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)
It's trading central time here in Chicago. The marketplace is open. If I could, I would be in both places watching Cubs and Sox. Let's go.
What's more important to Cubs management regarding a Soriano trade: eating less money or getting a better prospect?
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
I think both are important for any exec to examine. Cubs would love to open left field for Junior Lake. That's probably a better position for him at this point. The money is always welcome, and in this case it could be anywhere from $5-$10M, and they also saved $3.8M on Garza yesterday.
What are your expectations of Olt? Will Rizzo and Olt be .260, 30 homeruns, and between 90-100 RBI guys?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
If they are, the Cubs would be extremely happy. If you hit .260 you need to make really hard contact. Olt can play other position, so it gives the Cubs some flexibility.
Phil G (Frederick, MD)
Do you see both Olt and Bryant in the starting lineup a year from now, or do you think Olt will likely be flipped for more pitching? If they both stay, who's more likely to move to the outfield?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
I think we're getting ahead of ourselves a little. The Cubs need viable hitters in their lineup. I don't think they're in a position to start flipping people until some of their prospects are developed. My guess is Olt ideally is the Cubs' everyday 3B beginning in 2014.
With the PTBNL in the Garza trade,What are the players the Cubs have to choose from?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
In one situation they would get one player, and in another they would get two. The timeframe is TBD.
With the Cubs getting Olt, sadly this means Vitters days as a 3B are over right? He is hitting pretty well right now and seems to have been developed more plate discipline. If I were the cubs, I just call him up and stick him at third full-time and see if the improvements stick. What's your opinion?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Hoyer said yesterday in a conf call that Olt will get lion's share of playing time at Iowa at 3b. So Vitters' time in the organization may be brief. He's only 23 so a lot of people might take a shot.
What percent could you give that Peavy gets moved, and what kind of return should the Sox realistically expect in return?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Sox are looking for position players, namely CF, 3B and catching. Peavy should bring back as much as Garza, considering whoever acquires him has him for another year. I'd say the percentage is 100.
Hugo (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
Theo keeps building for the future by trading away today's talent -- Garza, Feldman, and possibly Gregg -- for tomorrow's talent. When does tomorrow come?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Not today! Two years is probalby a good assumption. 2014 is too soon. 2015 is likely when some prospects are ready to contribute.
Seth A (Scranton, PA)
Bruuuuce, it looks like the Cubs are loading up on young, infield talent (Olt, Arismendy, Starlin, Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, Lake)...but how do we look at catcher? Any chance we could sweeten the deal with Soriano and the Yankees and get someone like Gary Sanchez?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I've heard Sanchez's name but not in trade talks. The Cubs believe Castillo will be a good major league catcher. Maybe not Yadier Molina, but a solid everyday guy. To your point, you never have enough catching in your system.
So now with the garza trade done when will the rest of the guys get traded? Soriano? Navarro? Gregg? Russell? Ransom? Schierholtz? DeJesus? What si the likelyhood of each guy getting traded? Thank you so much for your time!
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I would say the Cubs will continue to be very, very active in next eight days. Hoyer is flying here to Arizona today, but not because I wrote a story. He's flying here to get Soriano's permission to trade him. The Yanks make more sense than any. Gregg and Russell are getting a lot of play. Schierholz would be interesting to 2-3 teams, including Pittsburgh, who also was looking at Alex Rios.
Joe (West Town)
I know it's only been 4 games, but Junior Lake has looked really good. His speed, athleticism, and passion for the game could be a nice spark for this young team. Does he fit into the long term plans as a major contributor?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Way too early to say. Once the scouts get his weak point, they'll have to make adjustments just like Rizzo and Castro have had to. In the meantime he's brought a lot of great energy to the team. He's a five-tool player, which is something the Cubs haven't had for a long time.
