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 (1:02 PM)
Welcome to baseball, Chicago-style. It's not about winning and losing, it's about how you play the game...which hasn't been good so far. Please be positive in your negative questions.
Michael Chicago [via mobile]
Do you think dale is going to lose his job if they keep playing this poorly
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Dale Sveum and his staff were hired to take the heat for the next two to three years. Sveum and his coaches are excellent teachers and good motivators, but there's no replacement for talent. And the Cubs come up short in that area right now. I don't see Sveum losing his job anytime soon.
Paul (Denver, CO)
Bruce, who do see as the odd man out when Ian Stewart returns from the DL?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
They are top heavy in outfielders, so one of them is certainly on the bubble when Stewart comes back.
Patrick (Greenville, NC)
Why did Dale take Wood out last night after he put one guy on base and only threw 88 pitches? Wood looked like he wanted to kill somebody in the dogout when his lead just slipped away (no surprise).
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
You're right that he had an efficient pitch count. But matchup-wise was where Sveum wanted to go at that point. You're going to have to score more than 2 runs to win games at some point, but that's a different subject altogether. But what I'm trying to say is Sveum was trying to protect a very small lead.
Why is our weakest hitter batting cleanup? I understand Dunn has to work through his slump and we have to keep playing him but where is the rule that he has to bat cleanup while he's hitting .100?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I'm in total agreement with you. Unless a guy his hitting the ball hard on a regular basis, he should be moved to another spot in the lineup. Unfortunately, Rios is the only guy hitting the ball hard, so it's not fair to pick on only Dunn. The White Sox offense looks very similar to what it did during the last 3 weeks of the 2012 season -- not good. In fairness, Beckham was hitting .300 when he went on the DL and Viciedo was just starting to heat up.
Bruce, do the Cubs have enough to acquire Stanton? So what if they aren't ready to win now. It would atleast give them something to build around in the outfield.
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
If you're prepared to trade Baez, then you could probably get Stanton, but it would take more than Baez. Right now it doesn't make sense to take one step forward and a few steps back. This is a team that should not trade their young players. Hopefully the business side of the Cubs organization will allow Theo and Jed to have a bigger payroll in order to sign good, young free agents. And by young I mean 28 or younger.
In Keith Law's recent article he suggested Anthony Rizzo switch back to his swing from last year which drew more contact and less power, and a possible demotion (which I know is unrealistic) to help bring back that swing. What is your opinion on that?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
In talking to Rizzo he said the same thing. He told me he wants to continue to hit the ball to left and center field more often, especially against left-handed pitching.
What is the atmosphere like in the clubhouse? All these blown saves and errors have to be causing tension
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Every since Sveum and his coaches have taken over, they have not allowed time for self-loathing. Remember, this is predominantly a group of extra men that want to prove that they are regular players, and young guys trying to make it in the major leagues. Motivation has not been a problem with the Cubs. Lack of talent is.
Joe (West Town)
Bruuuuuce! Over or under 50 RBI's for Soriano in a Cubs jersey this year? Over or under .250 batting average for Rizzo this year?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Way over 50 RBI for Soriano. If Rizzo hits between .250 - .260 that would not be a horrible year for him. He is capable of being a career .280 -.290 hitter in my opinion.
Matt Thorton has blown just as many if not more games than Marmol on the other side of town. He just does it in the 7th and 8th instead of with 2 outs in the 9th. Please tell me that his days are numbered, and what we can get for him on the market? Shouldn't we trade now before he blows 10-15 more games? This isn't anything new...
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
He has a pretty high salary number. And Donnie Veal is not necessarily ready to step up and into the setup role. My guess is that Thornton will be traded by the deadline, but only if he is pitching better. This has been a very valuable guy for the White Sox over the last 7 years. The problem with Thornton and Marmol is that they have thrown in more games than any other pitchers over the last 7 years. Wear and tear and attrition have taken their toll.
E (Arlington, VA)
Dunn looking ugly again this season. Remind me how many years are left on his contract? This cannot last the entire season again like it did in 2011, right? Please tell that if he's still hovering around the Dunn Line in mid-May, he gets benched.
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I don't know about him getting benched, but finding him another spot in the lineup would be a good idea until he can get out of it. Ventura is a big believer in instilling confidence in his players. This is a guy, remember, that started his career going 4-46. Patience is a virtue, but reality dictates movement at certain times.
