Chat with Bruce Levine, Doug Padilla
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Baseball beat reporters Bruce Levine and Doug Padilla stop by Thursday 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 Thursday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Welcome to the greatest day of the year, Opening Day! Let's go.
Mike (Valparaiso, IN)
Bruuuuuce! Who starts in right field tomorrow for the Cubs? Colvin or The Fuke?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Fukudome most likely will lead off and play right field. Should know in the next hour.
What did the Cubs think of Chris Carpenter this spring? If/when one of their relievers gets hurt or goes into a slump, how strongly will he be considered to take their place?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
He's just one of a few. Casey Coleman and Jay Jackson are also on that list.
Jacob (Crystal Lake)
They're clearly not the favorites in the division, but why are the Cubs so overlooked this season? They don't have any major weaknesses other than maybe their middle relief. Their lineup looks pretty good to me. What am I missing?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Defense and speed. Cubs were one of the worst defensive teams in baseball last year. They need to improve that to win. You're right, though, the division is not all that strong.
Cole B (Cedar Falls, Iowa)
Bruce, enjoy your work! Don't you think the Cubs should be near the top of the divison given how deep their bullpen is & how solid the rotation is? Not to mention how much upward potential the rotation has this year!
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
The starting pitching has some question marks. Wells and Cashner are not slam dunks. Zambrano has to return to the form he showed late last year.
Jerry Iverson (Aurora, IL.)
Theres alot of speculation that the Cubs are at best a 3rd or 4th place team. What do they need to do to make them serious contenders for there division?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
As always, they need good starting pitching and defense. Defense has to be better. Offensively, solid years from Pena and Ramirez.
Matt (Glen Ellyn, IL)
Bruce, love your work and insight. What, if anything has Quade said about getting Colvin's bat into the lineup? He brings much needed power to a lineup that needs to hit the ball out of the park due to their lack of speed, not to mention Fukudome's struggles in the spring and throughout his career.
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
That will be an evolving story again this season. Colvin's at-bats will depend on the production and health of Soriano and Fukudome.
Ed (Park Ridge)
Hey Bruce,How much patience will the Cubs have with Koyie Hill as the secondary backstop if he scuffles and Wellington Castillo jumps out to a fast start in the minors?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
Castillo is not the guy necessarily to be called up. You don't want a potential young All-Star to catch 25-30 games. If they replace Hill, it will probably be with Max Ramirez at some point.
Bill (N Side)
Is it odd that both Castillo and Max Ramirez are going to Iowa? Do they usually have two catchers at AAA who both could be major leagers at some point during the season? Just curious.
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
That just shows the kind of depth they have. It also points out the flexibility Quade and Hendry have.
Mr. Baseball (U of I)
With all the pitching injuries in the NL Central (Cueto, Wainwright, Greinke, Marcum), doesn't it seem like the Cubs should have a slight edge early in the season? Nobody seems to mention that every ace of every major competitor will start on the shelf...
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Good points. Also the fact the Cubs have a favorable schedule at the beginning, playing the weakest teams like Pittsburgh and Arizona.
josh (park ridge)
ok bruce, the biggest question.......what should i try first at Wrigley tomorrow, the new vienna beef hot dog or D'Agostinos pizza
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I would go with the frosty malt and the smokey link.
Steve (Green Bay)
Who's your pick to click tomorrow for the Cubs against the Pirates?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
In cold weather, I always like to go with the pitcher, so let's go with Dempster and Marmol.
Do you feel like the players are more connected and better prepared this year with Quade then they were with me last year?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Players will be as connected as their record indicates. Never saw a good clubhouse and losing record.
Kevin (Rock Island)
What should we expect from the Cubs rotation this year? Can Cashner become a top pitcher?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
He can, but it's too early to tell if he's ready to throw six innings and 110 pitches yet.
Who will we see in the big leagues first, Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Jackson. Vitters to me has a lot of work to do defensively.
Benjamin (Los Angeles)
Who is moved to make room for Brett Jackson, Byrd or Fukudome?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Not necessarily either one. Injury and production will dictate that.
big Fan (Chicago)
If the Cubs fall out of it but Zambrano does well, is this finally the year they trade him?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Again, Zambrano cannot be traded without his consent. If he's successful, the Cubs won't want to trade him, if he's unsuccessful, no one will take his contract. I think he's here for the rest of his contract.
Bruce, which Edwin Jackson shows up this year? Bad Edwin from Arizona or Good Edwin from the stretch run?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Hard to say, and that's why he's been on so many teams. Outstanding stuff but sometimes inconsistent. Would rather have Daniel Hudson.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chciago, IL)
Despite the injury to Greinke the Milwaukee Brewers look like the most complete team in the NL Central to me heading into the season. What are your thoughts on how the NL Central will shake out?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Cincinnati has the best talent. Is their pitching staff going to be the same as it was last year? That's the major question. The rest of the division looks pretty even. Milwaukee may not get over Greinke's decision to put himself before the team.
Brandon Neale (New Mexico)
Could we possibly see castro and barney in the middlle infield on Friday? if so, do you see the beginning of something beautiful?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Good possibility. I don't know how good Barney can be. But he's a fun player to watch.
Should Cubs fans be worried about Garza?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Only one who should be worried about Matt Garza is Garza. He's a proven major league pitcher. Quirky, yes, but no reason he shouldn't win 15 games.
