Chat with Bruce Levine
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox reporter Bruce Levine stops by Tuesday to chat.
Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.
Send your questions now and join the chat Tuesday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
Welcome to Ozzie Guillen territory. I'll take all your questions on Ozzie Guillen, no matter how repetitive they may be. I've known Ozzie since 1985 and anything you might want to know about him I feel I can answer. Also open to all Cubs and Sox questions.
I know it's very early, but do you think Kenny knew something about Santos before trading him, as in the league was catching up to him? His splits after the ASB last year are terrible...
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
I think that it was a conversation between the front office and pitching coach Don Cooper. The determination was made they would move him for the right deal and in picking up Molina they think they did that.
Am I delusional to think that the Cubs are not that far off? They seem to have a bit of an edge to them.
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Far off from what? They've had decent starting pitching so far, which is a good sign. If you look at their lineup, it's difficult to imagine how much run production they can supply. The bullpen is another issue. They have some good parts, but this is not a team built to win at this point.
Bobby B (Newport Beach, CA)
Hey Bruce! Exciting start to the season, even though the results arent there. I wana know, does LaHair take LF if Soriano's traded? 1B is Rizzo's but I would like both bats in our lineup. His D cant be as bad as Soriano, Right?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Haven't seen enough of LaHair in the outfield to know about his defense. But the Cubs are certainly looking for better defense out there. If LaHair hits he'll stay at first base since nobody is trading for Soriano.
Is there anything that can be done about the Cubs pen? Or is what we see what we're going to get?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I think Marmol and Wood can be okay if they are not overused. That means that the other guys are going to have to step up. Camp, Castillo, Dolis are all going to have pitch well. More importantly, Dale Sveum is going to have to trust them.
Dan (Orland Park)
The starting pitching has been nice to see but the defense does not looked improved to me. Any chance they switch Castro and Barney? Do you think Castro gets a full season of errors before the Cubs consider a move to 2nd?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
You're not switching Castro -- he's your shortstop. If this was the instructional league they could change or experiment. But if you try that move you're likely to weaken two positions. Just let them play.
After the first couple of games, what is the one thing you believe should be keeping Robin up at night?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
How he's going to score more than 3 or 4 runs a game. They have 10 runs in 4 games, and five of those have come on homeruns. The pitching has been remarkably good so far. Nothing should be more pleasing to him than the young bullpen so far.
Jeff (Normal, IL)
Say Brent Morel gets moved to the 7, 8, or 9 spot in the lineup, and his production stays sub .200 and lackadaisical at-bats. How long until Escobar gets a serious shot at third?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Escobar is there to be a backup at this point. He could get some platoon time with Morel initially. Remember that Ventura started his career 4-44, so expect him to be patient.
Heard anything on who the cubs could be looking at to add for bullpen help? Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Cubs need a left-handed pitcher that can get right-handers out as well as lefties. Those type of guys don't grow on trees. The problem is that they don't have a lot to trade.
Is there any word on Samardjia (sp?) being on an innings count this year assuming he continues to go well? Would not like to see him get too taxed this year at the expense of the future.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
They haven't talked about that. Samardzija is not a rookie out of college. He's already pitched a full season in the minors as a starter.
So after 4 games Beckham and Morel have already combined for 13 K's and continue to swing at oustide pitches they cant even reach. Is there any hope for them? and if so, the new hitting coach needs to prove his keep.
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
With four games, I wouldn't get too bent out of shape. Both have had contact issues in the past. Both are working on better approaches to the outside pitch. Part of that is laying off of it, part of it is driving the ball to right field.
Who is the sox's 6th starter this year if need to go there? (Peavy is making his second start in a row Friday)
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
That would be Zach Stewart. He is the long man out of the bullpen. Dylan Axelrod is also a pitcher in the minors that they could go to in an emergency.
