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!
ESPN Chicago (1:03 PM)
Hi everyone. Bruce will be along shortly. Keep the questions coming.
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Twelve days until spring training begins and the competition for Cespedes continues to heat up. Welcome ...
KO Stradivarius (Boulder, CO)
What do you think of our new acquisition Cardenas as a candidate to push Darwin Barney to a bench role? There are reports of sub-par defense, but he has slightly more power, decent speed and great OBP.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
The no. 1 goal of the new regime is to have better defense. If the guy has a good glove at second he will push Barney for the job. Cardenas is more a 2B than SS. Barney might be better suited as the backup for both positions if Cardenas can win the battle.
Bruce..I'm all about the rebuilding effort Theo and co. are leading, but isn't it possible to rebuild and keep SOME assets? If Garza and Soto, it's literally a AAA team. It might be already. I'm also a little nervous because Theo has never done this before. The Boston team he took over won 94 games the year prior.
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Nothing to be nervous about. Nobody is picking the Cubs to finish first. This season is all about rebuilding even though Ricketts has said numerous times he expects his team to compete. They are going to have to get a ton of career years out of players to do that.
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
For clarification, I just learned Cespedes will be in the US for only a few days. He'll return to the D.R. to wait for his working visa to be approved. He may meet with the Marlins, but it doesn't appear he'll meet with other teams at this point.
Mike (chicago )
have you heard anything about Rizzos defense? he will need to have a decent glove with castros erratic arm.
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Rizzo will start season at Triple-A, but accordingt to most people he has good hands and decent range.
Jake (Des Moines, Iowa)
If Randy Wells does not make the rotation this year do you see him ending up in the pen as a long relief guy? Also, who do you like better between Gaub and Maine and why?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Gaub has the power arm and could be more than a one-inning guy. Maine is more of a situation guy to get out lefties. If everybody pitches up to snuff, Wells could be traded. He's a viable pitcher and could still be someone's good fourth or fifth starter.
Longtime Cubs fan here. I love the direction we are going in and am excited about Theo making moves to improve the depth on our team. Do you think the Cubs will land Cespedes? If you do how long do you think till he and the young lefty they signed are gracing the friendly confines?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Cespedes would be expected to be in the majors the first year he signs. No one is going to pay $50 millin or $60 million for a minor leaguers. Concepcion will be a bit of a project. He's young.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
As far as Cespedes, the Marlins will be the Cubs' No. 1 competitor. Although don't count out the White Sox laying in the weeds. They've had great success with Cuban players. Right now what's more confusing is when he'll be able to get a working visa to play in the U.S.
Is there any news on the Soler prospect?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Haven't heard anything recently.
Gary G (woodland hills california)
Haven't heard anything from Cubs new manager playing small ball, a style of play the Cubs have never played. Is that a given?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Depends on components of the team. Obviously with DeJesus leading off and Barney or Castro hitting second, you may have some good elements of that. But then you have LeHair, Stewart and Soriano most likely in your 3-4-5 mix. Don't know if that constitutes a small-ball offense.
Do you think this team has a chance to surpass last year's win total?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Seventy-two wins is a possibility, yes.
Bruce, how is it that college hit machines like Bobby Hill and Dewitt just can't cut it at ML level? If you can hit, you can hit
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
No. 1 is alumninum bats. Balls you hit off your fist in college are most of the time base hits. In the majors, they're more than likely outs.
Bruce, why haven't we heard more about the Concepcion signing? When do you expect us to find out the contract details?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
The Cubs are not saying he signed yet. That means he hasn't taken a physical. But the team has been very coy about the Cuban players they signed. In fact they signed some Cuban players 6 or 7 weeks ago and haven't announced it.
Jayson erie pennsylavania [via mobile]
Will the pirates win the nl central
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Highly unlikely. Cincinnati looks like the strength of this division.
any prediction what/who is being sent to Boston for Theo compensation? its ridiculous how long this has dragged on.
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
My guess is not a top prospect and there would be some economic compensation to go with the player.
Al (Chicago) [via mobile]
Bruce, what is your bold prediction for this years Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
If everything works out just right, they may win 75-80 games.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
They are in a division where you have the world champs, a playoff team and a much improved Reds team.
