Chat with Bruce Levine
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Baseball beat 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 getting close to the winter meetings. I expect the Sox and Cubs to be active. Arbitration day is today. Konerko and Putz have to tell the White Sox if they accept. I doubt either will. Welcome ...
Joe (Chicago: Pilsen)
Bruce, the Cubs have talked to all the 1st base free agents. What are you hearing, about which one of the freee agents the Cubs really want and is going to get?
Bruce Levine (1:01 PM)
It's circumstantial for the Cubs. Money is a major issue. The Cubs are dealing with the free agent market like a small market team. Until some of these free agent first baseman get a reality check I'm not sure the Cubs will be able to move. They do have a sense that Carlos Pena is a guy who can fit in with their plans.
Matt J (Dubuque, IA)
Who is the leading candidate for the Cubs pitching coach position? Rick Peterson should be the guy because look and see what he did in Oakland with Zito, Hudson, and Mulder.
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
The Cubs are staying in-house. I expect Mark Riggins to be named pitching coach in the next couple of days although there are a number of other in-house candidates.
Did the Sox ask the Rockies for Ian Stewert and Dexter Flower for Floyd? If so then will they talk again?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Unaware of that scenario. Highly doubftul the Sox trade a pitcher without getting one in return especially with the unknown status of Peavy.
Really, Brandon Webb? Come on, Cubs. Just because they have a few bucks doesn't mean they have to spend it. Give us Archer. Give us any prospect. At least they'll stay off the DL. I have no idea what the team is trying to do here. They're rebuilding but maxing out their payroll. They're going young and bringing in old, broken veterans. Do they know what they're doing??
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Thank you for your comments but to the best of my knowledge the Cubs will be using their young players when it's time to brign them up. Archer and Jackson are not quite ready so they are going to have to continue to look at some short-term players. Colvin is the only possible young player who could play first base so they will need to sign a first baseman.
Bruce, Can you please explain to me why the Sox declined arbitration to AJ? Seemed like a no brainer after Martinez signed. If he take arb, we get him back on a 1 year deal, which it sounds is what the Sox want, and if he leaves for a multi year deal we get two comp picks. NO?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
No, that's not correct. If the White Sox offer him arbitration they would have to pay him somewhere between $7 million and $8 million. That's more than they probably want to pay. A.J. really didn't have a great year. At 34, the White Sox are probably thinking it might be time to move away from A.J. and let Flowers play. Victor Martinez would have been nice but that didn't work out.
Mike (Daytona Beach,Fl)
When do you see the Cubs making there 1st move? And who or what type of move will Hendry make?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
The Cubs are going to be slow to react. They are looking at free agent pitchers who have had some injuries over the years. Brandon Webb is on their radar but you have to be concerned about the medical. He hasn't pitched since Opening Day 2009 and shoulder injuries are really tough on pitchers. If everything checks out they may be interested.
rob (downers grove)
who will be the sox opening day 3b? morel visquel ian stewart???please tell me no way on teahan
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
The Sox are committed to Morel starting.
JT (Hot Springs, SD)
Bruce, if the Cubs sign Pena, do you think he'll benefit from playing at Wrigley and his numbers will bounce back to those of two years ago? However, I'm still concerned with the strikeouts. We have enough of those!
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I don't think the park is any benefit to Pena. He is pretty much a pull hitter. Historically, left-handed pull hitters have not done well at Wrigley. However, the other parks in the NL Central are favorable to left-handed pull hitters. Pena is an outstanding defensive first baseman and a solid clubhouse guy. Somehow if the Cubs sign him they are going to have to ignore the strikeouts and the .195 average from 2010.
Eric (Scranton, Iowa)
I have always wondered if the lack another Japanese player on the Cubs is a reason for Fukudome's struggles with the Cubs? Has he ever said anything about wishing the Cubs would sign another player from Japan?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
The Cubs have had a strong support system for Fukudome that includes an interpreter, a strength and conditioning assistant as well as flying in his former hitting coach from Japan 2-3 times a year. The language barrier in my opinion has had no impact on him. He just hasn't played up to the contract.
Do the Sox really believe that going with Flowers and Adam Dunn is a better overall deal than keeping AJ and Konerko. Dunn is not a great defensive player and Flowers does not seem to be ready for prime time.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Eventually teams have to move on and the White Sox don't want to be caught with a 35- and 34-year-old player going on the downside. You can make an argument that A.J.'s season showed that he is declining. Konerko is another story but signing him for more than a year is probably something the Sox are concerned about.
