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 (1:00 PM)
For you Sox fans, watch John Danks do his final live BP. And for you Cubs fans, I'm on my way to Mesa now. Welcome.
Jonathan (Puerto Rico) [via mobile]
What are the chances that the Cubs unload Soriano this season? And where?
Bruce Levine (1:01 PM)
It's one of those situations where they would like to trade him, but at the same time, they need the protection for Rizzo and Castro that Soriano represents. If the Yankees come calling, I believe the Cubs would make the move if they're able to dump some salary and get a prospect or two.
Mike C. (Glenview, IL)
The White Sox are clearly trying to contend this year, but it also is clear they are not a complete team from top to bottom. With their clearly depleted farm system, what options would the South Siders have if they find themselves buyers come the trade deadline?
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
I don't know about them having a completely depleted farm system. Everyone said that before last season as well and they had 6 or 7 rookie pitchers keep them competitive. Sox are relatively deep in pitching if they stay healthy so they can trade from that strength.
Assuming Baez works out...Who do you see moving to third, him or Castro?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Neither. Could be Junior Lake's position before either one of those is moved. I think you have two years to worry about it.
Ryan Flanery (Crown Point IN)
Why are the white sox not considered contenders in the the AL central?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
By whom? I don't believe experts really know if the team is going to contend at this point. The AL Central is difficult to predict. You have two teams in KC and Cleveland that have improved dramatically on paper. Whether that translates to wins is yet to be determined. Sox were picked by Baseball Prospectus to win 69 games last season and they won 85. I prefer to watch them play rather than predict.
After the Cubs' starting rotation is set, where do you see the rotation ranking?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
If all their pitchers are healthy, they can be competitive in their division. That's how I see them ranked, a tad below St. Louis and Cincinnati. And maybe even with Pittsburgh and Milwaukee as far as starting pitching. If Garza isn't healthy, they drop to the bottom.
Buce! Assuming Meadows is taken #1 in this summers draft do you see the Cubs taking Sean Manaea?. He may not be as proven as other pitching prospects but i believe has a much greater upside. He is a 6'5 lefty with a 95 mph fastball and a heavy slider. He completely dominated the cape with just an insane k/bb ratio and projects as a started long term. Also, how long before we see Junior Lake in Chicago playing the hot corner?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Cubs will definitely draft a power arm with the No. 2 pick, as to who it might be you have a couple months to worry about that. Lake might get an opportunity sooner than you think, depending on injuries.
So our bats for 2015 look pretty good from here; Rizzo, Castro, Baez, Soler, Almora, Jackson. But our pitching staff is very questionable. Is there anyone in the system right now that could be a viable starting pitcher starting in 2015, or is that going to be addressed in free agency?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Time will tell. They had a couple guys from this year's draft who they like. But they're at least a couple years away from being projected into the major leagues.
Nick (River North)
Hi Bruce - any idea if Arodys Vizcaino is healthy enough to pitch? When do you expect he'll make his first appearance?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Sveum was asked yesterday and said he's not expected to be ready any time soon to pitch in the majors.
kyle (illinois) [via mobile]
What do you think rizzo numbers will be this year?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I guess Sveum expects 30-100. I would be happy with 25-90 as long as he had a good .350 OBP. To me the most important stat after RBI is runs scored. Way you accomplish that is getting on base.
Bruce, I'd like your take on this observation: the White Sox signed Keppinger to play third, but realized the team lacked depth at 3B and 1B. So the Sox were proactive in trading for Gillaspie. Meanwhile, the Cubs have depth problems at 3B, 1B, SS but seem more "reactive" when it comes to filling holes - - - only when the players currently on the roster get hurt do the Cubs try to find an answer outside the organization. Is it because the Cubs are holding their prospects closer to the vest than Hendry did?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I think the Cubs are not going to add extra depth at this point, just for the sake of trying to win 75 or 80 games. The key for them is as you say holdnig their young players close to the vest and getting more young players. Like the two young pitchers they get for Campana. To Epstein and Hoyer, it's all about getting as many young players as they can in order to be competetitive in the next couple of years.
Ryan (Vienna, WV)
Which player of the Chicago White Sox will be on the lookout to have a MVP level this season that we should keep our eyes on?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I'm going to step out of the box and say Alexei. He had a bad season last year and still led all AL shortstops in RBIs. If he puts together a 25-95 season he's going to get some MVP votes, also because he's probably the best defensive SS in baseball.
