Chat with Bruce Levine
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Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
The trading deadline is still a couple of weeks away, and teams are active. The Cubs and Sox are working underground to get deals done. Welcome.
Ricketts claims he wants to fashion the Cubs after the Red Sox by building a foundation with players from the farm system.Yet the Cubs were not big spenders in the draft like the Red Sox traditionally have been year after year which is why they have such a strong farm system.
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
I feel it's circumstantial. The Cubs have plenty of budget money for their draft. The approach of the two scouting directors are different. The Cubs scouting director Tim Wilkens is an out of the box type thinker. So that's why you can get a player like Tyler Colvin as a first-round pick when he was rated 170th in the country. Spending money is not the key, signing the right talent is.
Jack (Western Springs)
If the Sox do not take at least 2 out of three games do you think their season is over?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Four games out does not eliminate them. But it gives them a big mountain to climb, both in the standings and from a psychological standpoint as well. Remember, the wild card is not an option. Not a great one, but an option.
SeasonTix (Left Field)
Hi Bruce...Pretty harsh comments from Lou yesterday about the young arms in the 'pin. In looking forward to next year, how do both John Grabow, Jeff Gray, and John Gaub figure in to the fold?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Grabow will be a recovering injured player, also a year older. Gaub has had some issues to deal with. Gray was hurt throughout spring training, and never seemed to get it together. There are other pitchers coming through the organization, like Jay Jackson and Chris Archer.I would be more worried about what the Cubs' rotation looks like, rather than the bullpen.
Mitch Chicago [via mobile]
When will Mitchell be on the Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
He's scheduled to be ready for spring training. According to people I talk to, he's going to be ready to play in the Arizona Fall League, starting in October. Hopefully his speed hasn't been impacted by the leg injury.
Who in your opinion is the best manager to take over after Sweet Lou?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Depends on who's available. The Cubs like Fredi Gonzalez,but most baseball people tell me he has the Atlanta Braves job locked up. After that, I know Hendry is open to Sandberg and at least five or seven other candidates. If it was my choice, I'd probably take either Ted Simmons or Sandberg. Simmons for his experience, Sandberg for the cotinuity with the young players coming up in the system.
Bruce, Do you think Chicago should have signed Jermaine Dye instead of trying to trade for Adam Dunn?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Dye was never an option in their mind. He's too slow, right-handed, and also he had faded out in Aug. and Sept. two years in a row. Dunn would have been an outstanding trade for them. Would have changed their entire offensive look. The Sox tried their best and weren't able to get it done.
If Z can give further glimpses of the guy we saw Sat, we have to swallow hard and keep him around next year, right? It just doesn't make sense to eat 20+mil to make a potentially very useful SP go away.
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Just from looking at his body of work, he hasn't been a functional starting pitcher since Aug., 2008. Five and 2/3 innings is what he's averaged. That ranks in the lower five percent of pitchers, who have averaged 30 starts a season, over that period of time. It will be a problem for them to figure out whether to trade or keep him. My guess is they'll try to trade him.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Will the Chicago Cubs ever get a Brand New Stadium since Wrigley Field is 96 years old?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Personally I wouldn't mind it. I love baseball history, and that ballpark, probably as much as anybody, but the park is antiquated. There's very little room to rebuild in a proper way. I'm all for a park downtown that looks out at the lake, something state of the art. You can still have memories of old Wrigley and enjoy new Wrigley.
Bruce, Why didn't chicago try Matt Thorton at the closer roll?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Your set-up man is arguably as important if not more important than your closer. I've had this conversation with baseball people for the last 10 years. If you can't get to your closer, what good does it do to have one?
Doug (North of Wrigley)
What's your best guess where Fukudome plays next year, Japan, Cubs, or other US team?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
They owe him $13M next season. The Cubs would have to pay somewhere around $6M-$7M to deal him. Then I don't know what you get back. So maybe they're better off keeping him and using him as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
Is Brett Jackson going to make the team next year? He's having a great year in the minors and although he strikes out a lot, he walks a lot as well. I'd like to see him in right next year and Colvin at first. Can Fukudome just go away?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I would say he needs another year in the minors. They already have an outfielder who strikes out too much in Colvin. Let's give him another year in Double-A and Triple-A.
BIll ( Chicago)
Now that Lou basically threw the rooks under the bus.. when is he going to throw the VETS on this team under the bus? The vets are the real issue.. ARam, Zambrano, Sorianno, Lee... etc.
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I think you're right. Lou has treated the vets on this team extremely well and handled them with kid gloves. The next time somebody like Ramirez doesn't hustle or gives you four bad at-bats, maybe he shoudl sit for a few days. He did it once without fanfare about a week ago. The next day Ramirez hit a big home run. Also resting the vets is really important.If you notice, you get a lot of production out of people like Lee, Ramirez and Soriano when they get a day or two off.
You've said before that the Cubs view Cashner as a reliever. Is this your opinion or has someone from the organization told you this?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Both. The org goes up and back on what they think he should be. It's similar to what occurred with Samardzija. He needs to develop more pitches, regardless of whether he's a starter or reliever. A 98 mph fastball alone is not going ot cut it.