Seth A (Scranton, PA)
Bruce, with all of these young hitting prospects the Cubs have/are acquiring, is it time to use Vitters and Jackson as throw-ins on a trade? For example, instead of trading Soriano straight up for a mid-level prospect, shoot the Yankees Soriano and Jackson for a higher prospect. Is there anything like this in the works?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Yanks have a better OF prospect in their own organization. But Hendry is a top asst to Cashman, and would fill Cashman in on the potential of Jackson. I like your idea, but trading young playres away when they're not doing all that way is coutnerproductive.
On a A thru F grade scale, please rank the Garza trade from the Cubs and Rangers standpoint. What is your opinion of the package of players the cubs got in return.
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Start with the Rangers, they traded away nothing of significance for their near future in pursuit of a championship. They picked up one of the top arms in baseball right now. That's a B+. On the Cubs' side, it's also a win considering Garza's a free agent in Nov. They got 2 very good pitching prospects that we know of and a possible power hitting 3B. I would give the Cubs the same grade. That's not considering the PTBNL.
Bobby (oak lawn) [via mobile]
Hi Bruce! What's the word on Cuban defector Miguel Gonzalez? Think the Cubs will get him? Thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Big game of chicken being played out there. I talked to an intl scout yesterday, and he told me Gonzalez is a back of the rotation pitcher. That's not anything to throw $50M at. I think the Cubs will be bidders, where the money goes I do not know.
Does Peavy make his next start or is he traded days before or the day of his scheduled start?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I think teams will want to see him one more time. He was on the DL for six weeks. They would love to see him repeat 100 pitches and feel good where his endurance is at. I would say he's gone after his next start if everything is up to snuff. Boston will be one of the more intersted teams.
Do you see the Sox getting any prospects that can be a legitimate stud down the line?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Too hard to look in the crystal ball on that one. I can say Sox pro scouting staff has been out there looking at lots of young players in organizations that would be looking to make deals.
Is Crain going to be traded in your opinion?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Once he shows he's healthy, the answer is a big yes. He's a free agent after the season. He's also a guy who can close effectively, in some people's opinion. When healthy he's considerd a better option than Kevin Gregg.
Mike (Oak Forest )
Are the White soxs goign rebulid like the Cubs or reload in this off season
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I think that's a more interesting question than you might think. I think the Sox feel they have enough good, young pitching that they don't have to rebuild. In this day and age we know pitching is even bigger than ever. So if Hahn and Co. are right, they're going to try to rebuild positio nplayers, esp up the middle, catcher, CF and don't be surprised if Ramirez is dealt too.
If Soriano is traded do you think that it will harm the development of Starlin Castro?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I think it's a valid point you have a veteran hitter in the lineup behind Rizzo and Castro, but it may be a little overrated since both are hitting in the .240s. That said, with Sori traded, they see any better pitches.
Castro seems to be turning a corner lately. Do you think it's more than just a hot streak?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
He changed a little of his mechanics and looking for fastball. He looks more like the player we saw his first two years.
You really consider Justin Grimm a 'very good pitching prospect"? To me he was a throw in.
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Grimm wasn't the main guy, but he can be a serviceable guy.
Henry A (Deland FL)
Barney isn't doing much at the plate . Do you see the Cubs trying to move Baez orBryant to 2b?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I think there's time for that. Bryant will never be a 2B. He's either a corner infielder or corner outfieldre.
What do you think it will take to get Peavy to Boston? I don't think we plan on giving up any of our top say 10-15 overall prospects.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Just depends how far you guys want to go in the playoffs this year. You've got some health issues on your staff. I would have to think you'd have to overpay a bit.
Josh B (Mokena)
The Ryan Braun situation is sad. Has he become the new Barry Bonds of baseball? (Hated by all fans except in his home town)
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Not the act itself but his arrogance is what really bothered people.
Everett W (Dallas, TX)
Ranger fans are in my face about how they gave up too much for Garza. I think thats insane. Olt has had a subpar season after failing in his September call up last season. For the best pitcher on the market, Theo couldn't get Luke Jackson or Martin Perez, the Rangers top two pitching prospects. Did Theo really think this was the best deal he could get for Garza or did he settle?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
They've been after Olt for two years now. Like other execs, the Cubs were trading for need. They're looking to finish off their IF, and with Rizzo, Barney, Castro and Olt as a projected 2014 infield, it could be credible. These guys got tired of gagging on the Ian Stewart trade. They traded for one 3b and drafted another.
