Cubs fans ought to like what Deshaies brings to the table
WGN-TV and the Cubs made it official Monday: Jim Deshaies is their new TV analyst.
According to WGN, the 52-year-old Deshaies, a former major-league pitcher, gets a four-year deal to replace Bob Brenly in the Cubs TV booth for games on WGN, Comcast SportsNet and WCIU.
Deshaies had worked as an analyst since 1997 for broadcasts for the Houston Astros, for whom he pitched from 1985-91 during a 12-year-major-league career.
He'll join play-by-play voice Len Kasper, who sounded happy about the decision.
"There were so many great candidates," Kasper said. "While JD is not a former Cub, he's been in our division since he started pitching for the Astros. He'll hit the ground running as far as knowledge of the Cubs, but I'm going to enjoy working with him. It's going to be a lot of fun. It will take time to build chemistry in the booth, but we get three hours a day to do it."
Kasper pointed out that Deshaies, as an Astros broadcaster, witnessed Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout performance in 1998 and Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter against Houston in Milwaukee in 2008.
"So he's seen two of the greatest pitching performances in Cubs history," Kasper said.
News broke of Deshaies' hiring Monday morning at the baseball winter meetings in Nashville.
"After spending the last 16 seasons with the Houston Astros, it will be a very tough organization and fan base to leave," Deshaies said in a statement. "However, I can't imagine anywhere else I'd rather move than with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. My family and I look forward to meeting the great, passionate fans of the Cubs and we're excited at what lies ahead in Chicago."
The early inkling is that Cubs fans will like Deshaies. He is known as a strong analyst with a good wit. Brenly left shortly after the season ended to take a similar job with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Deshaies pitched in the major leagues from 1984-95 with the Yankees, Astros, Padres, Twins, Giants and Phillies. He was with the Astros from 1985-91.
It's likely the Cubs and their TV outlets will introduce Deshaies during a news conference Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
At the winter meetings, Cubs officials shed no more light on their pursuit of Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, whom they're expected to sign to a two-year contract worth a guaranteed $9.5 million. One report said Fujikawa was expected to take a physical exam Wednesday.
If he passes the exam, an official announcement could come then. It looks likely the Cubs would introduce Fujikawa at Wrigley Field on Friday.
Who's on third?
Third base is another position the Cubs will have to scramble to fill, as they declined to tender a contract to Ian Stewart last week.
Team president Theo Epstein told reporters the Cubs might have to be creative in piecing together a platoon. Luis Valbuena was tendered a contract. Epstein said talks with Stewart, who now is a free agent, have been amicable. It's possible the Cubs could bring him back.
"(We may have to) rely on players who haven't held down that position over 150 games in the big leagues or rely on a platoon or rely on someone who is more of a middle-of-the-field player who can provide plus defense over at third, or a bat you're hoping will get the ball over there," Epstein said at his media briefing. "There are not a lot of obvious-fit, everyday third basemen in trade or free agent available right now. When that happens, you don't throw in the white towel but try to be creative to piece it together."
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