Bob (Princeton, NJ)
Hi Bruce,What's your take on why the Sox bats are so pathetic. I sure get tired of seeing excellent pitching performances go down the tube because the Sox can't score more than 2 runs a game. If it wasn't that I'd love a job like yours, I'd feel sorry for you having to watch them lately.
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I believe the main problem is Greg Walker. And I'm surprised that no one has come up with that yet. For four years it was Greg Walker's fault when the team slumped, so I guess now you'll have to turn your attention to Jeff Manto. I'm sure the Sox hitting will get better, but I'm more concerned with their defense than their offense.
What, in your opinion, has been the biggest reason behind the terrible Sox defense on display this year after a record year last year?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I don't like the switching around of the outfielders that is going on right now. If De Aza is your center fielder, he should play there every day. The angles that outfielders see are very different compared to the corners. I would just leave him in center. White Sox have good defensive players, they just haven't defended well so far this year. Here's the biggest problem: out of the the White Sox' 17 games, they've played 10 1-run games. Errors and misplays will stand out much more in close games, and they certainly have for the White Sox.
Jim H (Naperville)
Who gets the blame of the bullpen? Epstein and Hoyer for not overpaying for the likes of Grilli and Adams or Ricketts for not allowing them to overpay on a short term deal to ensure they got their guys? Those guys may not have been long term answers but it's not like they would be blocking our "stream of young talent". I can't help but remember the job Howry and Eyre did after the last 100 loss season. Pitching wins.
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
Epstein and Hoyer are in charge of putting the personnel on the field. There's one major flaw with the Cubs bullpen. Outside of Rondon, they have no one that can light up the radar gun past 92. They also have no one in the pen that has a trick pitch. All that said, other teams get very comfortable looking at the Cubs bullpen when it enters the game. Believe it or not Marmol still has the best stuff of all the Cubs relievers. I believe within the next week to 10 days he will again be the closer.
Max- Hollywood fl [via mobile]
Is there any chance the cubs will get David price?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Sure. There is always an opportunity to trade for him. Any player that is 28 or younger would fit into their future plans. When you start talking about pricey players that are 30 or over now, I would say that would be stretching it a bit for an investment.
Jerry from Eau Claire [via mobile]
The last time the Cubs were patient at the plate as a team (2008) they led the league in about every offensive category. Since then, they've been at the bottom of the league in walks and most other offensive categories. Has Dale talked about putting up the take sign more often than on 3-0 pitches and if not, why not?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
The take sign is very rarely used in baseball. You'll see it with some players that are hitting 3-0. Other than that it is hardly ever used. On-base percentage is a philosophy. Unfortunately, a few of the Cubs' best players are not on-base guys, like Barney, Castro and Soriano. You are right though that it's something that Cubs execs want to improve as they add new players to the franchise.
Al (Downers Grove)
Is management starting to worry about the possibility of losing fans, Wrigley Field might draw in some tourists still, but I find it hard to believe a lot of people from the area are going to go out of their way to go to a Cubs game.\?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
I would hope the business people are concerned about it. We hear all this talk about added revenue streams. But the most important lifeline for an organization is the fanbase. Right now the fanbase is not getting their money's worth. The business side has not dropped ticket prices to where they should be for the product that fans are watching.
Scott (Rockford, IL)
Do you think Dunn constantly playing 1B has anything to do with his poor offensive performance? And what's the deal with him playing 1B all the time now anyways?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
If you've noticed Konerko is playing first more often lately. The reverse argument was made in 2011, that Dunn was hitting poorly because he was only DH-ing. Dunn played in the NL for about 10 years and played the field every day.
Would Castro bring a Stanton like return if they choose to move him?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
Castro would have brought a Justin Upton-like return. But the Cubs were not interested in talking about that type of deal. I love how so many people pick on Castro for the Cubs' woes. Last I looked he has a 14-game hitting streak.
The Sox look like the same boring team from last year, unable to score runs unless they hit the long ball. Management did nothing to improve this team this year except add kepp. Fans wont show up during the summer months to watch this team play, are there any bright spots in the near future to look forward too as far as making room for quality free agents???
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
If the White Sox have a down season, they will do the best they can to trade some of their vets. That may or may not include Peavy, Konerko and Dunn. Peavy told us a week ago that if the team isn't competitive, he would not be opposed to being traded.