Mike (SF, CA)
Is Tyler Flowers just another Josh Fields?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
He might be. Flowers strikes out a heckuva lot. And his gamecalling will be under scrutiny, particularly after replacing a heady player like Pierzynski. We'll find out more about him in spring training.
Bruce, a general baseball question. Recently (within the past 2 years) I've noticed a high majority of pitchers going to the inside bills of their caps with their thumbs before pitches. If you haven't noticed it, watch for it -- nearly every pitcher does it. It can't be just a coincidental habit; there has to be more to it. Any insight? Why isn't MLB doing something about it?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Every pitcher tries to get any advantage they can out there. Whether it's Vaseline, or suntan lotion, every pitcher has tried something a little illeagal from time to time. Even the greatest pitchers of all time, have been accused of doctoring the ball. I will watch for your tip, though. Thanks.
Chris Carpenter was clocked at 100mph last week! Does he have any other plus pitches? When will we see him in Chicago?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
He's not ready yet, but he's certainly a prospect. Commanding his other pithces will be key to his development. Chris Archer is the best young pitcher in the organization according to scouts I've talked to over the last couple of weeks.
Isn't the jury still out on whether Colvin was the right selection? His patience at the plate leaves a lot to be desired? You'd like to get an everyday player with a #1 pick and I'm not sold that Colvin is, are you?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
He still has trouble with the breaking ball, and they'll have to work on that. He has a nice swing. He's a left-handed hitter with power. That's something the Cubs have been tryign to find for a long time. I think his development has been positive, even with all of the strikeouts.
Justin Jaet (Milwaukee--Marquette Univ.)
Mr. Levine- You are Jim Hendry (no offense)...who is the first guy you sign this offseason to improve the club?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
If I'm really trying to improve my team, I'm going to try to trade for Prince Fielder. He would solve a number of problems, including a marketing and perception issue that the Cubs tickets aren't worth what fans are paying. A big move like that would be a strong statement to the fans, as well as to your future offense
Would the Cubs have any interest in a guy like Zach Greinke? He is a true ace and wants out of KC but a guy like him with a fragile mind who doesn't truly love the game just doesn't seem like a great fit in Chicago.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Depends on how many young prospects it takes to obtain him. YOu'd probalby have to trade 3-4 of your very best. Are you prepared to trade Starlin Castro in a deal like that? I think you've already answered your own question.
Do you have any names that have cleared waivers the Sox may be looking at? Any chance Luke Scott is one of those?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
He's a guy I've been touting for months. The White Sox, like a lot of teams, have trouble trading with the Orioles. Scott I think would solve a lot of problems short-term for the Sox. He could supply RBI and HR power from the left side that they're going to need. Some of these low-scoring games,in particular against hte Orioles a weke ago, were indicative of that.
Doug (North of Wrigley)
Fukudome for Linebrink, deal?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Linebrink is owed $5M next year, Fukudome $13M. Sox would have to throw in another underachieving contract.
I like what I have seen from Chris Sale so far, what is the plan for him in the near future?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Like Jon Garland, Mark Buehrle and even Kip Wells before Sale, they all started in the pen and became starting pitchers. I believe the future will be the same for Sale.
Are the Cubs honestly expecting to go into next season with Wells, Silva, and Gorzelanny all in their rotation again? That would be disastrous....
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
I would say no they're not. But I can't tell you pitchers that they will have at this point. Look for Jeff Samardzija to be recalled in Sept. and get some starts. He's pitched extremely well in teh minors when they finally left him alone in order to develop as a starter. That's one option. Might not be a great one, but it's an option.
Should Ozzie consider giving some more AB's to Ramon Castro? I know Castro is a career backup, but AJ is having a horrendous season offensively. Could Catro be an improvement over the short term?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
Maybe the shor term, but he's not projected to be their starting catcher next year. He has had some productive games. And this is by far A.J.'s worst offensive season.
As awesome as it would be to have the Prince, there is zero chance, zero chance, zero chance, that the Brewers would trade him in the division, zero chance!
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Anything is possible looking at three-way trades, but you're probably right, trading in the division would not be a logical thing to do. So the Cubs should do eveyrhitng they can to make something liek that happen, whether it's realistic or not. It's the right move for them.
Samadzija hasn't pitched well in Iowa. He's gotten lucky with decent results, but he's walked over 5/9 innings. That was his main problem in Chicago and it's still an issue. He's still terrible.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
He may be terrible, but he's still an option they have to look at. He's starting to develop his second and third pitches, which is key for a pitcher to have success on the major-league level.
Will the Cubs trade Baker, Fukudome, and Nady before September 1st?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
They're trying. I know at least two of those guys have cleared waivers. But there has to be somebody who feels they fit. The Braves needs a hitter after Chipper Jones went down. But they're more likely interested in someone like Lee, rather than Nady.
With the poor season AJ has had, should we expect the Sox to let him walk and go with Flowers as the starter in 2011?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I think it will depend on how the Sox end up. If AJ has a solid Sept, and the Sox go to the playoffs, it wouldn't shock me if they brough him back for one year. Pierzynski has bene an important defensive player for them. But you can only go so far with the offense that he's brought to the table this year.