Do you think the Cubs are actively looking to trade Barney? His value is probably as low as it has been, but I also don't see him as a long term piece.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Barney is a "baseball player." If the Cubs were a bette rrun producing team, he would be a perfect fit. For a .220 hitter he has tremendous amount of intangibles that make him invaluable. I just see how he makes other players around hi mbetter.
Anthony (Des Moines)
If Olt is brought up this year, do they move Valbuena to 2nd?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Valbuena is best suited as a utility guy. The Cubs have gotten really good production out of him and Ransom. I would hold on to Valbuena just for protection for some of the other starters.
Isn't Alexei's trade value at an all time low right now? What kind of return do you think the Sox could get for him?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
He is still considered one of the top SS in baseball. He's had a rough year defensively but look at his overall game and see how many defensive plays he makes effortlessly. You need to get top quality players back for Ramirez.
why not try Lake at 2B? I'm sure he's not the defender Barney is but he could be serviceable and a big upgrade offensively. We've got plenty of outfielders in the pipeline.
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
He's too big and muscular for 2B. He's an ideal corner INF or corner OF. He's athletic enough to play CF but his ideal position should be left or right.
Bruce, have you heard any specific names that the White Sox have discussed or are targeting in trades for Peavy, Rios, etc?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
I have not heard names, I just know they are looking for catchers, outfielders, third basemen. If they trade Ramirez they will want a good middle INF in return.
How surprised would you be if the Cubs trade Samardzija at the deadline? I have sneaky suspicion that is what we're building toward since I don't think Shark wants to talk extension at hometown discount rates, and the Cubs are not confident he's worth #1 starter (18M a year) dollars. Hope he stays but thinking a trade possible. What says the Bruce?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
He was a little standoff-ish yesterday when asked about his contract. But that's just the demeanor of a guy who has lost some valuable teammates. If he has a strong second half I think the Cubs and his agent will have a lot to talk about. Jeff has told me he is not in any hurry. By the way, listen to Samardzija on Waddle & Silvy at 3:45.
Matt (Chas SC)
Do we see Baez up in Sept this year?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I don;'t think he's ready yet. If he completes his course at Double-A and does well I think a June call-up next year would be part of the plan. June is the cutoff time when a player doesn't start his arbitration clock a year early.
Bruce, C.J. Edwards has insanely good numbers in A ball. In my opinion he could very well wind up being the gem of this trade and every bit as good as Garza is now. What are your thoughts? I'll hang up and let you talk.
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
I talked to two scouts from other organizations who really like him. They feel he is about a year to a year and a half away from the majors. Both said he was a more important piece of this trade than Olt.
any chance the cubs resign garza in the off season?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Probably the same percentage chance of them having signed Lilly and Dempster when they were traded. It's not like they don't like him but I think in Garza's mind that ship has sailed.
Todd (Carol Stream) [via mobile]
Anthony Rizzo seems to have changed his stance this season. Is that negatively impacting his hitting this season with his batting average?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
His stance is one thing. Where he keeps his hands seems to be more important to the hitting instructors. He made a big change in his swing a year ago which seemed to dramatically help him. But the adjustments seem to be almost daily for him right now.
Al (Dowenrs Grove)
When will we see Olt in the lineup?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
For now he is going to play 3B everyday in Iowa. If he plays well I don't see any reason why he couldn't be called up at any time. I would say mid-August would be a good time to point to. It also depends on hos many bodies they trade between now and the deadline.
Although I agree with trading Garza in principle (rebuilding team, expensive player, etc...), I'm now even more confused by the Edwin Jackson signing. I never like the signing though I understand the need to get butts in the seats, but wouldn't the Cubs have been better off giving that cash to Garza instead of Jackson?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
You could make that argument but Garza wasn't going to take that money. Last Friday he said that was about the last offer he got from the Cubs last fall. Garza when healthy is probably worth $3 million to $4 million more than Jackson.
