At this point, the rumors have died down about the Tigers trying to deal for a pitcher. And Brandon Inge is probably the first guy who comes to mind when you think of the word expendable. The problem with getting rid of Inge is, if I-Rod goes down, now we’re stuck with Mike Defilice, possibly Chris Shelton, and then you’d have to tap Maxim St. Pierre, who’s hardly had a stellar minor league career.
So if we want any depth at catcher, we should keep Inge around. If someone offers us something more then we feel Brandon is worth, then it’s a no brainer. But Inge has some value to us with regard to insuring we have a backstop with an almost full season behind him.
So if we exclude Brandon Inge, who’s the most expendable. First is Carlos Pena. He really struggled last year, but, with his youth and past prospect tag, Pena might still have some value. Pena’s playing time also could take a small dent if I-Rod gets time at firstbase to give his knees a spell. He’s not as good of a hitter as Dmitri Young, so he won’t have the option that a lot of AL first basemen have, and that’s if getting time at DH if they want to try someone else in the field. In the meantime, Dmitri Young, or even Chris Shelton could replace Pena in a trade.
And with mentioning Dmitri Young in the last sentence, he’s the next on the list. There’s no doubt Dmitri had an exceptional year at the plate last year. But he really is a man without a position. He “can” play outfield, third, and firstbase, but he’s not stellar at any of them. In none of the last three seasons has Young finished with a cumulative FRAA above zero. But, Dmitri does give Tram some flexibility. Young’s best spot is DH, but he can spot at several positions.
Craig Monroe was the odd man out when Rondell White came to Detroit. He might see some at bats against lefties, spelling Bobby Higginson here and there. But his chance of getting consistent time this year is going to be slight, barring injury. Craig isn’t a world beater, but he did hit 23 homeruns.
And finally, we have Bobby Higginson. Viewed as an anchor as far as our salary situation, Bobby has underachieved since signing his megadeal, and is consistently rumored to be on the block every year at the trade deadline. Bobby is tougher to deal because he has veto power because of a no trade clause, if he gets off to a nice start this year, you could hear those same trade rumors again.
So in my opinion, Pena and Monroe are the most expendable. Monroe disappearing would probably cause Tram the least worries, but Pena is replaceable, and probably has more trade value.