don’t let this be the end


photo by Samara Pearlstein

The Tigers have traded a couple of minor prospects for Royals third baseman Wilson Betemit. Betemit is hitting .281 right now and OPSing .750. He’s 29 years old. He’s on a one-year contract.

There is no official statement yet about what this means for Brandon Inge, but… well. You do the math.

ETA: Betemit will join the team in Minnesota. Inge has been designated for assignment (officially DFAing him on Thursday, but Dombrowski made the announcement tonight after the game). If he clears waivers, he has said that he will accept an assignment to Toledo.

In the postgame presser, he was concentrating very hard on the concept of Toledo as almost a rehab assignment– he kept talking about going down to get his swing ‘right’, using his time in the minors to get himself back on track, and so on. He mentioned that he didn’t want to do anything to force the team into a decision that would end in his release. He said that he didn’t want to test the waters with other teams; several times he said that Detroit is his home, his family’s home, and this is his team.

Here are a bunch of direct quotes from the clubhouse interview:

There’s plenty of guys who could’ve made a decision to not accept the assignment, maybe get picked up by another team, but I live here, my kids go to school here, I’ve made this my home, and I still feel… whatever happens, this will still be home for me.

Everyone goes through some rough patches in their career and this is definitely one of them, but I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason.

I need to go down and work on something. It’s my fault, you know, I’m not holding anyone responsible. It’s me, I’m in the batter’s box.

Go down, work on my swing, I’ll be back up here… I’m actually in a good place with it. I wanna go down there and work on it.

Some guys in my shoes would have told the front office to stick it you-know-where… there’s probably plenty of teams out there that would pick me up, but I like it here… this is home to me.

Oh, I know I’ll be back. I’ll be back in September no matter what (laugh)… that’s a definite.

He also spoke at some length about the fact that Mr. Ilitch ‘reached out’ to him and said that he did not want to release Inge. When pressed he admitted that he had not spoken to Mr. Ilitch face-to-face, words had simply been conveyed to him through the front office, but he had been told that Mr. Ilitch wanted to make it clear that he, personally, wanted Inge to stay in the Tigers organization. This meant a lot to Inge. He actually said, “I can’t tell you how much that meant to me,” and, “I owe it to Mr. Ilitch for reaching out to me especially.”

This is Inge’s 11th season as a Tiger. He has been in the organization since he was drafted in 1998. That’s 13 years. Paws has been a Tiger for only 16 years. Brandon Inge has been a Tiger for my entire adult life.

Look, I know he’s been dreadful lately. It has been kind of difficult to ignore. But Inge is the ONLY Tiger who has stuck around this long. Maybe this says something depressing about the Tiger drafts of the mid-and-late 90s. Maybe this says something depressing about Inge’s attractiveness (or lack of such) to other teams at most points in his career. But for better or for worse, he has stayed. He’s THE ONLY ONE. He has, as he said, made a home for himself here, in the literal sense and in the baseball sense.

If you feel the need to belittle that, fine. That’s your prerogative. I am mentally stabbing you in the face right now, but that is your Tigers fan prerogative. Still, I hope that Brandon Inge has some sort of plate epiphany in Toledo, goes on a hitting tear, gets called back up and makes all the haters look like fools. I know what’s likely to happen, ok. But that is my hope.

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42 responses to “don’t let this be the end

  1. Oh, Betemit’s only 29? I swore I heard he was turning 31 this week.

  2. Sigh. I know. It’s tough. There’s been a conspicuous silence on this site about this sad topic, but we knew this was coming. There’s no way around it, now. We’re talking something like 4 for 60. Yeah, he’s been a member of the family for, like, a decade. But yeah, this is the end. If not now, then soon. Just remember the good times, I guess…

  3. I feel like crying. I know he’s been putrid this year, but I will always remember Brandon diving in the stands and making regular appearances on Web Gems until his knees disintegrated. Poor Brandon. #sigh

  4. he’s my dad’s favorite tiger and has been a tiger since like 01 please dombrowski don’t trade him he’s done so much for not just the tigers but for the city of detroit if anyone else trade coke last night was a blast literally but inge got booed pretty badly my dad almost nailed a guy with his glove in our row he was a jerk i mean come on he’s got over 1000 hits and 1000 games in a tigers uniform don’t let it be the end dave.

