Tigers re-sign Ramon Santiago to two-year contract

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After testing the free agent market Ramon Santiago has decided to remain in Detroit, re-signing with the Tigers on a two-year contract.

As the Tigers’ utility man Santiago has averaged just 278 plate appearances during the past four years, but depending on how the rest of the offseason plays out he could get an opportunity for more starts as Detroit’s primary second baseman.

His power is limited and despite switch-hitting he’s much weaker versus righties, but Santiago has hit .266 with a .335 on-base percentage since 2008 and is a plus defender at shortstop and second base.

This has been a good market for utility men and moderately productive middle infielders, as Santiago joins Jamey Carroll, Mark Ellis, Clint Barmes, Willie Bloomquist, and John McDonald in securing two-year contracts.

UPDATE: Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com says the deal is worth about $4 million total, so Santiago is being paid more like a utility man than a starter.

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.