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 (1:03 PM)
We're now going into the fourth day of the post-Hendry era and everybody wants to talk about what a horrible thing Castro did. Welcome ...
Skysun Thomas (Ankeny, Iowa)
What are the chances of the Cubs getting rid of some players before the end of August?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Rid of, interesting way of putting it. Getting something back in return should be their objective. Would you like to get ride of Castro now? I love the fact that so many people have an opinion of this guy even though they haven't even talked to him. This is a quality young kid. He's 21 years old. What were you doing when you were 21? Think you made any mistakes. Thanks for letting me vent.
How do you think the changing of the Front office will effect player like Dempster and Wood? Because Dempster has a player option and Wood is a FA at the end of the year. Also do you know what direction the Ricketts are thinking of going with the Cubs? Are they planning on a rebuild or what?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
The direction of the Cubs will be under the guidance of both Ricketts and the new GM. If you think you are going to see a lot of high-profile free agent contracts you will be disappointed. That's not to say they won be in the free agent market but you won't see the big deals that they are locked into right now. Dempster will be back in 2012. Wood has not decided whether he will play another year or not although he is leaning toward playing.
Scott (St Louis)
Bruce, what are your thoughts on Zambrano...do they pay him off and he walks, or do they find someone else to take part of his contract?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
They will negotiate a deal that will allow him to be suspended with pay for the rest of the year and then find a way to move him in the offseason. Zambrano can still pitch so at the right price some team will be interested.
Any chance of Bob Brenley becoming Manager next year?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Not sure. Bob is a very good baseball man. But he didn't really get a lot of interest from teams last year for some reason. However Steve Stone is available. He's a very bright baseball guy and has been interested in seemingly every Cubs job that has come open.
Castro looked bad and it was awful, no question, but didnt Bobby V go overboard saying Castro doesnt know how to play ML ball and is a cancer in the clubhouse?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Valentine astutely pointed out that Castro wasn't paying attention. He had the advantage of being 300 feet up but on ground level only Barney or Johnson or Ramirez would notice. When you're in the dugout you're not necessarily going to see that. This isn't Skokie youht league baseball here. I think a one-day benching and a fine is enough to get Castro's attention. Maybe he should be flogged with the noodle that used to be outside Wrigley.
Thoughts on a pitcher winning possibly winning the MVP?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
It's been done on many occasions. The last Tiger to do it was former Cub Willie Hernandez. In recent years the BBWA has shied away from voting for a pitcher for MVP but with Clemens, Sutter and Koufax it has happened many times. If Verlander wins 25 he will get MVP votes.
With Quade's history of not playing a young guy in favor of getting wins (see Tyler Colvin). Is there any real reason to bring up the obvious players from AAA like Brett Jackson here in September? What would be the point if they just get a spot pinch hit or run every other week?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
That was former GM Hendry's point. If you bring up Jackson or Ryan Flaherty the best thing to do would be to play them every day then it becomes chaotic for the manager who has to sit Byrd and Soriano. But in my mind player development comes first but I don't have to deal with the millionaires who are upset with me except when I have to walk through the clubhouse.
Bruce . . . what would you think if the Cubs chose to sign Castro long-term a la Tulowitski . . . Castro's a superstar on the make; why not sign him through his prime time years, say to age 30 right now?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
If you get a GM like Friedman of Tampa as your next Cubs boss you might see that as the first thing done. Friedman did it with his third baseman before he had proved anything and it turned out to be a brilliant move, saving the Rays millions. Castro is going to be a star for the next 10 years unless he forgets to come to the ballpark one day.
Dave (Normal, IL)
What do you think the timeline is for a new GM? I'd assume they'd like someone in place before free agency starts.
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
That's probably the timeline although Ricketts will most likely wait into and past the playoffs if he has a candidate like Cashman that he wants to talk to.
Bruce do you think Tom Ricketts has a 1-2 year plan to contend or is he really looking 5-10 years out before we see the full impact of their broader strategy of building the farm /drafting smarter?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I'm not sure he actually knows how long it will be for them to be a contender but he does feel that it has to be done with young players to a large degree. Any type of youth movement is difficult to quantify as far as when a team will be competitive. But Ricketts has a long-term plan and that's to build with youth.
If Friedman wants to come here, wouldn't he be a slam dunk choice?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
He would certainly be an attractive choice. He's been able to do a lot with a smaller payroll although some of the players who have come up in his era were originally signed by Chuck Lamarr. Still Friedman gets points for continued player development. He does have all the qualifications: young, energetic, accomplished.
Rick (Clarendon Hills)
As good of a guy as Marlon Byrd is, he can't seem to hit with runners in scoring position at all. He has 23 RBI's for the season, and I realize that he was injured, but overall he can't get the job done when needed. My question is; is his lack of ability to hit with RISP something that is noticed by the Cubs front office/management? If so, will this effect his possible future with the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
In the past he was a more productive hitter. This year it has pretty much been hit .300 with a singles stroke to center and right center. His 23 RBIs won't get it done although he did miss six weeks. I think you get a mulligan for almost getting your head knocked off.
Bruce, you mentioned no high-profile contracts next year. So should we forget about Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I would. I just don't see that being part of the Cubs future. Although Fielder fits into the age bracket game plan, his portion of the payroll might be too high. If the Cubs have a $120 million payroll next year he would be paid close to 25 percent of it. And does Fielder really want to come to a rebuilding team?
Matt (Glen Ellyn)
Bruce- If the Cubs are going to shy away from the big free agent contracts, who is the 1B next year? hopefully not Pena, because then it is the same exact team on the field as this disaster season
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
If Friedman is the GM he will let Pena go as a free agent and trade Garza. Kidding. Even though Pena has a low batting average there are other intangibles. Great defense is not to be underestimated. That depends on what he and his agent are looking for at age 34.
Why would Cashman and Theo leave their jobs for the Cubs? Both the Sox and Yankees will be top teams in baseball every year while the Cubs will never be that team.
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Having been winners in huge markets, the ultimate challenge would be to come to the Cubs and do something no one else has done in over 100 years. These guys are already accomplished GMs so that might be the ultimate challenge they are looking for. Other than that I can't give you a good reason.
Do you feel Quade's response to the Castro situation has hurt or helped his chances of coming back next year? Does this situation really matter in that decision?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
I think that's a pretty interesting question because if it was Ramirez or Soriano would the penalty have been the same as well as the commentary? All I know is that the Cubs had their best player on the bench and they scored no runs.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
We'll have more of the Castro story today, much ado about nothing. The guy is the most improved player in the NL since the All-Star Game, hitting .370 with only three errors. I'd like to have eight more of him. Have a great week and don't believe all the rumors about the next GM. The Cubs haven't really begun that aspect of their search. Talk to you next week ...