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 (1:03 PM)
I told you the Packers we're going to win. Sorry I didn't get the points right. It is now officially baseball season, and for most of you who chime in each week, that's a good thing for you as well. Not that I'm counting, but spring training for the Cubs begins in 19 days.
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Away we go...
Will I be traded before the season?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Only if you decide to eat at least $7 million of your contract.
The Sox payroll seems to be based on the idea that the team will start well and get good attendance early on. If the Sox get off to a slow start like last year and fans don't show up will they try to move some players?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Not this year. The idea is to draw 2.5 million in attendence and win a division. That's the goal, especially with the Cubs being down in popularity.
Matt Mikolajczyk (Spring Hill, TN)
What are the chances the cubs can come to contract extensions with marmol and garza to avoid arbitration and are the cubs going to resign Ramirez after this year or will they look to bring up Vitters after this season with it being Ramirez's final year of his contract?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
To answer your first question, which is a good one, I think the team will look to get three-year deals with both Marmol and Garza. The players' benefit will be guaranteed money and futures. The Cubs would do it to save money over a three-year span.
Vinny (New Jersey)
Don't the White Sox have to make a decision soon on Chris Sale, Starter or reliever? I would imagine that decision will weigh on his training and preparation for the up coming season. I would hate to see a Joba Chamberlain situation where we mess up a good looking young arm by flip flopping.
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
The Sox's theory, like most teams, is to stretch a guy out in Spring training, regardless of whether they're a reliever or starter. For the first two-three weeks of ST they can stretch Sale out like he's a starter, but there would be plenty of time to switch later on if he's going to the pen. The Cubs will do the same with Cashner Samardzija. Not that you care about the Cubs, but as a comparison...
Buck (Louisville Ky)
Any truth the Cubs are bringing former Cub Todd Wellemyer to camp on a minor league deal?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
There's been some talk. I wouldn't be surprised, but there aren't a lot of spots open, although he has experience as both a starter and reliever.
Josh (Chicago, IL)
I keep hearing the Sox are "all in" this year, and as a Sox fan I'm really excited to hear that, but what happens if they miss the playoffs again? And is it that urgent?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Yes, the urgency is there to draw more fans in order to support a high payroll. If they don't make the playoffs and don't draw, then Jerry may have to look at dumping some salaries.
Bryan (Tulsa OK)
What OF will the cubs trade before the season?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I don't see any OF getting traded. They need to add an OF as a backup -- either Reed Johnson or Fernando Perez, who was acquired in the Garza deal. What the Cubs really need is a backup infielder who can play 2B, SS and 3B.
Ozzie Gullien (Venezuela)
Barring injures and having a healthy Peavy early on, how good is my team?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Don't count on Peavy to start the season, Ozzie. Don't discount Detroit or Minnesota, but you should be right there with them.
Mike Sage (Chicago)
What's the Cubs long term plan for 1B? Have they had internal discussions that you're aware of in regards to Fielder or Pujols, or are those pipe dreams?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Depends how the young players in the organization progress this year.
What's the latest word on whether or not the W Sox are gonna look for a temp 5th starter to throw while Peavy gets fully healthy? I'd say the nature of his injury makes banking on him performing at 100% all season is a dumb one, so what are your thoughts? Thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
The Sox are done spending money on teh 25-man roster. My guess is that the fifth starter will come from the minor league system or Chris Sale.
Alan (Macomb, IL)
Hi Bruce, I've heard the cubs are still searching for another veteran reliever, i was curious who they are looking at?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
No, they're not looking for that. They're more in search of a swingman on a make-good type contract. Someone like Wellemeyer.
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Getting back to Wellemeyer... I just made a call. Todd Wellemeyer signs a one-year deal with the Cubs, which is not guaranteed. He can make $800,000 with a chance to make another $400,000, according to a major league source.
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Who else do you want to be on the Cubs this season? :)
Geoff Clam (Naperville, IL)
It looks like Brent Morel is currently the White Sox third baseman. Personally I'm not sold on him yet... How short of a leash will he have until the Sox replace him with Omar or someone outside the organization?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
The Sox's front office made a bit of a mistake saying he was going to get a complete shot at the job. Ozzie couched that statement by saying that incumbent Mark Teahen will get his opportunity as well. I believe that's a paid political statement so the veteran Teahen won't get upset.
Who is your favorite for the NL Central this year? Cubs need a lot to go right to contend. You gotta go with Milwaukee at this point, don't you?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
I believe the Cardinals and Cubs will fight Milwaukee for the division. For some reason I have no faith in the Cincinnati pitching staff. I think there may be some one-year wonders who contributed to their success last year.