  5. I keep hoping that it will turn out that the mono has been to blame.

  6. He showed who he is in March ’04. While enduring that epic 119-loss season, he’d finally established himself as an everyday MLB catcher –only to see the team sign an everyday HOF catcher that winter. Some would sulk, act out, or demand a trade; BI showed up with a glove for every position and a willingness to do anything he could to help the team. And how many athletes ever had the skills to split their time –& play effectively –at such qualitatively different positions as C and CF, as he did that season?
    Amazing. Unforgettable. Gone? –we’ll see.
    Meanwhile, what’s the over/under on how many player-of-the-game votes he wins while he’s in Toledo?

  7. Thank god! It’s about time!
    -end of statement

  8. this is super dramatic but all I could think when I landed back at home tonight was that I might’ve seen Inge in a Tigers uniform for the last time in person. ugh. thanks for the recap though, I don’t think I can bear to watch that interview. you know I feel the same as you.

  9. This is probably the best move they could’ve made without releasing him or whatever. He’ll do his thing in Toledo and if he gets it together, he’ll be back by September. If he doesn’t, he won’t, but he’ll know he did what he could, and it’s not like he’s leaving for good on a sour note.

  10. I am glad someone isn’t dog piling on a player who has been very important to the Tigers’ franchise

    • I figure every other outlet in the Tigersphere will be setting off the fireworks and jumping for joy. Let me have my one little enclave of sadness. If people want to gloat about Inge being sent packing they have the whole rest of the internet for that.

  11. I hope Inge can find his swing again. He has always managed to find it in the past and pull together some decency. Here’s to him finding his game in Toledo and helping us as a utility guy down the stretch in September and coming back strong next season. *crosses his paws*

    Inge needs to find his own Answer Hamster hanging out in Toledo…

  12. Sam, I think everyone should just stand back and look at what happened last night. The story is spelled out for all: Brandon Inge will be with the organization for life. EVERYBODY ought to be happy, and thank goodness Mr. I has the priorities straight in this case. Let’s all wish him well and get back to winning the Central.

  13. So torn. On the one hand, maybe we can get some actual production out of third! On the other hand, over a decade of Inge and now he’s being displaced by Wilson freaking Betemit. At least when Miggy was going to play third, it was Inge being displaced by a legitimate superstar. Wilson Betemit is… Wilson Betemit.

  14. Can’t believe nobody has yet mentioned Ryan Raburn. Now, there’s a dude that’s stealing money, but ol’ Senile Smoky Jim is still gonna write his name in the lineup about once a week. He hits barely any better than Inge, and he’ll go out and lose a game in the field for us, too. Sad to see Brandon go, but, let’s face it, he’s got to get down to Toledo and fight for his job in 2012, as Betemit is not signed beyond the end of this year. Go get it done, Brandon.

  15. Cringe pissed and moaned when the Cats had him catch.Then pissed and moaned when they signed Pudge going so far as to say he was as good as Pudge! Laughable.Then pissed and moaned when they signed Miggy and he got bumped again.Cringe has never been more than an overated utility player! His arrogance is mindnumbing for a career .230 hitter!

  16. you know every 3 years since 06 he’s had a good year so paws crossed as we head into the final stretch of the year we should definatly see him in Sept. or hopfully some time sooner. Inge find that swing and get up here soon just incase Betemit doesn’t turn out just like Huffy Puffy over there in San Fran.

  17. I’m sad to see this happen to Brandon. I’ve been a huge fan since I saw him as a catcher going back and forth from the Tigers to ‘A’ ball. I know it seems Brandon’s in a huge slump right now but as a worker in the medical field I know ‘mono’ takes alot out of you and they need to realize it’s not easy to recover from that illness. I think Dombrowski should’ve known enough to send Brandon to Toledo for rehab right away. I do think it was a slap in his face to sign a 3rd baseman and not just rely on Kelly to get it done. The way it was done felt like the Tigers organization telling him , “we’ve signed another 3rd baseman, go to Toledo and work on things” but don’t tell him that if he can come back to the Tigers there won’t be a spot for him because he’s been replaced. I don’t like how the organization went about this situation at all!!! Brandon is loyal to the fans, the team and the city of Detroit and I do not want to see him leave the Tigers. I plan to go to Toledo as soon as I know he’s in the lineup! I will support Brandon Inge on whatever his next step is and will continue to root for him wherever he ends up!!

