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 (1:04 PM)
Welcome to trading central. The chat room is open for business, let's go.
Joe (ark) [via mobile]
Why is Buster Olney saying 0 chance of extending Matt Garza... and if that's true why??? Isn't he still young enough to fit into future plans? He has some of the best stuff in baseball and has atleast 10 good seasons left.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Just the fact the Cubs aren't ready to put forth $80 M on a guy who's had some injury issues over the past couple of seasons. Also the Cubs are not ready to compete and putting that much money toward their starting rotation would probably not be prudent at this point.
Randy (Manteno IL)
Will Matt Garza be in a Cubs uniform come August 1st???
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Highly doubtful. There are some teams that are seriously interested. It's up to Epstein and Hoyer to figure out when to pull the trigger. I assume it will be sooner rather than later.
Paully D (Chicago)
When is Junior Lake getting his shot at the majors?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
No time real soon. I asked Sveum about that 3 days ago, and he said although Lake is hitting the ball well, they hope to get him more at-bats and refine his defensive skills before he advances. Maybe Aug. or Sept.
What's the word on this new prospect the Cubs just acquired from the Nationals? Is he any good? His numbers look solid
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
He's a good arm and is a strikeout pitcher. It's unknown if they'll make a reliever or keep him as starter. They'll have to start producing bullpen people.
Justin (Charlotte, NC)
I may be over thinking this but is there a chance Epstein and Hoyer drafted Kris Bryant because they knew he was represented by Boras and never intended to sign him because they liked the players in the 2014 draft better and preferred having the 3rd pick next year for not signing the 2nd pick this year?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
That would put their player development plan back a year. That wouldn't make sense. If they were considered about a Boras client they would have taken a lesser talent and had an easier time signing.
Steve (Pekin,IL) [via mobile]
What can you expect the cubs to get back for Garza or Soriano?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
That's a wide range. For Garza you need to get a couple good pitching prospects or a prospect and a speed player. The areas the Cubs need to build on are of course pitching and more athletic outfield types.
If Garza gets traded who takes his spot in the rotation, and if his contract is extended what other player can bring back close to what Garza could of?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
Garza is their No. 1 chip, he should bring back 2 legit prospects. Anyone else will bring back some marginal talent, including Soriano and Gregg.
Eric (Arlington, VA)
How soon before the Sox start making deals? There's no chance this season the way they've been playing, they need to start reloading the farm so that they don't get stagnant again. Who are the most likely suitors for the Sox's trade chips and is anyone worth a highly regard prospect? Peavy?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Let's start with Rios, the Rangers and Pirates are interested. For Pitt, he might be that final offensive piece that helps them get in playoffs for first time in 21 years. For Rangers, he would be starting OF if Cruz has any problems with Biogenesis investigation. Peavy might be an early Aug. deal. He can bring you back significant minor league talent. Not necessarily quantity, but quality. The guy who should bring you back a blue chip Class-A prospect is Jesse Crain. At least 15 teams need a top quality set-up man. And Crain will give closer protection in case of injury. He should bring you back two Class-A types with MLB ability. I think the Sox will get more for their players than do the Cubs.
What's the immediate plan with Arrieta, is he in AAA, then replacing Garza when he's dealt?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Cubs like to take a look at their guys after they acquire them. And Arrieta has had some command issues. Once again they have to decide whether to keep him in the pen or use as starter. One scout told me this week that he has one of the best arms in baseball.
Who from the Sox do you see being traded before the deadline? Any chance they trade Thornton, Crain, Lindstrom, Peavy, Rios, Alexei and Paulie?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I don't see PK being traded because of his injury situation. In the right deal, I can see any of those other players traded. Hahn won't just move people to move them. He doesn't have a mandate to trade them by August 1. He'll continue to look at the trade markets through the offseason and into spring training.
austin (springfield) [via mobile]
Does Castro look fat and unmotivated this year?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I watch him work out every day and he puts the time into his work, but there does appear to be something missing. The swing is not the same he's had for a couple of years. There's too much movement before he makes contact. He's also expanded his zone and is swinging at pitches that are ridiculous even for a free swinger like him.
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
He's definitely someone for whom the Cubs will listen to trade offers in the offseason.
Paul (St. Louis)
Think the Cubs would trade Shark if offered the right package? If yes, what do you think the package would need to include?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I just don't think you trade a young pitcher with his upside. He's part of your player development at the major league level. He's more of a guy you try to sign to a long term contract in the offseason.
Cheese Ball (Fort Wayne, IN)
Do you see Rizzo and Castro having bounce back second halves this season?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I definitely see it for Rizzo. He's making adjustments to his swing all the time. You know when Rizzo is hitting the ball with authority to left field that he's pretty close to going on a hitting streak. Castro is another story at this point.
