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)
Boxes are getting packed and guys are getting antsy as we prepare for the last few days of spring training. Welcome to the chat!
John (Kalamazoo, MI)
Hi Bruce! I heard earlier today that the Cubs are having difficulty selling all of the home opener tickets. It looks like the Cubs will have chunks of seats empty. If this trend continues during the rest of the season, the loss in revenue will hurt the Ricketts family. Also, with the Wrigley renovations deal being held up, there is no revenue coming from that. Therefore, Do you think that the Ricketts family will push Theo & Jed into going away from there rebuilding project sooner?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
I would not worry about having a tag day for the Cubs anytime soon. The Cubs will have 25k seats sold for every game because of season ticket sales. The Cubs will also be cashing in on new TV deals over the next 5-7 years, so I wouldn't worry about that affecting their ability to compete as a big market club in the future.
TJ (Dixon Il)
Hi Bruce, With the Sox rotation looking really questionable , are they going to make any moves ? It could be a long year on the Southside.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
The White Sox will look at the waiver wire like everyone else. If they see a pitcher that makes sense, they'll put a claim in. They'll have to decide between using one of their young guys or a retread vet that has been released.
Is there any possibility of the Cubs moving to the suburbs? I just think the Cubs should not be held from running their team because of politics.
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Politics are a part of every business, especially a multi-billion dollar business like baseball. The one thing about posturing is that if you make a threat you have to be willing to go through with it. I'm not sure the Cubs will get much leverage saying they will move to Rosemont.
John S. Reno, NV [via mobile]
What is a realistic bench mark for the cubs this season as far as wins?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
I think your over/under should be right around 73. If that sounds too low, consider that would be a 12-game improvement over last season.
Who is in the lead for the last bullpen spot. For me, Takahashi is the best fit being a lefty and the way he has pitched this spring do you agree?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Takahashi appears to have a possible leg up because he is a lefty. Cory Wade can get lefties or righties out too. It's between those two.
Brian (Woodridge, IL)
Do you see Chris Rusin as a part of the rotation in 2014 and beyond? What is his ceiling?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Might be a part of the rotation by May. The Cubs have liked what they've seen of him this spring. He would be probably the first or second starting pitcher called up if they need someone in the rotation.
Will (southern Indiana) [via mobile]
Heard cubs are looking at Chris Young. some power off bench but we are 5 outfielders deep already.
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
The Chris Young the Cubs are looking at is the pitcher, not the outfielder.
Have you heard of any other teams looking at Clevenger for a possible trade?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I don't think the Cubs are interested in trading Clevenger. Good, young catchers are hard to find and he gives them a lot of security if one goes down.
Steve (chiridge) [via mobile]
Think the Dejesus to K.C. Rumors have any legs?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Cubs have to keep some semblance of credibility in their lineup. DeJesus is their leadoff hitter and center fielder. They don't have anyone that can really replace him right now.
Bob (Princeton, NJ)
It's looking like PK has no intention of retiring. Will the Sox try to extend him during the season or wait until after the season? A couple more good seasons should make him a lock for the HOF. Your opinion?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Just talked to Paul 15 minutes ago. I did ask him if this could be his last opening day at US Cellular Field. He said he would address issues of where he'll play and if he'll play after the season ends.
Mike Chicago [via mobile]
With the success of the 20 year old in DC and the angels could soler and Baez be called up later this year
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Highly unlikely. I think the guy on the fast track though is definitely Baez. You could see him ascend all the way to AAA this year. But I think he'll start the year at high-A.
Hi Bruce. Tigers fan here. There was a story in the media here in Detroit that the Tigers, Cubs, and D-Backs had agreed on some kind of Porcello deal in January, but it fell apart. Any details from your side? Thanks for doing the chat!
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Nothing that I know about other than the Tigers have not expressed interest in Carlos Marmol since the second week of spring training. If there was a deal with the Cubs, you would have to think Marmol would have been involved.
leboy (omaha ne)
There are more than a handful of options to fill in while Dank's gets his left arm back. My question is why should i be excited about Dylan Axelrod holding down that spot? Santiago showed flashes of upside when he saw the other teams lineup a couple of times through the order. Why not let him start the year in the 5 hole?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Nothing has been decided yet. Santiago will pitch on Saturday in Milwaukee and probably will get stretched out. I talked to Don Cooper this morning and he said they have not committed to Axelrod as a starter yet.
Ben (Wymore, NE)
What do you think Jeff Samardzija's ceiling is? In my opinion it is a number 2 or 3 on a contender.
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
The ceiling starts at about 6'5". Joking. But if he's a 200-innings and a 14-16 game winner, I think everyone would be happy except Samardzija. He's one of those guys that is not going to be happy with anything he does.
Ed ( Chicago ) [via mobile]
Do you think a deal with the rooftop owners will get done by opening day?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Tom Ricketts was the one that said they needed to know by opening day. I'm sure if it goes a few weeks longer than that, everyone will still be happy that got a solution. Ricketts only said by April so they could be set to start the project in October. He thinks it will take them at least six months to get ready for a major project.
Bruce, I believe the Cubs will have plenty of leverage with the relocation threat. Chicago gets a ton of revenue from the Cubs and do Emanuel and Tunney really want to go down as the ones who killed Wrigley?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I don't know if it's as cut and dried as all that. The Ricketts family is heavily invested in the neighborhood as far as real estate. Not only that but the entire marketing campaign is based around Wrigley Field. I'm not saying they wouldn't move, but I see it as a real long shot.
