Bob Brenly’s Exit: More Thoughts, Reactions, and an Early Look at Possible Replacements

I’m still digesting the reality that Bob Brenly will not be in the booth for the Cubs next year. It’s easy to feel like, on the one hand, it isn’t really a big deal – Bob doesn’t play in the games, he doesn’t pick the players, he doesn’t set the lineups.

But, still.

This is the guy who, together with Len Kasper, at least on the television side, has been one of the primary vehicles by which we’ve taken in Cubs games. He’s been a huge part of what it is to “watch a Cubs game” for the last eight years. I enjoyed his candor, his insight, his humor, and his ability to make terrible baseball watchable.

The only solace I’ll take in Bob’s departure is that, eight years ago, I was almost disconsolate that Steve Stone was leaving. At the time, I thought it impossible that anyone could adequately replace Stone as the Cubs’ color man, let alone surpass him.

Today, I think it is impossible that anyone could adequately replace Brenly. Let’s hope lightning strikes twice.

As for the rest of the Cubs world, they’re still digesting the departure, too. Among the relevant items …

  • Brenly, himself, offered some more thoughts on his time with the Cubs, per the Tribune: “It was great fun. It was the experience of a lifetime in my professional career, as much ridiculous fun as is humanly possible. The people I worked with, the crew and everyone were all great. I was grateful for the chance and the joy of working at Wrigley Field. And I was extremely fortunate to work with Len Kasper, who undoubtedly is one of the best play-by-play men in the game.”
  • Brenly’s now-former partner Len Kasper said he was “bummed” by the news (again, per the Tribune): “Lots of great moments to cover, a ton of laughs on and off the air as well. Today is certainly a reminder of how fleeting life is. I wish just the bad stuff were fleeting, but the good stuff is too. Wherever he goes, his next partner hit the jackpot …. I don’t doubt there will be a huge group of incredibly talented people who will apply for the job, which I think is the best job in baseball. Whoever gets it will be welcomed with open arms and we will carry on. But Bob’s stamp on our booth and our broadcasts is a permanent one.”
  • Bruce Levine follows the theme, and sounds a little bummed about the loss of Brenly.
  • Paul Sullivan listed a number of possible replacements, as did Bruce Levine. Sullivan names Mark Grace, Rick Sutcliffe, Todd Hollandsworth, Kerry Wood, Steve Lyons, Steve Stone, Eric Karros, Sarge Matthews and Darrin Jackson. Levine lists Hollandsworth, Stone, Wood, Sutcliffe, Keith Moreland, and Dave Campbell. I’m surprised that neither mentioned Mitch Williams, Dan Plesac or Doug Glanville, because I’d think they’d each get some consideration. Early thoughts: Grace and Wood seem like non-starters, Stone seems unlikely to come back, and guys like Moreland, Hollandsworth and Glanville might be a touch green.
  • Brenly was the highest paid local color man in the game (according to multiple reports, Brenly was making $900K per year), so it’s not as though the budget isn’t there to bring in a top name. That, however, isn’t absolutely necessary, of course. Just someone good. Please, someone good.
  • Speaking of which, there are likely to be growing pains, even if the choice is a seasoned vet. Maybe 2013 is going to be rebuilding on all levels.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

110 responses to “Bob Brenly’s Exit: More Thoughts, Reactions, and an Early Look at Possible Replacements”

  1. Ron Swanson

    Sad to see him go too and definitely worried we’ll get stuck with a Joe Carter-ish replacement. Only thing I won’t miss is the “yes dear, you’re right, I’m sorry” schtick. He had more than worn that out.

  2. dw8

    Glanville and Kasper would be REAL nerdy.

  3. TWC

    I posted this over on the Message Board thread, but I can’t get the need for it to be an ex-Cub, especially one who played a decade or more ago. I’d much rather see someone green who can serve to educate the fanbase, and to elevate the discussion away from batting averages and “clutch RBIs” and stories of old Shea Stadium to a more modern approach to the game.

    Wishful thinking, perhaps. Maybe the TV side will take Moreland away (please) and give the radio side to someone new who can (hopefully) educate Pat a bit, too.

    1. Cubbie Blues

      Brian Kenny would definitely promote sabermetrics, but maybe too much so for the average fan.

  4. Rocky Top Cub

    I wonder if Eccersley would be interested? I have enjoyed his commentary during the playoffs

  5. Mike

    Len and Bob were outstanding together and great hires. Keith Moreland is terrible IMO, so the Cubs/WGN track record is a bit mixed.

    Plesac was on with Mac and Spiegal on the Score last week and said he just reupped with MLBNet and does not have an out. So it sounds like he’s out. Grace has too much drama right now and I doubt they throw Wood into the fire like that. I wouldn’t discount Stone coming back given how much he apparently hates Hawk.

