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!
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
Welcome to the Cubs chat. Open for business for 30 minutes. Welcome.
Bruuuuuuuce! On a scale of 1-10, would you say Castro is a 10 regarding fulfilling expectations thus far? Next year the bar will be higher, but he is the reason I continue to watch.
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
The answer to the latter is yes. He's not a 10. He could hit for a little more power and steal more bases, but as far as progress at 21, that's off the chart.
oaul vanis (chicago)
do u think the decisions on quade and hendry are already made by owner tom ricketts?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
I would doubt that. First he would have to make a decision on Hendry, who has a year left. Then Jim or the new GM would decide on Quade's fate. That's how things are done. I think Tom will make his decisions on the Cubs be known sometime in early fall.
Guy's do you see R.Johson starting to get more playing time for Cubs now that right field is open or is it going to be more of Campana and Colvin? Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
The spot should be for player development. Johnson and Baker have done a terrific job of coming off the bench and playing above expectations, but we already know what they can do. Time to let the prospects show what they can accomplish.
JT (Hot Springs, SD)
Bruce, I know that Carlos Pena has fit in fairly well on a mediocre team, but please tell me the Cubs will be big players in the free agent market this winter. The last three years have grayed me!
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
It's not going to be a question of money. It's going to be a question of direction and how to spend the money. If Tom and his family feel they can be competitive very quickly, then I'll believe they'll spend money on high profile vets like Fielder. If not, they may go Kansas City on you for a year or two. We'll find out soon enough.
Mike (the Chi )
Brett Jackson is on a tear in iowa, When do we see him up? also he reminds me of mark kotsay, good comparison?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Valid comparison. Jackson may have more power. But a good allaround player like Kotsay, before he hurt himself. I talked to a scout yesterday who watched Jackson for four games, said he needs plate discipline. If I were running the Cubs, I'd have him here but the scout also said he may need a little more time in Triple A. I haven't seen him since spring training.
Jason (Findlay, OH)
Any updates on Cubs players and their waiver status? Z for example I heard was exposed recently but no word on claims.
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
There are hundreds upon hundreds of players on waivers. Nobody is going to claim Zambrano without having a deal in place with the Cubs. So again waivers during this period of time from the trading deadline on is different. When you hear people on waivers, it means relatively nothing.
Jim (Chicago (the loop))
Bruuuuuce! Why haven't the Rciketts been more transparent around their plans for the rest of this season/the future? It seems like the team is stuck in a bit of limbo and some guidance from ownership is needed. Thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Tom has been doing his due diligence, paying close attention to the minors. I believe he'll be giving you a clear direction in early fall, way before free agency begins in November. The Cubs have their organizational meetings first week of November in Mesa, and by then I'm sure Tom will map out his direction.
Who gets the credit for Castro's improved D? He has been bailed out a few times but for the most part his throws have been strong and on point.
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Pat Listach is the infield instructor for the team. And Ivan DeJesus helps out as well. Both were All-Star shortstops at one point. Castro's ability will continue to improve defensively.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
The Brewers and Cardinals look like they are engaged in a two horse race to win the NL Central. I am obviously picking the Brewers, who do you think will win the NL Central?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Depends on Fielder and the Cards' pen. Right now the Brewers appear to be the stronger team. If Albert gets hot the last 7 weeks, that could be the difference-maker.
hey guys, i love barney alot but with dl lamahue being a decent player would the cubs be willing to deal barney for something tha would help the team overall
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Why not? Barney is a nice player who has gotten the most out of his ability. But if you could have a more productive offensive player at 2b, I would move him for pitching help.
What are the odds that the Cubs eat Soriano's and/or Z's contract this offseason?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I think zero on Zambrano, who is still a somewhat productive pitcher. He's tied for the team lead with nine wins. Soriano is another matter. Unless they can find a team in the AL that feels he's a DH, they might ahve to figure out something else to do. There still will be $54 million left on his contract.
Will the Cubs lower ticket prices for next year? I'm a season ticket holder and am lucky if I can get 50% of face. If prices aren't lower I'm leaving.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Are you a ticket broker or a ticket holder? You know the risk going into a season of buying your tickets, and you've probably made money off them over the last 15 years, until this recent downturn. It's like any commodity, hold onto your tickets and find investors to subsidize your investment.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
brett lawrie an allstar next year? already looks mlb ready...
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Looks like a good player. Been watchign him since he was called up. Toronto made a good deal.
Jason (Findlay, OH)
Doesn't Campana deserve a look last 2 months? His offense is still evolving but he brings a speed element the Cubs don't have. Campana & Castro are about it!
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Campana happens to be Sam Fuld with more speed. He needs to go small man's camp in the offseason and learn some of the finer points of bringing in the infield and get ball by them. A trip to see Brett Butler or Davey Lopes would be a good idea in the offseason.
Bruce- Pena has been outstanding defensively. with all the errors he's saved, do you see him as a possible front runner for a gold glove?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I'm not sure about that. Albert is always the politcally correct candidate, considering he's one of the biggest stars in the game and the Gold Glove and Rawlings are based in St. Louis. In my book, Pena is as good as anybody.
