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 (12:58 PM)
Welcome to the Cubs and White Sox only mutual day off this spring. Your opening day pitchers threw yesterday, although the Sox have not officially named Sale as opening day starter. Welcome to the chat!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What do you think Chicago will do about Wrigley Field since that Stadium is 99 years old?
Bruce Levine (1:00 PM)
There's a plan for renovation that is waiting for the city of Chicago to sign off on. The renovation will take 4 offseasons and cost the Cubs close to $300 million. The city has told the Cubs and rooftop owners as well as the neighborhood to come to some type of business agreement before the city gives its approval.
3 weeks away Bruce cant wait, will the White Sox carry 2 backup outfielders or will it just be Wise? Also does Conner Gillaspie make this team?
Bruce Levine (1:01 PM)
Gillaspie and Wise are both on the team. They do need another right-handed bat for the bench. Angel Sanchez will be another backup for the infield. Not sure if they will just go with Wise or carry one more outfielder.
Matt (Shelbyville, IL)
Hey Bruuuce! Valbuena has been handling the stick this spring, and from what I read over the past couple days, is that we can't afford to cut Stewart and it is still his job to keep. Please tell me we can cut him and have Vitters be the back up.
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Vitters is going back to AAA, and he needs to have a solid year there. There are no other plans for Vitters right now. From my conversations with people that should know, Stewart will be kept around to rehab his injury and eventually get back into the lineup. Cubs feel they need his power potential.
Gill (Mpls, MN)
Any chance that someone, who can run, will be inserted into the line-up between Dunn and Konerko?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
I'm not sure who that would be. If you look around, Viciedo doesn't run well and neither does Flowers. Keppinger is an average runner and Beckham has not hit enough to fit in that spot. The only above average runners they have are De Aza and Rios, who will bat 1st and 3rd.
Eric [via mobile]
Pretend you are cubs marketing, give me three reasons (that dont include wrigley field) as to why I should come to games this year.
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
#1- You and your family have been Cubs fans since 1876.
Samsonite [via mobile]
Who are the surprise players in each camp this spring?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
So far for the Cubs, Javier Baez has looked extremely great. With any luck he'll be in the big leagues in a couple years. For the White Sox, which shouldn't be a surprise, is the way Paul Konerko has attacked the ball. And after an extensive offseason conditioning program, he looks to be as strong as he's ever been. I think he's going to have a monster year.
Got a few over/unders for you: Flowers 20 HRs, Viciedo 100 RBIs, Sale 20 wins? Thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Under on Sale's 20 wins. I'll take the over on Viciedo's 100 RBI. And I'll take the under on Flowers' 20 HR.
Paul (Denver, CO)
Do you see Matt Szczur at Triple A Iowa at some point this season?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Szczur still has some things to learn, like hard contact, which has been a problem for him. This will be a big year for Szczur to prove to the organization that he's a future major leaguer.
Brad (Albany, NY)
Bruce, what is your prediction for the sox this season? Think they can overtake the Tigers and win the central?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
I think the White Sox are a wildcard team, somewhere between 88-90 wins. I like them but the Tigers are hard to pick against.
Alan (Aurora) [via mobile]
Once Matt Garza and Scott Baker are healthy what will happen to Travis Wood? Will be go to the bullpen or be sent to AAA?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Wood might solidify himself in the rotation by that time, so he would not necessarily be the odd man out. Remember, he's the only left-hander in that group.
How has Beckham been hitting this spring? Do you think he can turn around his bat this season to match his glove?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
The White Sox feel they helped Beckham change his approach to the ball late last summer. When he crouches and repeats his mechanics, he's a better hitter. This is also a big year for him to prove that he is the White Sox' 2nd baseman of the future. Carlos Sanchez is waiting in the wings.
Can we expect the Cubs to go pitcher heavy in the draft again, including the 2nd pick? Seems there is still a huge gap between hitting and pitching talent in the minors.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Pitching is the major concentration, and it will stay that way for some time. They would also consider drafting a quality 3rd baseman. But their first pick will be a pitcher.
