Len Kasper signs five-year extension to stay Cubs’ announcer

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Len Kasper will be the Cubs’ television play-by-play announcer through at least 2016 after signing a five-year contract extension, according to Barry Rozner of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Kasper has been paired with Bob Brenly on Cubs games since 2005 and they’re among my favorite duos. They have a very friendly, natural on-air rapport that suggests they might actually like each other away from the microphones, and in addition to being a good play-by-play guy Kasper is also one of the few announcers who successfully incorporates some sabermetric insights into the broadcast.

Brenly’s deal is up after the 2012 season and Rozner speculates that the Cubs will try to sign him long term next.

Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” on Manny Machado

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Thursday that the Orioles “are said to have begun fielding calls of interest” on superstar Manny Machado and “are close to the point of seriously weighing whether to trade him.”

You’d think it would be a no-brainer for the last-place O’s to flip Machado — an impending free agent — for prospects, but Heyman notes there is “still a question whether or not longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos” will give the go-ahead. One person familiar with the situation put it a “50-50” likelihood. Another suggested that it would take a massive return, which, sure.

Machado entered play Thursday with a sensational .328/.405/.635 batting line, 15 home runs, and an MLB-leading 43 RBI in 49 games. It’d be a real shock if he’s still wearing an O’s uniform by the end of July.

Heyman reported previously that at least nine teams made aggressive plays for Machado this winter, including the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cardinals. A whole lot of those teams still make sense here in late May — maybe all of them except the White Sox.