Bruce, with the Yankees looking to acquire Soriano and the Yankees looking to move Joba Chamberlain do you see the Cubs making a deal to bring the hard throwing right hander to their young bullpen?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
Haven't heard his name. I hope they don't pick him up though. He hasn't been able to stay healthy his whole career.
Mark K (DeMotte, IN)
I think trading James Russell would be a mistake. There isn't a better left-handed option in the Cubs bullpen. He could turn into another Sean Marshall, THEN trade him, if necessary. What do you think?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
It appears that these guys flipped Marshall for a pretty good pitcher. So if they think they can do it again I guess more power to them. You would certainly think you would have to get left-handed back.
Ryan (Orland Park?)
Do think Robin is going fired after the season is over?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I don't think they would fire him. I don't think they would blame him for the team's failure this year. As far as to whether he manages past next season, I'm not sure about that. But Robin told me he enjoys managing and likes the job so I don't see him fired or quitting at this point. It's amazing to me how people have flipped on him from one year to the next. Last year he was the anti-Ozzie and now people want an Ozzie-type back. It's a tough job, managing.
Is there a chance the Cubs call up Jackson and Vitters again this year and give them an opportunity to see if they have improved?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
It just depends on what type of inventory is left after Epstein and Hoyer are done trading off the 25-man roster. Just putting guys in major league uniforms in September is really not an answer.
Mark K (DeMotte, IN)
Do you think Ryan Braun should give up his MVP trophy for using PED's?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
If you did that then you'd have to ask Jason Giambi to give up the one he stole from Frank Thomas. I guess you'd have to ask for a lot of them back from PED users.
Do you think there is a strong likelihood that Jim Thome will manage the Sox a few years down the road? I have a hard time believing that they brought him back simply to scout players in the farm system forever.
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Reinsdorf says he looks at him as a future manager. I think he's a smart baseball guy but I look at him as more of a hitting coach.
Mike (Dalton, GA) [via mobile]
Bruce, heard anything new on if the Cubs are entertaining thoughts about going after Stanton (Marlins)?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
I talked to a Miami official on Sunday who told me they are not trading Stanton. This guy has always been 100 percent with me in the past.
Tom (tinley) [via mobile]
Do you believe Alex rios will be dealt and how much value does he hold?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
I think he still has a lot of value. His no-hustle play has been followed by some of his best hitting of the year. The Sox will want some outfield talent back in return for him. Pittsburgh and Texas have been interested.
Sveum isn't horrible by any means, but do you see any chance the Cubs would try for Ryne Sandberg down the road? Seems like their window of opportunity on him is closing.
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
Sandberg's most viable position would be Phillies manager. He is getting his training under one of the more underrated managers over the past 20 years. Charlie Manuel has never gotten his due. Sandberg should be ready when Charlie steps down.
What about Danks? is it over now? does he have any value? Contract problem for trading?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
I think for a third or fourth starter his contract is moderate. One more year of offseason conditioning and he might be back to being one of the better lefties in the league. He's made some good strides from a shoulder surgery that has only been done once before.
Junior Lake (Chicago)
Am I the real deal?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
Funny, I asked you that after the game. He looks like a good ballplayer. I wouldn't call him Puig yet. But then again Puig has struggled since the All-Star Game. Let's not get too carried away with Lake but he has been a breath of fresh air so far.
Skmd [via mobile]
Do the cubs go after ellsbury ?
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
I've heard his name in these chats for a long time but I've never heard any Cubs sources talk about bringing him over.
With the potential suspension for Cruz and the injuries, don't the Rangers seem a better fit for Soriano?
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
Not really because Soriano is not a right fielder.
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
Keep following me on Twitter at ESPNBruceLevine. I'll stay with the Cubs until Thursday and then join the Sox for the weekend. Should be a lot of activity today. Remember to listen to Waddle & Silvy at 3:45 p.m. today to listen to Jeff Samardzija. Have a good week.