Paul Sullivan: Keith Moreland

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Posted by Watson in Toronto on February 16, 2011 at 18:04:58:

Former Cub Moreland to succeed Santo in booth
February 16, 2011 11:25 AM | 52 Comments | UPDATED STORY

Former Cubs right fielder Keith Moreland will succeed the late Ron Santo as Cubs' radio analyst. (Stephen Green/Chicago Cubs)

By Paul Sullivan

MESA, ARIZ. -- Former Chicago Cubs outfielder Keith Moreland was named as Ron Santo's successor Wednesday on Cubs' broadcasts on WGN-AM.

Moreland, a broadcaster for the University of Texas and a frequent fill-in for Santo, beat out Dave Otto for the position, after two months of interviews with several candidates.

"The only thing I can be is just be me," Moreland said. "No one can replace Ron Santo. He's irreplaceable. All I can do is keep the seat warm and try to be me. I have a great advantage in that I have a Hall of Fame broadcaster, there's no question, in Pat Hughes."

Moreland signed a three-year deal and will give up his job broadcasting University of Texas baseball and football. His first Cubs' spring-training broadcast will be Feb. 27.

CLICK HERE to listen to Keith Moreland interview on WGN-AM 720.

Cubs coach Bob Dernier, a teammate of Moreland on the 1980s Cubs, was thrilled to hear the news.

"Having a teammate back in the room on a daily basis, that'll be another dream come true and I'm sure it is for him," Dernier said. "We all know being a former Cub player, there's a certain love affair with the fans- a lifelong love affair."

Moreland played 12 seasons in the majors, including six with the Cubs, and was instrumental in the Cubs' 1984 Division championship.

Otto is welcome to remain as a fill-in, but there is no official opening for him, WGN announces. Moreland was also a fill-in when Santo wasn't with the team, and has a folksy style with an analytical bent.

"I probably can butcher the English language with the best of them," he said. "I do understand the game. I feel very confident in knowing what are the things (a manager) might be thinking about doing strategy-wise."

Moreland said he learned a lot during his playing days from former broadcasters Lou Boudreau and Harry Kalas. His friends in the Cubs' family were excited he will be around full-time.

"Keith has earned that nod," Dernier said. "He's high energy. He loves the work that goes with the job. Keith spent seven years here as a player, and he's good at what he does. We kid him because he loves to take charge. He's a fricking Texas. He's right where he should be."

The Cubs hope fans judge Moreland on his own skills, and don't try to compare him with Santo.

"You don't replace Ronnie," Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams said. "The relationship between Pat and Ronnie, it was special. Ronnie was an outstanding player and one of the backbones of the organization. The knowledge he had as a fan and a player and the whole Chicago thing... He was a fan on radio. You didn't have to know what the score was, or look at the scoreboard. You could just tell by his voice.

"Both of those guys would've worked out well. Dave Otto has been filling in for Ronnie over the years, and Zonk did a tremendous job. The one thing, Zonk came out to spring training for a week last year and had a chance to know a lot of guys on the ballclub."

Hughes also said the relationship between him and Morerland will need some time to click, and asks for patience from fans.

"Chemistry is something that needs to be nurtured and developed," he said.

Hughes was kept apprised during the interviews for Santo's replacement, but did not have the final say. The Cubs also interviewed candidates, and president Crane Kenney approved of the decision to hire Moreland, citing his "passion, instincts and knowledge for the game."

Moreland won't be a cheerleader in the Santo vein. He does hope the Cubs win and has no qualms about his allegience, but said he won't try to be part of the team he's paid to analyze.

"First and foremost, I want them to win," he said. "It's much easier to do your job when you win. I want them to have success and go forward, and if you form a good relationship (with players) that's what you'd like to have. But it's not one of those things where I'm going to try to go down and be a major player. That's their clubhouse."

Moreland will be down in Mesa on Feb. 25th in preparation for the first spring training broadcast on Feb. 27. He believes the Cubs have a good chance to be successful this season.

"I think they have a great chance to have a great pitching staff, and it starts with pitching," he said. "I think it's going to be exciting. I think it can be a really good year in a tough division."

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