Trade analysis: Washburn to Tigers

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Tigers acquire RHP Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners in exchange for LHP Luke French and LHP Mauricio Robles.

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Can’t blame the Mariners for this one. Realize that they gave up a
35-year-old southpaw with a 4.02 career ERA and 43.6% career flyball
rate. He benefited greatly with the best outfield defense in the sport
this season (+14.1 UZR/150), putting up a 2.64 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 79/33
K/BB ratio in 133 innings. A quick look at his FIP (3.75) and BABIP
(.249 as opposed to a .280 career average) tell you that he was getting
more than a bit lucky this season.

Still, he’s a solid veteran who throws strikes and he should hold
down the back of the Tigers rotation. While I expect him to fall off a
bit, Comerica Park is pretty spacious too, and their outfield defense
isn’t that bad either.

This isn’t a great return for the Mariners, but the move made sense
considering Washburn was going to leave as a free agent, anyway.
Interestingly, French, who had a 3.38 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in seven games
(five starts) with the Tigers this season, has a 50% flyball rate in
the majors thus far, and a 39.7% flyball rate in parts of four seasons
in the minors. While he may have some trouble sticking as a starter in
the majors, he could have landed in a far worse situation. As for
Robles, he is just 20 years old, but boasts a 111/41 K/BB ratio in 91
1/3 innings pitched between Single-A West Michigan and High-A Lakeland
this season.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.