I like Bob Brenly.

I used to think he was a bit too quick to lean on the old “hey, did you know I used to manage in the big leagues” crutch when offering analysis from his seat next to Cubs’ play-by-play man Len Kasper, but either I got past it, or he did. Either way, I’m sold: Brenly is, for my money, one of the best color men in the game. And, when paired with Kasper, I think the Cubs’ TV broadcast team is among the best we Cubs fans have had in some time. (I know it’s heresy to say so now that both have gone on to rip the Cubs repeatedly in the ensuing years, but the Thom Brennaman and Steve Stone were a pretty excellent pair in their day.)

So, it is against that backdrop that we start to wonder when WGN (there is no separate deal with CSN, which obviously also carries Cubs games) will engage Brenly in serious discussions about his contract, which expires after this season. Bruce Levine recently wrote about the possibility that Brenly could be moving on for another gig, despite being the highest paid local color man in baseball (Levine says Brenly makes $900,000 per year – yo!). From Bruce:

One viable option for Brenly could be calling Arizona Diamondbacks games. Brenly, a fan favorite who managed the Diamondbacks to a 2001 World Series title, could stabilize a shaky situation on Diamondbacks broadcasts.

Arizona’s current game-calling duo of Mark Grace and Daron Sutton have had rough seasons away from the booth. In June, Sutton was suspended with pay by the Diamondbacks for “insubordination,” according to a report by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. He has not returned to the booth. Grace is taking an indefinite leave of absence from his job after his second drunken driving arrest in 15 months this week.

Not a bad guess, assuming Brenly has an affection for the Phoenix area and is willing to take the considerably step down in market size. It can’t have been fun broadcasting the Cubs over the past few years, and the near-term doesn’t look great, either (in terms of calling the game for a team in a playoff chase, I mean).

Brenly’s agent, however, tells Levine that Brenly is happy broadcasting Cubs games, and wants to continue his partnership with WGN and the Cubs for a long time.

Brenly, himself, isn’t too worried about leaving the Cubs any time soon.

“Absolutely,” Brenly told Paul Sullivan yesterday when asked about his expectations for getting a new deal done. “I have every confidence that we’ll get something done.”

Good to hear, as I think a majority of Cubs fans would like to see Brenly back. It’s always possible that Brenly could, at some point, decide he’d like to pursue another opportunity within baseball, itself. But, for now, as long as he wants to continue broadcasting, I hope it’s with the Cubs.

The length of Brenly’s next deal might be interesting, though: recall, the Cubs’ currently TV deal with WGN expires after the 2014 season, and there is a possibility that the Cubs will not be renewing that agreement, instead opting to shift more games to CSN (in exchange for a renegotiated deal there), or even trying to get started on a Cubs network, if the CSN deal can be bought out.

  • Brian

    No big deal on Brenly…. just DON’T bring Steve Stone back….. both are about as “colorful” as a gray day in Chicago!

    Oh, by the way…. No Mark Grace either (he may be too drunk to make some games by car):)

    • Diesel

      It’s fine he can take the red line to Wrigley. No need for a car for Grace. Besides how many years have we loved Harry and he was notorious for being drunk in the booth.

    • stillmisskennyhubbs

      I’d prefer to hope that Gracie gets the help he needs.

  • Big Joe

    People don’t like Stone, because he’s honest about the team he’s covering. I find it refreshing. If you want a Homer, go follow the Sox, and the Hawk.

    • Dave

      I don’t think it has anything to do with that. People don’t mind honesty. Stone does a fine job but I think he rubs people the wrong way because his comments are often directed with a ton of snark/smarm. Where BB comes across as humble and knowledgeable, Stone wants everyone to know he’s the biggest brain in the room.

  • Big Joe

    Let me clarify. The front office, and management didn’t/doesn’t want honesty. The fan base longs for it. Ive never found Stone to be condescending, although, I’ve heard others mention it. If I was an ex major leaguer, who won a Cy Young Award, I might be a little arrogant, too.

