Chat with Bruce Levine, Doug Padilla
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Baseball beat reporters Bruce Levine and Doug Padilla stop by Tuesday to chat.
Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000. Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
Send your questions now and join the chat Tuesday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Bruce Levine (12:59 PM)
Welcome to Week 2 of the Theo Watch.
Mr. Baseball (East Loop (Chicago))
Bruce -If/when Theo becomes GM, is he going to have the power to control additional aspects of the Cubs organization? i.e. will he determine the payroll as opposed to Rickets? If so, do you anticipate that he will bring the Cubs into win-now mode as opposed to rebuilding (which is the direction Ricketts seemed to be taking)? It seemed that the Cubs are going to have about $40 million minimum to spend this year, and that will only bring the payroll to around $120 - $130 million, and Theo has traditionally worked with considerably higher numbers.
Bruce Levine (1:01 PM)
Tom Ricketts and president Crane Kenney will decide on the baseball budget. Theo will be involved in the decision. The baseball budget is different from the baseball payroll. The budget is for all money spent on all baseball operations. The payroll is for the 40-man roster. Theo will not have autonomy on the payroll but will have the ear of the owner.
Hey Bruce, do you think this Theo deal will fall apart, i am getting nervous that this is not going to happen.
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
It's just a power play by the Red Sox to show you can't just walk in here and take someone important away without a struggle.
Im assuming the Red Sox are dragging the Theo negotiations out to take the Boston media mind off of the year end collapse and the boozing pitchers?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
If that's their intent they're not doing a very good job. Most everybody thinks the Red Sox have poisoned the waters on every important individual who ever left there, including Nomar, Schilling and Francona.
Bill (N Side)
Any idea of what the Cubs backup plan might be if the Red Sox won't budge and Theo returns there for 2012? Will they look to hire someone else or keep Randy Bush for a year as a caretaker GM?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
I don't see that happening. We really shouldn't waste our time. Within the next few days this thing will get done. Bud Selig will make sure of that.
Joe (Chicago: Pilsen Area)
Ive heard Boras/Fielder will most likely look for a Mark Teixeria type of contact 8yrs 180mill..... I really do want Fielder on this team next year, but the only way I would want the Cubs to offer him 8yrs is if theres a out clause after the 4th or 5th year. Heck I would be glad if the Cubs offered a bit more money if that mean less yrs. Like offer him 6yrs 145mill or something close to 150mill. Having a guy like Fielder next year who can impact ur lineup along with Castro improving even more will be awsome to see. Any chance The Cubs go after Fielder and trade for SP?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
That's to be determined. I can't answer that question. I can only tell you that it will be a long, drawn-out offseason as Boras finds his next Tom Hicks to bid it up. The smart money is on Washington and the Lerner family bidding on Fielder.
CM Punk (WWE Ring)
Seen reports that Boston wants McNutt, do you think that is fair compensation for Theo? and would you trade McNutt for Theo?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
If Theo can show he can pitch every other day. That's really not a realistic name, I don't think. Even with an injury prone and down year, McNutt is considered the top pitching prospect in the organization. I don't think that's equitable.
Bruce, enough is enough when will Ricketts decide to move on if Boston doent lower their demmand for Theo?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I don't think there is any moving on. He's identified his guy, the guy acquiesced, now it's getting to the point of Red Sox being realistic.
Joe (Chicago: Pilsen Area)
Bruce, why dont the Cubs just give Boston J. Jackson and Flaherthy for Theo and end this long awaiting process...
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
That would be more equitable. Neither is projected like McNutt.
Chris R (Arlington Heights, IL)
Can Cubs fan assume that if the Red Sox get McNutt as compensation, that the Cubs will go for starting pitching through free agency or trades since our best pitching prospect will be gone?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
They will regardless. Pitching is No. 1 need.
Ramon, Jacksonville, FL [via mobile]
What are the chances of the Cubs signing Albert Pujols?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Probably zero. It depends on how realistic he and his agent want to be about the terms. St. Louis seems to be best place for him.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the Best Chicago Team in Major League Baseball in 2012?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Ask me again in January.
richard propst (sacramento,ca)
why did the cubs get an agreement with theo before finding out what the red sox wanted in return? isn,t that like putting the cart before the horse. hope they get it all settled before long. i've been a fan for 75 years.
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
Seems like the best question asked so far. I would just chalk it up to inexperience on the Cubs' negotiating side. They definitely should have had compensation in place before signing Epstein.
Bruce: who is doing the heavy lifting for the Cubs in the negotiations with the Red Sox? If it's Bush or Wilken, isn't it strange/awkward that either is negotiating players for essentially their own replacement or someone who could name their replacement, respectively?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
The negotiations to the best of my knowledge are being done by Tom Ricketts with assistance from president Crane Kenney. To the best of my knowledge the only thing the front office has been asked for is a list of player/players they would not trade for Epstein.
matt allen (edmond,ok)
Why are the Cubs not keeping Ramirez? He wants to stay if they will put a team on the field that can compete. If they get Fielder to compliment Ramirez, one or two quality starting pitchers, and a traditional leadoff hitter like a Pierre or a coco crisp. I feel like they would win 15-20 more games by doing that.
