Chat with Bruce Levine
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Baseball may be done in Chicago for this season, but the offseason is just getting started.
ESPNChicago.com's baseball beat reporter will be here to take your questions about the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
Send your questions now and join the chat Tuesday at Noon CT/1:00 p.m. ET!
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
Greetings, just when it appears that your teams are done putting their 25-man rosters together, the GMs still seem to have a trick or two up their sleeves. Welcome to the chat room.
What impact do you think the players we got from the Swisher trade will have on the organization this year and beyond?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Marquez has been a disappointment. The other two still have a chance. Kenny was expecting Maquez to vye for the fifth starter role last year but the kid struggled in spring training.
Peter (Glen Ellyn)
Who was the best cubs acquisition?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
It remains to be seen. Nady may be the diamond in the rough that pays big dividends for the 2010 Cubs.
Don Mack (Batavia)
What would the Cubs have to give up to get Heath Bell from San Diego? Also are the Cubs looking at Adam Kennedy at all to play second base?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Kennedy has been on their radar for awhile. Money is an issue with both players. They certainly don't have the money for Bell at this point. They are more likely looking at Gregerson.
Tom S. (Chicago, IL)
Damon, left-handed or not, would fit more than sufficiently as the DH for the White Sox, but considering the amount of money he is asking for, is signing him really a possibility?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
His asking price is going to really have to come down. The Sox are watching Damon's situation with interest but the tigers appear to be the team that may have a little bit more cash to spend than the White Sox.
Bruce, I think Chad Tracey was an excellent pick-up for the Cubs...if healthy, I think he will contribute significantly against righties and will fill in for Aramis for his eventual missed month..am I crazy?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
No, Ramirez is always going to miss a little time. And at age 32, having 10 or 12 games off a season is a good idea for any of the Cubs vets. Tracy still has to beat out Hoffpauir and Millar for the 24 or 24 slot on the roster.
Pranzo (Parents Basement)
I think one of the major factors to this years success for the Cubs is Geo Soto returning to his form from 2008. Is this possible? Also, have you ever been to a Joliet Jackhammers game?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
You know he is going to look like he is in better condition. He's dropped 30 pounds. As to whether he will regain his power remains to be seen. He should still be a better product for the Cubs than he was last year. I have not been to a JackHammers game but I do know the vice president of marketing there. She does a good job. Did they sign Bonds yet?
Hey Bruce, former intern at espn1000, hope all is well....is there any truth to the sox possibly lookin at johnny damon, I feel like ozzie is committed to this rotating DH thing, I also feel like w/ the staff/team they have, they should be the favorite in the central, what are your thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Damon would fit in to Ozzie's plan because he can play a position or two. Ozzie is just concerned with not having a guy who is one-dimensional. The Sox season will turn on comeback years from Rios and Quentin and the health of Peavy.
Johnny Blaze (Morgan Park)
Ive read that Bobby Jenks has lost a lot of weight. Is it possible that Andruw Jones could compete with him for fattest on the team? Also, are the white sox serious about an Andruw Jones revival, or might they be waiting/hoping that the asking price goes down for Jonny Damon or possibly Jermaine Dye?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Kenny is always looking to imoprove the team and he is difficult to get a read on because only Reinsdorf, Kenny and asst GM Rick Hahn know the moves they are going to make. It's the White Sox version of See No Evil, Say No Evil, Hear No Evil.
CM Punk (Straight Edge Society)
Great Bruce, do the Cubs have interest in Brandon Loper? He was good in the bullpen for STL and Fla, i know he might want Strating pitching money, but he could be a good fit in the bullpen. Or Jeff Weaver?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Haven't heard either name. Unless they are going to take minor-league contracts, the Cubs are tapped out moneywise. Trades are the only thing they can do at this point.
Stu P (Nashville, TN)
Do you see Starlin Castro having an impact on the 2010 Chicago Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
He's going to get his shot to be the Opening Day shortstop. He's been invited to blig-league camp for a reason: to show the Cubs coaches what he's got. Minor-league director Oneiri Fleita told me today that they don't believe in trying to protect young players from advancing. It's going to be up to Piniella and his staff to find out if Castro is ready. That would mean Theriot will move to second base.
