Dan Uggla turning down a four-year, $48 million contract extension led to Florida trading him to Atlanta, but after the swap the Marlins also talked about how the move allows them to improve defensively.
Uggla consistently ranked among the worst defensive second basemen in baseball, so replacing him with Omar Infante is a clear upgrade. However, the Marlins stated plan of using Chris Coghlan in center field could erase any defensive gains made in the infield.
Coghlan has never played an inning in center field as a professional, in the minors or majors, and has been exclusively a left fielder in two seasons with the Marlins. Ultimate Zone Rating pegs him as eight runs below average in 213 games as a left fielder and other defensive metrics are similarly underwhelmed with his glove.
Toss in the fact that he missed the final six weeks of the season following knee surgery that he’s still recovering from and … well, Coghlan in center field just seems like a bad idea even if Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said, “We feel good about Coghlan out there.”
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.