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 (1:00 PM)
Welcome to June baseball Chicago style. I only do this maybe once or twice a year but I would like to hear what veterans you would hold on to rather than the old let's trade everybody routine. Welcome to the chat ...
How much are the cubs expecting back if they trade Garza and feldman? Also is Schierholtz a player to keep? Probably our best player so far this year
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
Schierholtz is a keeper. Of all the offseason moves by the Cubs, he appears to be the best. I would keep him. For Feldman and Garza you want young pitching and possibly a third base candidate back if possible even though the Cubs drafted Bryant. He may end up playing a different position.
Andrew (Lake Zurich)
Bruce, how close are the Cubs to signing Kris Bryant? I would have thought he would be signed by now? Any hangups?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
The reason he wasn't signed is because his agent is Scott Boras. He also has Mark Appel, the No. 1 pick. So the natural progression for Boras is to sign the No. 1 guy first then move on to No. 2 which is where they are at now. All teams have until July 12 to sign their drafted players. I would assume Bryant would be signed in the next 7-10 days.
The Sox pitching, minus Sale, seems to be struggling a bit now. Is there anyone else ready to move into the rotation at all if Quintana or Santiago continue to struggle or falter like they are? Bullpen seems pretty shaky as well minus Crain. Just trouble all around the team and tough to watch at times. Thoughts? thanks Bruce!
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
The Sox have some young talent that is not ready yet. My guess is when the Sox make moves they will get back players and pitchers that are on the cusp of the major leagues. The Sox have never been in a total rebuild mode since the late 1980s.
Brian (West Loop)
What is the actual cost to buy out/waive Marmol? Not hypothetically speaking (like Theo and Hoyer seem to be hoping for), what is the real out of pocket expense to Ricketts?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Divide $9.8 million by 180. That is his salary broken down over the major league season. As of today they owe $6.1 million.
Who is most likely to be on the Cubs come august, Garza, Dejesus, or Feldman?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Probably DeJesus because he's injured and might take awhile to get back into baseball condition. Garza and Feldman are this year's version of Dempster and Maholm. They along with Gregg should bring back the best prospects.
Erik (Des Plaines, IL)
When will Rick Hahn start dealing? Will it be closer to the trading deadline? Do you think Jesse Crain will be the first to go? Then Ramirez, Rios, possibly Peavy? I'm excited to blow up this ship!
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
I think Hahn will listen to trade offers now. This last stretch should be enough for them to know the Sox are not playoff contenders. Of all the Sox players right now Crain is probably at the top of the list for most teams looking at the Sox. I'm sure many teams are discussing whether Crain can close. The Diamondbacks should be No. 1 on that list.
I struggle to believe that the Cubs are committed to winning and building when they keep running Marmol out to pitch. He has had too many opportunities and keeps blowing saves. When are the Cubs going to finally give up on him?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Take a good look around the Cubs bullpen. With all due respect, which pitcher do you expect to see pitching for the Cubs in 2014? Right now I would only say James Russell and he has a lot of trade value as well. The bullpen is obviosly their major weakness other than their inconsistent offense. Some of the pitchers drafted may end up being your bullpen pitchers in the future because they have no power arms right now.
With sheirholtz and sweeny hitting very well when will they be apart of the everyday starting lineup?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
I think Schierholtz is part of the everyday lineup. Hairston has started to hit left-handers so he will still be platooned in RF. Sweeney is a nice extra player and he has done a good job but he's not a speed guy and he has no power. He's an outstanding complementary player.
Joe Laster Jonesboro, AR [via mobile]
Can Darwin Barney survive on a MLB roster simply based on his defensive abilities? It seems he has become such a liability with the bat. Does he have much trade value to other organizations since he's a gold Glover?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
He is your moder version of Mark Lemke and David Eckstein. Both of those players were essential parts of championship teams even though they didn't hit or run well. But those two and Barney are known as "baseball players," meaning they do the little things to help you win. Until the Cubs are closer to being a contending team, a player like Barney would be best suited playing for a contender. Barney would always be undervalued on a team that doesn't hit.
How long will it take for the Sox to rebuild, they seem to be in big time trouble.
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I don't think that long because they do have some good young pitching. I still like Quintana and I love Sale. Santiago is still a work in progress. Reed and Jones are good solid young pitchers. I think if you have some semblance of a good pitching staff the other elements of a winning team can come quicker.
