Derrek Lee and the Orioles are making their one-year deal official today, and Don Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the contract is worth $7.25 million in guaranteed money plus another $2.75 million in potential “performance bonuses.”
Lee just finished a five-year, $65 million deal signed with the Cubs in 2006, but is a 34-year-old coming off a career-worst season filled with thumb problems and the going rate for a veteran first baseman/corner outfielder coming off a down or injury wrecked season appears to be around $8-10 million.
Lance Berkman got $8 million from the Cardinals. Carlos Pena got $10 million from the Cubs. Magglio Ordonez got $10 million from the Tigers. And on the low end Hideki Matsui and Lyle Overbay each got $5 million. Lee’s deal could be worth up to $10 million and I like his chances of bouncing back in 2011, in which case he probably has more upside than any of those other guys.
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.