Replacing Ron Santo is never going to be easy. I think the Cubs tried with the folksy ex-Cub Keith Moreland but it wasn't quite the same. Names I've heard fans throw around early on are a few more ex-Cubs: Kerry Wood, Mark Grace, and Doug Glanville.
But who says the next radio analyst has to be an ex-Cub? Or even a ballplayer?
The Cubs are a team in transition. They're a team that is trying to look forward, not backward. Soon the team will be built in large part by players from their farm system.
Why not take a good look at an announcer who already is familiar with many of these Cubs to be?
I'm talking about the AA Tennessee Smokies announcer Mick Gillispie. You may have heard him on MiLB.com or perhaps filling in for Bob Brenly in spring training. When he's in AZ working with Len Kasper, he helps keep fans up to date on some of those players with those high numbers -- those lesser known prospects who aren't going to make the team that year, but who may contribute down the line.
Not many, if any, candidates are more in tune with the Cubs rebuilding process than Gillispie. He's been right in the middle of it all. He's had the chance to announce games involving current big league players such as core players Starlin Castro, Welington Castillo, and Jeff Samardzija along with other current Cubs such as Junior Lake, Darwin Barney, Logan Watkins, James Russell, Blake Parker, Chris Rusin, Brooks Raley, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, and others.
Last year he had the opportunity to be part of one of the better Smokies teams in recent years. The Smokies made a run at the Southern League title with a prospect-laden team led by Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, and pitcher Kyle Hendricks.
Of course, if he's hired, he'll miss (for now) guys like Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, and Jorge Soler, who are scheduled to arrive in Tennessee at some point next season but you can bet he's already done his homework. Gillispie fully understands what the Cubs are trying to do. In fact, he talks about the prospects, the rebuilding process, and brodcasting in general here,
But it's not just about the prospects.
As you heard from the clip above, Gillispie announces with energy and knowledge of the game. He also does a terrific job keeping prospect hounds like myself up to date with the excellent smokiesonradio.com site and on Twitter. In an era where the internet and social media are rapidly becoming fans' main source of information, Gillispie is already ahead of the game in that field. No Cubs minor league team uses those mediums better than Gillispie and the Smokies.
It is such a logical choice to me. It'd be a move that would mirror the direction of this organization as a whole. And while it was fun looking back in the radio booth with Ron Santo and Keith Moreland the past few years, now seems the right time to start looking forward.
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