Help Fans (Understand)
Am I the only one who doesn't understand the Garza story? How can he be already on the DL and out the first month without knowing if his body can progress before opening day? I just don't get it. It all seems very odd, please explain the situation because he is beginning to be compared to Wood and Prior.
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
The reason why they will take their time with Garza is because he is still coming back from the elbow injury. Right now he's rehabbing a lat injury. So their caution is based on two injuries. Therefore, it will be 4-5 weeks minimum for him to complete spring training. He has to start from the beginning. The most realistic time would be end of April or beginning of May.
Jeff (Goshen, IN)
How has Jared Mitchell looked at bat and in the field? Is he a year away?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Mitchell has looked a lot better this year than he has in the past. He's making more contact and hitting the ball with a lot of authority. I'd say another year for him.
I know he is in Reds minor league camp but have you heard how Mark Prior is doing?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I have not heard much about Prior, but I admire him for trying to come back though. He made $16 million during his career, so it's not about him having to make some money. That's why I respect him so much for trying to make it back.
Zac (Elkhart in)
Rusin, Bowden, Rondon, Camp, Russell, Fujikawa, & Marmol for the pen? Sound about right?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
They really like Rusin and Rondon. Rondon is a rule 5, so that makes it more essential for them to keep him. Not sure about Bowden.
anthony (chicago) [via mobile]
Did the cubs have any interest in bringing prior in on a minor league deal?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
No they did not. The VP of Scouting and Player Development, Jason McLeod, said he talked to Prior but they didn't talk about bringing him in. I don't think that Prior would want to come back to the Cubs. Why go through all that again?
If Dan Vogelbach becomes as good of a hitter as projected, would he be able to play left field for the Cubs. The bats of Castro, Rizzo, and Vogelbach would be a nice core. Also, if he were to make it to the bigs, what year is he projected for?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
If you look around, left fielders aren't always the most agile athletes on the field. No reason why he couldn't make it as an outfielder, at least for the short term. He's needs at least one more solid year in the minors, maybe two.
It seems like Pauly always starts the season red hot. How about a 3-4-5 of Konerko, Rios, Dunn?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Konerko won't be batting third. I think he's too slow to bat third, and I like Rios there for that reason. I like Rios, Konerko and Dunn, or Dunn and Konerko interchanged.
Deano (Round Lake Beach)
Any predictions on roster battle victors and could Crain/Thornton be trade bait should Lindstrom, Troncoso, Axelrod, and Santiago continue to impress? Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I don't think they are interested in trading their veteran relievers right now. But Troncoso has been impressive and has a good shot at making the team.
Xavier, Streator Illinois [via mobile]
Over/under Wellington Castillo 15 hrs, Castro&Rizzo 40 hrs and Samardzija 15 wins.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Even on Castillo. Over on Castro and Rizzo combining for 40+ homers. And even on Samardzija's 15 wins.
Tom (Downers Grove)
I may have a biased opinion but, why are the mayor and alderman not being more supportive of the Cubs' efforts to upgrade their ballpark? Is a threat to move the team inevitable?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
I think they're supportive, but they also represent the people of the neighborhood and the Cubs have a 20-year agreement with the rooftop owners. The mayor represents everyone, not just the Cubs.
TBone (Madison, WI)
Still think Marmol is traded before opening day? If so, where?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
The market for him has not been strong in the last week or 10 days. Unless someone loses a closer or primary set-up man, he might be sticking around a while.
What are your thoughts on the Sox being able to rely on Danks this year as a regular in the rotation? How has he looked so far and what are your expectations.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Danks is still getting his strength and velocity back. His next couple of starts will determine how far away he is. The good news is that he's had no pain in his shoulder and his velocity at least 88-89 last time out.
How has Clevenger looked in the field? How are his chances of making the team as a 3rd catcher, back-up 1B and 2B?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
He has a ways to go as far as 3rd base is concerned. But you have to admire his determination to be a major league player. I don't see him breaking camp as a backup infielder and they won't carry three catchers unless they are comfortable with him playing first and third.
