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)
It's Cubs-Sox, what could be better? A team that is totally out of it and a team that is struggling. But it's baseball season. Let's talk some baseball. Welcome ...
Billy (New York)
I think Pauley can be the MVP what do you think?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
He's going to have to put up some more power numbers to get MVP. A batting title is not going to do it. He's having a great year as far as hitting but he needs more RBIs. He's not even on pace for 100 right now.
Any indication that Demps injury is more serious then they let on? They say lat tightness but lat strains arent anything to mess with for a pitcher and if it is a strain, that could serious hamper the package we get back for him. Any word on how this changes his trade value?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
He's pitched with it for two weeks so I don't even know if he wanted to go on the DL. I would say that by the All-Star Game or right after he will be back. If other teams are interested they can have his medicals checked out and he can be traded while he is on the DL. It's happened before.
John D (Thornton IL)
With the Sox needing a solid starter to replace either Floyd or Humber, and the Cubs needing a few pieces, do you see a trade that would send Dempster to the South Side ?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I don't see the Sox picking up the money. A bigger market team is going to be willing to eat a good portion of the contract. By the All-Star Game about $6.5 million will be left on the contract. I don't think the Sox are there with the cash and probably the prospects.
Rylee (Quad Cities, IL)
When Stewart comes back from the DL, do you see him or Valbuena getting more playing time? I am impressed with Valbuena so far.
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
I don't see any reason that Stewart gets to start. He's going to have to earn that. The swing and miss factor is huge for him. Valbuena is an intriguing player who has loads of talent but has shown a lack of desire in his other stops. Maybe he has matured.
Are the Cubs really expecting major prospects in return for guys like Dempster or Lahair? Is Garza the only one who could truly warrant top tier prospects?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
On the surface garza has the stuff and contract that you would consider getting much more back for. Dempster should bring back at least two young prospects who have some potential. Don't underestimate Dempster's worth to a team that may have lost a key starting pitcher. On top of that the other intangibles he brings are off the charts.
Tim bridge view. [via mobile]
Why is zach Stewart still on the team with minor league stuff and a six era? Is it because Kenny doesn't want to admit he got fleeced in that trade?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
It was a question of bodies available out of spring training. The Sox payroll is $102 million, that's down $25 million from 2011. There was only so much Williams was going to be able to do as far as filling out his roster. Now we're complaining about a first-place team. That's pretty good.
Mike (Morgantown, WV)
Do you expect Rizzo to have an immediate impact once he gets called up? His numbers have been great, but what are the chances he has a tough time adjusting?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Protection in the lineup is one thing. Major league pitchers is two, and how he has adjusted to laying off high pitches out of the zone is three. He's going to be a big improvement defensively at first and hopefully he will add a lot of power to the lineup. Time will tell and that time should start within a week.
Any chance Rizzo will be in the lineup on Saturday?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Maybe not that fast. There's nothing wrong waiting for him to make his Wrigley debut on Monday against the Mets. I asked Theo whether he preferred to start him on the road or at home and he said he had no preference.
Marmol going to stick in closer role for awhile or does he have a very short leash and it's back closer merry-go-round again? Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
It just depends on whether his command and his ability to get people out are up to it. He still doesn't have the slider that he had in the past but his fastball command seems a little better.
Jack [via mobile]
With Lahair trying out right field for the future, are theo and Jed not looking to move him for younger prospects or is he still going to be one of the more discussed players come late July?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I can't give you an educated answer on that because none of the scouts I've talked to have talked about LaHair yet. When it comes to trades I have to talk to people outside of the organization. Theo and Jed are close to the vest guys, and I can understand that. I think teams would be interested in LaHair because of his power and low price tag. But that's also a good reason to hold on to him.
Garza's last start with the cubs???
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Probably not. I think teams saw enough of him to know that he can dominate. But the Cubs are going to have to get the right prospects for him. He's a No. 2 or 3 pitcher on any team and therefore the compensation package has to be solid for them to move him. In his case they don't have to trade him, but this would be an optimum time to do so as far as getting back top-line prospects. Teams liek Boston, the Angels and Rangers all should be interested.
