Chat with Bruce Levine, Doug Padilla
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Baseball beat reporters Bruce Levine and Doug Padilla stop by Tuesday to chat.
Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000. Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
Send your questions now and join the chat Tuesday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
ESPNChicago.com (1:06 PM)
Bruce will be with us momentarily. Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Sorry for the delay. Jim Hendry was talking to us about today's cuts. Let's go.
Will the Cubs even consider sending Blake KnitWitt down and giving a more impressive Darwin Barney or Scott Moore a chance? Love your honestly Bruce, keep it real.
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
Honesty is my middle name. They were caught between naming me Bruce or Abe. DeWitt will get every chance to fail. He's their only left-handed bat, as far as middle infielders go. So he'll be on the team.
The Cubs aren't seriously considering trading Cashner or Marmol for Michael Young, are they? That might actually be a stupider offseason move than the Angels' half of the Vernon Wells trade.
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
No. This story has no substantiation.
I read an article on the Cubs fight for the fourth and fifth starter. Carlos Silva was not even mentioned. Is he that out of favor right now? What are the odds he is dealt before the season?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
The Cubs would love to trade him, but he'd have to show that he could pitch consistently.
Hey Bruce, are there any players that could be cut by other teams at the end of the spring like Reed Johnson a few years ago, that the Cubs are really looking into? Also if you had to go by the spring so far, do you think Reed Johnson will make the club as a fourth or fifth outfielder?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
It's between him and Fernando Perez. Quade and Hendry will have to decide whether they need a speed player like Perez.
Who is going down with the first cut?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
First cuts already made, no big names as of yet. Cubs are down to 40.
Kyle (Elmwood Park)
I read an article the other day about a Yankee scout attending the Cubs spring training game where Carlos Silva pitched. Is there legitimate interest from the Yankees or just exploring various options to sure up their rotation?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
That was my story originally, and the Yanks do have one scout who will watch Silva's performances, as well as many other pitchers.
Bruce can you see the Cubs aquiring a player from another team who might be out of options to strengthen their bench( a right handed hitting outfielder) since Reed Johnson has not impressed this spring? Also, any chance W Castillo or Max Ramirez make the team ahead of K Hill?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
It does not appear that way. Castillo probably will start the season at Triple-A. Ramirez is out of options, so he'll have to go through waivers.
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
And the Cubs have no money to spend on players who have any type of contract status.
Mike Welty (Osage Beach Mo)
Bruce,With Wells all but locked up as the 4th starter, I really like the idea of Cashner or Looper getting the fifth spot in the rotation. I just have a hard time believing the Cubs will release Silva with all the money they owe him and I don't think that he is tradable. What do you think?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Silva is going to be on the team unless they trade him. Not feasible to cut that money. Cashner will either be the 5th starter or go back in the pen.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
With how valueable pitching has become in baseball this seems like a simple question but would you rather build a franchise around a pitcher like Tim Lincecum or a hitter like Ryan Braun?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Always the pitcher. As great as Braun or Pujols is, they don't guarantee you wins. A dominant pitcher does. Ten years ago, I would have said the opposite.
Bruuuuuuce...love your cubs coverage. I was just wondering if there is any talk about bringing in Michael Young. I know its an expensive contract but is there any chance the Rangers try to move him and are willing to eat some of the money...or possibly be interested in a Silva or Looper swap? I've read they are looking for more pitching.
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
They are looking for more pitching, but the Cubs are not interested in 34-year-old Michael Young. They would never trade top prospects for him nor do they have the money to pay any of his contract.
Scouting and trade rumors are starting to swirl re Carlos Silva. Do you see anything happening on that front if Wells and Cashner step up and lay claim to the 4th and 5th rotation spots?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
People are looking at veterans like Silva, if he can prove he has his stuff together. That would probably take at least through the end of camp.
Wellington Castillo has been very consistent this spring. Koyie Hill, my fellow Wichita State alum, has looked awful. He looked awful last season. Is the relationship that he has with the pitchers truly going to outweigh talent?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
In the case of a backup catcher, yes. We're talking about someone who catches 30-40 games. And the reliability of a veteran who the pitchers are comfortable with is important for the continuity of a staff.
What do you think is more doable...Cubs World Series this year or the Illini winning the National Championship?? I won't hold my breath on either....
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I don't like the odds on either. I'll pick the Cubs winning the World Series.
Has the Cubs defense improved since the beginning of spring training? I believe this team can only win with superior pitching and defense. Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I don't know if the Cubs will have either. Their pitching can be good, and their defense can be improved. I don't know if it will be superior.