The white sox seem to have a roster (besides 3rd base) that has players secured at every position. Is there a worry for lack of flexibility within the organization?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
I think that's a situation for one more year. With Konerko becoming a free agent and the DH spot being freed up for Dunn and more flexibility with some of their other players to move to other positions. Viciedo would probably move to 1b if Konerko doesn't come back.
Tom (Downers Grove)
What's up with Garza? It's been a week and there still isn't a schedule for him to pitch?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Sveum told us yesterday that he's hoping he starts throwing again within next 3 days unless he has setbacks. Throwing doesn't mean pitching off mound necessarily. Sveum believes he still has plenty of time to be in the rotation on Opening Day.
wyatt (Q.C / Illinois)
I dont understand why the Cubs would keep Marmol as there closer when they could probable get young players for him in a trade?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
They're trying and they have tried. Marmol is a commodity and he pitched extremely well in the last few months of 2012. Someone will take them up on Marmol, my guess is before Opening Day.
Khyle (Lindenhurst, IL)
What occurs first in 2013? Danks gets 5 wins or Castro commits 10 errors?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I would have to say Castro's 10 errors.
Gil [via mobile]
Whats the deal with Logan Watkins? Is he a legit prospect with major league potential? Minor league player of the year and he's not in the cubs top 20 prospect list?? Please explain.
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
He's not a tool guy. He's more a Barney-Theriot type player, hit the ball to right, get a bunt down, play position well. Doesn't do anything in a spectacular manner. Just a ballplayer.
Where do the Cubs think Timothy Saunders will start the year? He absolutely tore up the lower levels last summer, but we don't hear too much about him.
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I'll be happy to ask about him. Come back for next week's chat for the answer or look at ESPNChicago.com.
Bruce, I haven't heard much about Fujikawa's first appearance. I saw he struck out 2 in 1 inning of work. How has he looked so far this spring and what can fans expect out of him this season?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I've only seen him pitch once so I won't give you the best answer, but I'll see him tomorrow or the next day. He was working on a couple different pitches the last time, including command of his splitter. Coaches are pleased with what he brings to table.
Justin (McAllen, TX)
Any update on Danks? Is he progressing as he should?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Look for a post from me on ESPNChicago.com in the next couple hours. He had a 50-pitch side session with live hitters today. And he was pleased with his arm strength. He was throwing mostly cut fastballs.
Justin (McAllen, TX)
Hey Bruce. What do you think about Dunn batting 5th this year? I'm not sure the right move is to keep him up higher. I'd like to see our two lefty bats broken apart a bit and allow others in front of Dunn to steal more frequently.
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I like the idea of more contact and more speed at the top of the order. I like Keppinger and Rios at 2-3.
Is Brett Jackson going to start in AAA or will he be with the big league team?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Barring injury to a starting OF he'll start at Class AAA.
By what year do you think the cubs will have a winning record and be in contention in the N.L
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I have no idea on the progress of the young players or who they're going to sign as a FA, but I imagine the front office is targetting 2014 and '15 as when they feel they'll be more competitive and will start to plug in higher caliber free agents.
Do you think the whitesox will struggle at the catchers position this year, is Flowers really that damn good to be the starter or should they look for other options?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
They feel that he's ready and that he's defensively better than Przyinski the last two years. That's the No. 1 job of the catcher, to handle the staff. He has big-time power. He just needs to make more contact and hit at least .240 or .250.
Bruce, how is Gavin Floyd's shoulder doing?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
He's scheduled to make his last live batting practice session tomorrow. He doesn't have any pain or had any setbacks so far this spring.
Hominy Falls (WV)
Bruuuuuce- I think this will be a telling season for Castro- will he become a perennial all-star or the perennial guy who makes the manager bang his head against the wall as he continues to make dumb mistakes... he says the distractions are behind him but I won't believe it until I see it- I know it's early but have you noticed any difference in his approach and results so far?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
I know he's more relaxed and confident. Believe it or not, he's only 22. I have all the confidence in the world he's going to be a much better player than he was last year. He has one major goal and that's to be better defensively. Barney winning the Gold Glove has really driven him to pick up his game. They have had new Wilson gloves designed for them this season.
