Below is the completed Q & A with Len Kasper! Once again, Len has been very gracious to us here at NSBB by answering our questions.
Q & A with Len Kasper
Thanks Len! It's always a pleasure to have you around.
A few questions.
First, what priorities do you think the Cubs should have in making the team a winner during the offseason? Are there any free agents you would like to see the Cubs target this winter?
LEN: Well, fortifying the offense was clearly the first priority for Jim Hendry as he locked up Aramis Ramirez as free agency began and then went out and got a 2B (Mark DeRosa) and a superstar leadoff hitter (Alfonso Soriano). Soriano is the centerpiece of the off-season and may end up being the most important player in the Cubs’ short-term and long-term future (considering he signed an 8-year deal). This offense needed a dynamic presence and he certainly has been just that, particularly in ’06. On the pitching side, Hendry will likely go out and get 2, maybe 3 veteran starters. At that point, bring on spring training. The bullpen is set.
Secondly, what do you do during the offseason?
LEN: I’m actually on-line every single day of the year (including Christmas!) perusing all the Cubs and baseball-related articles. I enjoy keeping up with what’s going on year-round. The main priority is my family. I also try to play tennis and stay (“get” would be more like it) in shape, read books, catch some movies and rock shows and just generally enjoy everything Chicago has to offer.
Third, what do you think is the best new TV series of the fall?
LEN: Dexter on Showtime.
Have you read Larry Dierker's book, This Ain't Brain Surgery? If so, what is your opinion on his thoughts about the game? Would you think he'd make a good candidate as a manager?
LEN: I have not read it, but I’ve heard it’s good.
You're trapped on a deserted island and you can only have three people or things with you? Who/what do you have?
LEN: My wife, my son and………..my iPod.
Now that Dusty is out, do you expect your partner to pursue the Cubs' managerial vacancy? What about the job in SF? Has he talked with you about any of these things?
LEN: Obviously, this question was asked awhile ago…Bob would make a great managerial candidate for any opening and I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually gets another job. I just hope we can keep him in the Cubs broadcast booth for as long as possible!
A few questions:
Why do you keep coming back? Do you like the abuse here? :p
LEN: What abuse?????????
If Bob Brenly managed somewhere next year, who would be your ideal partner in the booth?
LEN: Again, I hope BB stays in the booth forever.
If I were to inquire about an internship working in the booth with you guys, how should I start? I'm graduating in May, and thought I might ask...
LEN: I would contact a) the Cubs, b) WGN or c) Comcast SportsNet to inquire.
What is your favorite play to call during a game and why?
LEN: I think the most fun play is the bases-loaded gap double where you have a ball rolling to the wall, you have runners heading for home, you have a relay throw and then a potential play at the plate. There are a million things going on and it’s fun as the drama increases and you get caught up in the moment while all the while trying to keep the viewers informed as to what’s going on.
Have you ever heard of Mofro (band)?
LEN: No, I have not. Should I check it out?
Who has been the funniest seventh inning stretch interview this year?
LEN: Jeff Garlin, hands down. He’s nuts (in a good way of course!).
Hey Len, great to have you back once again!
A couple questions...
Do you and Bob have a list of random topics you go to in blowout games? At times this year it got to the point where it was almost as entertaining to watch a rout as a close game because of your and Bob's ramblings!
LEN: We don’t ever script anything out. I guess I have some things in the back of my brain that just come flying out every once in awhile. I’ve actually learned to follow my gut on that stuff more and more as the years have gone by and not try to be too mainstream all the time. Some of it is a little wacky, but if it’s fun, that’s what it’s all about. Let’s put it this way—I’m much more comfortable than I used to be making a you-know-what of myself if it makes the broadcast more fun.
Also, if you were to recommend five bands that you have gotten into recently to NSBB, which five would you choose?
LEN: Wow, I’ll just rattle off a few off the top of my head: Secret Machines, Reigning Sound, Handcuffs, Hold Steady, Graham Coxon.
Thanks for doing another Q & A.
Do you think Hendry will be under a mandate to produce a winner next year to keep his job beyond 2007? There's been a fair amount of speculation that might be the case.
LEN: I don’t think there’s any question that there’s a lot of pressure to win and to win now, but I also think Jim has responded to a 96-loss season with an impressive aggressiveness to get this thing turned around.
