A trade was imminent; it had to be. For too long, the Tigers got literally zero production from the third base position. While Brandon Inge is beloved in the city of Detroit, popularity can only carry you so far.
The Tigers have fixed the leak, however, as they have acquired third baseman Wilson Betemit from the Kansas City Royals for two Class A-level players.
Betemit will join the team Thursday in Minnesota and take over the everyday duties at the hot corner. It remains to be seen what will be done with Brandon Inge, but Tigers fans can breathe easy again. The nightmare is over.
This time last year, the Detroit Tigers acquired shortstop Jhonny Peralta from the Indians for pocket change. Nobody really gave this much of a thought at the time as he was no longer perceived to be a difference maker. Guess what...he's making a difference.
There is no reason to believe that the same cannot be true for Betemit. He has not had the best of seasons; he's hitting .281 in 57 games. In the past, Betemit has enjoyed a decent amount of success. He hit .305 in 2005 and .297 in 2010.
While Betemit has never shown a lot of pop, he is replacing a guy that only has one homer this year; it's a trade I'm willing to make to boost the batting average by over 100 points.
As Betemit puts on the Olde English D, he joins a team that has a rich Latino culture. While this may seem trivial, look what it has done for the comfort levels of some of the players.
Jose Valverde has flourished in the Motor City. Miguel Cabrera has made a successful position change and has established himself as one of the premier hitters in the game.
Peralta, Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Al Alburquerque and even Pudge Rodriguez all seemed to feel more comfortable in Detroit.
This is all speculation, but the comfort level seems to be there. If Betemit starts to fit and gets off to a hot start, it's hard telling what kind of production the Tigers just might get from him.
Wilson Betemit has played in 100 games only three times in his career. Regular at-bats may be all this former top prospect needs to live up to the hype.
Coming up in the Atlanta organization, Betemit was a can't-miss prospect. People forget that it was Betemit who forced the move of Chipper Jones to left field.
While Betemit has put some miles on the tires since then, the same potential still lingers. With security and familiarity, this could be the breakout season for him.
The black hole that was third base needed to be addressed. However, it was clearly not the only need. By trading for Betemit, the Tigers have not closed any doors as far as other trading options.
To get Betemit, the Tigers only had to part with two Class A prospects, neither of whom was highly regarded. This still leaves all of the top-level prospects available to be traded for a starting pitcher, perhaps Ubaldo Jimenez or Hiroki Kuroda.
If the Tigers were able to add Kuroda, they would have an undeniable advantage on paper against any team in the AL Central and would be able to match up with anyone in a seven-game series.
Justin Verlander, Kuroda and Max Scherzer would make a fearsome playoff rotation.
Say what you want about how classy Inge was. Yes, he is clearly a great guy who has given much to the city of Detroit. None of that, however, matters when you are hitting .170 and only playing average defense.
The only reason that Inge was re-signed was because of his popularity in Detroit. We have seen too much of him at third base and it's time to try out someone new.
The trade for Wilson Betemit is the perfect way to start the trading period. By filling the hole at third and keeping the options open for a starting pitcher, the Tigers have established themselves as the favorites in the AL Central.