Some team should give Shelley Duncan a chance

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Shelley Duncan would probably have several seasons in the big leagues under his belt had just about any other team drafted him in the second round back in 2001, but instead he’s wasted away in the Yankees’ minor-league system.
Duncan has accumulated 3,812 plate appearances spread over 905 games and nine seasons in the minors, including over 1,000 trips to the plate at both Double-A and Triple-A.
During that time in the minors he’s blasted 170 homers while making multiple All-Star teams, and this season he was named MVP of the International League after hitting .277/.370/.546 with 30 homers and 99 RBIs in 123 games.
Yet not only did Duncan turn 30 years old with a grand total of 68 games in the majors to show for it, the Yankees dropped him from their 40-man roster last week. Duncan has smartly decided that he’ll likely never get an extended shot in New York, so he’s opted for free agency rather than returning on a minor-league deal. It remains to be seen if any other teams view him as a big-league player, because his prime was wasted at Triple-A and he hardly has star potential at this point.
With that said, Duncan deserves a chance to stick in the majors and is perfectly capable of knocking around left-handed pitching as a productive platoon first baseman, corner outfielder, or designated hitter. At the very least he’d make for a nice bench bat after hitting .271/.368/.533 in four seasons at Triple-A. Baseball Think Factory projects him as a .252/.328/.460 hitter in the majors for 2010, which is a higher OPS than seven teams got from their first basemen and 18 teams got from their left fielders 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.