Detroit Tigers: The Fans' Role in the Brandon Inge Slide
I am calling a timeout for the Brandon Inge hate parade. I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but bear with me.
Full disclosure: I have never understood the Inge fandom in Detroit. Sure he seems like a decent enough guy, but he has always been a marginal player at best. He has put together one-and-a-half decent seasons in his career. I wanted him gone last season, during the offseason, and I still want him gone.
So with that known, why call the timeout?
I fully embrace the right of the fans to boo. The fans are the ones who pay the salaries of the players and if they do not like the return they are getting on their investment then they have every right to boo. That is one of the very few ways to voice your opinion and most owners seem to shy away from an open-door policy with fans.
Inge’s case has crossed into some other dimension at this point. There is no point to delving into the stats again. We all know how bad they are. You would be hard pressed to find another player in the history of the game that has hit so terribly yet still received as many at-bats as he has over the past year-and-a-half.
Over the weekend, and pretty much every at-bat now, the boos at home are crazy. To be fair, they are deserved; but, have we gotten to the point where it now does more damage? Does the extreme booing give the front office another excuse to keep him?
What should be the fans' goal for a team? In its simplest form, it is to have the best players, playing the most time which ideally should give your team the best chance to win.
Right now, no player on the roster has really grabbed onto that second base position. There are two players in the minors, Danny Worth and Eric Patterson, who seem to have earned a shot, but that will be the next step. First, the Inge roster spot needs to be opened.
Players are used to getting booed on the road, but even then it is not as bad as this weekend was for Inge. Okay, true, even from my TV at home I was booing. But that’s not the point.
The idea is not for Inge to fail, it is for the best second baseman to play.
It is rather difficult to function under that much hate, especially at home. Despite being rather clueless in most of his quotes over the past year, even he must understand how bad he has been and why fans have had enough. I have to believe that the added pressure is forcing him to push even harder and therefore causing him to fail even worse.
In most circumstances, a player such as this would have been long gone. This is the Tigers though, and for some reason Inge lives on. We now need to take away any excuses for the front office to keep him around. With the way this team has dealt with Inge, it is time for some unconventional thinking.
What is the effect of all of the boos? Well, based on how this team has, against all conventional wisdom and logic, kept him around, this means that he will become a road player. Now that is not a huge concern, as we all know he will not be able to play on the road either, BUT, that keeps him on the team, and more importantly, delays the search for the next second baseman.
How long will Inge be on the team?
So here is the plan. Seven of the next 10 games are at home. We put a timeout on booing Inge for those games. You do not have to clap or cheer—I realize that such a move is just too disgusting to most fans. Just don’t boo him, for now.
What is the end result on the moratorium on booing?
Well, there are actually two options. The first, and most likely, is that he still fails miserably. Without the added fan pressure, it takes away one more excuse for the front office and hopefully speeds up the process of getting him off the team.
This would open up a chance for one of the minor league guys or Santiago or Raburn to step into the position and take it. If they still cannot handle it, then there is time for a trade. The quicker the team gets through the Inge debacle, the quicker they can start focusing on a real fix.
The second outcome would be for him to actually start hitting. I’m not talking a .320-hitter, but at this point, even .250 would be acceptable. Of course, there is a better chance of winning the lotto then for Inge to start hitting, but if he does then it only helps the team. After these 10 games, his average, just over those ten games even, will still be below .150.
The team will be out of excuses.
After this homestand, what happens if he is still on the team? Assuming he continues on his current pace of two hits every 20 at-bats, then all hell breaks loose. Shake the foundation of Comerica Park, letting the team know that we are not accepting this anymore.
The team has gone into a tailspin since Inge rejoined the team. The Tigers have their goals set too high this year to be derailed by such inadequate play at second base. They need to move on to the next option.
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