Everybody's got blind spots. Mine are for cookie-dough ice cream, the Kansas City Royals, TV shows about repairing World War II tanks, and Hootie and the Blowfish's "Only Wanna Be With You". But hey, at least I've got an excuse: There's no accounting for taste.
Baseball managers have blind spots, too. But there's a difference. They don't have the same excuse, because over the centuries we've developed various accounting methods that can, to a large degree, eliminate taste from the equation.
Which brings us to Clint Hurdle and Brandon Inge.
Hurdle, with a lot of help from his front office and his players, has done a fine job this season. I will point especially to the work done by Pittsburgh's relief corps, both this year and last. If the season ends tomorrow, Clint Hurdle's your Manager of the Year. But his public affection for Brandon Inge seems strange, if not downright bizarre.
Inge needs to get some at bats to stay fresh to be able to have the chance to produce.
... he's a guy that's got barrel to his bat when he gets consistent at bats. When he gets consistent at bats, he's shown the ability to produce runs.
Not in this little corner of the space/time continuum, he hasn't.
Brandon Inge hasn't been a league-average hitter since 2006.
He was a useful player as recently as 2010. In 2011, he was so terrible that the Tigers sent him to the minors. He did return to the big club in September, and gained some triumphant vindication that October. The Tigers released him the next April, and he hooked up with the A's, who were desperate for a third baseman; eventually he lost his job to Josh Donaldson (another converted catcher, by the way).
Since Opening Day 2011, Inge has 742 plate appearances in the majors. Over that span, 314 major leaguers racked up at least 600 plate appearances. Here's the very bottom of the OPS list:
Mathis is a backup catcher. The others are shortstops, some of them not currently in the majors. And then there's Brandon Inge. Say what you want about him, but he's about as far from a run-producer as you'll find anywhere.
You could almost justify Inge as some sort of super-utility player if he was playing shortstop or catching. He hasn't caught since 2008, and he's never started a game at shortstop in his career. At this point, he simply doesn't have any business on the roster of a contending team, and even a blind man could see that. Which isn't to lay all the blame on Hurdle, as roster spots are precious and the manager has limited options. Regardless of what Hurdle might say (or even think) about Inge's talents, ultimately the 25-man roster is the general manager's responsibility. Which makes me wonder, in this instance, about Neal Huntington's vision.
For much more about the Pirates and blind spots, please visit SB Nation's Bucs Dugout.