Thanks for taking the time to drop by again. I have 3 questions for you...
(1) Last time you agreed to this I asked you how difficult it was to not scream "you suck" into the mic when a team goes through a long funk and you responded with class. Any changes to your opinion after this "season"?
LEN: I sure hope not!
(2) Phil Nevin recently commented about some off field events. What do you know about some of the issues that affected this team that most of us know little about?
LEN: I remember reading Nevin’s comments and I had no idea what he was referring to.
(3) Would you mind if I told my buddies that you were my friend?
LEN: If it somehow helps you in life, by all means. If, on the other hand, it results in a right hook to the jaw, then you’re better off keeping your distance.
Len, what other broadcasters (for any sport but mainly baseball) do you enjoy listening to?
LEN: My hero has always been and will always be Ernie Harwell. I’ve been fortunate enough to talk to him on several occasions and he’s maybe the nicest person who ever lived (along with being one of the best broadcasters ever). Non-baseball, I’ve always been a huge Pat Foley fan. He’s become a good friend, which is pretty neat for me considering how much I look up to him.
From Rocket Sauce:
Do you think there's a realistic chance for the Cubs competing next season?
What movie are you more looking forward to, the Borat movie or Tenacious D in the Pick Of Destiny?
LEN: I’ve seen Borat twice. I’d like to see Tenacious D for sure and while I was excited to catch the new Christopher Guest flick, I have to admit, I was disappointed. It’s the first one he’s done that I haven’t liked.
Have you ever wondered why Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker constantly comment on how their pitchers giving up walks always ends up hurting them, while never acknowledging that the fact our hitters drawing so few walks hurts us just as much?
LEN: I don’t think they view the Cubs’ lack of patience in a positive light. It may not be stated explicitly, but they know the numbers and they also know what ailed this club offensively last year.
The playoff teams are pretty much all decided. Who ya got winning it all?
LEN: St. Louis in 5. MVP: David Eckstein. Just a wild guess.
What do you think is more valuable? A catcher who produces offensively while being below average defensively, or a defensive catcher who stinks with the bat?
LEN: It depends “how much” in both cases. I will say, the intangibles a catcher brings on defense and working with a pitching staff are much more important than we think. It’s just really tough to quantify.
How do you maintain that squeeky clean image that you portray while still managing the appeal to the 'in crowd'?
LEN: I didn’t know I had such an image. I just love doing my job and I love good music, movies, etc. It’s not that hard really!
How do Cubs execs feel about you using terms like VORP during your broadcasts? Are they usually confused by it and excuse it as some sort of inside joke between you and your listeners?
LEN: I’ve never really been asked about it. I just finished reading the best baseball book of our lifetime called “Baseball Between The Numbers” by the Baseball Prospectus people and some of it is so far over my head, I wouldn’t even begin to know how to explain it during a broadcast. I just like reading stuff that is well thought-out. Baseball is so much more fun
when you feel like you understand how/why things happen. And for me, usually the numbers tell most if not the entire story, pretty or otherwise.
If you could have one of two players, both with a career .900 OPS, one has an OBP of .420 and a SLG of .480 and the other has an OBP of .350 and a SLG of .550, which player do you think is more needed for THIS team and do you think the organization would make the same choice?
LEN: I think OBP is slightly more important in a vacuum, so I’d take the higher OBP guy. I would also take that guy for the Cubs. Power is easier to find, IMO.
Great job working in the statistical views during the broadcasts.
Any insight on Aramis Ramirez's offseason decision to opt out of his deal? Please tell me Hendry has this situation handled....
LEN: After the fact, wasn’t it very apparent why he opted out? I might have even said it on the air this year—why WOULDN’T you opt out considering the landscape? If you’re pretty much guaranteed to make a ton more, why wouldn’t you? It worked out as well as possible for Aramis. Plus, consider he would have probably gotten at least $20 million MORE in overall dollars from somebody else had he left. I give him credit for staying and taking less than he would have garnered on the open market.
How about them Bears?
LEN: I’ve really enjoyed watching the Bears this year.
From Bob's Keeper:
Hey Len, thanks for stopping by again and for the great job you do in the booth every day.