Is Looper getting the short end of the stick here? Seems like there is only one spot up for grabs and Silva and Cashner will most likely be on the team.
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Cashner will be on the team regardless of whether he's a starter. Looper most likely makes the rotation or decides to retire.
William Roaf (NYC)
Hey Bruce,Love the weekly chats. Keep up the good work. Quick question. Or should I say, fast question. Why do the Cubs keep talking about keeping Perez around for speed? We're a slow team. One fast fifth outfielder isn't really going to change that. Shouldn't they just stick with the experienced guy in Reed?Thanks in advance.
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
That's what they're trying to figure out, and that's a good point you make. But sometimes you can win a game or two when you have a pinch-runner in the 8th or 9th who can score from second. Also a speed runner can create a run with a stolen base and defensive mistake.
Kevin SD (SD)
Are the Cubs still interested in Chris Davis?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
There have been no talks with Texas since the Cubs made the Garza trade with Tampa.
Could Aramis be moved to a contender later this season if he has a strong first half?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
It depends on the Cubs' record. There is a mutual option for 2012.
Bruce, I havn't seen Soriano play but everytime I listen to a game or read a story they are talking about how great he looks both at the plate and in the field. Do the Cubs have another Soriano or does he really look that good?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Looks a lot better becuase his legs are stronger. He's now 1 1/2 years removed from surgery. He's very confident. As to whether that translates to the field remains to be seen.
What's the likely time frame for seeing Angel Guzman pitch in the majors this year?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Doesn't look like it will happen. He'll be sent to minor league camp to work on arm strength.
I just read Brian LaHair was sent down. Does he have a future with the Cubs as a backup 1B? I thought he looked like a hitter.
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
He's hit well. He had 2 doubles yesterday and scored runs. But there's nowhere for him to play on this team.
You say the backup catcher "only" catches 30-40 games. That is a lot to put in a no-hit, can't throw anymore catcher like Hill. Let him call the game from the bench.
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
A backup is just that, somebody who is competent and catch on that day. I prefer to watch Castillo get more experience and be ready to be a No. 1 catcher at some point.
If the cubs are clearly out of contention in july, who on the team do you expect to leave before the trade deadline?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Hard to say. Depends on the contract status and whether some vets like Zambrano or Ramirez would allow you to trade them. If they're doing well, why move them?
Hey Bruce, Any chance you could update us on how some of the young kids are doing? I know they just got sent over to Minor League camp, but how do some of the rising starts seem?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Brett Jackson is the real deal. He's got really good speed, power and he handles himself like a seasoned professional. The Cubs expect great things from him after maybe another year in the minors. Vitters has matured. There was some concern about his attitude, but they feel he's made great strides at third over the last year. Quade said he still has some work to do, but has seen marked improvement.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
We'll talk to you on Thursday after the Cubs' off day on Wednesday. Keep your eye on Cashner's start today. It's a big one for him and unless Wells blows up, he's in the rotation. Now for my good friend Doug Padilla.
Doug Padilla (1:33 PM)
No baseball game today doesn't mean you can take your mind off baseball, apparently. Let's do this.
kaufmak (rogers park)
Doug-How excited should I be about Peavy's progress?
Doug Padilla (1:36 PM)
Let's get to the Peavy stuff. He was shaky at times yesterday but still made progress by building stamina. Still not sure that start made a difference in him breaking camp with the club. Still looks like April 10 or April 20. Glad I don't have to make this decision.
Ricky (Big Bay, MI)
teahan and harrell to Texas for Young .. your thoughts?
Doug Padilla (1:38 PM)
Nice thought. But since it adds payroll, I'd say it ain't gonna happen. Unless all the regular season games sell out in a hurry, something like this isn't likely.
Is Alexei's defense as good or better than last year's?
Doug Padilla (1:40 PM)
No way to tell just yet. But if he keeps progressing like he has been, he should have that Gold Glove. He's been making some nice plays in the hole this spring. He might do that as good as anybody in the game right now.
Doug, who gives the White Sox the most competition in the Central this year? The Twins or the Tigers? Why?
Doug Padilla (1:41 PM)
If Morneau comes back as good as ever it's the Twins. They have the talent, I just read where Pavano has looked as good as anybody this spring from a mechanics standpoint and they have the experience. Then there is that thing about always getting into the White Sox's heads.
joe (san jose)
why isnt Dayan Vicienco (excuse my spelling) competeing at 3B this year? Isnt he better than Teahan and Morel?
