A report from the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday threw a proverbial curveball at the Cubs blogosphere. Of all the names mentioned this past off-season, not once was Jim Hendry rumored to be interested in trading for Brandon Inge of the Tigers. Injuries to the Tigers’ bullpen coupled with the frustration voiced by Inge about being benched have apparently made their former third baseman available. The Detroit Free Press stated “the Tigers have had general discussions with the Chicago Cubs about acquiring bullpen help, according to one industry executive.”
On Wednesday, Inge made his first start of the spring in center…. The Cubs are rumored to be looking for a platoon partner in centerfield for Felix Pie or Sam Fuld and the report stated Inge was scheduled to play center on Tuesday. Inge was not in the lineup but did start in center on Wednesday in a split squad game….so are the Cubs really interested in Brandon Inge?
Report after report over the winter stated how unhappy Inge was after the Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera. Inge does not consider himself a bench player and on the “All-Star team” Jim Leyland manages, Inge has lost his starting job and in turn has become a very high priced role player.
Inge still has three years left on the deal he signed in December of 2006. He is owed $6.2 million this season, $6.3 million in 2009 and $6.6 million in 2010.
The former catcher had a horrible 2007 season. He hit .236/.312/.376/14/71 with a .688 OPS, clearly not enough production out of a corner infield spot. XM Radio thinks Inge could be the starting catcher next season if he is still in Detroit.
What makes this rumor interesting from a baseball perspective is Inge does hit lefties.
Last season Inge’s line against southpaws was: .333/.419/.504 with 3 home runs and 10 doubles in 63 games, 111 at bats, with a .923 OPS. For his career: .277/.347/.459 with 29 home runs, 43 doubles and a .806 OPS in 403 games, 782 at bats.
Inge last played center for the Tigers and Alan Trammell in 2005, 1 game, but played in 19 games the year before.
From a financial standpoint it is unlikely a club with as many escalating salaries as the Cubs currently have, not to mention a new owner on the horizon, would be able to make a deal for a player that is owed $19.1 million dollars over the next three years….but Hendry and Dave Dombrowski are reportedly close friends and have a history of working out deals.
On Wednesday, Dave Kaplan mentioned again he still thinks Coco Crisp will be the Cubs’ centerfielder….So stay tuned.