Alex (Munich, Germany)
what do you think about them playing an annual game overseas just like in Football. I would love to see the Cubs!
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
MLB does open the season in Japan every year. Maybe when European baseball is more sophisticated they would consider Europe as well.
How do you project cub's prospect Junior Lake going forward?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
He can hit, so he's either the SS or 3B of the future. Lot of people compare his offensive tools to Castro.
Leroy (Harrogate, UK)
What do you make of the demotion of Dewitt?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
He was never a very impressive player for the Cubs. He's an outstanding individual and a hard worker. But he seems to be a very limited player. At 26, someone will pick him up on a minor league contract.
Adam Fernandez (Chicago)
I know im getting ahead of myself but what are the chances the cubs making a big splash in next years free agent class? with some big pitching names that may become available could the cubs come up with the money to sign someone like Cole Hamels and Matt Cain?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
It depends on where they're at in their developmental stages. They have a plan to either sign amateur players in the U.S. or throughout the world and that's how they feel they'll build their base. I don't know if big-time free agents will be part of that developmental plan by 2013.
Mike Thomas (Bartlett, IL)
Bruuucccceee, What is the future look like for Adrian Cardenas? Is he a good utility guy or a possible starter at second? He posted solid numbers in AAA last year, so why was he available?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
Don't know much about his defense. If it's not good, he'll go back to Triple-A. He has to be able to play the position. If he does, that gives him some flexibility with Barney. The Cubs have no back-up shortstop going into spring training.
Bruce, With the N.L. Central significantly worse that last year what do you see the Cubs record being in 2012 with and without Garza?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
I'm not a predictions guy.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be a better team in Chicago in MLB?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Let's see if both Chicago baseball teams can win more than the Bulls.
A major league contract for an 18 year old is pretty impressive. What is the ceiling on a guy like Concepcion? Those deals are usually for elite college drafted players.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
It comes with the territory of a four-year contract. All the high-profile multi-talented players get 4 or 5 years deals, which include a position on the 40-man roster.
It seems that Theo is much more eager to spend on international talent. Why?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
They believe there are some very talented Cuban players out there right now. And they've already been through some forms of development.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Should be interesting to see when Cespedes' working visa is granted. Until then, don't expect him to sign with anybody. Looking forward to spring training, leave next Wednesday. Talk to you next week. Follow on ESPNChiCubs. Here's Doug Padilla.
Doug Padilla (1:32 PM)
Hello all. Time for some White Sox talk. Here we go.
How much starting, in college, did Sale do? Do we have any history to show us that he can pitch 180-200 innings in one season?
Doug Padilla (1:34 PM)
Sale was primarily a starter in college and that is what he was drafted to do. He started out with the White Sox in relief, though, to fill a need and help him make an easier transition. Like all guys from college he has to work himself up to 200 innings. He might end up being used like a fifth starter and have some outings skipped here and there to keep the innings down in the 180-190 range.
Cosmo Kramer (Anytown, USA)
Safe to say this is the final "make or break" year for Beckham?
Doug Padilla (1:36 PM)
Wouldn't look at it so black and white, but yes he needs to show something this season. If he has another year like he did in 2011 by all accounts the White Sox will look to other options. He doesn't have to be an All Star, though. If he can show some progression then the White Sox can live with that. Not modest progression either, but some good long stretches of excellent play.
Isn't there a little too much doom hanging over the White Sox 2012 season? Several guys had career worst years last year. I don't know if that'll happen again.
Doug Padilla (1:38 PM)
There is plenty of doom isn't there? But they created that with the way they played. Nobody expects Dunn, Rios, Beckham and Peavy to have the seasons they did in 2011. But the Tigers look pretty good now and the division will be tough to win. Everybody has to play to their expected level. Everybody.
viciedo expectations this season? i feel like every sox player should exceed expectations b/c they are coming off a down year (except konerko)
Doug Padilla (1:41 PM)
Plenty of Viciedo questions. We'll take this one. If he can keep his K numbers down and show a solid OPS, it would stand to reason that he could be productive. They would take 22-25 home runs and something in the 80 RBI range. It will also be interesting to see him play the OF for a full season.
