Ever since the passing of Dave Niehaus, there hasn't been a whole lot of chatter regarding a potential replacement. It makes sense that it hasn't come up very often among the fanbase, given the sensitivity of the matter, but it's still a problem to which the team has to find a solution. And according to Larry LaRue, that solution may very well be to stand pat for the immediate future, going forward with Rizzs, Sims, and Blowers while filling in the rest with guests and part-timers.
There hasn't been any lack of interest in filling Niehaus' void. The Mariners have already received several dozen applications despite giving no indication that his spot is available, which has to be uncomfortable for everybody. The bigger concern is how the fans would respond to a play-by-play replacement. Despite the passage of several baseball-less months, Niehaus' voice will remain fresh in everyone's mind, and no one will be able to measure up. A new announcer would almost assuredly be met with disapproval, and the organization is hesitant to throw fresh blood into a no-win situation. That's about as rough a way to begin a new broadcasting career as I can imagine.
Not that anyone thinks Rizzs, Sims, Blowers, and guests would collectively be able to fill the hole, but they're all at least already established. A new voice would be more likely to be seen as a direct replacement, and someone seen as a direct replacement would be more likely to be held to an impossible standard.
In Randy Adamack's words, the idea is that 2011 could serve as a "transitional season," with the booth being filled with familiar voices before a new guy is hired for 2012. That way, the new hire would benefit from the passage of time. It still wouldn't be an easy job, but it would be far less daunting than trying to replace Niehaus this March.
With Spring Training just around the corner, the Mariners will shortly have to make a decision as to whether or not they bring in a broadcaster for the upcoming year. Me, I don't know which approach I'd prefer, and I don't even think knowing the names of potential hires would make a difference. On the one hand, I think there's value in moving on and trying to find a new voice of the team, but there's just no way for me to predict how it will feel not having Niehaus around anymore, and I imagine that even if the Mariners hired an exact replica of Niehaus who said all the same things with just the same voice, there would be a backlash simply because he isn't Dave Niehaus. It would be just about an impossible job.
No matter what the Mariners do, March and April are probably going to suck.