With Brett Jackson hitting well at triple A, do you think Hendry will try and move Byrd to make a spot for him? I'd hate to lose Byrd. Would they consider benching Soriano for September and letting Jackson play LF?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I think you've already seen Quade move Campana and Colvin in on Soriano's playing time. The answer is the Cubs would like to hold onto Byrd, because he can bring some veteran influence over players like Jackson and Colvin get throught the scary part of the beginning of their careers. And if one fails, you have a vet who can play every day.
Hack Wilson (Boulder)
Bruce, It's clear that nobody wants Soriano. Are there any indications that the Cubs will release him this winter and eat $54 million? He sort of typifies all the wrong ways to play baseball, and it's become clear to us fans that he's not allowed to sit on the bench for some reason. Will they release? Or find another bad salary swap?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
It's not my call, but my perception is they'll do everytyhing they can to find Soriano a new home. If they can't, then Tom and his family will have to figure out if they want to keep him or the $54 million. The money already is spent in reality. Even if they trade him, they'll have to eat upwards of 80 percent. So the question is are they better with or without him.
Adam (Loop) [via mobile]
Hi Bruce- I have a concern about the Cubs younger players...it seems the approach at the plate leaves a lot to be desired (Campana 5BB in 99abs, Barney .320 OBP, Colvin's alarming K rate). Is this an organizational problem/philosophy, or can something be done to fix this over an off season?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
It's a very astute observation on your part. None of the above walk very much. Castro and Barney have out-hit their lack of patience. But it's a trait that needs to be considered at the minor league level.
Bruce, who's playin 1B and 3rd base for the Cubs next year? Do you see them going hard after a top pitcher like CJ Wilson this offseason?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I think the No. 1 cure for the Cubs going into next season would be two starting pitchers. I pointed it out before and will again. The Brewers turned their season around by getting Greinke and Marcum. Although the Cubs don't have the offense the Brewers have, they can still be a .500 team with two new pitchers. In the NL that makes you a contender.
You said Tom has been doing his due diligence but really nothing other than a few upgrades in Wrigley has change. Does he expect fans to be patient when it seems he has no clue what direction to take the team? How much "time" should we expect before they put a winning team on the field?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Lots of questions. Patience is something you have to decide yourself. If you believe Tom is not overreacting to a team that he bought that has been over .500 just two days in two seasons, you should applaud him for his patience. He knew nothing about the baseball business and is trying to learn as he goes along. New owners should not overreact no matter how many decades fans have been waiting for a championship. Give him until next year and see what direction he's taking the team.
I'm a ticket holder. Apparently not having to buy tickets, you've forgotten what it's like to be a season ticket holder. You expect us to go to 81 games? Need to work buddy.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I've been a season ticket holder for 27 years and have had to deal with the same ups and downs. Nothing personal.
Brett Jackson needs plate discipline, LOL. Guy has maintained a +370 OBP even when his contact has been down. I wish the Cubs had more guys with limited plate discipline like Brett Jackson.....
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Keep in mind he's had a limited amount of time at Triple-A and he started 1-for-25. He's a very good loking young player. Good for him. That doesn't mean he should be rushed to the majors.
Agree starting pitchers are going to turn the club around fastest...look at the GIANTS! No offense...but very competitive. What pitchers may the Cubs seek?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Wilson I believe is out there, but it's a weak market pitching wise. Trading some young people for young people might be way to go.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Don't give up hope on your Chicago Cubs. I -- like you -- are waiting to see some young players we can look at for the future. I'm not one for winning as many as we can this year. Have a good week. Now for Doug Padilla and the White Sox questions.
Doug Padilla (1:33 PM)
OK, here we go with the White Sox portion of the chat.
Vinny (New Jersey)
Who is that masked man playing centerfield and driving the ball? Has something changed in Rios's swing, or is he just clicking finally?
Doug Padilla (1:34 PM)
Rios has made an adjustment at the plate, raising his hands a bit. More importantly he has confidence he hasn't shown all year. Something tells me De Aza's presence has something to do with it. De Aza has been having good at-bats and hitting the ball hard. Rios is perhaps inspired by that.
will the sox put konerko on the DL
Doug Padilla (1:36 PM)
Doesn't sound like but he is clearly in pain. Oddly it doesn't bother him to swing, just when he takes the first step out of the box. He probably shouldn't be playing, but wants to and the team desperately needs his production. They could re-think it soon, though, if Konerko doesn't get better.
I'm tired of hearing that Beckham and Morel are here for defensive purpose. Beckham looks lost at the plate and Morel has 1HR. Put THE TANK @ 3rd base.
Doug Padilla (1:37 PM)
Sorry Patrick, but Viciedo no longer plays 3B. He hasn't played there all season. He's a RF now. Beckham hasn't had the year that was expected but looks a little better at the plate now. Morel is getting valuable experience, but offensive woes shouldn't be put on him.
What are your thoughts about Ozzie going to the Marlins after this season?