Eric (Portland, OR)
Sox should keep Alexei, Gordon, and Paulie. Dunn, Rios, Peavy, and Thornton should be shopped.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Hold on to Konerko probably just for another few months considering he's a free agent. And knowing him, if he doesn't have a better second half, he will retire. Ramirez would probably bring back the most in a trade since Peavy is still probably at least a month away. It might be that they have to trade Peavy after the trade deadline but that might not be a big problem. Beckham may be your next SS.
Jason (Pipestone MN)
How come the Cub's offense is so inept? Just seems like not more than one person can get hot in the lineup at once? Is this because of their youth or are we developing the wrong kids at this point (Rizzo, Castro, Castillo, etc)
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
The three you mention are just not making a lot of hard contact. Castro is starting to hit the ball again but he should be hitting for more doubles and home runs. That may happen in the second half as he gets straightend out. Rizzo will get hot again. It appears he is going to be a streaky hitter. Castillo's offense has suffered because of his work defensively. They are very happy with the way he has been calling games and handling the defensive part. Now the concern is whether he's going to start producing runs. He has good power and usually makes contact but it hasn't been there in the first half.
BRUUUUUUCIIIIIEEEEEE! hey bud. Wouldn't it be wise for the Sox to consider dealing Sale for some young bats? I know they are reluctant to part with a guy with such a high ceiling.. But injury concerns with his motion, etc - seems like a perfect option to get some great talent back
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
That's an interesting perception. It's one that I'm sure the Sox have talked about. Another factor would be if there is concern about long-term health because of his violent pitching motion. I think the Sox would listen to any trade that they felt would make them better. It would take an awful lot to get Sale though.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Bruce, Who won't finish in last place in their division - Cubs or White Sox? And which one will finish closer to the .500 mark?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
The Brewers' struggles are similar to the Cubs and they may be peddling some of their players as well. So it's neck and neck on Brewers-Cubs to finish last. Somehow I don't see the Sox finishing last. They are actually only 4.5 games out of second place.
How is Peavy's recovery going? Originally they said 4 to 6 weeks, based on your comments sounds more like it will be the 6 weeks.
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
He's still feeling some pain. They were supposed to do another MRI. They are just letting the fracture heal and then getting back into pitching shape. It leads me to believe it will take longer to be baseball-ready than originally thought.
Do Jed and Theo care about how this losing is affecting their younger core players?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I think that's an excellent question. It is one that I think about often. Whether you're training them to get comfortable with losing. Yes, I believe they concern themselves with that. It's especially demoralizing for a starting pitcher. And I would worry about the psyche of Wood and Samardzija.
What does Barney do that helps you win? He's a replacement level player no matter how scrappy you think he is. Look at modern analytics and get out of your dinosaur era.
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
Dinosaurs have been around for a long time. The reason Barney is a winning player is because he has some intangibles you can't see on a daily basis. He is one of the main leaders on this team. And if you look at how poorly the defense played while he was out the first week of the season, you also understand he's the glue that keeps them unified on the field. Your analytics can only tell you numbers, they can't tell you why a team wins or that a player without great numbers is a winner.
bruce do u suppose a crain and rios offer would interest arizona or st.louis for any 3 of its top ten prospects? i am prayin u say yes
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
It's certainly going to be brought up. If the Sox can get a pitcher like Skaggs back from Arizona, it would go nicely toward their young rotation of the future. Arizona does seem to be a prime candiate for a deal for Crain.
Bruce, who are some of the less-heralded players we can expect to see in September? We're always hearing about the same big names, but are there some sleepers out there?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Right now Brett Jackson is not on that list and not sure if Vitters will be there. Pierce Johnson is making his way through the Cubs organization. He's their No. 1 pitching prospect right now. Don't know if Sept. will be too early for him.
With such a small contract for a high value player, Rizzo would be a great trade piece for an already developed corner infielder what are the possibilities
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I think Rizzo is here for the long term. Hoyer has acquired him twice already, once from Boston once from San Diego. They have great belief in him becoming a star player.
Al (Downers Grove)
What more does Almora have to get promoted, he's hitting over 400 in 100 AB?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Take your time. It's not even the second half of the season. He may be promoted. Baez may be promoted. Soler may be promoted. The front office wants to make sure they don't rush these guys. The minor leagues are the minor leagues.
Hey, Bruce, you mention above that Jackson and Vitters are not on the call-up list; are they cooked, or what?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
No, just in player development mode. Jackson has some injuries to deal with and Vitters at 23 is still trying rto prove he's a big league bat of the future.
If the Cubs put Castro on the market today, what could they get in return? It's hard for me to view a guy with a sub .300 OBP as a core player, especially when he has shown no propensity to take a walk.