C. Williamson (Robinson, IL)
What's taking so long on the Jorge Soler physical? Shouldn't he have already been introduced as a cub?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
He has to get to this country first. There are some immigration things he must deal with considering he is a former Cuban citizen who immigrated to the Dominican and wants to work in the U.S. Just because it's MLB doesn't make the process work any quicker.
Robert (Madison, WI)
Bruce -- Before the season I asked you which younger/newer Sox player would break out this year. You predicted Alejandro De Aza. His all around game has been fun to watch. Do you think he can keep it up throughout a full season, or is he more likely to see some regression?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
His problem in the past has been injuries. There was always a big upside to his game. Honestly I think he's a .280 to .290 hitter. I really like what he has brought to the Sox. I think he has been their most important player.
Dan (chicago southside) [via mobile]
With the way Soriano is hitting do you believe any major league team would try to cut a deal either cubs for him? Or is his contract still too much of a factor for teams?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
The Cubs are resigned to the fact that they will pay most of the contract. The major problem is finding a trade partner who is willing to give you respectable prospects in return. One way or another the Cubs are paying for that contract.
nizzi (des moines) [via mobile]
How has cashner done this year? Has the trade been a win for the cubs so far?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Cashner was sent back to Triple-A to get stretched out as a starter. His success as a reliever was marginal. Now the 100 mph fastball is there, but he still needs some work on the secondary pitches. Maybe he will be the Samardzija of the Padres by the end of the season.
Bruce, it's time. Gavin to the bullpen, zach stewart optioned down, and call up leesman
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
I'm with you. Although Humber hasn't been lighting it up either. The other thing about Floyd is if you don't start him you diminish his trade value. So there are a couple of things you are trying to accomplish, winning ballgames and getting proper value for the talent you have.
JJ (carol stream Il)
How has Brett Jackson been doing in the triple A i hope he figured it?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Not good enough to be promoted. I talked to Casey Coleman recently about him. He said Jackson was going outside of his zone to hit pitches. Coleman still thinks he's going to be a top player when he learns to relax a little bit and stay within his game.
Paul Konerko (South Side)
How many years do I have left in the tank before my numbers drop off big time?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
It depends on whether you are willing to be a DH down the road. Your little injuries continue to add up like they do for all veteran player. I'd say two more years after this is realistic.
Hey Bruce,Where do the Cubs stand with Almora ? Are we any closer to getting him signed? And When does Soler actually start hitting baseballs for the Cub rookie league or Single A ?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
He's a Scott Boras client, meaning that Boras will try to get every perk possible besides the $3.25 million available in that slot. Boras and the Cubs are experts in trying to find loopholes in the new collective bargaining agreement when it pertains to the draft. My guess is July 13 which is the deadline.
Jack [via mobile]
Do Theo and Jed see Darwin Barney as the future at second base? If not, will they look to move him since he has good trade value at this point.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Barney is an overachiever in so many ways. He's a good player to have on your team but not an impact player. Unless they get someone back they can project as a major league player I doubt he will be traded.
Bruce, when do you think we will see Gerado Concepcion in a Cubs uniform
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Not for awhile. Early returns were not good for him. As Darrin Jackson says, he's got some work to do. The Cubs ahve signed upwards of 10 Cuban players, many in the media like myself have no idea about. We only usually find out when there is an American agent involved. They are doing everything they can to push the envelope on player development.
Based on what we heard yesterday we should expect Danks to be out at least another month? Is that a fair guess?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I would sayd it's not a couple weeks. He's going to have to go on a strenghtening program to rebuild the muscles around the injured area. I would say it's a minimum of a month, but that's just a guess.
Adam (Centreville VA)
How many years is Dale Sveum's leash if the cubs don't improve
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Like all managers hired for rebuilding teams, Sveum will get his full three years at least. At some point either he or the team may get impatient. At this point he appears to be the right man for the job.
I'm suffering from rizzo overload! Please tell me how Junior Lake is progressing? Hopefully, he's moving in the right direction!
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
I'll give you some more info on Lake next week. I need to hone in on some other prospects, too. I'm guilty of the same thing of following Rizzo closely.
Tom (Tinley Park )
What do you think the White Sox will do at third, they haven't had much success with any of their options.
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
It's really been a problem. No one has hit over .200. Not Morel, Escobar and not the latest entry, Orlando Hudson. They need to go out and get someone who can hit .250 and drive in a couple of runs. Williams is constrained with no money. Flexibility in trades is limited as well.
