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 the Chicago Bulls chatroom! Oh, this is baseball. So let's talk about your teams and what they need to improve. Welcome!
Mike (Ingleside )
I have a very hard time believing the Cubs would knock Jackson out of the rotation when graza gets back, Any chance they try a 6-man rotation for a while?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Nobody in Cubs management has said that he is being removed from the rotation. They're paying him $52 million over the next four years. What could possibly come out of putting him in the bullpen, in a positive way for the team? What you have seen over the first five weeks of the season is a small sample size of what some of these pitchers can do. They will eventually seek their proper level.
austin (springfield) [via mobile]
How about we let Jackson get a shot to close until we need him in the rotation again? 2 birds!
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
I don't know how you shorten a guys' arm up and then extend him out to seven innings again. These guys are not robots. If you make him into a closer it would take 2-3 weeks to get him back into the rotation to build back up his pitch count.
Dannon Sherich (Thomson, IL)
So how about E. Jackson stinking it up again? When does Chris Bosio start to get some of them blame?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Bosio didn't sign him to a four-year contract. Edwin Jackson is a .500 lifetime pitcher. If he goes out there 33 times he'll win 12 or 13 and lose about the same.
Has Gavin thrown his last game as a member of the Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
From the extensive surgery that he's going through, Floyd will just have to worry about ever pitching again. We're talking about an almost two year recovery plan. This is not just about a ligament, it's more extensive. To answer your question directly, I doubt he pitches for the White Sox again.
Matty Ice (Chicago)
First basemen in the NL aren't as dominant as they used to be. Pujols is gone, Howard isn't the same and Votto has just four homers. That said, what are Rizzo's chances on being named to the All-Star team this season?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Very good if he continues to hit for power. He most likely won't win the popular vote, but if he's hitting .260-.270 with 15 homers and 50 RBI, he's an All-Star.
Josiah Carrasco (Berwyn, IL)
With all the injuries the White Sox have had and this 13-17 start, do you think the white sox still have a legitamate shot at winning the AL Central? What do you think of our no. 5 and 4 hitters struggles?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
I don't believe the White Sox are a team that can win their division. I thought at the beginning of the year they were a wildcard team. A lot will depend on how John Danks' return goes. If he's back pitching in 3 weeks in top form, the Sox will still have a chance to be a decent team. Another major issue is the offense at this point. Warm weather will solve some of that.
If the Cubs can't sign Shark do they consider trading him? And what kinda package would they get for him?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
They have him under contractual control for 3 more years. So there's no reason to panic and trade him. Samardzija is the one main building block that they have in their rotation.
With the sox offense being as anemic as it has been this season and their lack of quality lead-off hitters, could you see the Sox trading for a guy like Jacoby Ellsbury?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I don't see Ellsbury being traded at this point. The White Sox don't have an awful lot to trade for a top quality player at this time. If things stay the same, they will be trading some veterans by the deadline.
With so many starters down and out, the bats silent, and errors both on the base paths and in the field, how can the White Sox experience Tremendous Amounts Of Success (TAOS)? Do they lack TWTW?What the heck (W.T.H.) can Ventura -- or any manager -- do about it?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
You, young man, should stay out of White Sox business. But seriously, the Sox are not buried in their division as of yet. Keep your eye on the White Sox starting rotation. That's going to be the key to any success this season.
Josh Vitters is off to a fairly good start at AAA. Any chance he comes up this year? And if he does will be able to handle it better than last year?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Vitters has a lot to prove to the Cubs brass. He might be better off in another organization.
Craig (Beloit, WI)
Do you think the Cubs should cut ties now with Ian Stewart as he just left and took 72 hours to report to Iowa after he was already there on an injury rehab?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
For the life of me I do not understand their fascination with this player. They had a chance to release him at the end of spring training and save a million and a half dollars, but they didn't do it. I don't see any reason to keep him other than the fact that they have to pay him. Valbuena is slowly working his way into the every day role, and he'll probably start to get chances against lefties as well.
If Barney's offense doesn't improve, how much longer does he stay in the lineup? Gone for sure after this year?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
You're talking about a guy has some other qualities beside the rote numbers he puts up. The team just started to play better after he returned to the lineup following his stint on the DL. The knee injury he had kind of set him back to a spring training mode. Within a couple weeks he'll likely be back hitting between .260-.280.
At what point do the Cubs give up on Marmol? If he continues to cost the team wins, an outright release can't be THAT bad, can it? He has absolutely no trade value. Outright release seems like the only option. Your thoughts...