Rob (Lake Forest)
Dodgers have been very unhappy with Matt Kemp, seems like the perfect Ozzie player, any chances?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
I think if the Dodgers continue to fail, they will be more prone to trading either Ethier or Kemp this offseason. Both are considered underachieves by the Dodgers brass.Both are hugely talented but may have become complacent.
Colvin was an overdraft that they could have gotten in the 2nd round. The scouting community still believe that he is a 4th outfielder.
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
Well the scouting community has to watch him lead all rookies in home runs. I'm more concerned with whether he's an OF or 1B in the future. I have less concerns about him offensively than defensively.
Jeff (Lake Forest)
What's wrong with Rios? Is he just getting tired? His swing and base stealing has gone south over the last several weeks.
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I think that's pretty much it. If you look at his career, he's approaching those career numbers. Most of the time, his best average year would be 20 HR, 90 RBI, 25-30 stolen bases. He's pretty much there.Superstar he's not, All-Star caliber player, he is.
I read today that the Braves are trying to acquire ARam any truth to that?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Zero truth. Cubs and Braves have not talked about Ramirez, who has a total no-trade. I also believe if he's traded, his option year automatically kicks in for 2012, which would guarantee him another $15M.
Is it looking the Dodgers will be putting Manny on Waivers, and is Kenny Williams serious about possibly claiming him if he falls to the Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
The Sox were always serious about Ramirez. That's typical for Kenny looking outside the box at players. The Sox have to decide if Manny really has anything left. Pitchers have been abusing him on the outside corner all year, and he's been relegated to a right-field singles hitter. If he goes on waivers, the Sox are still interested.
Peter (Twin Cities)
Have you heard anything on a timeline for Justin M. coming back, Sox get pretty lucky to avoid him twice and even though it has worked out so far he is missed.
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Right now the Twins seem to be the hottest team in baseball. Ironically, Jim Thome has had some of the biggest hits for them over the past two weeks. I think they can live without Morneau for a short time.
If the Sox get swept in MN this week, could you see Kenny trying to move contracts like Rios, Buehrle and Jenks in a wire deal?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
I'm not sure about the guys that you named being traded -- Buehrle has a no-trade now -- but I just don't see the White Sox going that direction. There are really only two weeks left to get waivers on someone anyway.
Bruce..I know this may sound crazy, but is there any logic in trading Marlon Byrd this off season. Brett Jackson is still probably a year away, but Byrd's value will never be higher. If we trade for either Fielder or Gonzalez at first, Byrd could bring a prospect or two to help the deal. Thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
I don't think it's a crazy idea. I believe at 33, Byrd is approachign his peak as a player. I would consider trading anyone, including Carlos Marmol. Best way to get back good, young players is to trade good, young players. That's what Marmol is. How about a deal to the Yankees for Joba Chamberlain and Brett Gardner. Anything is possible with the Cubs this offseason.
So 3 or 4 top prospects for a pitcher is a bad idea, but Castro and other prospects, plus a $100+ million contract for a large, immobile 1st baseman prone to be a DH is a great move? I'm confused . . .
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
Forty home runs and 120 RBIs should always be a welcome site at beautiful Wrigley Field. Fielder is one of those rare players who can guarantee run production every year. Your projection about his weight and health is a good one, which would concern any team trading for him. Keep in mind the Brewers are almost going ot have to trade him. Their market size doesn't allow them to pay superstars, like Braun and Fielder.
Your projected Cubs payroll for next year. I know we have some money coming off the books via Lilly and Lee. Do we spend it or are we lowering the payroll in the hopes of spending smarter not just spending more?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
I think your point at the end is a good one. Spending your dollars wisely is a key. But a big-market team like the Cubs has to have a draw. People are paying $112 per ticket, 25 times a year, for the best seat in the house. You have to give them a reason to continue to come out there, other than hope.
Brandon (Lake Zurich)
Do you think that Freddy Garcia is starting to fade off because he hasn't pitched a complete season or as many innings he has in years?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
Both good points. Freddy has given the Sox more than they ever imagined when they signed him for a $1M option for 2010. It's up to the rest of the starters to carry the load the rest of the way.
Got to agree with Jimmy on Prince, and do the Cubs have enough to give to the Brewers without touching Starlin?
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
I doubt it. I don't think a package of Colvin, Vitters and one of their young pitchers is going ot get it done. Keep in mind, Fielder is still a very young player. Somebody is goign to get Fieldre, just depends if it's the Cubs or not.
Mike (SF, CA)
If the Sox miss the playoffs this year, how do they realistically improve for next season? Can they rally upgrade the offense that much via free agency?
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
Probably not. I would think 2011 would be a rebuilding year for the Sox. That doesn't mean they wouldn't compete, but they'd hav ea new catcher, 3B, and likely new bullpen guy or two. Lot of veteran free agents after this seaosn.
Bruce Levine (2:01 PM)
The Cubs remain hard to watch, but GM Jim Hendry still is trying to make a few trades and has begun the interview process for the next manager. The Sox must win 2 of 3. See you next week. Be sure to read my blog and Doug Padilla's on the Sox.