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
Vlad Guerrero played his whole career as a low OBP guy. Conversely, some guys with higher OBPs are base cloggers. In other words, if you have a guy who walks a lot who can't run, he's not helping you in run production and is setting up double plays. I believe analytics are important but not the essence for every player.
Brian (West Loop)
How about Cubs holding on to Navarro? Seems to be about the perfect back-up catcher who can also pinch hit? Is his salary too much to keep?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
The Cubs will listen to offers, but he has been a good player for them. The problem is he's not an everday player.
Tracy (West Chicago)
Last night I heard Kurkjian say that he talked to a rival scout and said that Theo and crew will be the best organization in five years. I find that hard to believe, considering how bad they started out with things. What are your thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
That means it's a seven-year plan then, isn't it. I think that's an honest way to look at it. You don't rebuild and an organization and implement your own philosophy in two or three years. Look at Kansas City, they're in their 7th year, developed a lot of good players but haven't won yet.
Hey Bruce, if these fans get their way and Castro was traded, how long until they ask for Baez to be traded, too? Good gosh, nothing like giving someone a season or two and then declaring them useless.
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Again, I understand frustration. But patience is going to be the only virtue that will get you through this. If you look around, there are some good position players coming, we think.
Travis (Nevada) [via mobile]
If and when Kris Bryant gets signed, will they start him out in rookie ball or will he start further up in the progression since he is much more polished than draftees coming out if high school?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
That's a good question. I don't think it's been answered. My sense would be they start him in Arizona and check out his condition and then probably send him to rookie ball. That's probalby a good enough place to start for two months.
I don't know how to spell his last name, so I'll call him Zas (Cubs 2nd round pick), but with it being announced that he signed (under slot) today, what are your thoughts on the lefty?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
From all the scouts I talked to, this is an excellent signing for the Cubs. They think he'll progress quickly through the minor leagues. He was undervalued because he played on a bad team.
Bruce, does it look like the Sox will sign all the picks from the first 10 rounds. Based on scouting reports, looks like they might have had a pretty good draft if they can sign them all.
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
They have a pretty good head start. I think signability is one of the things the Sox concerned themselves with. Everybody seems to love their No. 1 pick that I talked to. They believe he will progress quickly and maybe a power-speed player
Jon (South Dakota)
Any worth to trading Jackson and Vitters for one more "superstar" potential piece. Almora, Baez, Rizzo, Castro, Soler and ?? A Shelby Miller type comes to mind? Is there an organization that takes a deal like that?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
You can't trade young players who haven't really proven themselves. Very difficult getting good value back. Best you hope for is they conctinue to develop in your system.
John (Decatur) [via mobile]
If Feldman is dealt before the deadline (similar to Maholm last year) do you think the Cubs will have problems signing veteran free agent pitchers next offseason? It seems to me that veterans would like to control their own destiny and not want that change of scenery.
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
I think some of the players who sign understand that's part of the reason they're signing with the Cubs. I don't think it would be a shock to Feldman that they would be moved to a contender.So they're able to get the money they wanted from the Cubs and possibly end up in the playoffs in the same season. Not a bad plan for either side. So I don't think it will impact theym signing these types of players in the future.
Edwin Galletti, Chicago [via mobile]
With Solar, possibly Bryant, and last years #1 pick Almora as the future of the Cubs outfield, what is Bret Jackson's value with the Cubs and when we see him on the MLB Club?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
Not sure of his value. It's possible Cubs will sign a high profile OF from Dominican in next couple weeks. So the more blue chip players they can sign the better they like it.
Tracy (West Chicago)
Bruce, do you have any sense that Theo and McLeod place less value on minor leaguers that they didnt draft? (Vitters, Jackson, etc.)
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
I think what happens is when new front office people come in they're more objective. Some might say it's arrogance, but I think some of that type of analysis is good. Obviously they would like to have the Ian Stewart trade back. Maybe more for keeping LeMahieu than Colvin.
dale miller (noblesville, IN)
Bruce,I'm not happy with Dale Sveum. Any chance the FO dumps him after this year? If Scoscia becomes available it would be way too tempting...
Bruce Levine (2:01 PM)
It's always questionable how far you go with a manager who's involved with player development. I think Dale and his coaches have done an outstanding job. But at some point you start to look bad because they talent you have isn't up to snuff. I've never seen any manager look good with a bad bullpen, and that's exactly what Sveum has.
Bruce Levine (2:02 PM)
I look forward to both teams starting to set up their gameplan for the trading deadline. I'll be breaking down the top three from each team and what they'll be able to bring back over the next few days. Follow me on Twitter: espnbrucelevine.