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 (1:03 PM)
Welcome to the chat room. Only 30 days to go. It's a race between the Cubs and Sox for that No. 3 pick in the June draft.
Robert [via mobile]
What are the chances that the whitesox sell Alexie Ramirez before the start on next year due to his poor defensive performance this season?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
In order to get optimum talent back the Sox will hold on to Ramirez until after the World Series. At that point I would not be surprised if they start shopping him. There are 3-4 teams out there that really value him. The Sox can probably make a good deal for him if they choose to.
Is the love affair with Anthony Rizzo and what's the takeaway for managements ability to evaluate talent?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
I don't know about the love affair but there is work to do for Rizzo. He's a talented young player but there are some holes in his game. From an offensive point of view the fastball up and inside has been a problem. Defensively finding his areas for cutoffs has been problematic as well. All that said he has huge upside and should be a 30-100 guy.
Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)
I enjoy your expert answers, do you think the Sox will be looking for a catcher and/or 3rd baseman in the off season?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
I think definitely looking for both. The money they saved in some of their trades might be valuable to them to use toward the free agent market and acquiring other players via trade. Phegley has some potential. A catcher like Dioner Navarro would be a perfect fit for the Sox in 2014.
Starlin Castro (Chicago Cubs)
My troubles this season have been well advertised, if I go another season playing poorly, will I be moved, even with my long term contract
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I believe there is a chance you may be moved this offseason. Anybody who has accomplished as much as you have up until this point is still valued quite highly in other markets.
Pedro Strop (Chicago Cubs)
Will I be the Cubs closer next year season, who takes my place as primary set-up man?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
You are being groomed to be closer and certainly have the stuff to do it. The Cubs are hoping that you and Jake Arrieta have both found some consistency that they will be able to count on. There's a big difference getting three outs in the seventh inning as opposed to the ninth.
Jay( Chicago) [via mobile]
What's the likelihood Gregg returns next year?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Gregg has talked about returning to the Cubs. I think it's a possibility. There would have to be an understanding that his role would be determined. In other words you don't want him to impede the progress of Strop or Rondon.
E (Arlington, VA)
How well has Avisail Garcia been playing so far since being brought over? I can only judge by box scores, but he seems to be pretty consistent hitter so far. Thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Garcia has shown some promise but he also has had brutal plays like the one last night when he played a single into a triple. The Sox like his power potential and the way he goes about his job.
Jason H (Chicago IL)
Bruce, why wouldn't the Cubs give Logan Watkins a chance at 2B? Barney is known as a good field, no hit. Barney will be too expensive for what he is as he enters arbitration. The Cubs are more than happy to give at bats to Darnell McDonald..Bogusevic..Donnie Murphy, but not to a homegrown player who is in his first go-around in the majors.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
I imagine they might but creating animosity among the other players by benching Barney this season is not a good way to build morale and team chemistry. I imagine Watkins will get some starts toward the end of the season.
Randy C (Kansas)
Do you beleve there is anyway the Cubs have Olt and Bryant in the bigs next year and who is at 3rd?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I think at this point any type of hitter the Cubs can promote they will find a place for. Olt has played some outfield before. The Cubs need to add some offense and if some of their young players can surprise they need to move them up. If Baez continues his quick ascension I wouldn't be shocked to see him in the majors by June.
Al (Downers Gorve)
What is the justification of keeping Baez down in the minors when the rosters expand? Even if it is only that last week of the year hasn't he earned a taste of the big leagues?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
What are you trying to prove with him coming up for a month? I don't get it. We know the guy is going to hit. It's important that he continues to evolve as a defensive player and mature as a young man. He will get plenty of time in spring training and late June would be the time where the Cubs could bring him up and not expose him to arbitration after three years.
What is the DEAL with Arrieta? Has all the stuff to be a star...just can't put it together. Will he?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
The Orioles stopped believing that and he was their Opening Day starter in 2012. He certainly has the stuff to be a top of the rotation starter. Like a lot of young pitchers he has been inconsistent. Baltimore felt it waited long enough for him to mature. Let's see how the Cubs develop him.
Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)
Do you think the Sox might check on Brian McCann as a catcher and number 3 hitter?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I think that would be a nice start for them. Smart thinking has McCann leaving the Braves. It just depends on how much the Sox believe in McCann and whether his injuries are a deterrent. He's been hurt a lot.
Tom (Downers Grove)
As the race for the better draft pick is picking up, who do you think ends up with the higher pick, Cubs or Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
The Sox have been playing better while the Cubs have been getting worse. I'm picking the Cubs to get that No. 3 pick now. Some Sox fans are actually angry that the team is playing better. They want them to draft as high as possible. But as Doug Padilla pointed out yesterday, Frank Thomas was a No. 7 pick and Ventura was a No. 9 pick. Jack McDowell was a No. 9 pick too. So good scouting is more important than where you are picking in the draft.
Tommy (Neenah, Wisconsin)
Is Roy Halladay a good fit for the Cubs next year? Going on year 3 of the Epstein-Hoyer era, something has to improve. Getting impatient...
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Going after a 36-year-old guy is not my idea of establishing anything for the future. I would hope they would put their money in a 27- or 28-year-old guy. An Edwin Jackson-type signing is unnecessary for next season. Either go with a top of the rotation guy or develop your own.
Jacob (Crystal Lake)
Are there any free agents (I saw they're interested in Shin-Soo Choo) that the Cubs could be eyeing this offseason?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
Don't know for sure if they are interested in Choo. I've heard Jacoby Ellsbury name too. That's part of the equation. The other part is will that player want to come to a franchise that has two straight 100-loss seasons?
Do you think Gordon Beckham will be with the club long term?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I think the Sox are happy with the way he has evolved as a hitter this year. He's in such an exaggerated crouch right now that it has impacted his power a little bit. Hitting coach Jeff Manto told me yesterday he will get a little taller in his batting stance which will help create more power in his swing. For now Beckham told me he is happy to be getting on base and scoring runs. But he has proven that he can hit major league pitching.
tom ((tinley park))
Bruce: I'm surprised that the media hasn't questioned the Cubs' signing of Scott Baker. They waived DeJesus to save 2.5 million and yet they gave Baker 5.5 million after sitting out last year with Tommy John surgery. They'll get virtually nothing out of him since he's on a one year contract and will again be a free agent ....
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
I think you bring up a good point. But it also shows you that they are not done with their mode of player development. Epstein and Hoyer will look at Baker like Feldman for next season. They believe in his makeup, they believe in his work ethic so if you can find 4-5 mph in his fastball and stay healthy he will be a good contributor and a flippable guy next July. I know Cubs fans are frustrated with this type of process but the Cubs believe that competing and then getting younger players is an important facet of their building toward the future.
Will Dayan Viciedo eventually move to first base?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
That seems apparent, either first base or DH or a combination of the two with Adam Dunn for next season. The White Sox hope that moving him back to the infield will help him concentrate a little bit more on his offense. Viciedo originally was a third baseman.
Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)
The Sox appear to have gotten good prospects for Peavy but very little for Rios, were you surprised?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
I believe that Garcia, the infielder they got from Texas, can be a very good player for them. He's a switch-hitting athletic young player who can play second, short and center field. I think he'll get some starts for the White Sox this last month of the season.
Peter (Oak Park)
Bruce I hear what you are saying about starting the Arbitration clock on guys moving up for Septemeber call ups. But what doesn't baseball change these rules. Back in the day for teams out of it it was good to move up kids and let them play in Septemebr to get a taste of the Big Leagues. Now it seems the only ones called up are journey men or guys who have been here before, what's the point of expanded rosters nowadays.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
It depends on the organization. For competitive teams it gives the bullpen much needed relief and assistance. They also can bring up a pinch runner who might make a difference in a few games in the standings towards the end of the season. For a young team like the Cubs it's kind of arbitrary as to whether 30 days in the big leagues will impact some of their Double-A and Triple-A players. Most people feel the best time to evaluate young talent is in spring training and September.
