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 the new and improved Chicago Cubs chat room, and the surprisingly downtrodden White Sox room. Welcome!
Chad (Whiting, IN)
What do you believe Wood's ceiling is as a starting pitcher? No.2 starter, No 3?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
I guess I wouldn't put a number on it, I would just say that as an effective left-handed pitcher, he's been pitching like a 1. I'd like to watch him for a whole year before I give a definitive answer on that. Let's just say he's pitching as well as any lefty in the league right now. Maybe that Sean Marshall deal wasn't so bad after all?
Mike (Ingleside )
With the back end of the bullpen figured out are we watching a cubs team that is figuring out how to win?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
The team's bullpen is an evolving situation over a season. 10 days ago we were talking about how awful it was. Now, people are saying how great it is. My guess is it's somewhere in the middle. As good as Kevin Gregg has been, I wouldn't bet the mortgage that he'll save 25 in a row. That's not a knock on Gregg, just an observation from someone that has watched bullpens for over 40 years.
Erik (Des Plaines, IL)
Who are most desired Sox players asked by other teams in MLB? Peavy, Rios, Viciedo? Does Kepp have any trade value?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Of the guys you mentioned, the greater the value for the Sox would be what they get back for Peavy. The White Sox will not consider trading him until they have a clear cut idea of what their 2013 season will be. That would not be determined after 35 games. See me after 60 games and we can talk.
Mike (The loop )
Are the Jacoby Ellsbury mumblings true? do you actually see the cubs making a run at him?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I don't necessarily see that. The only real reason you hear that a lot is because Epstein and Hoyer had him before. But as a free agent after the season, the Cubs will take a strong look at him then.
Now that Colvin and LeMahieu are both in the minors will the Lou Brock trade comparisons finally end?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Yes. It was not a great deal for the Cubs. But LeMahieu and Colvin are not all-stars. The fact is that both would be helpful on a team like the Cubs have now. And more importantly, because they were farm system players, they would have control of their contracts. It's also speaks to the fact that Colorado has some excellent talent that is playing in front of these guys. Without looking, Colvin hit .290 with 18 homers and 72 RBI in 2012. That's a pretty good year for a guy that was demoted to the minors.
Deanojay (Round Lake Beach)
Would there be any market for DeAza/Rios/Thornton/Crane/southpaws? Could Flowers be benched for Phegley? Could some speed be imported to manufacture runs(I know we need baserunners, walks, etc...)? Thank you.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
I believe we could also get something for the new organ player at the Cell. You failed to mention her. I understand your frustration. I believe GM Rick Hahn is feeling the same way right about now. The fact is that the lack of offense was predictable. The awful defense was impossible to project from a team that made only 70 errors in 2012.
Ryan (Aurora, IL)
What do the Sox do in regard to the errors and holding guys accountable? Can you afford to bench a player like Alexi Ramirez? Is there anything Robin Ventura and his coaching staff can do?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
It's not like they are that deep in the farm system that they can just bench a bunch of guys. Ramirez has been among the best defenders at his position over the last three years. The brain cramps by the defense have been shocking to me. I attribute a lot of it to Beckham not being on the field. Much the way we saw the Cubs suffer defensively while Darwin Barney was out. It appears that Beckham is the glue that keeps the D together on the South Side.
Craig (Beloit )
How about sending DeJesus to the Royals for RP Luke Hochevar. Similar salaries and Sweeny can play CF until Jackson is ready.
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
At some point, the Cubs will consider trading DeJesus, but not right now. He along with Rizzo and Valbuena are their only true OBP hitters. The Cubs hierarchy does not like to trade high OBP players when they are always looking for them.
Why did the cubs pay so much more for Rizzo then the Diamondbacks paid for Goldschimdt on the early extension? Rizzo still has a ways to go to deserve that kind of $
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Rizzo is their guy. They have been tracking him for seven years. Factually, Hoyer and McLeod have acquired him three times. Through the draft, through a trade with Boston and through a trade with San Diego. There's also an important marketing issue to signing Rizzo. He is the first, young home run hitter that they have control over since Sosa was under contract. Derrick Lee was another, but he was already a vet when he got here.
Cassius (Aurora, IL)
Has some of the Sox inability to correct their poor play as a whole come from lack of leadership on the field? Is this a scenario where Pierzynski might have made a difference and allowed more of a nucleus for the team to center around?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I'm not so sure leadership has as much to do with defense as does new guys and new positions. Catcher, third and second are all new guys. The other thing I don't understand is the constant changing of De Aza between left and center field. If a guy is your center fielder he should stay there.
