Chat with Bruce Levine
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Spring training is here, and ESPNChicago.com baseball beat reporter Bruce Levine is in Arizona. Bruce will take your questions about the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
Send your questions now and join the chat Tuesday and Friday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Moderator (1:02 PM)
Bruce is running a little late. Please be patient. Thank you.
Moderator (1:12 PM)
Sorry for the delay, Bruce will be here in a few minutes. Thank you.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Sorry for being late, not everybody was aware we're doing a blog on Friday, so we're letting the momentum build a little. Welcome to spring training 2010.
Bruce, "what are realistic expectations for cub's fan to have for Alfonso Soraino's numbers this season?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
25, 85, .270 would be nice. Realistically, if people are getting on ahead of him, and he's hitting 5th or 6th, those should be easy numbers for him to obtain.
How does shutting down Guzman affect his role in the Cubs pen?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I think it's significant. I believe he's way behind the other pitchers, not only physically, but in the eyes of Lou Piniella and Larry Rothschild. He's been hurt almost every year during his career. But his upside is big. He still has as good of stuff as anyone in the pen, including Marmol.
David (Southern, IL)
Bruce,Please tell me that the Cubs want to give Lee an extension for at least one more year with an option for a second year being the clubs. They have been too quiet about him and it scares me for the future of the franchise.
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
There doesn't seem to be a philosophy on contract extensions with the Cubs at this point. A lot has to do with new ownership, and not really having a projected plan for the baseball people and future expenditures on the payroll. It seems like a no-brainer to offer Lee at least a year extension at some point. He's still the best player on the team, this side of Ramirez.
Joe (Fulton River District)
Over/under for 2010: Freddie Garcia wins with 9?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I'll answer it this way, if it's 12 or over the Sox win their division. If it's under 9, the Sox, Twins and Tigers battle to the last week of the season for the division.
Bruce - has it been pretty much determined what Carlos Silva's role with the team will be this year? Haven't heard his name mentioned as one of the guys going for the 5th starter.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
He appears to be qualified to be the team chef. The conditioning is not what you want from a guy trying to make a good first impression with a new ballclub. Rothschild told me he's throwing the ball pretty well, but the team has asked him to lose 12-15 pounds this spring.
Conner Olsen (Chicago)
Assuming the Cubs go with 12 pitchers, how do you see the bench situation ending up? In my opinion hopefully it's something like Nady, Baker/Fontenot whoever is not starting, Tracy, Millar, and another maybe Fuld. What do you think?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
If you're going to have 12, you're not going to end up with as many bench players as you want.
Moderator (1:40 PM)
Guys, Bruce has to do a segment on ESPN 1000 right now. He'll return in 8 minutes and take many more of your questions. Sorry for the delay. He'll be back soon.
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Sorry for the delay. Thanks for your patience.
Adam (San Diego)
I heard Andruw Jones showed up to spring training in great shape. Have you had a chance to see him?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Talked to him for ten minutes this morning. He's convinced that he'll return to the form of his All-Star days in Atlanta. I asked him if he was going for Rios' job in cneter. He said he's not going for anyone's job -- he just wants to win his own position in the outfield. Off the record, he told one coach this morning that he's still the best outfielder that the White Sox have in camp.
Adam (San Diego)
Any pointers on what to do and where to go? I'll be in Glendale 3/19-21 for the Sox v. Cubs game and the Hawks game.
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
You don't want to miss Don & Charlie's restaurant in SCottsdale. Beyond food you'll like as a Chicagoan (including BBQ chicken and ribs), Don Carson has the best baseball memorabilia in AZ staged in the restaurant. Any other ype of entertainment we can discuss privately.
Peter K (Wheaton)
When its all said and done, do you think Gordon Beckham can have a Jeter-like impact to the White Sox franchise?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
Let's not get ahead of ourselves. A player like Jeter comes along every 30 years. They would be happy if had a Robin Ventura-effect on the White Sox over the next ten years. Offensively, Beckham's upside is beyond Jeter, but the Yankees captain's total package would be hard to compete with.
Am I the only one who thinks the Cubs won't break .500?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
I think Tony LaRussa and Ken Macha are thinking the same way you are -- or are at least hoping that.
Is Starlin Castro a reality for the Cubs, or is he just another over glorified prospect. When is the earliest he could be playing in the big leagues? thanks so much. you do great work. love listening to u on 1000 and reading your blogs.
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
The plan for Castro is for him to start in Triple-A this season. The hope is that he shows the ability to compete against major league talent and not be intimidated. If he does that, then Lou and his staff would be confident in bringing him up during the season is something happens to Theriot.
Fitz (My Cube)
Bruce, Does Flowers break camp with the team, if not when if at all will he be up? I am assuming they want him catching everyday in AAA.
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
Kenny told me 15 minutes ago that Flowers will start in Triple-A. They are concerned that if something happens to AJ early in the season that Flowers would be over his head as far as handling both the offensive and defensive parts of the job. That's the reason they resigned Castro as the backup catcher.
Yahoy Greenberg (Your Location)
Bruce...Baseball prognosticators have the white sox finishing at .500 and losing the division by a game..will be the AL Central be that bad?
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
I think the AL Central will be very good -- there are three teams that can win 90 games (Twins, Sox and Tigers). People should never underrate the Tigers at this point. They have three solid, above-average pitchers in Verlander, Porcello and LHP Max Scherzer who they traded for over the winter. Quietly they added Jose Valverde as their closer and now Johnny Damon is an outfielder/DH.
Did Geo loose too much weight over the off season? Will he be able to regain his power and ability, or just have another below average season behind the plate.