Justin H (Fort Myers, FL) [via mobile]
Earlier when a fan asked why he should watch cubs games, you responded with "Because you and your family have been cubs fans since 1876". So that's the only reason we should continue to invest in a team that hasn't invested much in its fans in over a century? I believe in theo...that's the only reason I'm still watching. BUT them only wanting to build from within is gonna take years. Don't you feel that adding an established marquee player could give the fans some faith?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
If you believe in Epstein, then you also believe he will add those marquee players when he believes the time is right. Also, I know you like singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" when you go to the game.
John (Crown Point In)
Where do you see the Cubs getting offensive production this year? I just don't see it in there projected lineup...
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Rizzo, Castro, Soriano would be your run producers. Table setters is the problem.
James (Madison, WI) [via mobile]
Sounds like Starlin is back tomorrow! Has he been working on plate discipline? His D is coming around, I feel like if he can learn to work the count and take more walks he could become the best SS in the league! Thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I think he's a progressing both as a player and a young person. He's still just 22 years old. I was just getting off food stamps at 22. He's aware if he walks 50 times he'll be one of the top players in the league. That part is a work in process.
Adam, Mishawaka, IN [via mobile]
Do you feel the Colvin/Stewert deal was the worst in cubs history as some people claim it is? Colvin had his opportunity and to me, didnt make do.
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Colvin and LeMahieu are decent players, but let's not start making their Hall of Fame plaques just yet. Let's give Stewart one more try, and then we can come back and revisit the question.
What grade do you give Theo & Co in upgrading system so far?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Incomplete. I don't give grades until I see the time frame completed. They are still working on their plan. Let's give them the rest of this year and start looking at it in year three as far as player development is concerned.
Gavin Floyd (Chicago)
Do you think my teammate Johnny Danks is pitching well enough to where I may be traded? And, who in the world would they get for me?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
Gavin- Don't worry. You're still a quality 4th starter. And those are hard to come by these days. Expect to stay with the White Sox at least until the trade deadline. I love you, brother!
How has Barney looked at the plate so far this spring? If he could get on base more he could be a potential all-star. But that's a big "if"
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Barney walked more last year, and he came into camp stronger than he was last year, too. You have to love a guy like Barney that tries to get every ounce out of his ability. He also shows tremendous leadership ability. I love the guy.
JJ (Aurora, IL)
Have the Sox all but given up on trying to acquire a legitimate left handed bat for the lineup, at least to this point?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
It doesn't appear to be out there right now. Not too sure where the new guy would play other than third base. Who would you bump out of the lineup?
John (Crown Point In)
Any new word on Soriano to Yankees deal?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Absolutely not. From what I hear they'd be more interested in a player like Hairston than Soriano.
Zero chance we see Baez in 2014? I know Theo & Co said they have minor league at bat quotas to reach, but WOW that bat is explosive!
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
To their credit they said there are exceptions to their rules. And Baez's ability may be one of the things they will think about. If he has a monster year in the minors and advances two levels, then he could be the exception in 2014.
Do you think that maybe the Sox would take a gamble on maybe bringing Jim Thome back to the organization? Not to be an everyday player, but to be a guy off the bench or something. He's a lefty they desperately need, and knows and loves Reinsdorf and the organization, not to mention the Chicago itself.
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I just don't see where another DH would be valuable in taking up a roster spot. Plus, you could not have Konerko, Dunn and Thome in the lineup at the same time.
Randy, Hendersonville [via mobile]
Do you see the Cubs brass mending things with Sammy Sosa? Like it or not, he is one of the all time greats in Chicago.
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I would say give it another year. He does deserve his due.
Ben Francisco has been released by the Inidians. Does he fit the cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Might fit the White Sox more than the Cubs. He's not a bad player, but certainly not an everyday player at this point. I think either side of town should take a flyer on him.
Is it safe to say that Fujikawa will end up being the Cubs closer by mid-season even if Marmol doesn't get dealt elsewhere?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
If he's not dealt elsewhere that means Marmol has not been successful, which would be a bad sign for the Cubs. But to answer more directly, the Cubs believe Fujikawa can be a quality closer.
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
For you Cubs fans, both Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueve threw in minor league games. They both got their work in. No reason to handicap their outings. Tomorrow, Tom Ricketts will give the media a tour of the new Cubs complex in its unfinished state. Look for me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine, and on ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com. Thanks for all the questions.