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If Brandon Inge Was Set Free, Where Would He Fly?

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Though at least one of my fellow Tigers bloggers hoped we had gotten past all of this idle Brandon Inge trade speculation, it's probably going to be a topic that pops up throughout the season. Especially when today's a holiday (or so I hear) and I'm looking for things to write about.

Inge is putting the best face on his initial workouts as Utility Man because he doesn't want to be the guy who rocks the ocean freighter that could be the 2008 Detroit Tigers. Just thinking about the situation into which he's been cast makes him angry, though a healthy dose of perspective comes along to soothe the raging beast within. But since we know Inge's true preference, and his manager agrees that a third baseman is what he truly is, let's play along and see what possibilities are out there.

First, SB Nation broham Twinkie Town sees a hole for the Minnesota Twins at third base and thinks Inge could fill it nicely - along with several others, due to his versatility. The question for Tigers fans is whether or not you like the trade they're proposing

Let's say the price is right, Punto and a fringe arm like Mullins for him. Would you make that deal?

I would, if the Tigers agreed to take some of the salary, say about half. He could be a super utility player, as he can play just about every position and he has good pop from the right side. He'd keep Gardy from freaking out about that third catcher. And he'd make Monroe expendable, which could help pay for this year's hit to the budget.

Last season, Nick Punto hit .210/.291/.271 with one home run and 25 RBI. But presumably, his glove would be of far more use than his bat. At third, he's not as good as Inge, but close enough to be a defensive replacement in late innings. And his ability to play shortstop would save the Tigers from carrying a designated fielder like Ramon Santiago on their roster. But Ryan Raburn arguably could also fill the same role this season (though he likely wouldn't fill in at SS).

If Ryan Mullins were included in such a deal, as Twinkie Town suggested, the Tigers would be getting a pitcher who went 7-9 last season floating from Single-A to Triple-A. His overall ERA was 3.93 over 27 starts, with 135 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings. (For what it's worth, in his three starts with AAA Rochester, Mullins went 0-3 with a 10.57 ERA.)

Is that the best kind of deal the Tigers could hope for at this point, presuming that Dave Dombrowski would trade within the AL Central (which I'm not sure he would)?

I'll toss out some more arbitrary speculation, playing off a post that ran on MLB Trade Rumors the other day. San Francisco has been circled as a possible landing spot for Inge ever since Miguel Cabrera took over his position. Meanwhile, the Giants are looking to deal pitcher Noah Lowry. That got me wondering if we could have a match. Lowry's under contract for two more seasons, along with a club option for 2010, that would total $13 million. (Without the option, Lowry's owed $6.75 million.)

Here's where the caution sign goes up. San Francisco hasn't found any takers for Lowry, despite his 14-8 record and 3.92 ERA last season. Forearm tightness in August - which might be linked to a bone spur in his left elbow - led the Giants to shut him down for September. But according to the San Jose Mercury News, Lowry's numbers are raising eyebrows among scouts and general managers. 87 walks and 87 strikeouts in 156 innings is no way to go through the major leagues, son. And here's the kicker quote from the article:

"He'd get clobbered in the American League," one A.L. scout said.

No starter in the National League posted as many walks as strikeouts. Lowry also had the highest walk rate (5.02 per nine innings) of any NL pitcher who worked 100 innings. What would happen if he faced one of the fearsome lineups from Cleveland, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, or Toronto? That's the stuff that could keep you up at night.

Well, shoot. So much for that. It was a thought. Something to occupy myself with that first cup of coffee. Oh, well. Whayagonado?