John (Cincinnati, Oh)
Is De Aza going to play CF or will they leave Rios there?
Doug Padilla (1:43 PM)
At SoxFest Robin Ventura finally admitted that he is considering De Aza for the CF role which would move Rios to left. The guess is that in the end the White Sox realize that their defense is improved with De Aza in CF and that's the route they take at some point this season.
John (Cincinnati, Oh)
Will Lillibridge get more Ab's this year? His per/ab production was excellent. Plus he make highlight plays all the time in RF and LF.
Doug Padilla (1:44 PM)
The plan is to get Lillibridge more playing time than your average bench guy. As the fourth outfielder he could be in a steady rotation to play all three OF spots. He could also get a little time at 2B, which could turn into a lot of time there if Beckham doesn't show something in April and May.
What is the rotation going to look like before and after Peavy get injured?
Doug Padilla (1:47 PM)
I know what you are saying. Injuries have prevented Peavy from showing White Sox fans what he did in San Diego. Can't blame anybody for being skeptical about the guy. As of now Zach Stewart looks like the next best starter after the first five. We will see how that shakes out in spring training. But Peavy is saying he's feeling better than at any point during his White Sox tenure.
Any report on the measures Adam Dunn has taken to improve himself after the dismal season he had last year?
Doug Padilla (1:50 PM)
He said at SoxFest that after one week of the offseason he was ready to get back at it to improve in 2012. He was working out regularly and even did some hitting in an indoor cage this winter off live pitching. No set schedule but he got after it when he felt he needed it. You have to think he won't be as bad as last season. It was obviously a huge mental issue and his head seems to be much more clear now.
How about trading Beckham for Mark Trumbo? Who says no first?
Doug Padilla (1:51 PM)
If I had Mark Trumbo I'm not giving him up for Beckham. Nice try.
What are the chances we see Cespedes a in a Sox uniform?
Doug Padilla (1:52 PM)
The Cubs and Marlins are rumored to have the best chance but the White Sox are interested. They just don't seem to have the cash it will take to get a deal done. We'll call in very unlikely.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Are the Sox a better team heading into this year than last (2011)?
Doug Padilla (1:53 PM)
No. Absolutely not. But that doesn't mean that can't be better.
will the sox trade the bigger names this year if we have a hard time right out of the gate? Rios,dunn,peavy,beckham? I realize they have to perform to create value but we need them gone!
Doug Padilla (1:55 PM)
Not gonna happen. If they had trade value they would have moved Dunn and Rios in the offseason. The only guy that can realistically be moved out of this group is Beckham. And what is Beckham that the others aren't? ... Affordable.
Will Buerhle be missed in the rotation or can Sale fill the lefty role well enough? Minus the pickoffs and GG fielding.
Doug Padilla (1:57 PM)
Buehrle leaves a huge void and not just every five days. He was a great clubhouse guy and a guy that led by example. If they can get 30 starts, 200 innings and double-digit victories out of maybe three guys then you might be able to say he wasn't missed.
Why wasnt Frank considered for the hitting coach position?
Doug Padilla (2:00 PM)
Manto has worked with some of the younger Sox players like Beckham, Morel and Flowers and apparently they thought they could yield more from him than anybody else. I think they'd like to see Frank try his hand at hitting instruction before trusting him with a job like that.
John (Cincinnati, Oh)
Would the Sox be well served to deal Ramirez?
Doug Padilla (2:01 PM)
No. The sky is still the limit on his talent and they signed him to a club-friendly contract.
Do the Sox have a team leader that can and will hold team matesaccountable for lack of hustle and poor attitude ?
Doug Padilla (2:03 PM)
They don't have an in-your-face guy. Konerko is the best at leading by example but even guys that completely respect him like Dunn and Beckham couldn't get going last year. These guys have to inspire themselves and want to have success for their teammates. They shouldn't need a kick in the pants.
Doug Padilla (2:07 PM)
Thanks for the questions. Talk to you all again as we are nearly two weeks from the start of spring training.
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