Chat with Bruce Levine
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Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Greetings on Arbitration Day. We are expecting to hear in just a few moments that the Cubs will settle with some of their arbitration-eligible players. The Sox are trying to sign John Danks before it's necessary to give figures.
How do you see playing time at 2b being apportioned for the Cubs? It doesn't sound like it is going to be a conventional righty/lefty platoon. It seems like Baker is likely to play most often, despite hitting right-handed.
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
That could be the case but keep in mind that while Baker hit .300 last year, struck out 46 times in 200 at-bats, he's really not an on-base percentage guy. I like him better as a starter than Fontenot.
Reilly (Chuckey, TN)
How do you think Randy Wells will fare in his sophomore season?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
That's the million-dollar question going into this season, especially with Lilly starting the season on the DL. Wells has a lot of bulldog in him, and when I talked to him at the Cubs Convention, he said he was working hard to make sure there's no such thing as a sophomore jinx for him.
the D (spacemountain, MASS)
How do u stay focused when u know in january neither the cubs or sox have a snowballs chance 2 make playoffs, nevamind win a title?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
My suggestion is just to worry about the Red Sox underachieving in a very difficult division.
Biggy (Washington, NC)
What's new on Jermaine Dye? I think he'd be great insurance, and very productive in a reduced role.
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
If you read my blog and news story on Dye yesterday, right here on ESPNChicago.com, you would have read that it's up to Dye to figure out whether he can handle reduced playing time as well as a reduction in salary up to 66 percent from the $11M he made last year. Personally, I think he would be ideal for the Cubs with Soriano's problems with staying healthy, Fukudome's underachieving offensively, he might get into 125 games.
Biggy (Washington, NC)
Are the Cubs really satisfied at 2B? What are the chances that Castro pulls an Elvis Andrus and comes in, putting Theriot in at 2B?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
It's a very good question. At the Cubs Convention, Theriot told me that he's all good if they ask him to move to second base. The only caveat he said was to make sure Castro was ready to contribute every day at that position. The Cubs would be much stronger defensively with Theriot at 2b and Castro at SS.
Johnny Blaze (Morgan Park)
Do you think JD's hitting would benefit from the rest he would get as a full-time DH, and is there any chance the Sox bring him in for such a role. I just think he is better than being a 4th outfielder. Am i wrong in that thinking?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
The Sox are using the DH role for flexibility. A high ranking White Sox official told me this weekend that they're going to go along with Ozzie's philosophy that is not to have any slow-running, strikeout-type hitter clogging up the DH. Dye would be better served playing about 125 games in the NL. If you look back at his two previous seasons when he was rested for a day, he usually came back strong.
Carlos Marmol had his worst major league season of three in '09. Does Marmol truly deserve to be the opening day starting closer, or is it a result of Gregg's abysmal '09 and lack of a better option? Is Hendry kicking himself for not resigning Kerry Wood to close?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Marmol was 11-for-11 in save opportunities after they gave him the full-time closer's role. He's probably better served as the closer ...
Moderator (1:12 PM)
Hang on one second folks, Bruce had to step away for a second. Thanks.
Moderator (1:15 PM)
By the way, we get hundreds of questions for these chats, so we can't get to all of them. But you can send questions to Bruce's mailbag, and he'll answer them on Thursdays on ESPNChicago.com. Here's the link: http://espn.go.com/chicago/mailbag/_/id/30337
Moderator (1:17 PM)
Please stand by, Bruce will be right back, and we'll stay a little longer.
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Breaking news: The Cubs have signed five of their arbitration-eligible players. According to sources, Mike Fontenot signed for $1 million; Jeff Baker signed for $975,000; Koyie Hill signed for $700,000; Tom Gorzellany signed for $800,000; and Jose Guzman signed for $825,000. The Cubs have filed on Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall and Ryan Theriot. The players' numbers and team's numbers will come out at 2 p.m. Chicago time.