The Cubs outfield defense may be the worst in baseball. Not one of their oufielders have particularily good range (unless Fuld makes the team). Doesn't Hendry realize how important defense is? Defense cost the Cubs several games last year.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Byrd is an upgrade to Fukudome and Johnson in center. Fukudome is an upgrade to Bradley in right. I agree that Fukudome is a below-average CF but he is above-average in RF. They should catch the ball better than last year.
What is Teahen going to bring to the White Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Hopefully a steady position player who can hit about .275 with 15 homers and 70 RBIs. They would be happy with that from the versatile former Royal. Don't forget he plays numerous postions as well. Ozzie won't be afraid to move him around.
Christian Jannotta (Evanston)
Are the cubs looking to explore more options at second base?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Theriot is the second baseman of the future but they have a lot of good young middle infielders coming up in the organization for the first time in decades.
Assuming the Sox lineup stays the same, can they produce enough runs for our pitching staff?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
The first premise is that the pitching staff should be better. And making the pitching staff better will be better defense behind them. If both premises are true then they won't need as many runs to win ballgames.
Dan (Mt. Prospect)
Bruce-Zambrano is a spaz, Dempster was good in the second half but got off to a very slow start, Lily is injured, Wells is a sophmore. The rotation looks questionable. Are there any plans to bring in someone from outside the organization via free agency or trade to compete for a spot?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Smoltz is still out there. At age 43, what do you think he's got left? The picture you paint is accurate, however the hope is that Zambrano, who has averaged 15 wins a season until last year, will regain his form. And Dempster's personal hell has subsided to a certain point. Wells remains a question mark.
Nathan Marti (Oak Park, IL)
Who do you think is going to have a better year on the White Sox in terms of over all statisitcs, Gavin Floyd or John Danks?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I think both should be 15-game winners. Maybe Dr. Don Cooper has a new pitch to give each one of them.
Bruce, is there a realistic argument against the Cubs doing WHATEVER it takes to win this year? Lack of money has been tossed around but a world series championship would solve those problems for many years. What say you?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Ownership is taking a wait and see approach to 2010. If you remember Mr. Ricketts in his initial press conference he said he felt the team is ready to win. The offseason moves have not been significant but if you believe the players were already in place to win then all the Cubs needs is a little good health and better determination to compete with the Cardinals.
Ryan Theriot (Bourbon Street)
2B of the future? As a SS, I'm a league average starter both in the field and at the dish-- at 2B I'll be slightly above league average in the field, though I'll be WELL below average at the plate- my numbers from last year would put me as the 25th best offensive 2B... my value is at SS; keep me there or trade me as a SS to max my value...
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
Dear Ryan,Love your game. You've gotten every bit of talent that you have out of yourself. As you told me at the Cubs Convention, if Castro is ready to play shortstop and the team would be better with you at 2B you would gladly move.
Mark Bowgren (Chicago)
Who is gonna close games for the Sox this year? Jenks stinks. Linebrink stinks. Who?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Putz is a backup for Jenks in case Jenks is ineffective or gets hurt. That might have been the best under-the-radar signing of the offseason for Kenny Williams.
In your opinion who should cubs fans keep their eyes on this spring training to possibly make the opening day roster?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Castro is one. Samardzja is an interesting case if you belive he has added a breaking ball to his reportoire he has a shot at being the fifth starter. Andrew Cashner could be a late-season addition to the bullpen even though the Cubs are using him as a starting pitcher.
Brian (Lansing )
why don't the White Sox sign Jermaine Dye to a short term deal 1-2 years he has a bat that could help this teams offense, and if need be he can play the field.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Please let it go on Dye. Thank him for being the 2005 World Series MVP and a class act and look for him at future SoxFest reunions.
Tom S (Mount Prospect)
Regarding the Cubs closer, what if Marmol fails in the early going? Would they then consider Angel Guzman? If not him, who?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
It depends how Hendry finishes his offseason when it comes to trading for a middle reliever. Cashner can easily be switched back to the end of the bullpen. For now they are stretching him out as a starter.