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
No reason to release him since they are obligated to his contract. It's not like the rest of the guys in the pen are getting everybody out. I don't understand the Marmol hate. Before his implosion on Saturday where he walked two guys and hit a batter, he had thrown 10 scoreless innings. For some reason he is the poster boy for all that is wrong about the Cubs. And that just isn't right.
What's with the owner of the Cubs? Why does he want to get into the hotel business? What's the payback timeline to repay the debt on a hotel so then he can spend the profits on players? Makes no 'cents' to me.
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
The property that he bought where the hotel will go is through a private LLC. So it's not a Cubs property, per se. Ricketts also owns a portion of a rooftop building on Sheffield, which is also in an LLC. So revenues are being separated and expenditures are too. Ultimately the Ricketts family would like to buy many more properties within the Wrigleyville area.
Tom (Hammond, IN)
Is it time that the Whitesox front office admit that signing Adam Dunn was a mistake?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I don't know if admitting a mistake solves anything. Dunn had a productive year last year. I think he led the league in walks and was 3rd in home runs. In my mind, finding the proper spot for him in the batting order is a more important question.
Hi Bruce. My son and I are headed to Wrigley Field tomorrow for our annual Cubs game. We have been going for the last 15 years. We are sitting by the Cubs bullpen. I have heard that the players are not as friendly and willing to sign autographs. Is this true?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
It depends what time you get there, whether they are allowed to sign or not. Normally within 15 minutes of the game they are not able to sign. Try to get there a little early and catch the end of batting practice. You'll have a better shot at getting autographs. Also, many of the Cubs players sign after the game when they're leaving near their parking lot.
Scott (Rockford, IL)
Why is the Sox defense so bad this year, with basically the same players on the field as last year? And what are Ventura's thoughts on fixing it?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
I thought originally some of it was weather related. There's no doubt they miss Beckham on the field. I believe Beckham is as good a second baseman as there is in the game. His overall defense including setting up perfect cutoffs, are sorely missed.
Bruuuuuuuuce! We have the prospects to obtain Chase Headley without crippling the farm system. Making that trade and signing Cano in the offseason would solidify both the infield and the 2-5 slots in the order. I know pitching is the main focus but these moves would potentially turn the 1 run losses into wins lessening the pressure on the pitchers. Thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
I really like your idea. The only part I can disagree with is that they have the prospects to get Headley. Baez would be a piece of that puzzle, but that would not be enough. I just have a problem with the idea that they have prospects to trade. I don't see a lot of them.
Logan Watkins has 26 BBs at Iowa, and a .400+ OBP. Barney won't walk 26 times by this time next year. Why don't the Cubs move Barney to a contender who needs defense at 2nd and bring Watkins up?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Indeed they will, but Barney has to be playing better baseball in order for them to move him. You just can't trade guys when they are at their lowest selling point. I like Watkins and saw him play a lot in the Arizona Fall League. He could use a little more seasoning.
Tom (Hammond, IN)
Are there any viable prospects in their farm system that could help the Whitesox right now?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Sanchez is a player they like in AAA. They also like Trayce Thompson too, but both of them probably need a full season at AAA.
At this point in his contract, and immense lack of productivity, wouldn't the Sox be better of just releasing dunn and finding out if some of the younger players can play. You're paying for under .200 hitter since he's been here so there is really no lose, other than the dollars
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
They need run producers and Dunn is one. Other than 2011, he produces about 40 homers and 100 RBI. Tell me who will be driving in the runs on the team and more importantly, who will balance out their offense with another left-handed bat if they let him go?
Ray (Friendship WI)
What happens with Marmol? Finishes season with Cubs, traded with salary for a PTBNL, release or put on DL with phony injury?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Marmol is not a phony injury type guy. He has never once in his career said no to taking the ball. This is a stand up guy that tries to get better. The problem is that his stuff is not as good as it used to be. The answer why is too much wear and tear on his arm. Instead of throwing 96 he throws 92 or 93. Instead of a huge break on his slider, it's just an average major league slider now. He's becoming a hittable pitcher. Before 2011, the league hit less than .150 against him.
A lot of pitchers on the DL or out for the year all of a sudden, if the Sox are 10 games below .500 on June 1, would you assume they would put Jake on the block?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
No doubt in my mind. A matter of fact, Peavy said that if the team isn't competitive they are free to trade him. He won't be the only veteran traded though if they are 10 games out in June.
Why is Vitters better off in another organization? It's not like the Cubs have this wealth of talent beating down the door at third base.