Now that Castro and Rizzo are sign Shark has to be next. My guess its going to take 5-6yrs 10-12 per yr. What do you think do you agree?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
As I reported last fall, Samardzija and his agent were not interested in talking about a three-year deal at that time. The offer itself was never really tendered directly, but they were talking about a three year deal. Samardzija told me yesterday he's not interested in talking about a contract right now.
Jerry (Eau Claire)
Does the Cubs coaching staff hold players accountable for not being patient at the plate? We hear all the time about their futility with RISP, but I would argue their lack of walks is just as important.
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I agree with you but it depends what you mean by accountability. In other words, are you going to bench Castro and Soriano because they don't draw walks? Are you going to put an inferior defender at second base because Barney doesn't walk? These are the things Sveum faces with a 25-man roster that is hardly perfect. The front office is certainly interested in finding more patient hitters for the future.
Bruce,Any idea what Jeff Manto is working with some of the guys? Particularly Dunn, Keppinger, Konerko? Is it more physical or mental with those guys?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
I believe they are working on crossword puzzles right now. But seriously, we are starting to get the same questions we got for three or four years about Greg Walker. Here are the facts: the Sox were 4th in the league in runs in 2012, with basically the same roster. What you were missing was Viciedo for three weeks and Beckham for a month. I know, I know, Beckham. But he was hitting over .300 when he went down and he hit 16 homers last year. These are some of the reasons why they are slumping. But if Dunn and Konerko don't hit they won;t win a lot of games.
alex mc. (decatur, il)
the cubs are 16-22 as of yesterday and garzas return looks to be right around the corner---what do you think will be the mindset of the front office if this team continues to improve and goes 22-16 over the next 38 games and pulls even
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I think the mindset will be which pitcher should they lock up for more than one year and which one should they deal? And you can start with Garza for number one. Here's a question for you: Do you think the Cubs would be interested to a shorter, long-term deal? Part 2 is with Garza coming back from injury, would he accept it rather than test free agency?
Robert (Madison, WI)
Last year the White Sox had one of the best defenses in baseball. They also had strong fundamentals (hitting the cutoff man, etc.). They rarely seemed to beat themselves last year. This year, the defense and fundamentals have been awful. This is with virtually the same group of players. What's happened? I know last year they were taking infield before each series. Are they still doing that this year?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
They still do it when weather allows. Remember we had one of the worst beginnings to a spring in Chicago history, and throughout most of the midwest. Many games have been played without pregame activities.
Eric (illinois) [via mobile]
Who do you think Sveum takes out of the rotation when Garza comes back?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
Probably not Samardzija, who might be their ace of the future, but he might be the most qualified guy they have to be a dominant closer. Right now it would seem Villanueva would be moved. But as Sveum said, there's a week or more to worry about it.
Andy (Cedar Falls)
I love what Travis Wood is doing but I think we need a bigger sample size before thinking about locking him down with an extension. What are your thoughts? Love your work!
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
I don't think the Cubs are going to throw a lot of money at all their young players that are doing well, just off of 4-5 good weeks. Wood is under contract control for at least three more years after this. Plenty of time for them to work out a deal in the future.
Brad (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Rumor has it that the Cubs are getting new uniforms next year. Please tell me this isn't true.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Yes they are going to say New York Yankees on them! But I have heard rumblings about different uniforms. Teams change types of uniforms from time to time to create new revenue streams. I think the traditional jersey would be in place for most of the time if they do get a new look. I would think some sort of throwback jersey might be considered if they do want to make a change.
Julie (Burr Ridge, IL)
The White Sox cannot afford to do a tear down and rebuild like the Cubs since they will lose their season ticket holder base. Whereas the Cubs have loyalty on their side. In your opinion, what is the best way for the Sox to rebuild?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Trade wisely. Get other people's young talent that haven't necessarily lived up to expectations. That was how they competed over the last 10 years, by acquiring players like Danks, Floyd and Quentin. They were all high draft picks from other teams that did not pan out with their original clubs.
Is Sandberg the next manager of the Phillies? If so, I will instantly become a Phillies fan (Cubs first, of course...). Love your work!