Are the Cubs fooling themselves thinking that Lilly will be able to come back from shoulder surgery and contribute this season.
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
All indications are that Lilly is on track to be ready to throw in spring training. According to Lilly, he told me the only thing that can hurt him is his own aggressiveness. It's hard to predict when he will be back because of cold weather in April. The Cubs will certainly be cautious with him.
Cleo James IV (Saint Stephens, Mississippi)
What's the contingency plan for Rios if he remains below the Mendoza line?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
There is none. They have a $60 million commitment to him over the next five years. He is the Sox's younger version of Alfonso Soriano. The hope is that Rios will regain his hitting form. Ozzie Guillen told me he is penciling in Rios for 20 homers and 50 steals.
Carl S (Indiana)
How likely are the Cubs to trade Alfonso Soriano in mid season?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
Impossible. Soriano has a full no-trade and is making an average of $18 million a year for the next five seasons.
Why do you think the White Sox signed Ramon Castro when Tyler Flowers is supposed to be the future. Do they not think he is ready or is it just that they want to have a little competition to push him to do his best an see what he really has?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I believe Flowers needs another full year at Triple A to hone his skills. Why would you want him to sit behind Pierzynski and catch 30 games? A.J. is also going into a walk year so Flowers needs all the experience he can get in case A.J. leaves.
Mr. Cox (Greenville, NC)
Will the signing of Chad Tracy bump Micah Hoffpauir back to Triple A?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
It could. They are a little bit different. Tracy is a first base/third base backup. Hoffpauir is strictly first base and OF because he throws left-handed. It should be a good competition.
Taleon Spikes (1600 Pennsylvania Ave)
Out of all the White Sox acquisitions in this offseason who do you see having the best impact in 2010?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
I think the addition of Putz makes that bullpen one of the better ones in the league. Having two power arms like Putz and Thornton behind Jenks appears to make the White Sox a strong contender.
Who, in your opinion made better moves this off season, the Sox or the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
If you go back to last summer it would appear the White Sox have with the additions of Rios and Peavy, both strong statements. That's why you can never believe for sure that they are out of money.
hey Burce!! do you read anything about Carlos Lee being traded casue the Astro dont have any more room for him. They said watch the sox (under the radar) to make a run at him? Plus more help in the pen, wheres it gonna come from?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
The Sox are not interested in brining back Lee. He is exactly what Ozzie doesn't want: a station to station hitter.
Tate Holmes (Ottersville Heights, Mo)
Is there any worry within the White Sox organization that Beckham will have a sophomore slump?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I wouldn't be concerned about it but switching positions is always something that baseball reporters will point to if a player gets out of the gate slowly. I wouldn't worry about Beckham, He seems to be a special player.
Why haven't the Sox gone after Willy Tavares the last 2 years? He has the speed and defense to play. Oak just acquired him for next to nothing after the Reds signed him last year.
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
Tavares was just deisngated for assignment. He has a big hole in his swing and is a poor on-base percentage guy. I think the sox are good with outfielders. You're right though, they almost traded for him three year ago. The deal was him coming here for Jon Garland. The deal was made and Houston asked for an extra player at the last minute and the Sox backed out.
Kevin (Glenview, IL)
Is there any way that Millar and Tracy can both make the Cubs Opening Day Roster?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Maybe because one is right-handed and the other is left-handed. But they are both slow players and that would mean thast someone like Sam Fuld is on the bubble. This team is in need of some speed and Fuld's backup defense and wheels project him to making the team.
Ben (Lincoln, NE)
With Pierre and Rios instead of Podsednik and Dye, the Sox OF has to be better defensively this year doesn't it? On top of that, with Beckham back in the middle infield and Teahen at his natural position, the South Siders are sure to improve on their dreadful defensive performance in '09... or am I just suffering from wishful thinking?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
That's the plan and the Sox believe it. The key is whether Rios regains his hitting form and Beckham is able to turn the double play with his back to first base. Both seem reasonable to assume.
