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.