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
My guess is Rios. I think def if an OF like Rios is traded a minor leaguer will be brought up. More likely Thompson.
Evan Kaminski [via mobile]
Do you think the Cubs could look for another option at 2b with Barney hitting poorly ?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
They do have some options in the minors as well as moving Valbuena over there. That's not a big deal for them at the moment. Barney is a key defensive player.
Justin S. (Fremont, IN)
Hey Bruce...in your opinion does a trade involving Garza get completed before his next start? Seems like his value would be high right now and Jed & Theo might be nervous to wait with Garza's injury history these past couple years.
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I've been wrong on this before. But I still think there's a big roll of the dice you're taking if you start him again in five days. In the world of commodities you sell high and buy low. I think he's at a peak right now.
A sad White Sox fan (Chicago)
If the C(h)ubs are so committed to rebuilding their minor league system, why dont they add another Low-A team? Promote only the best players then to their High-A team. Too costly? Against the rules? Could they go 50-50 with another team?Copy the Cubs and blow-up this sorry southside team.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
You need to have enough prospects to fill out a third Class-A team. I don't think it's against the rules. Teams use Rookie Ball League and their own instructional league to fill out the developmental stages.
I understand signing Garza to a 5 year/$80M deal would mean the Cubs are probably paying the first 1-2 years to Garza before they're contending, but isn't a rotation the toughest thing to build? If they were willing to play Sanchez that money, why not Garza?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
It's a fair point, because Sanchez has had a few injuries along the way as well. I think when you know your own players as well as they think they know Garza, you could make a better educated decision rather than unknowns you may be interested in. Garza's recent injury history probably doesn't scare the Cubs in the short term but it might after age 31 and 32.
Hey Bruce! You shut down my Garza and Soriano to Texas deal last chat, still of the same mindset? If so, where is the best fit for each?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Texas always interested in Garza. Not shutting down that interest, and Texas also looking for an offensive player. People I talk to just aren't interested in Soriano. But Soriano can help an AL team. His sudden hot streak is predicated on a rested player who would thrive as a DH.
Todd(Davenport) [via mobile]
Are the Cubs demanding too much for Garza? Will someone give in and give them what they want? Who seems likely to give in? Thank you.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
From what I'm hearing the Cubs haven't heard what they wanted to hear. Some teams might be hesitant because of his injury history and the fact he could be a two-month rental. Also factor you get a sandwich pick if you offer him a one-year contract by Nov. 1. All of that is weighed into process of whether he is worth the young player you have to get for him.
Dan in Des Moines [via mobile]
Last night: Cubs have runners on 1st and 2nd with O outs and Castro up. We don't sac and end up not scoring. 2-2 ball game. Struggling hitter up. Argument for not bunting?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
The conventional rule is you sacrifice. Maybe they aren't comfortable with Castro's bunting skill. I can't remember his last bunt single or sacrifice.
Shivam Kapadia (Chicago IL)
Why are the cubs getting such bad rep this season. Entering this season everyone expected them to lose 100 games and they have been playing 500 baseball the last 40 games. The offense is above average and is also the pitching. The bullpen is the big reason we are nine games under .500
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
The reason they aren't getting more credit is the most demoralizing thing in baseball is when your bullpen loses ballgames and the Cubs have had one of he worst pens in baseball this season. What's even more disheartening is there are very few guys in that pen they can project as part of the 2014 and beyond pen. That's why Strop and some of the newer acquisitions will be key to their progress.
I remain very impressed with Luis Valbuena. I have never been impressed with Darwin Barney's skills. Do the Cubs see Valbuena as their future 2B?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
They put the time into helping him develop. Remember this was a highly touted player in the Indians organization. I like Valbuena but i don't know if he's a super sub or everyday player.
Bruce - I was really surprised how negative Jeff Samardjiza sounded after the Feldman deal. Does that "seemingly not with the program" stance raise some eyebrows within Cubs brass? And do you see that contributing in any way with his chances of staying a Cub?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I don't see how that impacts anything. He's just a stand-up guy who wants to have his team have its best chance to win. In his mind Feldman was a piece to the puzzle to make the Cubs competitive on a nightly basis and who could argue that. Cubs brass has a wider perspective as to what they're tyring to accomplish. They love Samardzija and in my mind will do everything they can to sign him to a lengthy contract in the offseason.
can the cubs win some games in a row and maybe have a shot at the last wildcard spot
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
The Cubs are 38 games behind the top 3 teams in their division. That means they're 10 games behind Cinci for the 2nd wildcard. It doesn't appear to be very realistic.
Mitch-Rockford [via mobile]
Any chance cubs could get Profar for Garza?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Absolutely none. Profar is a big part of Texas' future, according to people I know in the organization.