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
It's apparent the Cubs did a lot of hard work to get these five cases done. Keep in mind anyone is arbitration eligible and signs these contracts are signing deals that aren't guaranteed until April 1. Before that, there are two different dates in March that a team can release a player and pay them only 1/5 of the contract that was a agreed upon. For instance, if the team wanted to let go of a Mike Fontenot on a certain date in March, it would only have to pay him $100,000. Still waiting to hear on John Danks and the Sox. We'll post it as soon as it happens.
Its Angel Guzman, not Jose
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Sorry, good catch
With all this talk about Dye and Nady, are the cubs looking at adding a left handed bat to the bench? and whats the latest on RP's?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Look in my blog yesterday for info on RPs. The Cubs continue to look at Toronto's and San Diego's relief pitchers. Certainly the Cubs would be prudent in trying to find one. I'm sure if Rick Ankiel's stock continues to fall, the Cubs would consider signing him. Right now, Dye appears to be the best bet for the Cubs if he decides to accept a lot less money.
Are the Cubs still looking to sign Ben Sheets? If not what other pitcher are they looking to sign?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
He's working out for a number of clubs today. Two of the Cubs' evaluators, Ken Kravec and Jim Crawford, are watching Sheets this afternoon in Monroe, La. We might know more after they get back to Jim Hendry and Randy Bush.
Who do you think the Cubs will sign in a couple days, Dye, Nady, Sheets or anothet unknown player and for how much?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I think we'll know rather quickly about Dye. He seems to have run out of viable alternatives. And the Cubs offer should be interesting for him and his family because of the fact Dye lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. and would continue to be around his family during spring training.
Perfecto Diaz (Chicago)
Hi Bruce. As you might have heard by now, Paul Konerko has told MLB.com that he would like to retire as a White Sox meaning that he would like to come back after this year. Paul Konerko is a class act kind of guy and a great leader. Will the Sox likely part ways with him to make room for Dayan Viciedo? The Sox signed Teahen to an extension to play third base, so third base is taken for next year.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Well there's no rush in signing Paulie right now. He's 34, and his production was decent last year. I'm sure the Sox will wait to see what type of season he has before they offer another contract. Fifteen million is $15 million, and it's 15 percent of the Sox payroll.
Bruce, Pinella says Soriano will hit 5th, Byrd 6th, with Fukudome and Theriot competing for the leadoff spot. Who hits 2nd? The loser of the leadoff battle? thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Piniella said last weekend that Byrd will bat fifth. As far as second, let's find out who's going to play second and shortstop before we decide that.
I might be in the minority but why are the Cubs going after Jermaine Dye, I would of liked him ten years ago, he seems like he lost more then just a few steps and if you put him in a outfield that already has Soriano, then the defense would be bad again, why won't they sign Reed Johnson back?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Dye and Johnson are two different types of players. If Soriano goes down for an extended period of time, like he has the last three years, their RBI production won't go down with Dye in the lineup. Reed might bring better defense and small ball type variety to the game, but he won't have the impact a player like Dye would. You're correct the defense would be bad again if Dye and Soriano were in the same outfield.
chris (peoria heights, il)
what is your sources telling you about our chances to get Ben Sheets. A story broke from Toronto yesterday saying the "Cubs have all but signed Sheets." any truth to this?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
None that I know of. He's working out today as I stated earlier. Nobody has seen him throw for over a year. MLB teams don't sign players off their baseball cards. So the Cubs will want to see what they're getting before making an offer.
Jermaine Dye (Northside)
Is there a better solution to the clubhouse issues Milton Bradley had then myself and Marlon Byrd? Talk about polar opposites...
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
Dye's a terrific clubhouse guy, and when it comes to race, he's color blind. He would be an excellent addition to the Cubs.
With all our arms in the minors, why we looking for relief help when Sheets may end up being a gift? So, any update on how he's pitched today?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
Not yet, but keeping listening to ESPN 1000 and check in at ESPNChicago.com.