Doug Padilla (1:44 PM)
It's Dayan Viciedo and while he's potentially better on offense, but he is completely raw at 3B on defense. Morel's defense along with whatever he can deliver on offense makes the team better. Don't underestimate defense. A guy like Buehrle needs all the defense he can get since teams put the ball in play against him. But the subject is moot now since he has a fractured thumb.
4th outfielder: Milledge, Lillebridge, or De Aza, and why?
Doug Padilla (1:45 PM)
As of today it's Milledge. He can play all three OF positions, he runs well, he hits from the right side, which the bench needs, and he's starting to heat up. The White Sox like what they see there.
How good is Carlos Quentin doing this spring training overall in your opinion?
Doug Padilla (1:48 PM)
Q needs to show more although he has started to look better at the plate in recent days. Talked to a "baseball expert" recently who said that if Q stopped throwing himself at balls in the OF during runaway games, he might preserve himself better. Either way he will never be confused for a Gold Glove winner.
Jon (West Bend, WI)
Hi Doug, How is Philip Humber doing? Even if Peavy is ready to go, does Phil have a shot as a spot starter/long reliever? By the way the H is silent.I was one of his summer league select coaches his freshman year in HS. Thanks
Doug Padilla (1:50 PM)
Jon, Phil has been hit a miss, but is definitely a candidate for a long relief role and maybe an early start if Peavy isn't ready to go. Oz was impressed with a split-squad start he had last week. He has a solid chance of making the club.
Which Rios will we see this year? The one at the end of the season when we traded for him, or the one from last year?
Doug Padilla (1:52 PM)
Tough to say Bill. He won't have Konerko hitting behind him this year, and will have Quentin instead. We'll see what he's made of this year. It's something to keep a close watch on.
With all the talk surrounding the battle for closer, doesn't seem like much is being said about the other relievers. How are the other setup men like Santos, Crain, and Ohman looking? Who will be the long reliever if needed?
Doug Padilla (1:55 PM)
Santos, Crain and Ohman all look good. The bullpen is coming together quite nicely. Santos looks ready to make that leap to another level and Crain hasn't disappointed. Ohman has been solid in all but one season since he left the Cubs and that was when he was dealing with injuries while playing in LA.
Are the White Sox concerned about Beckham's defense this spring? Seems like he is making more errors than usual.
Doug Padilla (1:57 PM)
Beckham isn't as slick as other second baseman in the game, but his footwork looks fine. It seems to be more of a hands thing than anything. He should be good enough to get the job done.
Adam (San Diego)
Hey Doug, how hard is it to catch a cab at the Camelback Ranch? I'll be there Sunday for the Sox game and need to get from there to the Hawks game immediately after.
Doug Padilla (1:59 PM)
Not a lot of cabs from what I see. Gonna have to call for one I guess. Not the worst walk ever (2 miles at the most) and it should be cooler that day than it has been. Did I really just answer that question?
Does Thornton have the edge for being the closer, now that Sale has been struggling?
Doug Padilla (2:00 PM)
It hasn't been made official, but if Thornton isn't the guy I'd be shocked. Expect Oz to make that call this week.
Do you think the Sox overpaid for Will Ohman?
Doug Padilla (2:02 PM)
If all three lefties (Sale, Ohman, Thornton) are as good as advertised, the White Sox will have enough to handle a strong left-handed hitting division. That's worth the price right there. Ohman can pitch when he's healthy. He's shown that.
Joe (Oak Park, IL)
Before he got hurt, did Viciedo get any walks? To me, that is bigger news than him adjusting to the outfield. Seriously, you can't have 100+ major league at bats and not get a single walk!
Doug Padilla (2:03 PM)
The guy never walks. It was news the day he coaxed a walk in a big-league game last season. He has so much raw potential, but his plate discipline and his defense need a lot of work.
With Sale struggling lately, does that make Thornton the closer by default?
Doug Padilla (2:04 PM)
Thornton isn't anything by default. The guy has earned the closer role. Did that sound angry? Sorry about that.
Can Peavy end up being the ace of this staff by the end of the year or are those days gone?
Doug Padilla (2:07 PM)
The White Sox will need an ace to go deep into the playoffs, assuming they qualfy. Danks is the next best candidate, but if the White Sox are going to have a repeat of 2005, Peavy is the guy who has the best chance of taking the Jose Contreras role. It's why his recovery, and the White Sox's decision on when to put him back in the rotation, is so huge.
Doug Padilla (2:08 PM)
OK folks it's been fun. Now it's time to head out into that "88 and sunny" and enjoy what's left of this "day off."