Jeff (Wolcott, IN)
Bruce, the Sox need a left handed bat to help balance out the line-up. With Dunn being the biggest bat out there, do you see them signing him or looking elsewhere for a bat? If so, who do you see being a fit for the Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
The White Sox want Dunn and have been trying to make that happen. However Dunn is telling people close to him that he'd like to play left field. The White Sox would rather have him be a DH/1B andm aybe a part-time outfielder. But Dunn is below average at almost every position on the field. The Sox have some interest in Hideki Matsui, who at 35 still has some pop. That would also be a short-term deal.
There have been rumors that the Dodgers could non-tender or trade James Loney. Have the Cubs looked into him? His $4-$5 million would fit the Cubs payroll, and he has always been good away from Dodger Stadium.
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Highly unlikely they will non-tender a productive player like Loney. The Cubs are among a few team who have asked the Dodgers about him and have been told he's not available at this time.
John (Springfield, IL)
Bruce, With Fukudome and A-Ram coming off the books next year, do you see the Cubs being a little more aggressive in the free agent market for 2012? It just seems like 2011 is already a lost year with the club settling on mediocrity at 1st base and pitching.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I'm not sure what ownership has in mind after 2011. Ricketts is on record saying he feels the minor league system should supply the majority of players in the future. But he also said that the Cubs will probably continue to be in the upper 3-4 teams in the NL for payroll. For now they are a small market team with a $135 million payroll.
Is it possible that the Cubs could sign Carlos Pena, Kerry Wood, and Kevin Milwood? Or, is there not enough money in the budget for this?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Hendry is known for his creativity. All of that could be a possibility depending on how the trade and free agent market shakes out next month.
I am one of Tyler Colvin's biggest fans. Do you see things playing out for him to get him a starting spot? I think he'd be more valuable in RF than at 1st.
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I think the Cubs are looking at him as a starting player. I'm told they are going to ask him to hone his skills at 1B during spring training just so Mike Quade can use him there in double switches late in games and to occasionally start him when the regular first baseman needs a day off. This will only make Colvin more valuable.
Doug (Westchester, IL)
Bruce, there has been talk that one of the players the Cubs are looking to move is Fukudome. What team would be attracted to him based on his salary vs lackluster performance? How much of his contract are the Cubs willing to eat to free up incremental payroll?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Tough to answer. Some of the smaller market teams might look at him as a nice platoon player. It's hard to imagine him being looked at as an everyday player. The Cubs would probably eat around half of the $13 million owed if the deal makes sense to them. They are under no real pressure to give him away.
Bruce, all indications show that the Sox are done with Bobby Jenks. I would hate to see them use Thorton in that role. What other options do they have for a closer/bullpen?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
If they retain Putz he is certainly an option. Chris Sale is also an option although the thinking is that he will start. The free agent market has numerous high quality setup men that can be used as either a closer or setup man for the Sox.
Any news on a trade for Adrian Gonzalez?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
At this point there has been no movement by the Padres. That might change at the winter meetings but the Padres have to continue to concern themselves with selling season tickets in the offseason and Gonzalez is their only draw.
Kenny Williams typically makes a move early in the off season. This hasnt happened this year. Do you think that he is waiting to see what Paul Konerko does before making any significant moves? Is Kenny forced to wait because Jerry Reinsdorf wants Paulie back?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I don't think he's forced to wait. But he does have to consider the possibility of Konerko returning. The White Sox have a lot of money committed to their starting rotation. Actually more than half the payroll so each move that they make has to be calculated exactly. Konerko and A.J.'s situations are part of the equation.
Dan (Orland Park)
Would the Red Sox be interested in Ramirez? It seems he would be a better option than Beltre since he's only locked up for a year. I know he had a bad year by his standards, but maybe in a better line up where he doesn't have to carry the load, he would do well. I really like Ellsbury for the Cubs.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Talking about trading Ramirez you have to ask for his approval. Also depending on who you get back, who will be driving in runs for the Cubs in 2011? If you don't replace 25 homers and 100 RBIs you may be sorry.
Doug (Westchester, IL)
With the Dodgers signing Juan Uribe at 2nd base, is there any chance the Cubs would entertain re-signing Ryan Theriot?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I thought about that myself. No doubt he will be non-tendered by the Dodgers. I doubt if he fits into the Cubs plans. That ship has sailed although they still don't have a lead-off man.
Dan (Mount Prospect)
Bruce, What can we expect out of John Grabow this season? Is he healthy and ready to pitch? I'm hoping if nothing else he can pitch well enough to be trade bait in July.
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
All indications are his knee will be 100 percent for spring training. Grabow is a much better pitcher than he showed las year. His mistake was trying to pitch through injury. His resurgence would be a nice surprise for the Cubs.
Tom (oak park )
Are the Cubs on Zack Grienke's no trade list?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Don't know that. I really don't think the Cubs have a matchup for him. They do not seem to be in the mode of trading their top prospects. Also Greinke is owed $27 million over the next two years.
