Updated: November 20, 2012 10:49AM
One of the Cubs’ best off-the-field teams in recent years is being forced into rebuilding mode with popular TV analyst Bob Brenly confirming that he’s leaving the booth he has shared with longtime broadcast partner Len Kasper.
Brenly, a former All-Star catcher whose son Michael is a catcher in the Cubs’ minor-league system, wouldn’t say where he planned to work next season.
Many expect he’ll return to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team he managed to the 2001 World Series title, for a broadcast job he has been linked to since the team decided not to bring back analyst Mark Grace after Grace’s second DUI arrest in 15 months.
‘‘Other than saying how much I enjoyed my eight years here and how lucky I was to work for WGN and go to work at Wrigley Field every day, I really don’t want to say much more right now,’’ Brenly said.
White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone, who also was linked to the Diamondbacks job, might be the front-runner to replace Brenly.
Stone left the Cubs booth after a falling-out with the previous administration in 2004 over sharp criticism of the team.
Stone has two years left on his contract with the Sox, but his uneasy working relationship with partner Hawk Harrelson is well known and leaves open the possibility he would be allowed to leave for another job.
Stone did not immediately return messages, but during his weekly radio appearance on WSCR-AM (670) last week, he responded to the Diamondbacks rumors:
‘‘I plan to stay with the Chicago White Sox through this contact and hopefully beyond. Regardless of what you might have read or heard or people speculated on or blogged or anything else, I will be back. It’s 100 percent. Hopefully, as I said, for many years. In looking at it, this is, in my estimation, the best big city in the country.’’
Regardless of Brenly’s replacement, the Cubs are losing a fan favorite who entertained with his easy style, often candid analysis and strong repertoire with eight-year partner Kasper.