    1. Ron Swanson

      I was a supporter of the Moreland hire on the radio side but I have to admit I was disappointed this year.

      1. North Side Irish

        Moreland was much improved over his previous stint in the Cubs booth, but he’s just not very good. He tries hard and he does know baseball, but it’s just awkward to listen to him.

        1. Myles

          I must be the only person on the planet who actually really likes Keith in the booth. He’s not perfect but I think he’s actually a very good, amiable, pretty knowledgeable guy.

          1. Ron Swanson

            I think it comes back to what North Side Irish said. He’s awkward to listen to and I don’t think he works very hard at meshing into what Pat is saying. Seems like he has his own thing going in his head and just runs with it no matter what the lead Pat gives him. Or he just responds with a single word reply to Pat’s questions.

            1. TWC

              Seems like he has his own thing going in his head and just runs with it no matter what the lead Pat gives him.

              I completely agree with this. Moreland just seems oblivious.

              1. Ron Swanson

                I always wonder if it annoys the hell out of Pat but he doesn’t seem to notice or mind.

          2. wilbur

            I’ll give you your last two points, but I can’t go with the first.

  6. North Side Irish

    I think Glanville and Kasper would make an excellent pairing and would form as smart a booth as any team in the league. They would really embrace the new advanced statistics that Len started bringing out last season and would help educate the audience. I do worry that they might be a little too cerebral for some of the viewers and might alienate them early on.

    I would like Karros or Sutcliffe, but I think they are both unlikely to leave their current national gigs, especially for a two year contract. I’m not a Plesac fan and Grace has other issues to work out for now. I think Wood eventually ends up as the long term replacement for Santo on the radio side, but it’s too early for him.

    I think the two year contract issue will prevent the Cubs from getting several of their top choices though.

    1. Rocky Top Cub

      I’m with you on bringing Sutcliffe in. Actually my first choice

  7. Idaho Razorback

    With only a two year contract, Dave Campbell is the man. Great hire, now lets move on to the 2013 Cubs.

  8. MichiganGoat

    The sad thing is that we could end up with a Joe Carter again for a couple of years and until the right person is found. It will be interesting to see how Len works with a new color man, the key to a great combo is how well they play off each other and compliment each other as the game is between plays. Chip and Joe was impossible to listen to because of this and its why Pat and Ron were so great together and even Harry and Steve. A good Play-by-Play/Color combo is similar to a great comedy duo. They both need to understand their roles and know how to work together. We’ve had it good for the past 8 years, lets hope it doesn’t take too long to get back on track.

  9. Frank

    Wait, what? This is official? Did he get a managerial job? Well I’m bummed.

    Watch the replacement be some random like Les Lancaster or Damon Beryhill.

    1. Cubbie Blues

      I hear Koyie Hill is available.

      1. TWC

        He’d have to get his hand re-mangled and then re-set to hold a microphone.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          So your saying he’s got a shot.

        2. hansman1982

          no, no, no…

          the microphone would have to get mangled and re-set to hold his hand…

          Silly hippy, smarts are for squares

    2. Karena

      What time is it in Spain? Ozzie may receive a tweet that Bob is the new manager of the Marlins.

  10. Ryan

    Brett, I felt the same way when Steve Stone left eight years ago and we got a great replacement in Bob Brenly. Hopefully the Cubs can do it again. I wasn’t sure about Len Kasper at first either and he turned into a really enjoyable announcer. I have faith the Cubs will choose the right guy.

  11. Derrek

    It is a shame to see Brenly leave. I have very faint memories of the Harry Caray era because I was… well, a child. Even though I’ve seen games before Len and Bob came along, it is just hard to imagine a future without Bob in the booth. But hey, now we can look forward to having Bob sing the stretch as a guest, right?

    I think I’m going against the grain here but I do would not want to listen to Dave Campbell during games. He is entertaining but his voice drives me nuts. His voice sounds like he is always trying to deliver a joke but that’s just how he speaks and it just gets on my nerves.

    Kerry Wood might be fun… for a game or two. I don’t think he would have that much to say. It’s a zero percent chance but I would listen to Ryan Dempster call the games… at least it seems like a fun idea in my head.

  12. Myles

    They should go Vin Scully on us and just not replace him.

    1. Mr. Cubster

      That’s not a bad idea at all…

      1. wilbur

        It does have merit. However, if you have two interesting personalities as well as two good baseball minds it can be even more interesting. Which summarizes why Stone and Brenly are so good, they not only know the game they are interesting to listen to.

        They talk about what will or should be happening before the play unfolds and when things slow down they can over the course of a game bring in interesting side stories.

        Many people know the game, but only a few people know how to effectively talk about it.