Who closes for the Cubs if Gregg gets dealt?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
It looks like Blake Parker right now. Cubs are slowly developing him into that role. He has a nice, strong arm and he's learning how to pitch 3 or 4 times a week. Might as well build your own closer rather than taking someone's failed project. Strop is another possibility.
kyle(illinois) [via mobile]
How much worse are the white Sox than the cubs
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
The Cubs were prepared to lose this yera and prepare for 2014-15. The Sox were not in that mode, therefore their failure looks even more substantial than it might be. They were pressed into a diff way of looking at their org than they were 3 months ago.
Mike (Great White North)
When do I stop looking the other way when both Castro and Rizzo are batting? I know they are young, but neither player overly excites me..
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Good question. I think you'll see some improvement from both in the second half. Rizzo may never be a .300 hitter but he should be .280. Castro has to hit .300 to be a productive player and I underline "must." Because he will not walk. In order to have an OBP of .320-.330 he must hit .300. Some baseball people are wondering if he'll be singles doulbes hitter or hit with power. At this point it's neither. A fresh start somewhere else might be the answer for him and the Cubs.
"Producing bullpen people".......k'mon Bruce. With Feldman gone, Garza going, and Baker a ?, how about the Cubs start producing some starting pitching.
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
That's what they're doing in the lower minor leagues right now. If you haven't noticed, the game has changed. Everybody gets excited about a 6-inning pitcher, bullpen is king in the current era.
Mark (New Lenox )
Can trading any of the Sox players net a major return from another team such as a Nick Castellanos from Detroit?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
You'd love to see it but you don't think they'll trade in their own division like that. Sox are in need of corner power hitters, up the middle outfield help, any number of areas for top quality talent.
Will the Cubs pull the trigger if they are offered Olt for Garza, or are they more interested in someone like Ogando or Feliz + prospects
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I know they loved Olt last year and wnated him included in the package for Garza. Olt can be looked at at another position as well if Bryant comes up quickly.
I'm hoping that the White Sox will not have to trade any of their good young players (Sale, Beckham, Santiago, Quintana, Reed) to improve the team and its farm system. As Hahn has said that everyone is pretty much available for trades, will they be able to get some good prospects back for anyone other than their youngsters?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
I don't think Hahn wants to trade the youngsters like Sale or Reed, those are the types of players you build around. They'll get someone back for Crain and Peavy will be best pitcher available at some point. Desperation is what drives teams some times. The fact you have second wildcard and 17-20 teams thinking they can make it will have an impact.
Joe (West Town)
Any update on the health of Arodys Vizcaino and/or Scott Baker? Any chance either of them contributes this year?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
They feel Baker is getting close. A source told me he might be ready by Aug. 1. Not sure about Vizcaino.
If Baez and Castro end up playing together, who plays where?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
My answer is who cares if they're both high-quality big league players. I don't care if they're both OFs, how about one of them in left and one in center. Soler in right. With Almora coming fast. Lots of HOF OFs started as infielders. No reason to think either one of these athletes could be good OF.
Rather pay Anibal Sanchez 5yrs/$80M than Garza? Me thinks not!
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Under the theory of having signed Sanchez, they might have had a different view of Garza. If you had another type of rotation pitcher rather than Jakcson you might view Garza as a final piece.
Karl (Wesetrn Springs)
What are the chances that Ramirez and De Aza are gone soon? I know the discussions of Rios, and the pitchers, but I would also love to see a few more moves. Dunn would be another good one, let the kids play. It might be more fun to watch!
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
They definitely need a butt-kicking CF. Someone who can run and create some havoc on the bases. De Aza is a decent player but not an impact player. Strikes out way too much to be top of the order hitter.
Chi fans, give up your Nick Castellanos obsession. You're not going to get a top tier prospect back for any deal, including Garza. No one wants to be the next Zack Wheeler for a Carlos Beltran rental GM. The best you can hope for is a Mike Olt or maybe Boston will deal Will Middlebrooks...
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
Boston is certainly one of the teams interested in Garza. Not sure if they're willing to part with Middlebrooks at this point. At some point Castellanos will probalby be starting every day for Tigers. That means either Fielder or Cabrera will DH. That day is coming but not today.
Scott (Kenosha Wi)
Do you see Cubs going after any key free agents in the off season?
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
Just depends if they feel they're ready to compete in their division. And when I saw their division, we're talking about best 2-3 teams in NL. Shockingly they gave Jackson a long-term deal to add innings to their rotation, and ironically he's averaged the fewest of theri starters.
Do you think the Cubs rushed Starlin to he majors a little too soon?
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
Apparently not from the 200 hits he had in 2011.
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
The consistent contact is missing for Castro. He used to get 5-7 flare hits to RF per week. You're not seeing that because the contact is less.
Alex (New York)
Starlin Castro for Evereth Cabrera. Who hangs up the phone first?
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
I think it's a mutual hangup.
Bruce Levine (2:01 PM)
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