Matt (Mt Greenwood)
Bruce any young players turning heads in Sox camp? If so do any have a chance to stick with the club?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Not at this point. I don't really see it. The only young player you see is Conor Gillaspie who will compete for a part-time job at third and first.
Allen (Benton Harbor)
Bruce! What does Stewarts injury do to his status with the Cubs? Did he not come into Spring training prepared to win a job? Does this bring back some of the questions about his work ethic?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
I hate to say whether a player has worked hard enough in the offseason but he's continued to have leg injuries to go along with bad wrists. It's going to be very difficult to make this roster.
Are you happy that Sveum has said Castro will bat 2nd in the lineup, which seems to be his prefered spot?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
He's happy about it. I think he'll see more fastballs, which is good for a hitter not having to guess as much. I think he'll be a very productive No. 2 hitter.
Is Soler's national hype deserved? Has he been that impressive this early in his first big league camp?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
You never get excited about people doing well early in spring training. You're seeing all kinds of pitching and even the top starters are just working on fastball command. See me around March 14-15. That's when you can start evaluating what players are doing.
d.knight (peoria. il) [via mobile]
whats the word on stewart cant think of any way the cubs dont cut him given he would cost a few million for a good glove. i seen if they cut him the would owe next to nothing
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
They only have to pay 1/6 of his salary if he's cut. At this point he's got a ways to go to make the team.
Dave (Lisle )
Bruce do you notice if Sox fans seem to have more optimism down at spring training this year than last year, i know its early but last year going into it it seemed no one thought we were gonna have a good year and we posted a solid 85 wins I'm hoping to see more Fans at the ballpark this year.
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
I think a lot of it will have to do with the weather in April. The Sox have at least 15 games at home in April so hope for good weather and a good start.
What is your opinion of Tyler Flowers, can he truly hit major league pitching? Will he be anywhere near the complete catcher AJ was?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
He's a better defensive catcher than A.J. That doesn't mean he will call a better game, but he will throw more runners out and he will block many more balls in the dirt. The key is whether he can cut down on his strikeouts. He's going to be fine defensively.
What do you expect from Quintana this season? I think he is underrated and could have a nice year.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I thought he pitched great last season. He kind of wore down the last month or so which can be expected from a young pitcher. We'll find out this year if he is a to prospect or not. I think he has good stuff.
If James Russell has a good first half would he bring a lot back in a deadline trade?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I don't think you can trade your only dependable lefty in the pen. He's also a year away from arbitration. I expect him to stay with the Cubs for a long time if he continues to be productive.
Mark (Winston Salem, NC)
With Sanchez a sure bet for the White Sox very soon, do you see him at SS or 2nd? And, what will happen to Beckham or Alexi?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
The Sox believe he is a second baseman. And they also believe that he just needs a little seasoning at Triple-A. I think Beckham is going to have to have a good season.
Bob (Tinley Park, IL)
Where will Dan Volgelbach play, assuming he ever makes it? Only position he can possibly play is 1B and that is taken by Rizzo. Oh but that power...
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
There's always room for a power hitter in left field. If you look around baseball the OF in the NL is the equivalent to the DH in the AL. Nobody trades young power hitters away.
Jacob [via mobile]
Junior Lake will be starting 3rd baseman come July.. True/False
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
He could be. The Cubs like to have their young players get 500 at-bats at Triple-A. But Hoyer said they are not going to hold to that in every circumstance.
Your choices for the most improved player on each team this year? I'll go with Castillo and Flowers.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
That's pretty good. For me I'll go with you on both. Hard time picking against that.
Whats the status of Trey McNutt
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
He's competing for a job but will most likely be a starter at Triple-A.
Could we see the Cubs use Steven Clevenger more at first base this spring to maybe put him in a position to back up Rizzo at first during the season
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
No. Sveum pretty much said Clevenger will be the starting catcher at Triple-A this year. He's a catcher and that's a commodity that's hard to find in baseball.
Is Castro working on his plate discipline? 36 walks in a season is not good. If he can double that he'll be a real impact player. Is management trying to get him to improve this?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Barney has the same problem. Barney improved quite a bit last year, but his walk percentage is still very low. Hopefully there will be some more maturity in Castro's approach this year.
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
Follow me on Twitter at ESPNBruceLevine as I bounce between Cubs and Sox camps all spring training.