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Cardinals could be interested in Inge or Encarnacion

Reports are suddenly flying that the Cardinals are interested in Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge, should he be able to clear waivers.

I don't know why, but I have always had a gut feeling that Inge would someday be a Cardinals player. It probably is rooted in the fact that he has basically had one good offensive season in his entire career. But, typically, the Cardinals think guys like that can pull on the bids on a bat and a little red cap and automatically have a career renaissance. And, nine times out of 10, the move goes over sort of like the Mike Maroth trade.

I like Inge's hustle. I like his versatility. But I don't care for his .237 career batting average or his career .307 on base percentage much at all. This season he's doing a little better with a .254 batting average and a .330 on base percentage -- and he could probably count on a bit of an offensive bump by coming over to the National League. But I don't expect the guy to become Eddie Mathews overnight and suddenly be the righthanded fifth place hitter the Cardinals have craved since Ryan Ludwick was sent packing.

The best thing Inge would do for the Cardinals would be to offer the club flexibility. First, Felipe Lopez can get away from third base and back to playing in the middle infield or outfield corners where he is more flexible. Second, Inge can play just about anyplace but up the middle. He can play in the outfield, he's been a starting major league catcher in his career... Manager Tony La Russa would be able to go nuts with countless variations to the lineup with Inge and Lopez on the same team...

Another possibility at third base is Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion. Despite the fact that the Cardinals have really bad luck with Encarnacions, one might think that Edwin would be motivated to take a crack at ruining Cincinnati's playoff hopes since the Reds cast him off last season in their trade for Scott Rolen.

Encarnacion's numbers at the plate are slightly better than Inge. He's a .245 career hitter with a .310 on base percentage. But he isn't nearly as good with the glove and he's not as versatile.

Inge, makes almost $7 million a season and is a free agent at the end of the year while Encarnacion makes about $5.4 million and is arbitration eligible...