  18. Has Guillen been wearing his socks high, or did he do it in Inge’s honor last night?

  19. inge is a great guy but unfortunately that isn’t enough to keep your job in the MLB. this will make the tigers better and maybe inge can get back to hitting .240 for us in september. i’m sure he’ll be a part of the organization in one way or another for many years

  20. Chuck Renwick

    My guess is Brandon will be in the Tigers organization as currently owned for as long as he wants. As a player in Toledo, he’s a possible obstacle to
    whomever in the system might be the 3rd baseman of the near future.
    In another year or so, he’ll be a great influence on young Tigers-to-be – coaching, scouting or managing at some level.

    • I don’t think he’ll be blocking anyone in Toledo. I don’t see Castellanos being ready for AAA before Inge’s contract is up. Then again, I’m not a scout/expert.

  21. Thank you ,Sam. You put into words what I have been feeling about Brandon. He is a classy guy and he should be respected for the way he handled things while speaking last night. I hope he can figure out his hitting “challenges” and come back in September and contribute. Either way, his loyalty to the Tigers should be honored.

  22. `Career .234 batting average…this year, .177.
    `6th on the Active List for errors by a 3rd baseman. Led the AL in errors at 3rd base in 2007 and 2009.
    `112 runs worse per season than the average third baseman.

    (all cited from baseball-reference.com)

    its time he is gone…thank you Inge, but we are better off

  23. When we traded for Pudge Rodriguez, all the reports were that Brandon’s days as a Tiger were numbered. Then he found third base.

    When we traded for Miggy, again, that was supposed to be the end of Brandon Inge. Yet he somehow managed to stick around and become an All-Star.

    So, I’m not going to count him out until he actually retires or (heaven forbid) is released. If Betemit is only signed for this season, this may turn out to be something of a “rehab assignment” for mono. Brandon’s still under contract for next season. I think it’s quite possible he may still turn up in spring training next year, competing for his old job. I do think he’ll have to win it back, though.

    In any case, he’s a class act, in addition to being a ridiculous man-child. It’s hard to remember what the Tigers were like without him, and IMPOSSIBLE to imagine him playing somewhere else. (I kept thinking during last night’s game “I don’t have a Tiger now! They’re getting rid of ‘my Tiger’”. ‘Til I remembered Tommie Brookens was still around. He was “My Tiger” before Brandon.)

  24. by the way Heitk1le we didn’t trade for Pudge Rodriguez, (my all time favorite Tiger), we signed him in 04 from out of the free agent market after his world series win with the Marlins i think we traded for Betemit because he only has 1 year left on his contract and plus we ain’t payin’ for it so Inge should be back to norm by 2012

    • You’re right. It was a signing, not a trade. But I do remember the media making a big deal about it being the end of Inge’s career in Detroit, because why did we need this bad-hitting catcher when we had Pudge?

  25. Totally agree with you. It sucks it’s come to this.

  26. I can’t tell you how much it warmed my heart that he decided to stay with the organization rather than leave. Sometimes it’s hard to stay emotionally invested in a team when the membership feels so arbitrary. Players move around so much that, in most cases, they shouldn’t let themselves feel too attached. And if they – the organization’s most public faces – don’t feel it, then why should I? I might as well root for my fantasy team (if I had one that is), it’s just as arbitrary a collection of individuals. So it’s golden to have someone like Brandon who says “this is my team, this is where I want to be” and really means it. He’s given us that continuity and loyalty for a long time. Really pulling for him to get it together for next year.

  27. I’m as depressed as you are, Sam. Finally got my INGE Tiger Pride shirt and this happens … maybe it’s my fault and I cursed him. I will be crushed if this is the end. It boggles my mind that there are some people who don’t appreciate Brandon’s gritty play, great personality and above all, his loyalty to Detroit and the Tigers, even when it was a barrel of NOT FUN to be playing here.

  28. I’m sorry Caleb but you aren’t a true Tiger fan if you think we’re better off without Inge. :/

  29. Sam your lucky did you get any autos?

    • No, I don’t do the whole autograph chasing thing. I have three from this season (Avila, Verlander, and Inge), and only one of those (Inge) involved me actually going up to a player and asking for him to sign something– and that only happened because he was standing two feet away from me, in the park but not on the field and in no rush to take BP, and there was practically nobody else around.

      I think bugging the players for autographs and stuff at the hotel is tacky and kinda rude, to be honest.

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