Why don't the Cubs give Vitters a look at 3rd. Even with his injury history he's had plenty AB in the minors, while not overly impressive so far he was there top pick not to many years ago and 3B is a huge hole right now.
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
First year at Triple-A and he needs 500 at-bats there. I know Cubs fans are wanting to see players at positions that have a future in the organization but hitting .277 at Iowa is not telling you he's ready to come to the major leagues.
juan( chicago) [via mobile]
What the cubs going to do with 3 catchers in soto, clevanger, castillo?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Castillo was sent to the minor leagues yesterday and they believe he has tremendous upside with a canon arm and major league power. Clevenger is actually the more major league-ready guy to be there now.
what are your thoughts about zack greinke on the sox and would he fit in the clubhouse
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Yes, but it falls into whether the Sox can afford th rest of his contract and do they have the prospects and are they willing to give up prospects for a guy who will become a free agent.
How concerned are the Cubs with Castro's plate discipline? I don't care how good of a hitter you are, 6 walks is unacceptable.
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
It's something that can be dealt with but not during a championship season. A chage of philsophy is going to have to take place over a period of time. He's a natural .300 hitter. Do you really want to tell him to be less aggressive? You may run the risk of ruining his natural stroke. It's something the new hitting coach should have to deal with in the offseason. Cubs minicamps during the offseason is something this group is high on. Getting him out of the DR to attend those might be a different story.
Watching Soto last night I felt like it was 2008 all over again! Could his knee really have been that big of a problem or in Geo's case is he just trying too hard?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
I wish I had a better answer than I don't know because power has always been there. But catching beats up different players in different ways. The position is so demanding that some bodies just don't hold up as well as others. I believe the wear and tear of the position impact his hitting ability.
Gergs Gergovich (LaSalle)
Say, the Sox drop to 3rd by the trade deadline. Do they become sellers?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
They could. This is the 15-year anniversary of the White Flag trade. In 1997 the Sox were 3 1/2 games out at the deadline when they traded three of their top pitchers to the Giants. A couple of years later those players were contributors to a division-winning team.
Gergs Gergovich (LaSalle)
Are the Sox in the market for a starter with the news about Danks? To hang out to first they're going to need more than Peavy & Sale. Sure Quintana has been good, but he doesn't project to be more than a 5th starter.
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
You can hope that Humber and Floyd get better or you can ask the chairman for some money to go get another pitcher. Up until now asking for money has been out of the question. Another complicated part of a trade is teams will want some players off your 25-man roster. In other words are you willing to give up Nate Jones to get another pitcher? Are you strengthening one spot and weakening another? Tough situation for Williams. He's a small market team right now. He has to think that way.
How long can Quintana realistically pitch like this? He has dominated the opposition.
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Nobody knows for sure but he has done something young pitchers have to do at the major leageu level: throw strikes and he has thrown quality strikes. Don Cooper and Juan Nieves and AJ have brought him along well. The Sox organization is a great system for young pitchers to thrive in.
Good point about Rizzo regarding protection. Who would likely be hitting behind him?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Don't really have a good handle on that now. There's no reason why he won't hit third, fourth or fifth. I would think they would prefer Castro third, Soriano or LaHair fourth and Rizzo fifth. Just a guess at this point.
Bruce, I know this isn't the Sox realistic plan, but neither was being in competition. Why not move viciedo to third and have Danks take Viciedo's outfield spot.
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
That's a good plan for 2013. Not a good plan now for planting a seed of doubt in Viciedo's mind and possibly impacting his offensive game, particularly with a GM whose playing career was ruined in many people's opinions by that same move. I doubt a big move like that would happen in midseason.
Do you see Matt Garza being traded to the Atlanta Braves? and if you do what are some of the pieces the Chicago Cubs will be looking for in return?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
Beachy is on the DL and yes, the the Braves top talent evaluator Jim Fregosi was at the game watching him last night. So you can assume that they are interested in him like six or seven other teams are.
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
Keep following me on Twitter at ESPNBruceLevine and Dopug Padilla at ESPNChiCubs. Happy Rizzo hunting for all you Cubs fans. See you next week