Leyland on Inge: “He’s not the happiest camper”

Four years ago, Miguel Cabrera was a man on the move, and Brandon Inge was man without a position, hoping to find a starting job somewhere. The trade that was expected that winter never happened, and Inge ended up back at third base.

Now, the Tigers and Inge might be back in the same spot.

Because Miguel Cabrera was the only player given a heads-up about the signing, Inge found out about being replaced through the media, not the team. Manager Jim Leyland said he finally talked with Inge Thursday once the signing was official.

“I basically apologized [to him] that this got out on the airwaves obviously prior to us wanting it to,” Leyland said. “I’m sorry he had to hear it other than from the horse’s mouth, but at that particular time, I was not at any liberty to discuss this whatsoever.

“I have talked with Brandon. He’s not the happiest camper. We certainly understand. We try to deal with these issues as we’re supposed to be.”

Leyland suggested there still could be a role for Inge on the team. He had Inge penciled in for some starts at third when Cabrera’s DHing or off. He did not indicate any change of positions for Inge.

Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said he has not talked with Inge yet, or his agents. If Inge wants a trade or release, he hasn’t heard about it. At this point, he isn’t preparing to make a move.

“I can understand he wouldn’t be thrilled,” Dombrowski said, “but I also think at this point, probably the best thing for him to do — he’s not coming off a big year, the market is pretty well set — probably the best thing is to let him come to spring training, let him play well and let’s see what happens. I think he still can play a very important role on our club. Like I said, we’re trying to win.

“I respect his situation. We’ll do what we can. We’ll see what happens, but I think he’s a very important part of our club. He is in good shape, and he’s worked hard, and I think he’s got a chance to put up some nice numbers this year.”

Inge has $6 million in guaranteed money this year — $5.5 million in salary, plus a $500,000 buyout assuming the Tigers don’t pick up his $6 million option for 2013. The Tigers were willing to eat that money last summer when they designated him for assignment for make room for Wilson Betemit. Inge accepted a minor-league assignment after some encouragement from Tigers owner Mike Ilitch.

On the other hand, if Miguel Cabrera’s move to third base doesn’t work out — remember, the Tigers moved him out of third a few weeks into the 2008 season — the Tigers would then need a third baseman. If Inge is gone, the Tigers’ best option at third is Don Kelly. So even if the Tigers could find another team for Inge, or could afford to eat his contract, they have a motivation not to. He’s an insurance policy, or Plan B, or the fallback option, whatever term you want to use.

On a semi-related note, Dombrowski was asked whether Cabrera’s move to third makes top position prospect Nick Castellanos, one of the top third base prospects in the game, expendable? Dombrowski said no.

“We’re in a position where you just take your time with him,” Dombrowski said. “He’s at third base. He’s a tremendous player. He’s going to be a tremendous player. We’re not looking to trade him. He’s just made the [MLB.com] Top 100 players prospectwise along with [Jacob] Turner and [Drew] Smyly.

“So for me, it’s just really a matter of you want to have young players. A guy like Castellanos will be a fine big-league player. He’ll fit in great eventually.”

Getting the picture here?

15 Comments

yea if the picture is he plays third in DET in 2015!

Pingback: Brandon Inge isn’t so happy about the Prince Fielder signing | HardballTalk

I think to make Inge happy I would try to find him a team that will take on part of his salary and get a fifth starter or prospects for him or both.

Poor Inge. He’s got $6 million guarranteed left on his contract. I fee for him.

Brandon has no leverage to bitch after the season he had, Tigers should use him as a utility player at all positions he could play anywhere u think he would want a ring before he retires

Swap him for Bobby Abreu + $3M. Solves two problems. Tigers get a useful lefty bat off the bench (and a mentor to Rayburn and Boesch) and the Angels get decent 3B depth with a little pop, in case Trumbo can’t field the position. The Angels could also include Callaspo in that deal with a prospect coming back or use him in a deal with Atlanta for a pitcher. (OK I’m dreaming, but hey, we have holes to fill around Albert)

I don’t Brandon to go anywhere, he is a great third baseman. He will hit better this year I am sure. I don’t think he fully recovered from his illness last year. I say keep at third and let Prince DH.

oh yeah he got MONO last year

Any chance they move him back to catcher until V-Mart gets back?

Inge is in a difficult spot…no position versatility, not much speed, not a PH type bat. he’s got defense, experience and not much else at this point in his career. sad to say, but he’s not a good fit as a bench player if Cabrera does OK at 3b. he may be looking for a job elsewhere this spring…Tigers will get virtually nothing in return if they can trade him.

I think Inge should do exactly what he said he’d do a few days before the trade; come to camp and try to win the 3B job. That’s the only part of this that he can control. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t, but it shouldn’t be through any lack of effort on his part. He should keep his chin up, be himself, continue with his outstanding ability to communicate with the fans in attendance, and be careful of what he says to the media. Sometimes things work out if you let them. It worked out for him in 2008, and he was on the All Star team the following season.

Keep inge. I fear the rougher play style of 3b could risk an injury to big cabrera. We need inge as an insurance policy just in case. Inge can also play all outfield positions with his athleticism although were pretty loaded up already.

don’t forget INGE really played well in the playoffs. he might have SOME tradevalue.

Prince at first base, Inge at third. Sounds good to me. Why all the fuss?

This scenerio really doesn’t come into play until next season when V-Mart comes back. They may work Cabby into the hot corner here and there, but for the most part it will be Inge’s position. Cabby and Prince will trade within 1st/DH for sure. Keep Inge in the organization, and he can coach in West Michigan when his playing days are done.
–Mike
‘Minoring In Baseball’

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