Mike (Wheeling, IL)
How serious were discussions with the Angels regarding Alfonso Soriano and what were the details? I'm glad the Cubs didn't move him because adding Napoli as a spot starter at catcher and a fill in vs. tough lefties at first doesn't do much for me. Juan Rivera is nothing special and is always hurt. If the Angels were to pony up some prospects the deal would've made more sense... Please comment. Thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I don't believe that the Angels were ever seriously interested in Soriano.
Nick (New Lenox)
Bruce, love your work. What is Mike Quade going to do with the Cubs backup catcher position? I liked what I saw out of Castillo, outside of nearly killing Tyler Colvin.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Hill is firmly entrenched as the backup catcher. Castillo will start at Triple-A and will be there in case of injury to Hill or Soto.
Heard anything about Stephen Strasburg and his rehab?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
The story is that he feels he's ahead of schedule. But, and Tommy John surgery is 13 months -- period. Washington will not let him get on his own schedule.
Its opening day,9th inning. Sox are up. Who is closing?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
No, who's on first? What's closing.
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
It could be anyone of three guys: Sale, Santos or Thornton. Ozzie certainly doesn't want a committee -- he wants one guy.
Why is Koyie Hill allowed to play in the majors? He had basically a -1 WAR last year, is a black hole at the plate, and had a horrible defensive year last year. The Cubs are strong in catcher depth...This is who we trot out to back up Soto, really?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Can't argue with any of your premise, except that management likes him and trusts him handling the pitching staff if Soto goes down for any length of time.
Rodney (Lafayette, Indiana)
Do you expect Mike Quade to be able to build on the finish from last Season? What I mean is, do you believe his presence made the significant difference down the stretch, or was it just the pressure being off?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Every season starts out with its own pace. I think Quade established himself with the players, which will be a key for him as far as getting them to respond. But if your big hitters don't hit, and your pitchers don't do what they're supposed to do, Quade is going to look as inept as Piniella did last season.
Any thought on cutting Buerhle's innings down to keep him fresh for the second half?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Buehrle is just who he is. He's a 200 inning pitcher who's going to win 14 and lose 12. He may start out 7-0 or 0-7, but some way he'll end up 14-12. That's all the Sox really want from him.
What do you make of Theriots comments on St. Louis radio that the cubs clubhouse was not a winning atmosphere?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
If that's the case, be bares a lot of the responsibility to that statement by not contributing himself. I like Theriot, but he didn't respond well to the move to second base and that's how he ended up being traded.
slab (muncie indiana)
who in your opinion is the best fit for cubs lead-off hitter
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
I think Quade is going to use a cobination of people, including Kosuke, Baker and even Castro. They don't have an obvious guy win OBP ability other than Fukudome and Soto, and Soto is too slow to leadoff.
I love the young guys,Colvin and Castro.Who else is close to being ready to be brought up to the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
They feel P Jay Jackson has a shot, as does CF Brett Jackson.
It was reported that Viciedo is being used in the outfield. Is this basically a last ditch effort to see if this guy can stay up somehow-someway as a hitter in the lineup?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I think they're looking to see if he can be a functional utility guy. If he can play some outfield then they can use him at 1B, 3B, LF and DH. They like his bat.
Are you at all worried about having Jim Hendry at the helm when the Cubs have money to spend next year. It seems like all of his big money signings have been busts. (Soriano, Zambrano, Fukodome, Ramirez, Bradley, etc.
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I would not consider Ramirez a bust -- he just had a bad half-season. He's a 25/100 guy. Revisionist history might make Zambrano a bust, but at the time he signed he was one of the top 3 pitchers in the game. So my answer is that money will not determine whether Hendry can do his job or not.
I heard that Darwin Barney took part in "Camp Colvin" and will be ready to compete at 2B this season. If Barney looks good, what do the Cubs do with Baker?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Barney and Baker are both backups who could be involved in platoons. Barney is the only backup SS on the team right now, so unless the Cubs bring in a verteran like Orlando Cabrera, he'll be on the big league team. If they do, he goes back to the minors.
Will we see Freddy Garcia get the 5th starter spot for the Sox again? If not, could he get a chance else where?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Freddy probably wants more of a guarantee of a spot, so I believe he'll sign elsewhere.
Hi Bruce- Love your work. Aside from Wood and Marshall (hopefully Grabow comes back) do you see C. Carpenter, J. Jackson, or J. S'mdja as the bridge 6th/7th inning guy in the pen?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Any of the three might do, but Samardzija has a leg up on the other two due to the fact that he's out of options and cannot be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers.
I read that the Sox might explore the possibility of bringing back J. Dye. What would it take to get him signed? What does he have left?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
hard to say. He took a year off and I believe he's going to be 37 years old. He's another slow outfielder who doesn't defned particularly well. However, the Sox do need a fourth OF.
Justin Ladas (Chicago)
You've been talking about Orlando Cabrera quite a bit in the chats lately, is this wishful thinking or do you have a lead ?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Well if you read my stuff, you know I don't make things up. Read between the blogs.