Bruce, I am a Cubs fan who liked what the WhiteSoxs did when they brought in Ozzie. They brought in all former players and teamates of the Whit Soxs. Do you believe when Ryno comes to mange the Cubs will he put Greg Maddux has his pitching coach, Grace has 1st base or bench coach and other teamates as coaches with him?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
You have it turned around, you mean when Maddux becomes manager and Sandberg becomes bench coach. I believe if ownership has any say so, Sandberg and former Cubs from the 80s and 90s will be favored.
Jermaine Dye is a great clubhouse guy and an outstanding power bat- however his UZR/150 has him as one of the worst fielding OF's in the game- considering his limitations in the field, wouldn't Xavier Nady or Rocco Baldelli make more sense for the already defensively challanged Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
First of all, Nady is coming off a second Tommy John surgery, and nobody knows if he'll be able to throw decently again. Baldelli has had health issues throughout his career, which makes him a part-time player. I like Nady if he's healthy, but there are question marks for all three. That's why they've dropped to this point in the offseason.
Cole Bair (Cedar Falls, Iowa)
Obviously Jermaine Dye is being looked at, however is acquiring him going to financially impact our search for a late inning arm? For a guy like Kiko Calero? Why haven't we heard more about the Cubs making a push for Calero? His stats last year were impressive.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I'm sure Hendry will be creative in shelling out money to free agents, so he allows himself flexiblity to bring in other players that he needs.
Collin (Champaign, Illinois)
With a full season of Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd and John Danks entering their prime, how do you think the Sox rotation stacks up to other AL teams this year and will Freddy Garcia be the answer all season long or do you see the Sox making a move to solidify the back end of the rotation?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
I love the first four guys in the Sox rotation. I'd also like to see Buehrle get some time off during the season. I believe he won only one or two games after his perfect game. A week's vacation during the season might rejuvenate him to the point of winning 16 or 17 games.
Travis Selleck (Cincinnati, OH)
Why would the Cubs not go after a guy like Orlando Hudson? He wouldn't cost much, and he'd immediately be a better option than any current 2nd basemen the Cubs currently have.
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
He really faded last year to the point he lost his job with the Dodgers. He's also not really a base stealer at all, so in a sense he's overrated.
Rumors of Cub interest in Dye as a backup surprise me. Isn't there an AL team out there who could use Dye as their DH?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
He missed out on his opportunity with the Rangers, who signed Guerrero last week instead of Dye. Dye is still smarting from that, because that would have been perfect for him. To answer your question directly, it doesn't appear many other teams have money to offer Dye.
Anthony (Rochelle, IL)
are the Cubs worried about Angel Guzman's health?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
You would have to be. He's had injury problems throughout his career. Other teams really like him, the Cubs have fielded offers.
Hi Bruce,Do you think the White Sox might pick up a left handed bat before the season starts? If not who would be their DH at the start of the season?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
There are a lot of choices including Kotsay, Jones, Pierre and Vizquel. Ozzie said before the team got Pierre he might use Vizquel in a DH role at the top of the order. The same could be said for Pierre, who's not a great defensive player. You could see games where Kotsay starts in left, Pierre starts as lead-off man/DH.
Ladisa (San Diego)
I love what Dye brings to the Cubs. Any chance we sign a switch hitting shortstop for one year?Maybe Orlando Cabrera?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
He's not a switch hitter, but it's not a bad idea. The right-handed hitting former Sox shortstop usually ends up on a playoff team. Again, money factors into any signing for veterans.
What is the current news about John Danks? Are the Sox in contract negotiations or is he expected to go through arbitration? If so, how close are the two sides to reaching an agreement?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
We're waiting on info on Danks right now. The Sox tried to sign him to a multi-year contract last spring. This would be a nice time to get it done.
We all know that Wrigley is in need of a major uplift from everything like concessions, restrooms, locker rooms, weight rooms, etc. But what are the plans for the upcoming year? I know the Ricketts Family have said that food and restrooms are the main focus at least for this year, but are there gonna be any more changes around Wrigley for the upcoming year, or are they gonna wait a couple of years down the road so they can recoup some of the money that the used to buy the cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Next offseason, the Cubs will start major renovations at Wrigley. That will include the triangle building adjacent to the third base line of the ballpark. Renovations will take upwards of 3 years to complete.
