UPDATE: Twins sign Denard Span to five-year contract

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Denard Span.jpgUpdate: Here’s the details: Span will make $750,000 in 2010, $1 million
in 2011, $3 million in 2012, $4.75 million in 2013 and $6.5 million in 2014. The contract includes a $9 million option for 2015 with a $500,000 buyout.

12:08 pm: Here it is. Christensen tweets that Span will earn $16.5 million over the five years while the Twins hold a $9 million option for 2015. Pretty nice deal for both sides.

11:38 am: Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Twins and outfielder Denard Span have agreed to a five-year contract. Terms aren’t yet available, but the new contract will cover the rest of Span’s team-controlled seasons.

Span, who turned 26 in February, batted .311/.392/.415 with eight homers, 10 triples, 68 RBI and 23 stolen bases last season and has quickly developed — with the help of LASIK surgery — into one of the game’s best leadoff hitters. The club felt comfortable enough with him as their everyday center fielder that they parted ways with Carlos Gomez to acquire shortstop J.J. Hardy this winter. While Span is more-developed with the bat, UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) suggests that he can’t hold a candle to him defensively.

Looking at this from the Twins’ perspective, it’s nice to know Span is safely secured for the next five seasons, but I’d hope the contract contains some sort of team option for his first year of free agency or something.

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.