Ben (Lincoln, NE)
Would you agree that Omar Vizquel was the MVP of the '10 White Sox? What he did for Ramirez and Beckham's defense was so crucial. I'm so glad to have him back again.
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
That's a little bit of an overstatement, however it's no coincidence that when he stepped in to play 3B the team took off on its best streak of the season. He's still a winning player with remarkable skills for a 44-year old guy.
Tom Carpin (Chicago)
Any truth to the rumors you'll grow a playoff beard for either team's '11 playoff run?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
I already have a beard. Maybe I'll shave it.
If Silva or Wells show anything this spring could the Cubs dump them on another team?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Doubtful. Wells doesn't have that much market value and Silva is making too much money. Wells also still has a minor league option if things go south.
Is Beckham going to be hitting in the 2-hole?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
That's where I would put him... which means absolutely nothing. But you'd like to have a couple guys who can run at the top of the order before you get to the painfully slow guys -- Konerko, Dunn, AJ.
John (Effingham Il)
Do you think in the future that Starlin Castro could end up playing 3rd base?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
A lot of baseball scouts I talk to predict his body type as bigger and stronger. Does that meam automatic move to 3B? Not necessarily.
Dan Lawlor (Chi City)
I love Doug Glanville, any chance he shows up for the radio color job?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Still a four-horse race between Glanville, Matthews, Moreland and Otto. I still think Otto has a bit of a leg up.
Carlos Silva (Unknown)
Where am I going to be on Opening Day? I am competing for the starting job and probably won't get it. If I don't get that, there might not be enough room for me in the bullpen. Will some team please just take me in a trade or do I cost too much?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
He was underestimated last year, even by some upper management types. And he was the best Cubs pitcher in the first half. You cannot totally discount him.
Alan Trammell (Somewhere?)
Am I with the Cubs anymore or did I end up someplace else?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Alan, you are now the bench coach in Arizona. Enjoy your time with former Detroit teammate Kirk Gibson.
Any chance the Cubs could bring in Felipe Lopez on a non-guaranteed invite? I know he had some conflicts with Tony LaRussa and was awful with the Cardinals last year, but he could also really improve second base/leadoff if he rebounds to his 2009 form.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
I think not. Look for the Cubs to look at Orlando Cabrera, Christian Guzman, or Julio Lugo. In my opinion, the first two make the most sense.
Kevin Velan (Chicago)
Your proudest baseball Chicago moment ?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
White Sox winning the 2005 World Series.
Robert (Arlington Heights)
People seem to be forgetting that the Cubs lost Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild. How is that going to affect the staff and what can you tell us about his replacement?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Mark Riggins is a 30-year veteran, who has extensive experience with the young pitchers in the Cubs organization. I don't think the segue will be difficult at all for the veterans or the young pitchers.
Over/Under on Danks/Floyd wins total is 32.5?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
I'm pretty sure that Danks will hold up his end of the deal, but check out Floyd's win total over the last four seasons. The average is 12.
Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)
Has Jerry Krause done anything for the Sox yet?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Jerry is the Latin America Director. He has tried to reorganize the White Sox's presence in the Dominican Republic after the Dave Wilder fiasco. It's a slow process at this point.
John (Effingham Il)
On most Farm ratings where does the cubs rank if you may know? Your doing a great job answering ?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
I nk the Cubs are now considered in the Top 10, although four of those prospects have been sent elsewhere.
Did the Cubs sign Pena to a one year deal because of the strength at 1B free agency next winter? Will they try and steal Pujols or Fielder away from division rivals?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
I think the flexibility for both the player and the team were attractive aspects for the deal getting done.
Finish this sentence, For the Sox to win the Central, they would need to....
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
Have a better record in their division against Detroit and Minnesota -- especially Minnesota, who killed them in the regular season last year.
Dirk Diggler (Van Nuys, CA)
Did you enjoy Ken Burns 10th inning installment ?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
A bit east coast-centric for my tastes.
Mandy Sage (Gary)
Bruce, I know you're a movie buff....who's your early fav for the Oscars Best Pic?
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
I haven't seen it yet, but all my go-to people tell me the King's Speech will win best picture.
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
From what I've seen, Christian Bale will definitely win best supprting actor for The Fighter, and Jeff Bridges has a nice shot at best actor. Natalie Portman has a good shot with Black Swan. That's all I know -- it's not much. Pass the popcorn.
Harry Teinowitz (Tilted Kilt, Chicago, IL)
Bruce, you're on my show in 60 minutes, wrap this up
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
Why are you wearing a kilt Harry?
Bruce Levine (2:01 PM)
Thanks for all the interest. The blog is starting to blow up again, which means you're already tired of Cutler. See you next Tuesday for another jam session.