Yesterday morning CJ Nitkowski announced that he would not be returning to the Texas Rangers TV booth this season. He will instead take his services to Atlanta, where he will be an analyst for the Braves on Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast. Nitkowski and his family live in the Atlanta area and this move has everything to do with being closer to home more often. He has been an on-air analyst for the team for the past seven seasons, becoming a consistent voice of our recent summer baseball soundtrack.
Nitkowski has become one of my personal favorite analysts as he is always well prepared and tends to have solid, levelheaded takes on just about every topic that comes up. If he is wrong, he will admit it, and move on which I appreciate as well. Even though we won't be able to listen to him call Rangers games anymore, Nitkowski can still be heard on MLB Network Radio most afternoons, as he is a co-host of the show Loud Outs. We should all wish him well in his new endeavor and thank him for his time in Arlington.
Who will be the Texas Rangers new TV analyst next season?
With CJ out, who will be the new analyst to be paired with Dave Raymond in the booth this year? Last season both Dave Valle and David Murphy spent time in the booth as Nitkowski worked an abbreviated schedule. Either Valle or Murphy would be easy choices, as not only have they already done the job, but have performed it with Raymond as the play-by-play person as well. Perhaps they will go with a tandem of the two and let them split time in the booth and get the season covered that way.
A couple of names that will be immediately brought into the conversation of filling the TV annalist's role is Jared Sandler and Mike Bacsik. Sandler has become one of the truly great radio announcers and has been with the team for quite some time. Bacsik does talk radio and has been doing the pre-game and post-game TV shows for a while. He has filled in as the TV analyst a time or two, but it has been very limited.
Derek Holland is another intriguing name that might get some interest. Holland has been doing some radio work and has voiced interest in expanding his media work. How would he do? I honestly don't know. But I do know that he loves the game, he loves the Rangers, and he is well received by the fans. Perhaps he gets a shot with some fill in games if nothing else.
Former Rangers, Mark McLemore and Steve Buechele are consistently on the pre-game and post-game shows as well and could be considered for the open position. Could the team talk one of the more recent former players like Michael Young or Ian Kinsler into stepping into the booth? I would find that very unlikely, but you never know.
It will be interesting moving forward to see if less and less former players end up in TV booths in the future. With the salaries that many of the players are earning these days, it might be difficult to get them to sign up for a 162 game grind again when they really don't have to have the money.
Jared Sandler should be the new Texas Rangers TV analyst
At the end of the day, if it was up to me to choose someone to take over the vacant position, it would be Jared Sandler (that is assuming that he would even want the job). He is a known commodity, is dedicated to the team through and through, and is as prepared as anyone when he does his radio work. He brings energy to his job, and yet finds the balance of not being over the top. Fans love Sandler, and those that don't listen to the radio much will instantly see his passion for the Rangers and support him.
The team indicated that they would announce their game plan for replacing Nitkowski sometime after the first of the year. As with all things offseason related this year, it will be interesting to see which direction the Rangers decide to go. Stay tuned.
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