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Thank you for the compliment. Everyone I talk to says that as soon as Charlie Manuel retires or is asked to leave that Sandberg is the manager-in-waiting. The Phillies are starting to look very much like the 2010 Cubs, who had some aging players and a maxed-out payroll. It's not necessarily the fault of GM Ruben Amaro. This was more ownership and marketing of the Phillies that wanted to continue the five years of sellouts at Citizens Bank Park.
Andy (K-Town, Iowa)
Schierholtz seems to the exactly what the Cubs needed when they signed him. do you see the Cubs holding on to him for long term due to his young age?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
I think he is a player that they thought was undervalued. So far they have been right about that. If you notice, Epstein and Hoyer have added left-handed hitting whenever they could. This is something the Cubs have never had a lot of over the past 10 years or so.
Mike (New York)
As a Yankees fan im interested in Alex Rios and Paul Konerko. What would Brian Cashman have to give up to acquire one of them?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
I talked to Konerko over the weekend. I don't know if he would accept a trade at this point. His concentration is on trying to get better every day. He kind of scoffed at my hypothetical of possibly being traded. The question was would he like to end his career as a White Sox player. Again, he blew me off, because he said that is a bridge he'd cross only when he has to. At this point the Sox would be looking for a young third baseman or more pitching. Wouldn't hurt to add a catcher either. I don't see a white flag as of yet, but there may be down the line.
Horst (Villa Park, IL)
Do the Sox actually expect Danks to pitch any better than Axelrod or whoever else he replaces has?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Not sure where you are going with that question. Danks is under contract for 4 more years at $13 million per season. I would ask what you propose to do with him rather than start him every five days.
I see that Ian Stewart is batting .100 right now in AAA Iowa. Are the Cubs just taking there time right now to bring him back to Chicago til he shows some signs of life? Or, are they happy with what Valbuena and Ransom so far at 3B?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Stewart has been taken off of the 40-man roster and is not playing every day there. Hopefully some other team will be interested in taking a flyer on him. The Cubs have washed their hands of him for now and the future.
Mike (Las Vegas)
Brucccceeeeee, wouldn't the best thing for the Cubs and Garza be to do a one year deal? The Cubs could look at if he is a long term investment and Garza could get more money if he is healthy. How realistic is this?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
It's not realistic because of a possible re-injury. If he re-injures himself instead of signing a long-term deal, he risks costing himself a lot of money. If he pitches injury-free the rest of this year, someone will almost certainly offer him a three of four-year deal. A one-year deal wouldn't make sense for either side. They will either try to sign him to an extension or trade him by the deadline.
Bruce, will there come a point where the Cubs have to look at other options at 2nd due to Barney's lack of offense? I realize he's a gold glove winner, but is he in jeopardy of being sent down to work on his hitting?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
I don't know about being sent down. But I think his hitting woes are a combination of rust and anxiety right now. He was in a really good place after spring training as far as hitting goes before the injury took place. Valbuena may well be the second baseman of the future if Barney is moved.
BRUUUUCE, Baez is killing single A pitching when is he goin get moved up and do see him gettting up to AAA this year?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
Baez is hitting just .237, hitting about .170 over the last two weeks does not get you a promotion.
Andrew (Lake Zurich)
Bruce, Any chance the Cubs take Kris Bryant(3B) from San Diego at number 2 in the draft or will it definitely be pitching?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
He is certainly mentioned in the top three along with Gray and Appel. I would be shocked if they didn't go for a pitcher, but the Cubs think outside of the box. Bryant would add another piece to their future dream infield.
Bruce, I'm a little bummed at reading how Soriano is starting to see his time in Chicago as coming to an end, and that he won't be here when the Cubs are competitive again. I've always felt Sori's numbers are good, and that he's gotten a bad wrap for not delivering a WS title to the Cubs all on his own. Your thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
Soriano is one of my favorite players that I've ever covered. A true professional and a true gentleman. With that said, he realizes, as the Cubs do, that he'd be better off playing somewhere else by the trade deadline.
In the "Battle of Uniforms" being covered by Doug Padilla, I am a conscientious objector. Where do you stand?
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
I'm more a fan of who is in the uniforms than the uniform itself. For instance, when I see Derek Jeter in a Yankees uniform, it has tremendous meaning. When I see Konerko in a White Sox uniform it has tremendous meeting. When I see Nick Swisher in any uniform...well, maybe not. I still get excited about a #8 Orioles uniform. Hope you catch my drift.
Bruce Levine (2:01 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and listen to Talkin' Baseball Saturday mornings at 9 on ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com. See you here next week!
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