Am I just a negative person? It seems like every time a Dodgers trade rumor pops up, I’m always staunchly against it. I can’t remember the last time I saw one that made me go, “oooh, let’s do that!” Except for when I proposed trading Juan Pierre to the Baseball Furies for a few buckets of facepaint. (What, no one’s seen The Warriors? For shame.)
With that in mind, eagle-eyed reader James alerts us to Danny Knobler’s latest news from whatever the hell “mlife.com” is:
The Los Angeles Dodgers have contacted the Tigers about Inge, and while talks do not seem to have progressed far, a baseball official familiar with the situation said the Dodgers remain interested in making a deal.
Inge would play third base for the Dodgers, who did not have a full-time third baseman last season and have been trying to decide between veteran Nomar Garciaparra and rookie Andy LaRoche this spring.
Inge remains popular with Tigers fans, who have given him louder applause than any other player during the first few spring games. But the Tigers remain open to trading him.
Among the reasons: Inge wants to be traded and his hefty salary: $6.2 million.
If you haven’t been following the Brandon Inge situation, he’s one of the most popular Tigers because he was there during their brutal 119-loss 2003 season, yet was able to switch positions from catcher to third base and become reasonably productive. But since the Tigers went out and got Miguel Cabrera this offseason, Inge is out of a job and is being looked at as an incredibly versatile supersub, filling in from catcher to centerfield. He’s made it pretty clear how unhappy he is with the situation and wants to be dealt to a team where he can be the starting 3B.
On to the negativity! We don’t want Brandon Inge because:
He’s not very good: At his best, he was barely league-average – and quickly getting worse. He’s had four seasons of more than 400 at-bats, which would be the last four. His OPS+ in those seasons? 109, 100, 98, 80. Wow. That’s a career path I want a part of! Not superb to begin with, and clearly getting worse. How about OBP? .340, .330, .313, .312. (By comparison, MSTI whipping boy Pierre, who I’m constantly on for his subpar OBP, beats Inge in 3 out of the 4 years, including the last 2). Let’s do batting average! .287, .261, .253, .236. I don’t know how many other ways to say it; this is a player who had a mild peak and by all measures is past it. I think people are fooled by his inexplicable 27 HR 2006, which seems to be a massive fluke as he has never topped 14 HR in any other season.
He’s expensive: He signed a 4-year deal starting in 2007, which means he’s still got 3 years and $19.1 million left on it. Granted, the Tigers are probably going to have to eat some of that no matter what deal they make. But does anyone really think that his declining production – which, let’s face it, seems likely to only continue declining – is worth any of that money? Do we really think that Andy LaRoche can’t match that for the league minimum? Which reminds me:
Are we really going to block LaRoche with someone who’s not that good? I’m well aware that this is just a rumor from some website, and it certainly hasn’t actually happened. But the fact that Knobler says the Dodgers are initiating this worries me. If we’d gone out and gotten someone like Cabrera this offseason to play 3B, then fine: that’s a clear upgrade. Inge is by no means an upgrade in any way – he might in fact be worse over a full season than LaRoche would be if he were to get a fair chance. How does paying more money for less production make sense in any way? (Trying.. not.. to… bring up… outfield… situation… gahh…)
He wouldn’t come for free: As much as the Tigers want to dump him, they’ve already said they won’t do it for a lousy deal. So not only would I think playing Inge at 3B be a poor choice, we’d also have to give up talent for him. Now, of course the thought of dumping Juan Pierre in a “my problem for yours” is very tempting, but the Tigers have absolutely no need for outfielders, as they’re set with Jacque Jones, Curtis Granderson, and Magglio Ordonez left to right, with Gary Sheffield and Marcus Thames both around to play the corners and DH. Plus, if they don’t trade Inge, their payroll is already at $134 million this season, with the need to extend Cabrera to a possibly $200 million deal coming soon. They don’t need to add money.
No, what the Tigers need is relief pitching, with Joel Zumaya out for maybe half the season if not more, Fernando Rodney already hurting, and Todd Jones being made out of string cheese and duct tape. Assuming that Saito & Broxton are completely untouchable, that Beimel probably wouldn’t be part of the conversation either, and that guys like Seanez and Myers are worthless in trade, what are we looking at here? Would Torre really just be desperate to get rid of Scott Proctor again? Would we actually be so stupid as to start talking about Jonathan Meloan?
So basically what this deal would most likely be for the Blue is:
1) Get worse at 3B.
2) Take on more salary to do so.
3) (Probably) get worse in the bullpen.
Oh yeah. I’m totally on board with this one.