Thursday, December 16, 2010

Evaluating the replacement...the next Ron Santo.

Tomorrow will mark one week after Ron Santo’s funeral…

I’m not sure what an appropriate amount of time to wait is before speculating on who will take Santo’s place in the booth should begin, but I’m going to ask that question anyway.

It took the Cubs 30 years before they found a truly suitable replacement for Santo at 3rd base...hopefully it won't take that long to find a good replacement for him in the booth.

There are quite a number of names to throw into the hat...so here we go.

Let’s start off with the obvious fan favorites: Mark Grace and Rick Sutcliffe.

Gracie is doing color in Arizona right now. He’s been somewhat controversial for, if nothing else, colorful language that he occasionally uses on air. He’s loved by Cubs fans, especially the ladies, and in the games I’ve heard him call, he hasn’t been horrible. Gracie was kind of shoved out of the Cubs organization and he didn’t really appreciate that. With Ed Lynch and Andy McPhail both gone as well as the Cubs having new owners, Gracie has warmed back up to the Cubs and he could rejoin the organization in this capacity. Sutcliffe has done ESPN games for years now, and is well respected. I’m not sure I particularly like his style in the booth, but he would be solid as well.

The standard backups for Ronnie when he was unavailable: Dave Otto and Randy Hundley.

Dave Otto, I believe, is universally disliked for his style in the booth. He did TV for a couple years when Steve Stone was dealing with personal and health issues. Most people were really glad to see him go. Hundley, Santo’s teammate for a long time, does a good job and appears to have a good working relationship with Pat Hughes. Hundley isn’t exactly a youngster, and can be a bit annoying to listen to. He might not connect real well with a number of today’s listeners.

The home grown talent: Judd Sirott, Andy Masur, and Cory Provus

These three are all unlikely to be the replacements for Santo…Masur is the play-by-play guy in San Diego, and Provus shares time with Bob Uecker in the Brewers radio booth. Judd Sirott hasn’t really been all that impressive in his one inning stints of yelling into the microphone either. Provus and Masur both appear very happy in their current jobs. In the end, these three guys probably can’t fill the job of color commentator.

More recent but lesser known former Cubs: Erik Karros, Todd Hollandsworth and Dan Plesac.

Plesac has a good job in studio right now for MLB Network and before that for CSN. He probably would give the most informative color commentary of anyone I’ve named so far, but I don’t see him leaving his current job. Todd Hollandsworth has done a good job replacing Plesac and has filled in a few times for Brenly in the booth and has done so well. Karros has spent time in studio with Fox and spent some time at ESPN doing games. He’s currently with the Dodgers doing color commentary. I don’t think it’s likely he’ll be snatched away from that job. Of this group, Hollandsworth is probably a very strong possibility to get the job.

And my pick: Keith Moreland.

Moreland filled in for Santo and Brenly on a number of occasions over the last 3 years and has done a really good job. He seems to have really good feel for identifying things of interest in a game. He currently calls games for the University of Texas. Both Pat Hughes and Len Casper seem to work well with him. In the end, I think Zonk would work out great and that’s who I’d like to see in the booth.

The Cubs might go outside of all these guys and pick someone completely different for the job, but that would be somewhat out of character. Expect someone from this list to be named as replacement.