Frustrated Cubs fan (Chicago)
how do you evaluate Castro? I don't see much improvements on offense and defense. All I get is he is still young. Baseloaded yesterday 3-2 counts and he swung at a pitch that wasn't even near the strike zone.
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Plate discipline is a problem for Castro. The good news is that he'll hit .300 even without it. You can teach plate discipline but you can't replace talent. I think Castro is going through some on and off-field maturity growth patterns. He is getting used to being a young superstar with a lot of money. I'm not making excuses for him but I still feel the sky is the limit for his talent.
If Peavy is already open to being traded, does that not already tell us all we need to know about the White Sox this season and we can stop supporting them in person and save our money for Bear tickets instead?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Peavy said he'd love nothing more than to win here with the Sox the next two years. Remember, he chose to sign here rather than test the free agent market, where he could have got more money and years. He was just being honest that if the team was not competitive late in the year that they could trade him because he has no say in it. He wanted to give the White Sox that type of flexibility in case things didn't work out. Factually, all players not named Soriano agree to trades late in the season, whether they have a no-trade or not.
Dannon Sherich (Thomson, IL)
Aside from Castros hitting streak which hasnt helped the Cubs at all, his errors have hurt the Cubs for most of his young career so why not move him. He is paid quite well for all the costly mistakes he makes game in and game out.
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
I didn't say they shouldn't trade him, I just said that at his age and talent level, it's almost impossible to tell where he will peak out. Tell me who in the Cubs organization that you would prefer to keep over Castro, as far as projecting their career?
When will Castro produce when the game is on the line? He's no Jeter....but he seems to fly out/ground out when we need him to showcase that talent.
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
How are the other 8 players doing? Look, I'm not saying Castro is a perfect player. What I'm saying is that at 23 he has a tremendous amount of talent and a tremendous amount of potential. Defensively, he makes bad decisions. The question is if you believe or don't believe he can get better. If you don't believe he can get better, the remedy isn't necessarily a trade but moving his position. He might be an awesome third baseman or center fielder. At 23 I would like to see him continue to play shortstop for a couple years. I would also like to see them rest him 7 or 8 times a year. When they rest him, I want them to be talking to him about situations and how other infielders set up and make plays. I think audio/visual training for a good, young player is important. That's just me talking.
Bob (Tinley Park, IL)
When Dusty & Lou were here, they got railed on for lack of preparation. I know the talent is less, but why is Sveum getting a free pass with his team playing such poor fundamental baseball?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I don't think he is getting a free pass. You notice it and so do many others. I believe the responsibility is with the players but ultimately the manager and coaches are looked at when the club looks disorganized.
What happened to Lillibridge? Followed your advice that he would be a 400-500 at bat guy off the bench and selected him in my NL only draft. After 24 ABs, Cubs send him packing-what gives?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
He wasn't very good. But they were also embarrassed when I asked them that question because they reacted to a small sample size of his at-bats. I think they were more concerned about his defense, which had been stellar during spring training. My bad on your fantasy pick. I owe you one.
Why do any pitchers ever throw Soriano a fastball? He chases every breaking ball that is thrown to him.
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Ideally you can almost say that to almost any good hitter in the game. All good hitters live on the fastball. The problem is that if you threw breaking balls all the time you'd be on the DL within two weeks.
Ray (Backward hat WI)
Will this season's Cub team lose more games than last season's?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
I think the starting pitching is good enough to project more wins. The unfortunate part is the bullpen is not. You've already seen a lot of good outings wasted by bad bullpen performance and lack of offense. Now, let's keep one thing in mind, and this is really important: pitching should be good in April. And especially this April with all the bad weather. The key month for watching the Cubs starting pitchers will be May. If they continue to be good when the weather warms up, then they have something they can build on.
Mike (The loop )
If Vizcaino can get healthy do you think he will get a shot at closing? I hear he's has incredible stuff
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
Last anyone saw him pitch he had a great arm. Don't know if they plan to start him or not.
Bruce, do you see a market building for a guy like DeJesus? While he's not a splashy name, he consistently provides a strong OBP and would seem to be an asset for several contending teams. Now that the Cubs have picked up Borbon, now is the time to see if they have something in him as he enters his prime at 27
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
I think keeping good players like DeJesus for a while is important. Winning ballgames is an essential part of player development. You don't want Castro, Rizzo and Castillo getting used to losing. I see DeJesus getting traded at some point, but it's too early in the season for that.
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
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