Friday, December 08, 2006

Locking Up Inge Part Of The Master Plan

It may not be as sexy as a trade for Gary Sheffield or making a free agent splash like with Pudge Rodriguez or Magglio Ordonez, but the Tigers continue to show that they do it right most times nowadays -- letting Shef wear #3 notwithstanding.

The latest proof was the inking yesterday of Brandon Inge to a four-year contract extension.

The price wasn't too bad -- about $6 million per season -- considering that Inge is an everyday third baseman who figures to only get better. But the bigger picture here is the fact that no longer are the Tigers the bumbling stooges who wasted most of a decade, until they hired Dave Dombrowski back in November 2001. They aren't, anymore, stumbling through the American League like bulls in a china shop. There's a plan in place, and it's constantly being implemented. The Inge signing is the latest example.

Here's the plan: draft wisely, develop young players on the farm, sign a key free agent or two, hire an experienced manager, and -- here's the kicker -- lock your core talent up with longterm contracts before they get obscenely expensive.

Granted, the Tigers are unlikely to be able to keep everyone that they want to, due to financial restrictions. But you may as well keep as many as you can, and securing Inge is in accordance with The Plan.

While I'm at it, a few words about those who've maligned Brandon Inge. Stuff it. Okay, so those are only two words, but they're appropriate. All Inge does is play a solid third base, hit a few homers and drive in some runs, all with being a great teammate and accepting his shift from catcher with grace, save the first few days after the team signed Pudge Rodriguez, when Inge was whiny and cranky. His arm is terrific, and with his athleticism he gets to many balls that ordinary third sackers could only dream about snagging. He's cutting down on his strikeouts, too.

Next up: shortstop Carlos Guillen, who can be a free agent after the 2007 season, and pitcher Jeremy Bonderman, who can be free after 2008. Guillen will probably want to test the waters, but don't be surprised if the Tigers are aggressive in trying to prevent that from happening.

Only bumbling stooges fail to try. The Tigers are no longer that anymore, as an organization.


Blogger Ozz said...

Inge is always going to be one of those guys that some fans are never going to totally accept. He'll never be a superstar, but as long as he gets the job done, I guess I'm fine with him.

1:26 PM  

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