Bruce--why has Tracy fallen so far? He used to be a stud--isn't it just a matter of staying healthy?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I don't think so. He really hasn't shown the same ability as his breakout years of 2004 and 2005. His defense isn't all that great therefore he is not considered a regular at this point in his career.
DJ (South Side)
Is this the year Jordan Danks finally makes the big leagues?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Not yet but he is getting close. Any injury to an outfielder or poor performance could have Danks making the 25-man roster. GM Kenny Williams loves Danks and believes in his talent.
Does Theriot's ridiculous arbitration asking price change the Cubs opinion of him?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Let's just say that they are not thrilled about the direction of this arbitration this taken. Theriot and his agent could have settled this a few weeks ago. It appears that this will be the Cubs' first arbitration case heard by an arbitrator since 1993 (Mark Grace).
Why would the Padres be willing to trade Gregersen? I know they're not going to contend, but he costs pennies for the next two years and was one of the best relievers in baseball last year.
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
The only way they trade him is is if they got someone who has more upside. Certain scouts in the Padres organization really like Angel Guzman and they feel he can be a closer, maybe even now. That would protect the Padres in case they trade Heath Bell and save money on his contract.
Based on what you've heard from outside scouts, does Castro have a patient approach to the plate that will translate to a high OBP? With Soriano, Byrd and last year's version of Theriot, the Cubs may already be lacking in that department.
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
He's not a patient hitter at this point. To be honest, it's hard to find real patient hitters that come over from the Dominican Republic. The expression there is that players don't walk off the island they hit themselves off it. The Cubs prefer to concentrate on the positives Castro brings: five-tool possibilities down the line.
How often are you given information that you are not allowed to divulge?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
Every reporter has off the record information that he tries to use to inform the public the best way he can. I don't know if that directly answers your question but there aren't any reporters out there who can do theur job without having the trust of the people they associate with. So if you're asking if I hold back information from you the answer is no. I just let it out without exact attribution.
Dan (Brewers Country)
Is Cashner being used as a starter merely to work on his pitches and build him up, or do the Cubs see him as a starter in the future? Bouncing back and forth from 'pen to rotation seemed to hurt Shark's development, and I hope they don't make the same mistake with Cashner. I do think he can turn out to be lights-out at the back end of the 'pen.
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
It depends on who you talk to. He avweraged less than five innings a start last year which is way too cautious as far as I'm concerned. I believe your premise is a good one. The Cubs are split on whether he is going to be a starter or bullpen guy.
Anthony (Des Moines, IA)
Why don't the Cubs trade Ryan Theriot. I know he is a solid player who has hit .300 for the last two years, but he was a STEAL at his $500,000 contract. Now he is asking for $3.5 million. That is way too much for a below average short stop, with below average run producing skills.
Bruce Levine (2:01 PM)
But is it too much for an average second baseman? Theriot has a lot of pluses that he brings to the game. There are some intangibles that go beyond his shortcomings. Theriot was tied for the third-most RBIs on the Cubs last year. That's astounding for a singles hitter.
Bruce, please tell me the Ricketts family is not dumb enough to force a DLee extension on Hendry and the fanbase. Overpaying for an aging 1B is what got us in the trouble we are in already. Plus, decisions made with the heart and not the head are dangerous.
Bruce Levine (2:02 PM)
You seem like you have your finger on the pulse. I don't believe the Ricketts family is forcing Hendry to do anything but people continue to hear rumblings about extending Lee and Piniella as well. So far I haven't had anybody corroborate those rumors.
Are the White Sox set with Hudson as the fifth starter? Who are the other possibilities if things go wrong?
Bruce Levine (2:04 PM)
Garcia is the fifth starter. Hudson will be brought along as a bullpen guy/long reliever and emergency starter. If any of the starters fail or get injured, he may be in the rotation.
Bruce Levine (2:05 PM)
Thanks for your participation. Two weeks to go until spring training begins. I'll be reporting everyday from Cubs and Sox camp between Feb. 17 and April 1. Also look for expanded chat rooms more frequently during spring training.