PHILADELPHIA -- The news on Wednesday that Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews will not be back in the Phillies' broadcast booth stirred more discussion than perhaps any roster move the team made this offseason.
Phillies fans take their broadcasts seriously.
There is plenty of speculation about the potential replacements. Tom McCarthy's new partner will be hired as a Comcast employee -- they have been hired as Phillies employees in the past -- and the network has final say on whom it hires. But the Phillies will be involved in the selection process, which is no surprise considering they just extended their relationship with Comcast 25 years and have an equity stake in the network. If the club feels strongly for or against somebody, Comcast will listen.
Comcast had Brad Lidge and Dan Plesac atop its list, but Lidge told the Philadelphia Daily News he is not interested, although some think there is a small chance he could change his mind. Sources said Plesac is staying at MLB Network. He interviewed for a color commentator job with the Cubs in November 2012, but MLB Network reworked and extended his deal to keep him.
Mitch Williams works with Plesac at MLB Network. He expressed some interest Friday morning on 94.1 WIP, but added, "It would have to be something that would be very significant to get me to leave what I'm doing now."
In other words, Williams is making a good living at the national network.
The same holds true for ESPN's John Kruk and Curt Schilling. The former has been a popular analyst at the network since 2004. The latter signed an extension in December to team up with Kruk for the network's "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcasts. But one source said while it is unlikely, Kruk should not be ruled out entirely. There are scenarios in which Comcast could hire somebody like Kruk for 60-80 games, with somebody else working the remaining games.
Sources said names in the mix include Doug Glanville, who works with ESPN; Buck Martinez, who broadcasts with the Blue Jays; Kevin Stocker, who has received high marks for his work with the Pac-12 and CBS Sports networks; and Mickey Morandini, who is a coach with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Jamie Moyer's name also has been mentioned.
Ricky Bottalico and Ben Davis currently work pregame and postgame shows at Comcast, and they could receive consideration to join McCarthy in the booth.
Chris Coste previously worked as a pregame and postgame analyst with Comcast, but he is not a candidate at this time.
That could change as Comcast speaks with more people on its list.
One thing is clear: this is a big hire for the network. It knows it needs to get it right. Comcast just committed a reported $2.5 billion to broadcast Phillies games. After jettisoning Wheeler and Matthews, it needs a talented replacement and it does not have a ton of time to find one.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com.