Mike (Oklahoma City)
Matt Szczur is a guy I was intrigued by, will he get a shot next spring at making the big club?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
He might. He's improved. He's had a pretty good year in the minor leagues. He had a long way to go because he was a football player as well in college. The Cubs feel that he's got a chance to be a competitive major league player.
Karl (Illinois) [via mobile]
Do you see the Sox trying to trade John Danks in the offseason with guys like Johnson, Leesman, etc being close to MLB ready?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I would think the White Sox would be open to trading anyone, but not Danks in particular. He's actually made some very good strides over his last couple of starts. I believe the White Sox are looking forward to a good year from Danks in 2014.
Michael (Chicago, IL)
Do you think as Cubs fans we can start to get impatient with the current state of the Cubs? I think we still need to give it time to see the result of this rebuild. We knew what we getting ourselves into when the new management group took over. Thanks, keep up the good work!
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I think you probably have a right to feel impatient, but you haven't been lied to. Epstein and Hoyer have been very transparent about how long this process might take. I understand it's difficult to support a team that's losing, but they feel this is the right way to go. I think finances dictate that they don't spend any more money for a couple more years as well. I know that part is hard to understand but there is a business plan to go along with the baseball plan.
Castro is seeing more pitches per AB than ever, yet his results are the worst of his career. Has reigning in some of his aggressiveness hurt him, is it the weight of the contract and trying to live up to it, or maybe that the security of a long-term deal removed his drive?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
I see a guy that continues to work hard with the coaches every day. He also is a guy who accepts responsibility for his own actions, which is refreshing in a young player.The amazing thing is that he's been getting beat with the fastball all year. This is a guy that got 207 hits last year looking for a fastball. So I don't know if the taking more pitches has impacted him or not, but it might have.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Bruce what have you heard about the pitcher the Cubs claimed from Texas to complete the Garza trade?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Ramirez was well-liked in the Rangers organization by the people that I know. In Ramirez and Edwards, most baseball people think the Cubs made a sensational deal for Garza. That doesn't even include Olt, who has great power potential. The Cubs appear to have gotten four really good prospects for Garza, with Edwards the very best.
Bruce, what would you say are the Cubs top 3 free agency priorities going into the offseason?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
I would say a hitter, a hitter and another hitter. They are a pathetic offensive team and need much support to be competitive.
Bruce do you forsee any waiver wire deals involving the Cubs before Sunday?? Schierholtz is the only guy of value I see and am hoping they hold onto him; Navarro can't be moved due to lack of catching depth in system and Castillo's fragility, right?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
No, wrong. Teams are still talking to the Cubs about Navarro. According to my sources the Cardinals have had numerous discussions on Navarro. They have major concerns about Yadier Molina's health. And if he goes down they want a veteran like Navarro to be around.
The Cubs talk about teaching, and bringing young guys along slowly and finding themselves. Is bouncing Rizzo and Castro all over the lineup really good for them? Wouldn't a little consistency be good for them, so they can worry about making contact and not about where they will be hitting. Really does not matter at this point if they win or not.
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
I think you're right, your hypothesis is correct. However the Cubs don't have the other players to support them in those roles. In other words the rest of the offense is dysfunctional. So it seems no matter where you move the two hopes for the future they become vulnerable at some point to the rest of the lineup being pitched to. The bottom line is the Cubs need more professional hitters to hit around Castro, Rizzo and Castillo.
Eric (Washington, DC)
If (when) Paulie departs, who will be the face of the White Sox? Beckham seemed poised to take over that role when he first came up, but now I'm not so sure. Sale isn't really that guy, even if he is the Ace.
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
Yeah, a pitcher is usually never the face of the team although Jack McDowell and Buehrle were at the height of their White Sox careers. Nobody will be the team captain that's for sure. Beckham does have some leadership qualities as long as he's productive on the field. You can't be a team leader and be an unproductive player.
Does De Aza have a long term future on the South Side?
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
It depends who you talk to. Some executives think he would be hard to replace. In my opinion he makes too many mental mistakes. His numbers are pretty good but I just don't see him as the long-term answer there.
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
Enjoy the rest of the baseball week. Follow me on Twitter at MLBBruceLevine.