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
So you're suggesting they add the Texas Rangers. That's a lot of areas you covered in a couple of sentences. The fact is the Cubs need 2-3 starters, they need 2 power hitters, and they need a whole new outfield mix. That's a lot to cover.
Scott (South Bend)
Bruce, I think we are at the start of the "new" Chicago Cubs. I respect that ownership has quietly stuck to their plan and not reacted by selling out when the season went so far south. I believe ownership has a plan even if Theo does not come to Chicago until next season. Your thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
I don't know what that plan is. I think the next GM will help Tom Ricketts decide what direction they're going in short and long term. Epstein will have a lot of power and autonomy besides the payroll.
John (Southern California)
Hi Bruce, I'm wondering how Epstein is perceived by his peers. I've read that early on other GM's didn't take him seriously... How about now?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Early on he was 28 and a fish out of water. Since then he's won two world championships, made the playoffs 6 of 9 seasons, and I think there's great respect among his peers. As one GM said to me, when we get together in a group, he may be the smartest guy in the room.
Jonathan Olbrich (Marengo, IL)
Who in your eyes is the Cubs #1 free agent target this off season?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I'd be going after Edwin Jackson, C.J. Wilson doesn't appear to be worth the money he's going to be asking, $100 million is a lot. I'll go with Jackson.
Bruce who's your pick in the WS? two teams that can mash with shaky starters and good 'pens. Just seems to be STL/TLR are on a roll
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I'll take Texas' bullpen over St. Louis'. I hope it's a fun series even though nobody will watch.
If Theo deal gets done it appears he will most likely be given a position higher then GM, like president. Does this mean he will then be responsible for hiring somebody as the actual GM or will his title cover that roll too?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
He'll be top baseball guy. He's being hired for that purpose. I can't see another situation where you have Andy McPhail hiring Ed Lynch.
Neil (Lombard, IL)
Hey Bruce, don't you think the Red Sox ownership are control freaks?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Yes they are, and they have a right to do whatever they want. They want to walk around with their chest out all the time, it's their prerogative. But the blame game is an ugly game to play.
Bruce, what would you think of a Soriano for Crawford deal? Obviously Crawford is the better/younger player. But Soriano has less years left of those 2 rediculous contracts.
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I don't think they'll be trading for a 36-year-old player as a DH and letting David Ortiz go. I don't think that would fly in Boston. They might have to consider trading Crawford at some point. That's a tough fan base. Not every forgiving.
As a Cubs fan in Boston, I think Theo will be great, but if the Red Sox demands don't drop why won't the Cubs let them keep Theo for 2012 and get him and most of his staff for free?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Because it backs up their plan an entire year. Are you really going to be content with the 2012 Cubs being the same as the '10 and '11 teams? That doesn't make any sense. They need to move on with the new plan. More importantly, having a baseball man that the owner trusts to get the job done. That wasn't the case over the last two years.
I don't get the love for McNutt and Jackson. I know they are the ONLY top level prospects but both project as avg everyday players at best. Isnt the reason the Cubs want Theo to come in and build the system with stars? Seems like take a guy now for 10 guys later kinda of deal.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
It's not only the players but the perspective of asking for something that's not equitable. When Andy McPhail was allowed to sign with the Cubs, they just gave the Cubs a marginal pitcher in return. That's what this should be about. They already said they don't want him back.
bill whigham (clinton mississippi)
what are the chances of ryne sandberg to be the next cubs manager ?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
You never say never, but do you want to give Sandberg a bad team to manage his first time out? Is that fair to him? Maybe he should sit back and wait for the Philly job to open up. Manual isn't going to be there forever.
Which Chicagoland deli are you taking Theo when he's all settled in ?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
It's always Max and Benny's in Northbrook. Nobody else is close.
Is Jackson playoffs kind of red flag? I know hes pitched well against the Cubs and he faced the Brewers a ton down the stretch but he didnt look too good.
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
There's probably a reason he gets traded every year. The Cubs need another innings eater and he's a big strong 200-inning guy. Not saying he's the long-term answer. But nice short-term.
Neil (Lombard, IL)
Hey Bruce, when do you think the Cubs will finally work out a deal with the Red Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I guess I'm out of the prediction business but there is a precedent for big announcements in between World Series games. The Ricketts family bought the Cubs and the announcement was between games of the '09 World Series.
What are the chances Big Z is moved this offseason? And would any team be willing to pay even half his salary?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I would think so, $9 or $10 million for a 3 or 4 pitcher is standard now. Plus it's a one-year gamble.
Did the Red Sox really ask for Garza?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
My sources say yes, without question.
How much of a honeymoon period do you think Theo will get from the fans? It would seem its over for Ricketts.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I don't think a lot. He's being brought here on a white horse. Basically Cubs ownership is telling you that he'll lead you to a championship. Hopefully they're correct.