Bruce Levine (2:01 PM)
Very fair question -- one I've asked numerrous times this spring. Most catchers want to lose weight, but have a few extra pounds to carry, knowing that they'll lose 8-10 pounds if the catch 120 games. Is Soto too light? We'll find out in July if he starts to wear down.
What are the chances of the Cubs acquiring relief help? Heath Bell?
Bruce Levine (2:02 PM)
With his salary around $5mm, it's extrememly unlikely that the Cubs will be able to match a trade for Bell. Keep your eyes on SD reliever Luke Gregorson, who's not making much money but struck out 93 batters in less than 73 innings last year.
Hi Bruce, love your work. Have you heard anything linking the White Sox to some of these Cuban free agents (Leslie Anderson, Jose Julio Ruiz, etc)? It seems like the South Side might be a good place for them to land, with Alexei and Dayan here to help in the transition.
Bruce Levine (2:03 PM)
Thanks for the tip. I'll follow-up on that today and try to have an answer for you in my blog.
Why is there such an emphasis on lefty vs righty...Is the reason Jermaine Dye isn't on the White Sox right now seriously becuase he isn't a left handed bat?...I know he wants significantly more money and a longer contract then he deserves at his age but...really!?...He has proven he can hit for the White Sox...please tell me why this is Bruce...
Bruce Levine (2:05 PM)
You obviously missed his last two months of 2009. Dye's ability to play the OF, as well as his bat speed, were significantly diminished. That, more than anything, is the reason the White Sox didn;'t offer him a new contract. Also, in 2008 he failed to hit a HR in his final 98 at bats. This is a trend that teams watch before heading into the offseason decision-making process.
Bob (San Diego)
Who do you think is the best baseball player in Chicago playing right now? Follow up - if you were to draft from only Chicago players, who would you take first?
Bruce Levine (2:06 PM)
Right now with what I saw from Gordon Beckham last year, he'd be my choice as the best young player from both teams. I still have a funny feeling that Alexei Ramirez could put together some HUGE years for the Sox.
Kevin Millar (Meza, AZ)
What are my chances of making the big club? If I don't, where do I go from here?
Bruce Levine (2:08 PM)
I know the Ricketts family is looking for a new driver. I believe that with your personality and people skills you will land on your feet. How about your own talkshow or reality show? In all seriousness, your chances of making the team depend on how Lou builds his bench. Will he go with left-handed bats or look at your make-up and decide he prefers that for his 25th man.
Why aren't the White Sox being talked about as major contenders this year? They have a top-flight rotation, the bullpen is good, and their offense should be good enough to support it. What gives?
Bruce Levine (2:10 PM)
Teams don't win any games on paper. The White Sox were a huge disappointment last year winning only 79 games, so there's no reason to get cocky when you see a team on paper. If you tell me that Peavy and Quentin are going to be healthy all year, then I'll tell you there's reason to be optimistic.
Give us your standings in the NL Central at the end of 2010
Bruce Levine (2:11 PM)
1 through 6. Sorry, I don't make predictions. I'm just your humble servant.
Bruce, if Alexei has his struggles at short, can you see a change that will put him a second and possibly Beckham at short?
Bruce Levine (2:12 PM)
I don't think they want to continue moving Beckham around. They hope he stays there for the next 10 year. Ozzie and Joey Cora are big believers in Ramirez's ability. They believe he's as good as any shortstop in the league the last three months of the season in 2009. They are going to help him try to get over the inconsistencies that plagued him in the field last year.
Bruce, How confident are you in the Cubs starting rotation? Do you think that they can hold up an entire season and pull this team through the grind? I personally think that the Cubs did not do enough in the off season to cover their butts when things go wrong for this aging and injury prone starting rotation? Do you think that the Cubs will be in the market for a pitcher come the trade deadline?
Bruce Levine (2:14 PM)
The Cubs have pitching alternatives, but no guarantees when it comes to results. After Zambrano and Dempster, it's very difficult to project whether people like Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija or Tom Gorzelanny can be 12-15 game winners. Ted Lilly's shoulder is certainly a key in projecting the early part of the season for the Cubs.
Jack "The Snack" Rodgers (Anytown, USA)
Okay..Kenny is always active around the trade deadline..Where's he going to look for help this year?
Bruce Levine (2:16 PM)
Depends where their weakness is. He'd like to add another bullpen arm right now. There are two areas you should watch: Will they have enough left-handed RBI pop? And will JJ Putz be able to handle 70-75 appearances? That's where Kenny and Rick Hahn will be focusing their efforts when it comes to improving the team.
How long before Soriano goes down with another injury, and nady is the everyday left fielder?
Bruce Levine (2:17 PM)
Well Nady has his own physical issues to deal with at this point. Recovering from a second Tommy John surgery isn't necessarily a simple matter. Soriano has averaged only about 120 games per season with the Cubs. If he plays for more than that, it would be a good sign for the north siders.
Rob G. (Beverly Hills)
Are there any other FA relievers the Cubs may be looking into? It seems they definitely need an extra arm in case Guzman's injuries linger.
Bruce Levine (2:18 PM)
I don't think there's much help in the free agent market at this point. Chan Ho Park seemed to be the last quality guy out there. The rest will have to come from trades.
Ok, no predictions. But, am I realistic to be thinking the Cubs have a legitimate shot at contending for the division this year?
Bruce Levine (2:19 PM)
If you're a Cubs fan you'd be silly not to think that way. They have quality players at just about every position (2B?) and if they have good health with the rotation and bullpen, they could be a 90-win team.
Bruce Levine (2:21 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Sorry I forgot to mention that I'll be here for you on Tuesdays AND Fridays during spring training -- tell your friends. Have a good weekend!