Bruce Levine writes today that Bob Brenly's contract with WGN TV is up after this season and hypothesizes that he would be quite popular if he reaches the free agent market in the offseason.
One viable options for Brenly could be a spot 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 by the Diamondbacks for “insubordination,” according to a report by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Grace is taking an indefinite leave of absence from his job after his second drunken driving arrest in 15 months this week.
Brenly is closing out the final year of a four-year contract he signed before the 2009 season. Industry sources insist that he is the highest paid color commentator on local baseball broadcasts, making in excess of $900,000 a year.
It's interesting that Brenly has gotten this far into the last year of his contract and it seems no serious extension discussions have occurred (though it's possible our crack squad of local beat reporters happened to miss that information).
It is also interesting that Kerry Wood signed his contract last season for an absurdly under-market value which spurred all sorts of rumors that there is an under-the-table agreement with Wood for future services with the Cubs. The assumption followed that it meant he would step into a broadcast position whenever he wanted it. At the time, everybody directly involved adamantly denied any handshake agreeement, but there were rumors in the Tribune Tower's halls that those denials were bold-faced lies. I don't know what's true, but here we are with a potential broadcast position opening up next to Len Kasper and Kerry Wood is newly available after his retirement in May.
At the time people were kibitzing about Wood potentially joining a broadcast booth, it was pretty much assumed he would join Pat Hughes on the radio with whoever replaced Ronnie being more of a placeholder (which then turned out to be Keith Moreland). But now Brenly could be heading out the door.
There's any number of reasons why Brenly might want out. The Cubs absolutely suck and don't look to be getting any better any time soon. That has to be difficult to broadcast every damn day. We barely bring ourselves to be able to watch a few innings at a time and write a post every once in a blue moon. He's got to sit there and act interested every night. Say what you will about Brenly, but that can't have been easy the last few years.
Lastly, he does have a son coming up through the system. Whether Michael Brenly ever reaches the majors or not, I'm sure that is still his goal, and Bob, as a father probably wants to believe that is a real possibility. So he may be preparing to extricate from a situation where he'd have to cover his own son on a semi-objective basis, when he's really just want to root him on like the proud dad that he is.
He may just want the biggest pay day. It could be that simple. Or it could be a combination of any of those reasons or there may be other reasons I haven't thought of. Maybe Len has the worst smelling farts and he can't take it anymore. Maybe he knows Soriano will be gone by next season and he'll be at a loss for words without his favorite target to criticize. Maybe he's near an extension and nobody knows it.
It does seem awfully coincidental, though.