  • Carew

    Keep Brenly! He’s so much fun to listen to. He knows what he’s talking about and when he gets a kick out of something, its absolutely hilarious

  • Big Joe

    By liking Stone, I am not saying replace Bob. I love Bob. I really wanted him to get the manager’s job.

  • Steve

    Brenly is solid. On of the best in baseball and can I say that Len + bob equals the best duo in town? Anyways, if Brenly does decide to leave are we thinking Kerry Wood could step in? He has a great voice, very articulate. The only questions is whether he would be willing to get back into baseball so soon.

  • http://www.cwsnaturally.com Evolution

    Keep Bob…he really is as good as it gets.

    Aside from great analysis, he holds players to a high standard of play…and conduct, but doesn’t fail to be entertaining.

  • 5412

    My wife hates Brenly. She feels he talks too much about himself. When he starts, she grabs the clicker and mutes it.

    When does Kerry Wood start auditioning?


    • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

      Grace could be in trouble in Arizona. Sutton may be pushed out. Grace on TV and Woodie on Radio.

    • Scotti

      I think Kerry Wood would have a very interesting spin having just hung up the spikes… not a fan of Stone or Brenly. I do like Moreland. There’s a humility there that Stone and Brenly just don’t have.

  • Scotti

    If the Cubs are close to starting their eventual network then they need to move on from Brenly and find someone who “brands” the team. Brenly just doesn’t have a Cub connection/attraction. These guys wind up being the face of the team in many ways. As said above, if Kerry Wood can talk and chew gum at the same time you need to give him a strong look.

  • Big Joe

    Moreland? Really? The guy sound like he’s “in the big city” for the first time…every time he opens his mouth. He’s worse than Santo; just not such a Homer, like Ron.

    • Scotti

      First, finding another Santo would be G O L D. Someone who can brand the team the way Santo did would be PERFECT. Money in the bank. Second, Moreland knows baseball. And Moreland knows “big cities” too. Dude’s spent a couple decades in and around the game–a game played in big cities. But I’m not interested in someone who can tell me about the big city. I’m interested in someone who can break down the game. Moreland does that and he does it from the view of someone who played infield, outfield and catcher in the major leagues AND for the Cubs at a pivitol time (’84).

      • Diesel

        I just came across a Keith Moreland card I have owned for over a decade. It is awesome to fine something like that. I am hoping next spring training to get it signed by him.

  • Dantehicks

    several key points:

    1. The cubs employ three of the best broadcasters in baseball. And Keith Moreland. Pat Hughes is extraordinary. The inning he goes away each game, I want to shoot my radio with Sirott and Moreland–who seem to think that they work for the White Sox, a team that employs no play by play guys but 4 color guys–the worst. Even Steve Stone has regressed and become a sad homer. Back to the Cubs must retain Bob. The chemistry about music, baseball, he has with Len is the only thing getting me through the games.
    I love that Brenly is tough. How funny would it be to see him calling a game with his son playing?

    2. This sounds so annoying, but my Cubs source has confirmed for me twice within 2 years that the Cubs will do a CubsNetwork. Not an “if” a when. The plan seems to be start with WGN games and figure out CSN later (I think unlikely they buy it out). It could bring tens of millions more. It was sold to me as a way not to raise ticket prices. This will not be Dodgers/Angels/Yanks/Red Sox money. But could be big and helpful. I’d imagine Bob is in their plans. This is a team that have pat Hughes a contract with an inning off, so they are fairly sharp.

    3. Finally, how about Josh Lewin? That one magical summer in the late 1990s when Lewin was frozen out but was actually kind fun (I enjoy him on national games). I don’t think he was respected, but that wAs good Stoney, funny. Best line I ever heard on a broadcast, or best that had nothing to do with baseball.

    Lewin to Steve: “in the dating game of life, I’ve long been bachelor #4.”

    Lewin did finally get married, have kids, and found a team that likes him.

  • Leroy

    I went to school for radio/tv broadcasting just to be a Cubs announcer. It’s even in my high school yearbook lol. Listening to Steve Stone/Harry/Chip/Ron and Pat growing up was like a dream come true. I love the fact that we have been blessed with some amazing announcers especially given the teams that have been put on the field.

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