With all the cut downs are there any players the Cubs are looking at bringing in?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
When I see a complete list of players, I could help more on that. We should know that in the next day or so. The Cubs definitely want a backup infielder and a pitcher or two that could possibly make the rotation.
Michael R (Valparaiso, IN)
With one bullpen spot remaining, why not put Villanueva in the long relief role and give Rusin a shot? He's been lights out this spring. Give the kid a well-deserved shot.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Rusin is only a phone call away. At this point, they'll let him go to AAA to work on his skills. A lot of people look at opening day like it's the deadline, but it really isn't. You can change out your 25-man roster whenever you want.
Hey Bruce! What's the chance we see Christian Villanueva at 3rd base before another Josh Vitters experiment?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I can say that the organization is not really committed to Vitters as the 3rd baseman of the future, so your assumption may be correct. Down the road it could be Javier Baez in a year or so.
Paul (St. Louis)
Won't Ricketts be going through this struggle again when a new TV deal starts getting negotiated? They are going to need to add night games to maximize the TV contract value.
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Yes, but they really can't negotiate a new TV deal for probably another seven years. The Cubs cannot go on another cable outlet until their deal with Comcast ends in 2020. Even though their WGN deal expires after 2014.
John (South Side)
So so so so many cubs questions! What's the thinking with Axelrod over Santiago as the 5th starter? Also, heard the Mariners let go of Garland- any chance they'll give him a chance so the young guys can keep developing in bullpen?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Garland recently signed with Colorado, so that won't be an option. The Sox will continue to look at other free agents that have been released for the 5th slot.
With Appel available again the draft I'm wondering how Theo & co get along with his agent Scott Boras. I know some clubs don't like to deal with him.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Epstein and Hoyer have a good relationship with Boras. Relationships between baseball executives and agents are almost like couples that get married and divorced two or three times. It all depends on supply and demand.
Bryan (New Jersey)
Bruce, the Astros just released Tyler Greene, could he be an option for the Cubs ?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
He may be. Cubs executives said they would look at everybody and decide whether adding a player off the waiver wire makes any sense for the team. The Cubs are in need of a backup infielder and they have not been shy about making that known. Right now it's Lillibridge and Clevenger.
Does Soriano have anything left in the tank?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
Soriano drove in 100+ RBI last year, which was good for 3rd in the NL. Honestly I think he has more value to the Cubs than anyone else, and that's all predicated on good health. Turning down the Giants last year resonated loudly with other MLB teams.
Do you honestly see the White Sox making the playoffs this year? What will our batting lineup be for the opener? Thanks brucey baby.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I think a healthy White Sox team wins 88-90 games assuming Danks does return to form at some point. Your lineup for the opener will be De Aza, Keppinger, Rios, Dunn, Konerko, Viciedo, Ramirez, Flowers, Beckham
Saw you at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, looking trim these days. Do you believe Josh Vitters has a future in the Cubs organization? the "outfield of the future" seems to be set and there appears to be little faith in his ability to be an every day third baseman. Possible trade bait down the line?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Most organizations still like Vitters and think he's going to hit. The problem is that he has no position and doesn't have a lot of power. The Cubs would listen to a deal for Vitters.
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
First round pick from last year Pierce Johnson is the guy they like the best in the organization.
Mac (Kalamazoo, MI)
Bruuuccceee, which Cubs pitching prospect has the highest upside in your opinion?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
First round pick from last year Pierce Johnson is the guy they like the best in the organization.
Matt (Lincoln Park)
Do you think Casey Coleman got the short end of the stick here? He gave up no runs and walked no one, didn't he?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
He had a very good spring. They're not real high on Coleman. But he will be at AAA waiting for a call up. Personally, I like Coleman, I think he's a thinking-man's type pitcher. I don't think you have to throw 95mph to get hitters out. One of Coleman's mentors is Greg Maddux. Somewhere along the line I think Coleman will be a useful bullpen pitcher for some team.
Ant news on Carlos Zambrano? Will he be pitching anywhere this year?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Until he tells his agent he thinks he's a bullpen pitcher, I don't think anyone would be interested in him. I believe Zambrano could be a good setup man for some team, but he's going to have to want to do that.
Paul (St. Louis)
Bruce, I just don't understand the Brent Lillibridge love. He 29 yrs old and seems to be on the decline for a few years now. Why not give a borderline prospect the chance? Doesn't seem to fit what Theo and Jed preach.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Lillibridge seems to be the perfect NL-type player. Come in and play multiple positions after the 6th inning as a manager can make double switches. He's not afraid to play defense in seven different spots. I don't care if he hits .220, you have to have a guy that can play all those positions in the NL. He may not be great at any one thing, but he's satisfactory in many areas.
TJ (Dixon IL)
Another Zambrono question. Do you think he could come back as a DH ?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
I think that ship has left. At one point Zambrano probably could have been a power-hitting first baseman, but that's going back a way. I'll tell you one thing though, Zambrano was never boring. He could actually throw a ball left-handed 80mph. I saw it.
Ryan Theriot (Chicago)
Any interest in me on the north side?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
Ryan, you'll probably be playing for someone by June, maybe even here on the Cubs roster.
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
Bring on opening day -- can't wait! Follow me @ESPNBruceLevine and listen to our Talkin' Baseball season preview this Saturday at 10am. Thanks for all the questions.
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