Given his former position, I'm guessing you have worked closely with John McDonough during your time with the Cubs and would like to hear some of your thoughts on him. Do you think that he'll have much input on baseball operations or will he concentrate on business/marketing while those types of personnel decisions are left to guys like Jim Hendry, Tim Wilken, and Gary Hughes? If you do think he will play a large role in determining what the team on the field will look like, what can we expect from McDonough? Will organizational philosophies remain status quo, or will he be open to (or even push for) newer, more progressive approaches to building a major league baseball team?
LEN: I’m a HUGE John McDonough fan, personally and professionally. He knows this organization as well, if not better, than everyone currently in it. He knows the game, but he also knows that the best way to do things is to let your baseball people make the baseball decisions. John has a lot of faith in Jim Hendry and all his baseball people and he has said that the singular goal is to win the World Series, PERIOD. John is one of the most engaging people I’ve ever known and he’s setting an overall organizational tone that is open, honest and positive.
What kind of mid-game snacks are you and Bob into? (I know Bob sneaks a beer or two in there - my hero)
LEN: I don’t eat much during the game. I might sneak in one of Robert Chamberlain’s famous cookies while I’m filling out my scorebook prior to pre-game.
What is Mark Prior's status? There have been rumors (Will Carroll, BP) that he has the same shoulder injury Woody had going into this past season.
LEN: I don’t have a Mark Prior update at this point in the off-season. Sorry.
No performance at the Len and Bob's Bash? Not even some sweet air guitar? lol
LEN: We may have a surprise up our sleeve between the opening act and Ryan Adams…;-)
At what point does GM Jim Hendry become truly accountable for his failures, rather than merely stating that he accepts some of the blame for the on-field product? Could anyone have managed this club to above .500 this past season?
LEN: As stated above, everybody knows how much pressure exists here on the North Side to get it done, and get it done now. Let’s just see how the 2007 season plays out and go from there. And while I’m open to talking about 2006 (or any season for that matter), isn’t it a lot more fun to look ahead to ’07 at this point than to continue to re-hash last year? I mean, let’s face it, it was an awful season. Everybody knows it, Jim knows it, we all know it—nobody is hiding that fact. But you see what Jim has already done this winter. There have already been lots of changes and more are still coming.
Hi Len, Big fan of you and Bob.
1)What do you think of the changes that have happened so far this offseason, and what do you think the plans should be for the Cubs over the next couple of seasons?
LEN: I like what the Cubs have done. I’m really excited about ’07. Beyond that, I’m not really sure what lies ahead. That’s a big part of the fun…the unknown!
2)Had your partner Bob Brenly expressed interest in managing for the Cubs, and what type of manager do you think he would be for us if he were chosen? I know he has expressed his love for Matt Murton and the importance of OBP. And I like that.
LEN: As I said earlier, BB would make a terrific manager. He’s already proven himself by winning a World Series in his first year. I’d be shocked if somebody doesn’t come calling again at some point. He has a terrific feel for the game and is very good at anticipating game situations. As far as how would BB do at the helm of the Cubs? Well, a lot of depends on the talent of the roster. I’m a huge believer in talent winning out. No disrespect to any successful manager, but you can’t win with a bad team. Any manager would tell you that. Let’s put it this way—BB would have had a much better shot with the ’07 Cubs than with the ’06 team.
From Aramis Fan:
Hey Len, thanks for answering our questions yet again!
Do you think Aramis will be back? If so, what kind of deal do you think he will get?
LEN: Wow, another easy one. I think he’ll return on a 5-year deal worth about $73 million.
Also, how are the podcast studios coming?
LEN: Construction slows down a bit in the winter, but the mild days at the end of November helped. I’m hoping the studios will be ready to go by Opening Day…of what year, I’m not sure.
From Anze Kopitar:
Hey Len, thanks for making 2006 somewhat enjoyable. It was an impossible task, but you, with Bob, did a great job.
Anyways, would you ever be interested in taking your baseball career beyond announcing if given the oppurtunity? Or would be like me and want to avoid the pressure that goes with being associated with a baseball team.
LEN: I’m VERY happy right where I am!
From goony's evil twin:
Did Esquire Magazine make the right decision?