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
He has had some maturity issues that he has dealt with. The organization is just not sold on him as the third baseman of the future.
Can we get an update on if Soler is continuing his antics or if he's decided to be a baseball player?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I think Soler will be fine. He's a young guy finding his way in a new country. I'm not making excuses for him, but this is a new culture he is getting used to. The Cubs have put a good support system around him.
Mike (nort side)
looks like Brett Jackson is off to a slow start in Iowa- any word on the state of his swing/progress?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Had a little injury problem too. He's got to figure out his mechanics and hit better than .214 when he's 100% again.
Tom S. (Sacramento)
Bruce, if the season turned south, would the White Sox ever consider a fire-sale of whoever they could get rid of? When does the front office decide it's time to start from scratch?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Scratch means continuing to build with good, young pitching. That's where the White Sox feel their future is. So if they are going to trade some veterans, keep your eye on whether they will acquire other teams' young pitchers. If they trade Peavy you can bet they'll want a young pitcher or two in return.
C.Williamson (English III Class)
Any updates on Fujikawa?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Fujikawa should have one more rehab appearance then return to the Cubs. That will most likely be at Tennessee today or tomorrow. He threw one inning on Sunday and looked good according to baseball people I talked to.
It the Sox can't turn things around and were to have a fire sale, who's tradeable other than Thornton and Rios? Nobody willl want Dunn or Keppinger. Sox are only paying Konergo $6M this year (the rest deferred) so there may be no need to unload him, and Peavy is signed to reasonable terms and we know the Sox do at least value pitching. So what would be a reasonable amount of payroll the Sox could clear?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
At that point, a lot of the players would rather leave than stay. The White Sox are not a team that will go through an entire rebuilding structure. They believe they can do it on the fly, and compete while they are retooling. A lot will depend on how other teams value the Sox' players, not on how you and I look at them.
I think it is interesting that all of the key players that the Cubs were rumored to get last year in player dump off trades: Randall Delgado, Mike Olt and Jacob Turner are all playing terrible in AAA. Do you think we should focus on players in the low minors to receive in trades so we can develop tem ourselves?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I think that's part of the Epstein/Hoyer plan. That's why the draft is so important to them. They feel they had a strong draft in 2012 and that they are positioned to do the same this year. That's why this could be a long process for them to be consistently good.
I am a Cubs fan, in Cinci, so dont see many of the games. However, I do have Paulie on my fantasy team, and he is not helping me this year, at all...You see a turnaround in his future, or is he over the hill?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Hard for me to project him being over the hill at this point. If he's healthy I think he will continue to hit. Let's give it another month then make an evaluation. I know it sounds like baseball media talk, but five weeks is really not enough to judge where these players are at.
Josh (Woodridge IL)
How will the Cubs find playing time for Ryan Sweeney now and Brian Bogusevic later when he is called up (hitting .486 in AAA).
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
I don't see Bogusevic being called up at this point. The Cubs are overloaded with left-handed hitting. What they need now is more righties. Other than Hairston and Ransom, they have nothing to offer off the bench. Bogusevic is someone they like for the future not necessarily for now, even though he has already played in the majors.
Greg (Andersonville Chicago)
Andrew Cashner is looking good. I think the lack of arms in Theo's arsenal will make this trade look bad.
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Maybe so. He had a great game yesterday. But he did look awful against the Cubs in his previous start. I think the trade was a good one. Rizzo has a chance to be an All-Star here for a long time.
why are the Cubs still holding to Shawn Camp?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
This is a guy that threw 80 games for them last year and was very efficient. Whether or not they can expect that again is questionable now. The Cubs main problem in the bullpen is that they lack power arms. That's something they are trying to build up for the future, although that won't make you feel better for now. But they have no other guys so Camp stays.
Ryan S. (Chicago)
I really think it would be smart to move Castro to 3B and bring up Baez to play SS. They need to do this sooner rather than later so Castro can get more practice at 3B for the future...what do you think?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
Baez needs at least this whole season in the minors. After that your idea might be workable. As a fan there is no reason for you to panic. You hope that your front office execs feel the same way. They want these prospects to be ready when they get here. I know it's difficult to watch your team play poorly and to have to cheer for guys that won't be here in a year or two. But Epstein and Hoyer believe they have the right plan and they are building up toward that.
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
Keep the faith, Chicago baseball fans. Listen to Talkin' Baseball with Fred Huebner and me on Saturday mornings, and follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine. Thanks for all the questions!