Joe (Chicago: Pilsen Area)
Bruce, with all the outfielders available via freeagents and trades, which one of these names do you belive the Cubs will get. Dye, Nady, Spilboughs, Eric Byrnes, Randy Winn, or R. Johnson? and when?Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Their priority at the moment is Dye. They do not want to force him to take a deal he doesn't want. That's something Dye is weighing at the present time. Beyond that, Spillborghs is a fourth or fifth OF, not a guy who can step in and give you the offense Dye would.
How do the Ricketts expect to make Wrigley more kid friendly at the newly inflated ticket prices that will have to continue up to pay for all the water slides and t-shirt cannons?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
We recommend that all the Chicagoland children start saving their money now to be able to have enough money to spend on the new Cubs funhouse in 2014.
Justin Ladas (Chicago, IL)
Hendry should get the credit for putting these playoff contenders on the field. Pinella is the one to blame for the playoff collapses: Marmol pitched too many innings during the season, Fukodome batted too high in the order, Soriano batted too high in the order, Lilly never got a chance to pitch during the playoffs
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Good analyzation. Feel free to write back with more, I need all the help I can get.
Bruce, what are the chances the Cubs go out and sign a veteran for the bullpen such as Jose Contreras? They still haven't signed anyone since Capps went to the Nationals. Or if they sign Sheets does that send Silva to the bullpen? Thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
I have yet to wrap my head around what Silva is goign to bring to the team, due to injuries and lack of production. I don't think the Cubs are expecting much from him. They're looking at trades as well as Contreras. They talked to Contreras. Again, he's dropping from $12M to who knows how much. That's a tough thing for a veteran to take.
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Breaking news: The Sox signed a one-year deal with John Danks for $3.5 million to avoid arbitration, according to a league source.
Hey Bruce, do you expect a good year for Alex Rios?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
Correction, the deal is worth $3.45 million.
Levi Bruce (Chicago)
Will castro get a shot to be the everyday shortstop if he puts up mega numbers during spring training
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
I don't think there's any doubt about it. The Cubs' upper management will have to decide if the 20-year-old kid without any Triple-A experience is emotionally ready to handle the everday job for a team that is supposed to win a division title.
Is Geovany Soto too small to be an effective defensive catcher?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
Too small? I don't think Soto is small. Actually he was too big last year. He still weighs around 210 pounds. Most catchers lose anywhere from 7-15 pounds during 162-game schedule. So even if he comes in at 215, it should be the proper weight for him this year.
is there any chance the cubs pull a surprise card and sign someone like Pedro Martinez for the bull-pen seeing he can relief and he is a veteran like Lou wants
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
I don't believe that's in the cards for the Cubs. Pedro is hard to figure out due to his age and attrition. He's the type you want to go after at the end of July, not at the beginning of the season.
Jeff (Arlington Heights)
Do the white sox have any one on their radar as far as bullpen additions go? I know they have Jenks, Putz, Thorton and Pena but when you get past that there are a lot of questions.
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
Well Daniel Hudson is being considered as a long man right now. He's also the fifth starter of the future for this team.
Justin Ladas (Chicago, IL)
Samardijza has gotta go, he has no idea where he's throwing the ball. Any news of him being shopped?
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
I don't believe the Cubs would consider shopping Samardzija at this point. They want to be able to evaluate his ability before they trade him. I believe he'll get a legitimate shot at the fifth starters role.
Is that Soto's weight before or after he waxed his eyebrows?What's up with that?
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
What's wrong with being a metrosexual.
Bruce, I really hope the cubs new hitting coach can help Soriano out, I can't stand to watch that guys plate discipline, it looks like he's teeing off on the golf course trying to hit a pitch in the dirt
Bruce Levine (2:01 PM)
That was one of the major reasons Rudy Jaramillo was hired. Anybody who can take Marlon Byrd and Mark DeRosa, who were part time players for most of their careers, and make them solid, everyday performers is worth hiring.
