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.