  13. Hebner The Gravedigger

    Sutcliffe would be the best serious candidate.
    Otherwise, Steve McMichael would be entertaining…

  14. JR

    Brenly leaving sucks. No way around it.. But on a side note the Red Sox and Blue Jays are in compensation talks for Farrell. I hope the Sox get dominated. Especially since this is a lateral move..

    1. hansman1982

      Latest rumors have the Sox asking for the Jays top prospect and a free Bautista.

      1. JR

        Nice. The Sox aren’t only stealing their mgr but want their best players for free as well. Typical Luccino. I was thinking more like Middlebrooks going to Toronto or something close. You would think a lateral move should be a lot more expensive than a promotion that Theo got.

        1. hansman1982

          $20.00 says it’s Chris Carpenter

        2. DocPeterWimsey

          You would think a lateral move should be a lot more expensive than a promotion that Theo got.

          Why would a “promotion” be relevant? What’s relevant is the importance of the position being lost . A GM is much more important than a manager, so the compensation for a manger should be less than that for a GM.

          And Middlebrooks is much too much for a manager. Imagine Vitters with a better batting eye, much better power and much better fielding. Why are you thinking about Vitters?

  15. Spoda17

    Please no Karros, Glanville, Carter, or Campbell… The color man needs to be equally as witty as he is knowledgeable of the game. I really enjoy Mitch Williams on MLB Tonight, and he would be my first choice. I also agree, I am not really a Keith Morland fan, and do hope that Kerry get’s the radio gig eventually. We are going to suck next year, so we need some witty commentary in the booth…

  16. EQ76

    Maybe Will Ferrell can stay in permanent character and we can get Harry back!

  17. ssckelley

    Why is “Stone seems unlikely to come back”? I do not see Dusty Baker or Kent Mercker coming back to the Cubs anytime soon. Stone has not been all that happy with Hawk in the broadcast booth and has been public about how down Hawk gets when things do not go well for the Sox. Stone is able to stay objective even when it is going bad and not afraid to speak his mind about what he sees on and off the field. IMO, I think Len and Stoney would be perfect together.

    1. Boogens

      I guess the reason I’m not thinking it’s likely is because I don’t want to get my hopes up. I would love it if Stoney came back and I do agree that he and Len would be awesome together.

  18. Stevie B

    How about Dan Plesac or Kevin Milar???

    Love those guys on MLB Channel…

    1. ETS

      Kevin Millar? if we are going that route, I’d rather have Brian Kenny. Think Larry Bowa would consider it?

  19. Kevin

    The Cubs should do whatever is possible to maximize their value as it relates to television contracts by the time their contract with WGN expires after the 2014 season. If they want the most money in 2015 from WGN or maybe “The Cubs Network”, then they will need the best possible replacement for Bob Brenly.

  20. Mr. Cubster

    There’s several quality people available, as long as Crane Kenney isn’t involved in any way with the hiring process…

  21. ETS

    If Dan Plesac gets the job, will he wear a conductor’s hat as a giant train graphic gets superimposed on the screen?

  22. someday...2015?

    My votes for Plesak to get the job. We need the conductor back in town, CHOO CHOO!!

  23. Stevie B

    Plesac is very knowledgeable, a former Cub, and a very likeable guy.
    Anyone have any idea what kinda money those MLB Tv guys make???

  24. lou brock lives

    The best analysis guys are former catchers, pitchers, & managers who have played either of those positions. Do the Cubs have final say over this hire or is it strictly WGN’s domain ?
    I would love to see someone like Bobby Cox come in for a few years – he is excellent in interviews I’ve heard him do.

  25. lou brock lives

    Or how about Greg Maddux ? With all the young pitchers we will be seeing over the next few years coming up who better to critique what we are seeing ?

  26. TheShire

    What’s Dave Otto up to these days? I always enjoyed listening to him do color when they needed a fill in.

  27. Fastball

    I get the desire of some to have a Sabremetrics kind of guy. I don’t want to listen to statistics about every player in the game. They are interesting stats to have but it’s more important to have a guy who can give the broadcast some life. Len is about as boring as they come. I would like to listen to someone who is interesting and has some nuances that make me want to listen. We need a little Harry and little Jack and some Harry Doyle ish reality color injected when we are 20 games below .500. I liked Bob and I used to like how Stone wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. I don’t want to listen to a Hawk Harrelson type or the Reds announcers types. So pathetically one sided it makes me want to puke. I miss the Harry one liners and the stories that make you want watch with volume on.

  28. ETS

    Well, it’s settled. Cubs future color man is….

    (drum roll)

    Bill Murray.

  29. Ashley

    Very sad to hear Brenly is leaving, I really enjoyed listening to him and Len. I know I will probably get killed for this and I never really heard him when he was with the DBacks. But maybe Mark grace!!

  30. cubzforlife

    Maddux , who I’m sure is a bright man comes across like your stupid friend that everyone talks over.

1 2 3