Guy's: What are the realistic goals for Cashner this year? I know his innings wiil probably be limited but how do you see him performing? Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
If he wins 12 games as a starter, and pitches 175 innings, that would be a good year and nice start to his career.
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Will report on the Cubs' lineup shortly. Looking forward to the 2011 season. Have to go down the clubhouse now. Doug Padilla will jump on as soon as he's off the air in a minute or two. Thanks.
Doug Padilla (1:30 PM)
Hello from snowy Cleveland. Let's begin.
Statistically, what can we really expect from Morel this year?
Doug Padilla (1:32 PM)
Solid defense. Nobody knows what he will do on offense. Maybe .260 with a dozen home runs and 50 RBI. The White Sox will surely take that from their No. 9 hitter. Remember he's going to have to give Teahen some time at 3B too so it's not like he's going to be playing in 150 games.
Any worries that there could be some injuries since they are playing on probably a hard field and in such cold weather? Do you maybe see pitchers being taken out earlier than usual or any other change in game plane?
Doug Padilla (1:35 PM)
Just asked Ozzie about Alexei and he said there is no issue with his back. He was pulled form the lineup late in the spring with a tight lower back. No drastic changes to combat the cold are expected. Don't expect Buehrle to go ver 100 pitches, but that would happen on Opening Day whether it was cold or not.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Doug, how often can we expect to see Dunn at 1B...and is he really as "error prone" as the reports say he is?
Doug Padilla (1:37 PM)
Dunn doesn't have the best footwork over there. His hands aren't all that great either. Makes you realize how solid Konerko is on defense, even if his range is average to below average. I expect Dunn to play 1B maybe once a week during day games. No more than that and probably less.
Who goes to AAA when Peavy comes off of DL
Doug Padilla (1:39 PM)
The best guess now is that Humber goes down, but he would have to clear waivers. They're really going to have to go to 12 pitchers at some point so we'll have to watch the Milledge-Lillibridge situation toward the middle to end of April to see if they do anything there.
Hey Doug, I'll be making the trip to opening day next Thursday...is there any new "must see" attractions/statues/food I must see/have?Thanks.
Doug Padilla (1:41 PM)
All I have heard is that there is a new restaurant/sports bar at the north entrance, which is actually across the street from the ballpark. But you don't even need a game ticket to go to that. Otherwise I haven't heard of anyting else.
Which everyday player loses his job first/Who has the shortest leash? Both sides of town apply.
Doug Padilla (1:43 PM)
It's not that Morel will have a short leash, but the White Sox figure to step in if he really starts to struggle. Even with solid defense it won't do any good for the team, or for Morel's own development, if he's hiting .200 in July.
why not trade Teahan and keep lillibridge and milledge?
Doug Padilla (1:45 PM)
If you trade Teahen you're going to have to eat a lot of salary. The Sox aren't ready to start paying somebody to play for another team. If it was that easy they woud have done it by now.
Hey Doug, who's the next Sox to get a statue?
Doug Padilla (1:47 PM)
Just took a vote in the press box. We have Reinsdorf, Konerko, Buehrle and Ozzie as candidates to one day get one. Somebody chimed in "Arnie Munoz." But the next one could go to Robin Ventura. Just a guess.
Hey Doug - Will Milledge be a factor off the bench this year? Being a former top prospect, do the Sox expect him to contribute at all?
Doug Padilla (1:49 PM)
He really seems to be an insurance policy this year. It doesn't look like he'll get many at bats in April and it will be tough for him to get it going after sitting for so long.If somebody goes down, though, he becomes an everyday outfielder for sure.
Who makes more starts this year Humber, or peavy?
Doug Padilla (1:51 PM)
If it the answer isn't Peavy by a mile then the Sox have big problms. Nothing against Humber, but he's no Peavy. I understand that some fans think Peavy's made of glass, but he really had no health issues until the ankle injury that led to the lat problem which led to the tendinitis.
if humber struggles and peavy gets pushed back in his come back - who steps in to the 5th starter spot - pena or someone from the minors
Doug Padilla (1:52 PM)
Gonna have to go with Pena on this one. If somebody from the minors was close to ready they would have made the roster as the 12th pitcher.
Doug Padilla (1:55 PM)
Q looked horrible for most of spring training but turned it on for the last 10 days or so. He was hitting better than anybody for about a week. That's Q, though. He disappears at times and gets white hot at others. Looks like it will be more of the same this year.
Hey Doug, am I going to have to snap on all of you several times this year again and again, or does the "no drama" theme go all the way to me dealing with media?
Doug Padilla (1:57 PM)
Cowley, please let us chat in peace.
do you see the Blue Jays doing something special this year and possibly getting the AL wild card?
Doug Padilla (1:58 PM)
I see the White Sox going to Toronto in May. Otherwise you're on your own with the Blue Jays.
Doug, your predictions this year... Who leads the team in HRs? RBI? AVG? SB? ERA?
Doug Padilla (2:01 PM)
Dunn with 43 HRs. Konerko with 110 RBI. I'll say Beckham hits .305. Pierre gets 60 steals. Danks has a 3.30 ERA. Tell me how I did at the end of the season.
Doug Padilla (2:02 PM)
That'll do it. Off to build a snowman.