Jeff (Arlington Heights)
What off season work has Alex Rios been doing to avoid the struggles he had last season?
Bruce Levine (2:02 PM)
Not sure on that. I've talked to his agent on numerous occasions, and he said Rios was embarrassed by his performance last year and was working hard to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Old Coach (West Lafayette, IN)
How long do you see Bob Brenly staying in the booth?
Bruce Levine (2:03 PM)
He's making about $1 million per year. I think he'll stay there a long time unless he gets a manager's job that he wants. I don't know what you think, but I believe he's one of the better analysts in the game.
george (Orland Park)
do you think arod will come to chicago i heard from cub scouts that it might happen?
Bruce Levine (2:04 PM)
Stay away from the cub scouts and start hanging around the boy scouts, they have better sources.
Josh (Orland Park)
i was recently over in florida this weekend for a baseball tourny for my buddies brother and there were a bunch of scouts there!!! my buddies dad is a big cubs fan and knows everyone on the teeam and behind the scenes...when we were talking they said that arod and the cubs have been talking and that it might be a week before it comes out do you believe this or is this all rumors...i mean hey it legitamitly came from a cub scout
Bruce Levine (2:06 PM)
Who are the Cubs going to offer? Fukudome and Jeff Baker? Why at this point would the Yankees want to trade A-Rod? He had an off the chart season for a guy who missed the first five weeks last season and helped them win the World Series. Give me a break.
Luke (Des Moines)
Wouldn't the cubs be better off starting Blanco at 2nd and sacrificing a little offense with the good offense they already have and nontendering fonty?
Bruce Levine (2:07 PM)
I'm with you about defense. The only way the Cubs will get better next season is to give their pitchers better defense, but I don't think Blanco is an everday player.
Is there any truth to this, Cubs acquiring or signing Jason Bourgeois? A Cubs source said he is quit possible
Bruce Levine (2:08 PM)
Haven't heard it, but they need players for Triple A. He's a good career Triple-A player. He also hits left-handed.
Charles Moon (Chicago)
Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce....seeing that Hendry is limited with they payroll..is there an outside chance that ownership will extend the budget a bit if a solid trade comes around? or is Hendry stuck with what he's got and has to work with whatever moeny/talent he has at the moment?
Bruce Levine (2:09 PM)
I don't believe Hendry has much more money to spend, and I don't the Ricketts family is willing to give him a blank check at this point. I do believe any owner like Tom Ricketts would give his GM more money around the trade deadline if the team needs to make a move or two to compete.
Bruce, Jeff Samardzija has a full no-trade clause, just like everyone else on the Cubs, why does Hendry do this?
Bruce Levine (2:10 PM)
I'll answer by saying Hendry does what he feels is the proper thing to do to get a signing done. In this case he had a player who had another choice of a sport to play, therefore he had to bid against the NFL.
Justin Ladas (Chicago, IL)
Sources tell me Bruce waxes his back, eyebrows, and legs
Bruce Levine (2:11 PM)
Quit listening to Harry Teinowitz.
White Sox or Twins?
Bruce Levine (2:12 PM)
Never bet against the Twins, they always manage to be there, but I like the Sox.
Andrew (Rome, Italy)
Bruce, Where is Hendry's money coming from? I thought, once the arb guys sign, he'd hit his ~$140m limit after signing Byrd?
Bruce Levine (2:13 PM)
They will have a better idea of how much money they have left after they signing Theriot, Marmol and Marshall.
Will there be rennovation for this upcoming season. Facilities in the clubhouse, bathroom, etc? I was under the impression that there would be some rennovations done for this upcoming season.
Bruce Levine (2:13 PM)
I'm hearing somethign will be done, maybe we'll have more info over the next week. There is some skybox renovation going on right now. Nothing major until next season.
Bruce Levine (2:15 PM)
Happy to have been able to break some news for you during the chat. Keep your eye on the Dye/Cubs situation.