How about Cuddyer for Cubs? High OBP, plays multiple positions where Cubs have holes?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Now you're talking about baseball players. Those are the types of guys you want on your team. Put the team's success ahead of their numbers. I like it.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Talk to you on Thursday for our next chat room, hopefully the Cubs have a GM before that. Check me out at espnchicubs on Twitter. Now here's Doug.
Doug Padilla (1:32 PM)
Time for some White Sox chat. Here we go.
Mike G (chicago il)
How much longer do you see the Ozzie drama getting drug out? Do you guys as reporters get as sick as the fans do of some of these stories?
Doug Padilla (1:33 PM)
The stories stop once there isn't anything new to report or basically when all the information has been revealed. Reorters and fans don't see things the same way. If there is a story, a reporter writes it, without wondering what the fans might think about it. We're not members of the organization and we're not suppposed to think like fans.
Any inkling on whether the Sox are going to add, subtract, or keep the status quo this off-season? I know that's usually kept under wraps, but this organization doesn't seem to be able to keep much of anything under wraps.
Doug Padilla (1:35 PM)
They are definitely expected to see what they can get for Carlos Quentin. Gavin Floyd is likely to get shopped around too. John Danks could be moved, but only if the yield for Floyd isn't worthwhile.
What is the possibility the White Sox move one of their 3 problem contracts for Lackey
Doug Padilla (1:37 PM)
By three problem contracts, I assume you mean Dunn, Rios and Peavy. If the Red Sox are interested on any of those then there could be a chance, I assume, but probably not much of one. I've been around Lackey a lot though and know he has the mind to get out of his issues eventually. I wish his personal problems on nobody.
Randy (Mt Prospect)
What is kenny thinking? Why would be try to make Paulie a player coach? Glade it didnt come that but if it did the soxs would have been up a creek
Doug Padilla (1:56 PM)
Way too much has been made of this, but for the last time, Konerko was never close to being the manager. KW was giving Konerko a compliment by saying he has the smarts to do it. Nothing more.
Doug, what a big day for Sox rumors and stories that are swirling around. Between Thome, Cooper and bringing Buehrle back for 2 years, what do you think is the most newsworthy and trustworthy story here?
Doug Padilla (2:00 PM)
Thome as a possible coach is interesting, the Ozzie/Cooper thing is more of the issues going on last year, but Burhele would be big. He's a winner who eats innings and is a huge fan favorite. Coming back on a 2-year deal would be a surprise since the White Sox don't have much to spend this offseason. We shall see.
Mikey Sage (Chicago)
What side of town does Yu Darvish end up on?
Doug Padilla (2:02 PM)
I covered the Japan team the last time they were in the U.S. Darvish is a special talent and will be way to expensive for the White Sox.
Will De Aza be considered for CF/leadoff in '12?
Doug Padilla (2:03 PM)
More like LF/leadoff. If he ends up the fourth OF, though, that would be good news for the White Sox because they would have found a left fielder/leadoff type they believe in.
Do you think Sale will struggle with the transition to being a starter, and what would you say would be a successful year numbers wise?
Doug Padilla (2:05 PM)
No doubt it will be a tough transition so it's not fair to the kid to raise your expectations too high. I think 13-14 victories and a 4.00 ERA would be huge. But you really can't expect more than a .500 record and an ERA around 4.20, can you?
Do you think Ventura will treat Viciedo differently than Ozzie did? It seemed Ozzie was overly critical of Viciedo, more in terms of a father would be to a son than a coach is to a player.
Doug Padilla (2:07 PM)
I don't think Ozzie was critical of Viciedo at all. He just didn't have the roster wiggle room to get him to the big leagues with Dunn and Rios making the kind of money they were. They didn't have an OF injury until late in the year and Viciedo remained stuck in AAA. I expect Ventura to give him every chance to have success.
Doug Padilla (2:09 PM)
Parent appears set at bench coach, with McEwing set at 3B. The hang up seems to be at hitting coach where Laker and Manto are the top candidates.
Doug Padilla (2:10 PM)
Maybe just Danks. But we'll see if they really do have $$ for Buehrle and if there are any takers for Gavin.
Is Adam Done??
Doug Padilla (2:12 PM)
Well he has a guaranteed contract for 3 more years so he isn't going anywhere. But I don't think that's what you meant. I sensed that he had some type of issue last year that he declined to reveal. What that was isn't known and I don't think it was health related. We will see if that gets resolved next year.
Batting first for the 2012 White Sox is...
Doug Padilla (2:14 PM)
For now it looks like DeAza when it comes to in-house candidates. Whether they go out and get a guy like Coco Crisp remains to be seen.
With the Cardinals in the World Series, does that hurt or help our chances of retaining Buehrle considering the Cards pitching has been great and they'll make a strong push to keep Pujols?
Doug Padilla (2:16 PM)
A World Series run only gives you more $$ to make agressive moves. That's why TX will throw a bunch of money at Sabathia if and when he opts out of his deal with the Yankees.
Doug Padilla (2:16 PM)
Thanks for the questions. And again, sorry for the earlier technical difficulties.