but I don’t know what to believe.

Dombrowski, normally a very astute GM, dropped the ball in his handling of Brand Inge. What happens next will tell us if he’s learned to make decisions based on talent and production rather than misplaced loyalty.

13 replies on “Tigers bungled the Inge situation


    This is very harsh on a player who has shown value to the Tigers for a long time and I hope Inge will proff you wrong when being picked up by another team
    Regards from The Netherlands from a Dutch Tiget fan

    • Dan Holmes

      Thanks for the comment. As you may notice from the headline and the article itself, my point in this article is that the Tigers botched this situation. I am not blaming Inge for what occurred. The Tigers admitted that they handled the entire thing poorly. I believe because they thought they might get a few weeks of decent production from Inge and then be able to trade him. But, when he struggled, he had no trade value. So they released him. Is that loyalty? That’s business. But they should have made a decision in spring training on how to handle their roster, so they wouldn’t have lost Clete Thomas on waivers. Now, Inge is in Oakland, a team with little money who gladly took Inge for next to nothing. I wish him well. I just wish the Tigers had done a better job to their fans by fielding the best 25-man roster they could early in 2012.

  • Shamedog

    I disagree. In this world of no loyalty its nice to see Illitch show some. In 20 years who cares what happened today other than how you treat people. Illitch apparently has that wisdom that you don’t.

    • Dan Holmes

      Thanks for commenting. I see it as a difference of opinion rather than my not having the wisdom that Mr. Ilitch has, as you say. When it comes to loyalty, Mr. Ilitch does not have a perfect record, so it’s interesting that you applaud him for that trait. Ilitch was far from loyal in the way he treated Sparky Anderson at the end of his career, and certainly one could argue that Ilitch turned his back on Tiger Stadium and the property at The Corner by using his influence to ensure that no development ever occurred there. Ilitch should be commended for many things he’s done, but I’m not sure loyalty is a strong suit of his. He’s a businessman, a very successful one, and he’s shown that he is very good (and at times ruthless) in making them. I don’t know that he was even involved in making decisions about Inge, as I mention in my piece. But, I do believe, in my opinion, that the Tigers botched this situation in 2012. We need look no further than Jim Leyland’s own words, when he said after Inge was released that “We probably haven’t been fair in how we handled this for all [those guys].” “Those guys” were Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn, and Ramon Santiago. As I pointed out in my article, the way Dombrowski and Leyland handled the second base situation cost the Tigers a major league player in his prime (Clete Thomas). The way they handled it was bad for the fans, who want to see the best team on the field.

  • rings

    THANK YOU! This analysis is spot on…there was no reason to invite the Inge drama after he was clearly beaten out in Spring Training. Is it merely a coincidence that their “hot start” cooled immediately upon his recall from rehab?

  • JB

    Inge was a solid contributor to the Tigers for many years. There always, however, comes a time to move on. The Tigers need to hold onto and use some of that good young talent, i.e. Worth, Raburn, Dierks, and not let good ones get away (Joyce, Sizemore,Thomas).

  • Michael Hetherman

    I feel the release of Brandon Inge is like death in the Tiger family. I had the opportunity to meet Inge at spring training as rookie and took liking to him as he progressed as player and person. I wish him the very best with Oakland and hope he contributes to there ball club. His release was sad but understandable. Baseball is meant to break your Heart, I hope the Tiger family remember the good more than the bad and some day welcomes him back in another capacity.

  • Rick Roenicke

    It’s about time! Leyland plays favorites ALL the time. But, if he goes to Oakland and lights it up what does that say about McClendo? Another Leyland fav. Look at what Granderson has done in N.Y. Like Rod Allen the only thing McClendon knows about hitting is he couldn’t do it! As for Rod Allen? Along with Mario Impemba the WORST announcers in ALL professional sports! How do these people keep their jobs? Good riddance Brandon Inge!I hope Lloyd, Rod and Mario join you soon!

  • GAB

    Brandon Ingel may not be a big as other player but he had heart that made up for other don’t have. the wife and I will miss him very much. Now we will have to fined a new tiger to follow. Good luck.

  • 1tigerfan

    Brandon Inge was good for the community and a great teammate but lets get real for one second… he was HORRIBLE over the last 3 years, HORRIBLE. NOw that he’s traded he’s had a couple good games in Oakland but I guarantee he finishes the season under .210. As for Granderson, he plays in a little league park, so all those “bombs” he hits to right field are outs in almost every other park in the majors, and I love grandy. As for your last comment about Impemba and Allen, this is one of the most laughable comments I have ever heard. Rod is one of the most knowledgeable broadcasters I have ever heard. He basically calls every single pitch that’s going to be thrown before they throw it.

  • Ken Pankotai

    My opinion? I think Mario Impemba is a very good announcer, and has a very pleasant voice to listen to. As for Rod Allen, he is a bit too much of a knopw-it-all and name-dropper. He critiques every player up to bat, and acts as though he (Rod Allen) could have done it so much better.

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