Bob Brenly has left the Cubs' TV booth. This makes most of us sad; he'd been part of our lives for eight seasons for televised Cubs baseball, and done an excellent job. I wish him well in his new endeavor -- likely to be the Arizona Diamondbacks' TV booth.
WGN -- who will do the eventual hiring -- and the Cubs are, therefore, looking for a replacement partner for Len Kasper.
Two local writers have helpfully put together lists of possibilities.
[Mark] Grace, ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe, CSN's Todd Hollandsworth and former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, who has said he's not interested in broadcasting but probably could be persuaded to change his mind.
Sutcliffe has another year remaining on his contract with ESPN, but also would be a popular choice. Dodgers analyst Steve Lyons told the Tribune he also is interested and hopes to be interviewed for the opening.
The wild card is White Sox analyst Steve Stone, who had two stints with the Cubs before leaving after the acrimonious ending to the 2004 season. Stone would have to be let out of his White Sox contract to return. Others who may be interested are Fox analyst Eric Karros, Phillies analyst Gary "Sarge" Matthews and White Sox radio analyst Darrin Jackson, all of whom spent at least one season playing for the Cubs.
Bruce Levine lists six possible replacements, four that were mentioned by Sullivan, and also Keith Moreland, currently in the Cubs' radio booth, and Dave Campbell, who filled in for Brenly for a couple of games this past season.
Let me go through these one by one, with my own opinion about them, and the chances (a complete guess, I'll state right now) of their hire.
Dave Campbell: Did a good job for many years on ESPN, and also filling in for Brenly. But Campbell will be 71 in January; I can't imagine WGN and the Cubs wanting to go through this process now, and then again in a very short period of time. Chance of hire: zero
Mark Grace: I know a lot of people here loved Grace as a player. If you have never heard him broadcast Diamondbacks games, consider yourself lucky. He was brutally bad. And then there are his current legal troubles, which could result in a mandatory prison sentence. It's really too bad, but Grace did this to himself. His broadcasting career is probably over. Chance of hire: zero
Todd Hollandsworth: He's improved in pregame shows, but the couple of games he did filling in for Brenly were uneven at best. Over time, he could probably do a decent job, but do the Cubs or WGN want someone with no experience in game commentary? Chance of hire: 20%
Darrin Jackson: A former Cubs player, but better known as a White Sox player and broadcaster. It's hard to tell how he'd be away from Hawk Harrelson. Chance of hire: 20%
Eric Karros: Popular due to his embracing of everything Cubs during his one season here in 2003; spent $85,000 on a full-page Chicago Tribune ad thanking fans after that season. He's very good on Fox's Saturday games and is young enough (45 next month) that he could be a partner with Len Kasper for many years to come. He's my personal choice. Chance of hire: 50%
Steve Lyons: Irreverent, has quite a bit of on-air experience. Downside: no connection to the Cubs, and some fans would be turned off by the fact that he's a former White Sox player. Chance of hire: 20%
Gary Matthews: If you've ever heard him on the air, you wouldn't want this former Cub, who was popular as a player. At 62, he might also be older than WGN or the Cubs would want. Chance of hire: 5%
Keith Moreland: Moreland's had a couple of years with Pat Hughes on WGN radio and I know some don't care for his style; personally, I think he's done all right. It takes a while to get chemistry going for a broadcast team. If they gave him the TV job, they'd have to hire someone else for radio -- I don't see them wanting to do that. Chance of hire: zero
Steve Stone: Forget the burned bridges; that was with former Cubs management. He's under contract with the White Sox and says he intends to honor it. At 65, might be older than what the Cubs want. Chance of hire: 10%
Rick Sutcliffe: Popular, but seems to enjoy his part-time ESPN gig and might not want the grind of a fulltime job. Chance of hire: 30%
Kerry Wood: Very popular. No experience. Probably doesn't want to do this job now, when he has three young children and it would require the same travel as a player does. I think Wood would rather work in baseball than broadcasting. Chance of hire: near zero
So my choice is Karros, and I hope the Cubs and WGN can find a way to bring him on board for the long haul. Who do you want? Vote in the poll (listed in the same alphabetical order as above).