Marlon Byrd going to be traded anytime soon? Brett Jackson seems to be hitting great in AAA as well as Rizzo (2 HR Last night)... Vitters has looked good as well in his limited time in Iowa.
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
The plan is to let Jackson and Rizzo play at AAA for a while. If there's an injury or a trade, that may change. But this management group wants to have their good young players to have proper minor league experience. I wouldn't expect to see either player until July.
Any chance we see more of Mather here? He's got a hot bat, so now is the time to ride it, and to say Byrd and DeJesus have looked awful to start is an understatement.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I think everyone will get their opportunity on this team. This is not the NFL, so managers do not panic over what happens during a four-game stretch. Both Byrd and DeJesus have long histories of success.
Although there have still been some issue with runner's in scoring position, I am excited about this Sox team. What's the feeling in the clubhouse? Also, I am surprised Guillen caused problems this quickly in Miami, thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Ozzie has always spoken first and dealt with the ramification after. As for the Sox, there is a quiet confidence among the vets and rookies right now. The team has played some decent baseball early on.
Mark B (Chicago)
Bruce, who should bat second in the White Sox lineup? I think Alexei should bat second.
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
It's a very difficult choice right now for Ventura. Because you have to have somebody there that can take some pitches. there aren't a lot of real patient hitters other than Dunn and Konerko. I'm glad I don't have to make that decision myself.
Production isn't there yet but is Dunn seeing the ball better this year? He is makiing contact on pitches that last year he would of had a SO and he has had some walks.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
He's a different player and he's back to being the player that he was. I think he's comfortable with his situation and not worried about having to live up to his contract. All that should equal a pretty good year for Dunn.
Jason (South Dakota)
Is it just me or is Soriano even worse in left field this year than last? There were 3 routine fly balls that went for hits because of him! Surely Sveum must be tempted to platoon him or something???
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I'm not sure that platooning him is going to get anything done. Ideally he's going to get in a hot streak where he'll drive in more runs than he'll allow defensively.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Is it just me or does Robin look like he's been doing this for years already?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Robin is very comfortable with what he's doing. There's never been any doubt that he's an outstanding baseball man. He was a great leader as a player but he doesn't desire any publicity. Most media people, even like myself, who covered his whole career, still didn't know what a great leader he was as a player.
On the ESPN broadcast last night they talked about a possible platoon at catcher. First time I heard this mentioned. Knowing the staff is huge part of catching. Doesn't seem logical to me but you the expert. Thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Soto is the starter on this team. Clevenger is learning his trade as a backup. I don't see a platoon at this point.
Bruce, Of the five current starters, which do you think will still be around in two-three years when the Cubs may be ready to compete for the playoffs? Which starters could be available in a trade deadline deal if they pitch well and the Cubs are out of contention?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I don't see any of these starters other than Samardzija there unless Garza and his people sign a long-term deal. I'm sure he'll be moved by the trade deadline. Dempster is a free agent after this year and at 35 won't likely be pitching five years from now.
Paul (St. Louis)
Bruce, I know he isn't a very good fit, but would the Cubs have interest in Brandon Allen? I know he would need to be turned into an OF'er, but has the potential to be another Big Papi.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Another suspect on defense. A swing and miss type guy. You're right about his power though -- he has excellent power.
How long of a leash will Ventura have on Santiago? Eventhough he gave up the homer last night, it was good to see him rebound.
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
It was just one pitch. As you pointed out, he came back and got the next two hitters. And that's what you love to see with any bullpen guy, but especially with a young, developing closer. The White Sox bullpen has looked fantastic so far.
Dan (Mt. Prospect)
Does Demp then get traded at the deadline as well?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
Dempster is a 10 & 5 player, meaning he has control over any trade that might be made, so it would be up to him. I think in the last year of a contract that he may be open to going elsewhere.
I still dont understand why we traded Sean Marshall for Travis Wood( a guy in the minors ) who had a decent rookie year and nothing else, was it money related? because we could sure use Marshall right now.