Doug Padilla (1:40 PM)
It certanly sounds like a possibility. Ozzie, Kenny and Jerry will have an interesting sit down at some point this winter to talk about the future. If Jerry gives him some assurances Ozzie stays. If he doesn't, he could go to a team that really wants him and is moving into a new ballpark.
When would the white sox use a 4-man rotation? Is it normal to start something like this before or after Sept. call-ups? And I assume Humber comes out of the pen? Thanks
Doug Padilla (1:41 PM)
That would only happen in the final few weeks if they are still trying to close a small gap in the division. But they also have a late-season doubleheader and only one off day after Sept. 1 so it's going to be tough to do.
Recently Ozzie made some comments regarding NL pitching being of a generally lesser caliber compared to AL pitching. This is something I have heard quite a bit over the years as a general feeling among observers. What is the reasoning behind the AL typically being considered a superior league? Certainly the NL has many great players, as does the AL. Why is the trade from NL to AL considered a tough adjustment for some players?
Doug Padilla (1:43 PM)
It's just tougher competition in the AL and it takes time to get into thet challenging mode. Consider this: The pitcher bats in the NL. In the AL, that spot is replaced by one of the best hitters on the team. That's a huge difference right there.
Is Tyler Flowers good enough to stick behind home plate? Had a really good throw out the other day...
Doug Padilla (1:44 PM)
He has a ton of talent, but hasn't fufilled it in the time expected. He was projected to be the starter this year when he was obtained. Instead the White Sox had to re-sign AJ. He has looked good in his rare opportunities and you can hear how hard the ball comes off his bat.He still has a chance to be a good one.
John (Saint Paul, MN)
I think its fair to say Beckham isn't going to be the All-Star caliber player we thought he would after his rookie year. It looks like he's turning out to be a pretty average 2B at the plate, with amazing defense. Do you think that's a good assessment of his ceiling?
Doug Padilla (1:47 PM)
Don't think the final answer is in yet, but yes, some observers are thinking he won't be that top-tier player once expected. His defense hasn't been that amazing until this year as his range has improved. As that becomes second nature now, perhaps he can focus more on his offense. He has the tools if he can learn to stay consistent and not get down mentally.
Gut feeling, Mark Buehrle on the Sox in 2012?
Doug Padilla (1:49 PM)
Looks like he could be gone. His season shows that he will make a lot of money this winter. Could be one of the better free agent pitchers on the market even. The W Sox figure to cut back on salary. My guess is that if he goes, Sale is fast tracked into being a starter to fill the void.
So Adam Dunn is going to do his best Dan Uggla impersonation and lead the Sox to a division title with a 30 game hitting streak right?
Doug Padilla (1:51 PM)
Just heard somebody say recently that Uggla has turned it around leaving Dunn the last guy to rebound from a surprising slow start. Time is running out and confidence is still low.
James (La Grange)
Should I start saving for Sox playoff tickets, or just buy Bears tickets now?
Doug Padilla (1:53 PM)
The White Sox still stand a chance thanks to a weak division. The way they have turned it on of late is interesting, but they have had two other four-game win streaks this year and couldn't get it going from there.
If Rios continues to hit well for the rest of the season, would the Sox look to trade him this offseason to free up a lot of salary some of which they could use to resign Buerhle?
Doug Padilla (1:55 PM)
Probably not. He's still owed a lot of money and 6 good weeks isn't enough to convince anybody he will never slump this drastically again.
Do you agree with the radio broadcasters that say Beckham is the best 2B in the AL? That's pure unbiased opinion right there!
Doug Padilla (1:56 PM)
He has a high celing for sure. And his defense is now up there with the best of them. He can't hit consistently, though, so that's not something I would say at this point.
How much longer do you think A.J. will be playing for the Sox?
Doug Padilla (1:57 PM)
One more year, according to the two-year deal he signed in the offseason. Perhaps Flowers will be ready to take over by then.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Why wont the Sox call up DV?? I understand "they don't have room", but any other team, especially during crunch time, would find room and get it done.
Doug Padilla (1:59 PM)
If there isn't a vacancy in RF or DH he isn't coming up. But there are just three weeks remaining until September and he definitely will come up them.
Sergio Santos (35th )
How wicked was my slider last night? Man, when I'm on, I'm on.
Doug Padilla (2:01 PM)
As of a month ago, ESPN research considered it the best out pitch in baseball. And it has been just as good since them. He's gotten the yips with it a couple of times this year, but he's figured a way to overcome that. He continues to have an impressive breakthrough season.
Forget DV for now, why not call up Addy Reed?
Doug Padilla (2:02 PM)
Addison Reed looks good and is throwing hard. His time will come but it's only his second pro season after being taken in the third round in 2010. He's on the depth chart, you can safely say that. Nice to see a guy from my neck of the woods in California doing well.
Does Kenny Williams scare you? He scares me.
Doug Padilla (2:04 PM)
He's a softie. He tries to scare but if you stare back long enough he'll break character.
Doug Padilla (2:05 PM)
Thanks for the questions. As always, see you right here next week. Off to check out a rare low humidity day in Baltimore.