Speaking of Uribe...It blew me away that he got 21 million/3 years. Did that surprise you?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Not really because of his versatility. That's how the Dodgers looked at it. To open the season he is their starting second baseman. But every year Rafael Furcal comes up with some injuries so Uribe would have to step in at SS. Same thing at 3B if there is an injury there. He's a valuable player although three years might have been a little much.
Paul (St. Louis)
With the Rangers signing Yorbit Torrealba, do you think talks with them for a young 1st baseman are dead? Any chance it was Moreland instead of Davis they were discussing?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I don't believe the Rangers would trade Moreland. Too young, too much upside. Davis is a different story. His one tool appears to be power.
Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Edwin Jackson...which is more likely to be traded?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
Most likely Jackson with one year and $8 million left. I just don't see them trading starting pitching unless they get it back. That's the strength of their team.
Tom (Tinley Park)
Is Johnny Damon a consideration as a left-handed option?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
The White Sox were interested last year but he did not have a good season. At age 36 or 37, I think his good years are behind him. And the White Sox may be thinking the same.
Alan (East Moline)
WIll the Sox sign Alexi to a long term deal this winter?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Good question. They still have him under contract for another two years. He signed a four-year deal so that means he will be arbitration eligible next season. This might have been one of the White Sox's most favorable contracts: four years, $4.4 million.
What other catching options are out there if AJ signs elsewhere? There's no way Flowers is ready to handle the bulk of the catching duties.
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
There are not a lot of great catching options in free agency. Varitek or Miguel Olivo, whom the Sox traded once already, are out there.
Please tell me that Kenny wont trade valuable players for one year of Prince. Is that rumor dead now?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
For now the Brewers appear to be holding on to Fielder. There might be some more talk at the winter meetings about him. But whoever trades for him must be prepared for his free agency walk year in 2012 where he will be asking between $17 million-$20 million a year. So you're basically getting one year.
quetin is rumored to be on the move? what would we be looking for in return
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
You probably want some more outfield pop. Even in a bad year Quentin's 25 homers and 90 RBIs is difficult to replace. The White Sox will trade Quentin if they feel like they are getting back top quality.
Will Rick Hahn ever take over for Kenny or is he going to end up elsewhere?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Dear Mrs. Hahn,Rick will be a GM somewhere in the next couple of years and possibly with the White Sox if Reinsdorf decides to make Kenny the president of the team.
Will Dayan Viciedo be on the major league team to start the year? Is he good enough to be the DH, or the 1B, if we don't sign Konerko?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
The Sox feel he is ready to contribute at the major league level. His future is probably that of a 1B or DH. If the team signs Dunn, Viciedo might be the other side of the power mix either as DH or 1B.
Colby Rasmus...playing in CHicago or St Louis next year?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
That was a rumor that was put out there six weeks ago. I doubt that the Cardinals would consider trading him considering he's a young productive left-handed hitter on a team that lacks left-handed hitting.
The Other JJ (Elgin)
I know the White Sox would like to sign him to contract at least through his arbitration years, but does John Danks plan on going year to year?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
So far that is the case. Danks' agent is Jeff Barry, an agent who represents Mark Buehrle. The White Sox are going to have to make a big offer in order to get Danks to sign a long-term deal.
Jeffrey Wilson (Atlanta, GA)
Can you see a market developing for Marlon Byrd this offseason?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
I think hendry would trade anyone if it made sense. Byrd is a versatile, valuable outfielder who would fit in on almost any team. But it's questionable how much he would bring back in a trade.
How messy was the Ryne Sandberg breakup? Is the door still open for a return to him if the Mike Quade experiement doesnt work out?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
I think there is some bad feelings without a doubt. I don't think Sandberg feels he got an even shot. Nonetheless there are no plans to bring Sandberg in. The Cubs are not planning on Quade failing.
Steve (Las Vegas)
Wouldn't Sergio Santos be a legit closer option, or do they not think he's ready yet?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
The latter. He's got a great arm but he's still trying to figure out how to pitch. He could eventually develop into a closer.
% chance that AJ is back
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
I still think it's 50/50. Moreso now that Martinez signed elsewhere. It's hard to tell how big the market is for A.J.
Bill (Tinley Park)
Is Bret Jackson playing at Wrigley Field before the 2011 season is over?
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
I would say most likely. If he starts out the Double-A season well then I think he will move quickly to Triple-A and could be with the Cubs by June or July. It all depends on his progress and their need.
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
The winter meetings start Sunday night in Orlando. Keep chaecking my blog and Doug Padilla's for all the latest Cubs and White Sox news. We'll catch you on "Talking Baseball" from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday for a preview of the winter meetings.