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
I think that the top executives felt they might be finding a good left-handed pitcher in Wood, who was under-valued. It's still too early to say that the trade has failed.
JJ (carol stream Il)
with the cubs payroll at 88 million will they get an ace next yr to go with their garza and sarmarja
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Cubs payroll is not at $88 million. Not sure where you got your figures, but it's more like $110. What they are trying to do is develop their own young players and trade for other teams' young players that they can develop. I don't think payroll is an issue at this point.
Freedom of Speech gets you a 5 game suspension? What a world we live in. It's a shame that people still care what Ozzie Guillen says.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
The move was more of a marketing issue. Guillen was brought in to help excite the Latin American population about baseball. These comments just antagonized the entire Cuban community. I thought his apology was heartfelt and I believed him when he said that he did not admire Fidel Castro.
Do you see LaHair finishing the year with the Cubs? He's 29, so not exactly a "prospect" and teams in a pennant race always seem to be looking for a cheap lefthanded power bat. Plus moving him would open up room for Rizzo to get some MLB at bats.
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Epstein and Hoyer will trade anyone if they think it could make the Cubs better in the next few years. What's interesting is that they're not tied to any particular players. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. The bad thing might be is if they don't identify the young talent that is already there.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Who's likely to get more playing time this season, Fukudome or Lilibridge?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Lillibridge is almost an every day extra man. That's because he backs up six positions, so I would say Lillibridge will get more time than Kosuke barring any injuries.
Robert (Madison, WI)
For the Sox offense to be effective, it seems like they will need to have one of the young hitters have a breakout season. Who do you think the most likely hitter to do this is?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
My choice would probably be De Aza. he's not really all that young but this is his first full-time opportunity. He's been a surprising all-around good player.
Would it be better to keep garza through the season and get a compensatory pick for him?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
He's not a free agent after 2012. He has one year of arbitration left. If you're going to get the optimum amount back for him, you need to trade him so that his new team has him for this year and next.
Bill (N Side)
What are the chances of Starlin Castro being moved in the next 2-3 years?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Hard to trade one of the better hitters in the game. This is a kid that should be getting 200 hits with 20 homers and 90-100 RBIs over the next decade. I don't trade him.
Bill (Rockville, VA)
When the Sox draft players, do they ever see if their approach to hitting is any different when they have 2 strikes. So many of both their major league and minor league players need to strike out less to have a chance to drive in more runs,
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
They look at all those things when they consider drafting players. Keep in mind what player is going to be available when you draft on draft day. So sometimes you take the best available player if the guy you want has been taken.
Does "The Shark" get traded if he has a good first half? Most articles I've read haven't discussed this possibility, but I believe he's 27 which is the beginning of the peak production that Hoyer and Epstein are looking to exploit. He'll be 30 before they are competitive.
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
He may be 27 but his arm is 22. This is a young guy who didn't pitch a lot in high school or college. So if you're a smart baseball man like Theo and Jed are, you'll ride this horse as long as you can.
The Cubs Future (Wrigley Field)
Why do we still have Garza? I could do so much more with 4 prospects from Detroit. They even have the pieces that make me brighter.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Don't think that might not still happen. Epstein and Hoyer are smart enough to hold on to their chips until they see a decent contender that's desperate enough to give them what they want. If Detroit loses another pitcher they may be that desperate team.
Harry (Columbia, MO)
How many years till Chris Sale is the ace of the White Sox staff?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Who says he might not be this year? As AJ Pierzynski yesterday, when Sale throws strikes he's as good as anybody int he league. Not only is his stuff good, but he has a funky delivery that is difficult to pick up by the hitters.
Any word on Soler?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Mum is the word on Soler. Seems like a baseball/political hot potato has occurred.
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Follow me on Twitter at ESPNBruceLevine for all your Cubs and White Sox needs. I'll be covering both teams all season long.