LEN: If you’re referring to Scarlett Johansson being the sexiest woman alive, I’d have to say no, the correct answer is, my wife.
Which Cubs personality would most likely cheat on the golf course?
LEN: I’ll diplomatically just say, it wouldn’t be me!
Do the Cubs realize that their lack of walks the past 4 years has been
the primary reason why their offense has sucked so bad? Do they realize their offense has sucked so bad?
LEN: Yes, I think that’s why Jim Hendry made improving his offense the #1 off-season priority.
From Electron Blue:
First of all, thanks again for taking time to answer questions for some of the Cubs' biggest fans here at NSBB (not to mention some of your biggest fans).
I've never really understood the relationship between broadcasters and players/managers. You (and every other broadcaster) will often talk about game-related discussions you had with players in pre-game. But how would you describe the professional/friendliness attitude between you all?
LEN: Thanks for the nice compliments first of all. It’s a good question and it’s easy to answer because it’s a very natural relationship for me. We’re around the players/coaches/manager as much as we are our families for the 6-7 months during the season. So, you develop a bond, no doubt. I love the game and I love talking about the game, so it’s very easy for me to ask those sorts of questions. You find that some guys are more willing to talk about those things than others. However, even with that in mind, I still try to go out of my way to develop a professional relationship with just about every player. I never want to get into a pattern where I’m asking the same people questions all the time. I think to do my job correctly, I need to keep that in mind. And as far as criticism or whatever and how that affects relationships, I don’t think much about it because I’m in the clubhouse every single day and I’m ALWAYS available to talk about something that was said (or maybe not said). I would like to think I have credibility in there for that reason. I’m sure I’ve said some things in the past that have rankled a player here or there, but my hope would be that a) I’m given the benefit of the doubt because I do my homework and b) players realize that I’m just doing my job.
How much does it feel like a job, and how much do you feel like a
Brian - Lincoln, NE
LEN: It never really feels like a job. I think I feel like a fan all the time. Star-struck at times as well. Although one thing about this “job” you learn over time is that these guys are human beings too. And most are pretty normal, but just happen to be handsomely paid for playing baseball.
How tough is it to call a game when the stands are depleted, the audience at home isn't as large, and the games don't mean as much?
LEN: It’s never tough at Wrigley. That place is magical. It’s never tough anywhere when you realize that the worst, most meaningless game is still a BIG LEAGUE, CUBS BASEBALL GAME. They all mean something to somebody. And even if the stands are half-empty, we’re doing the game for potentially everyone in TV land to see. I never tailor a broadcast to a “smaller” or “larger” audience. I always assume everybody who could watch is watching all the time. You don’t ever want to say or do something on the air with the attitude of “nobody’s watching anyway.” Never, ever.
Which rookie player impressed you the most in 2006?
LEN: Rich Hill, with the way he not only bounced back his second time around late in the year, but how he dominated. Ryan Theriot also opened some eyes.
Which opposing player's name is your least favorite to pronounce?
LEN: Ryan Langerhans. I’ve heard it’s LANG-er-hahns. I’ve heard LAHNG-er-hans. There’s LANG-er-hans and LAHNG-er-hahns. I normally try to go over and ask the actual player how he prefers it, but I’ve never asked Ryan. I need to do that next time the Cubs play Atlanta!
Echoing everyone else, thanks for taking the time out to do this.
Did you happen to catch the 3 idiots in the RF bleachers with bags on their heads during the 7-0 comeback against the Dodgers in September?
LEN: I’ve repressed much of what happened last year, so I don’t recall…seriously, I vaguely remember it. I thought it was Unknown Comic Night at the park.
I'm really worried the Cubs are gonna kill Santo. Are you?
LEN: That’s a sensitive topic, because Ron does get really worked up during and after games and this season was really, really hard on him. But I will say this—the Cubs also make him smile. He LOVES being at the park. He lives and dies with this team and I think in a lot of ways, it’s his lifeblood. He’s an amazing person and has been a wonderful friend to me.
what do you do all winter? do you just lounge around or do you try to find exciting things to keep your interest?
LEN: I don’t lounge around too much, although maybe I should because in late September, you do think about all the downtime you have coming up and you say to yourself, “Wow, I can take lots of naps and sleep in…” but then you find ways to stay busy and you never end up doing it!