StrategyApril 13, 2009

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Monday Mail Call: Every Inge Counts

By R.J. White

Monday’s here, which means it’s back to the grind. But that also means the Monday Mail Call is here to bring a little baseball to your life, Cafe style. In this edition, we’ll talk about everyone’s favorite catcher-eligible slugger, the first edition of the weekly rankings, a prospect that didn’t make the first edition of Future Rookies, and a fallen Angel.

Hot/Cold: Hope Springs Eternal

“What about Brandon Inge? He gonna continue to crush it?”Plus1Plus1

Ray Flores: It’s not a surprise to see Brandon Inge supply some power. Prior to 2008, Inge averaged a little under 15 home runs in three of the previous four seasons and in the other season where he didn’t hit his near-average of 15 moon shots, Inge smacked a career-high 27 home runs in 2006. The downside with Inge is he’s a batting average killer. Since 2004, Inge’s average declined before finally arriving to a near-Mendoza Line level in 2008, which also coincided with a big spike in his strikeout rate; having whiffed nearly 30% of the time in 2007 and in 2008, he struck out 27% of the time on limited at-bats.

However, it’s not all doom-and-gloom as far Inge’s outlook is concerned. The Tigers’ waiving of Gary Sheffield did two things: it opened up a DH role for Carlos Guillen and slotted in Inge as the Tigers’ everyday third baseman, his most comfortable position. Last year with the arrival of Miguel Cabrera, Inge was the odd man out and had to find playing time by splitting catcher duties and spot starting in centerfield, all the while requesting a trade. An everyday role is just about guaranteed for Inge, and now the question is: can he make it pay off at the plate? Supposedly, Inge made a few adjustments in his swing, which allows him to make better contact on inside and outside pitches. Whatever he did, it has worked thus far, as he finished the spring with five home runs (and a .273 batting average) and already has four home runs to begin 2009.

Not looking too much into Brandon Inge’s great start, but it’s not too hard to imagine Inge as a post-hype sleeper version of Mike Napoli. Inge’s HR/AB ratio won’t be as high over a full season as Napoli’s on a part-time role, but his prior track record of a 15 home run hitter makes him a useful fantasy catcher. Of course, 20 home runs or even a repeat of his 2006 season will be just gravy.

Cafe Positional Rankings: Week 1

“Not a fan of Liriano at #10. Not only is he going to struggle to stay healthy but his pitches aren’t and probably aren’t ever going to be as good as they were pre-injury. I didn’t notice anything else I had any issues with really. Nice job!”J35J

Bryan Freilich, co-ranker: I was mainly basing Liriano’s ranking off his strong ST, though I considered his MDP as well. I understand that Liriano probably won’t be as dominant as he was pre-TJ due to the fact that he’s not throwing his slider as much. But I felt he’d still be solid given the development of his change. I was certainly going to put him out of the top 10 after his first start though.

Future Rookies: Cream of the Crop

“Eric Hosmer? Outside of the zero mention of him, great article.”dave knight

R.J. White: Thanks! Hosmer was a tough omission from my initial list, as he is just as talented as Justin Smoak and Yonder Alonso, two other sluggers from the last draft class that did make the list. The reason I withheld discussing Hosmer is that I believe he has significantly more minor-league time ahead of him than the other first basemen mentioned. Fear not, because with as talented as Hosmer is, he’ll likely find his way into the Future Rookies column sooner or later. Other prospects that I reluctantly lost on the chopping block are Angel Villalona, Freddie Freeman, and Josh Vitters.

Oh, and thanks to mac-unit for cluing me in to Beckham’s Yahoo availability, as he was added just after I submitted that column. I appreciate everyone keeping an eye out for these tidbits, and the thoroughness of the Cafe community is one of the reasons this place is great!

Thread of the Week

Angels SP Nick Adenhart Dead at 22

RIP Nick. You will be missed and remembered.

Guys and gals, we all know that drinking and driving is wrong. If you can’t take the consequence of penalty and jail time seriously, then I urge you to really think about how you would feel to be the guy behind the wheel of that minivan and be responsible for ending people’s lives. Call a cab, call a friend, just do whatever it takes to keep the roads safe.

That’s it for the Mail Call this week. Please e-mail us at with comments and questions. You can also utilize the link at the end of each article that takes you to its Article Discussion thread.

R.J. White (or daullaz) has been actively involved in fantasy sports for over 14 years, making him an addict at this point. He loves writing, the Atlanta Braves, music, the Buffalo Bills, theatre, the Philadelphia Eagles, his family, and the number 42, though not in that order.
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