Chat with Bruce Levine, Doug Padilla
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Baseball beat reporters Bruce Levine and Doug Padilla stop by Thursday to chat about the baseball offseason.
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 (1:01 PM)
Compensation? What are the Red Sox asking for? Is it players, cash or Ronnie Woo Woo? Day 3 of this continues ... Welcome.
Bruce, how much of an impact did Theo have on Boston's farm system, and how good was their system? It seems as if a lot of their talent was free agents, but they also had homegrown talent. Also, will Theo be able to resurrect the Cubs' farm system?
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
Pedroia, Ellsbury and some of their good young pitchers are all part of a good farm system created under Epstein. He deploys his scouting staff differently than most GMs, spending more time on amateur and foreign free agents.
Tyler R. (Knoxville, TN)
Jay Jackson works out at my college and I was recently talking to him about last season. He told me that if the Cubs did not put him on the 40 man roster then he might be ruled 5 in November. Whatt are the chances the Cubs put him on the 40 man roster and he competes for a rotation spot this spring?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Obviously your friend was a disappointment this year. The other option is a trade. Up until 2011, the Cubs felt Jackson was going to be a major league starter or reliever. His season left many question marks.
Bruce, now that Theo is in the fold...do you see him trying to acquire any of his former players? Seems like Beckett isn't going to happen due to the prospects he would merit, but what about someone like Jed Lowrie to play 2nd base?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Don't know why the Red Sox would let him go. It was almost the same situation when MacPhail took over the Cubs. People said he should bring over Twins players. That never happened.
Dave Roach (Chattanooga, TN)
Is Francona coming with Epstein? If not will Quade be the scapegoat for the miserable 2012 season?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Lot of negativity there. Apparently you've been a Cubs fan for a long time. I'm not smart enough to tell you who his manager is going to be but his relationship with Francona is still good.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Along with probably hiring a new manger, is Theo going to sign a major free agent and/or blockbuster trade??
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I wish I was that clairvoyant. Addressing the starting pitching should take up a lot of his initial time in trying to improve the Cubs.
Will Kerry Wood be resigned? He was our most reliable righty out of the bullpen in my opinion, and it was hard enough to see him leave the first time I would hate to see him retire now.
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Wood had some ups and downs during the season. Having him back would probably be a good thing for the Cubs. He can still pitch and his clubhouse presence is always a plus.
Any guesses on who the next Cubs manager will be? I think Martinez makes sense. Epstein is a saber guy; Martinez learned at the side of a saber guy.
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I really have no answer on that. Theo's first hire was Grady Little with the Red Sox, who had not managed in the major leagues but had a lot of minor league experience. So Theo might be thinking outside the box coming in.
Brett Jackson's name has been rumored as compensation for Theo. that's ridiculous, right? The Cubs aren't giving up their top (major league ready) prospect for a GM when precedent is a couple middling prospects or cash.
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
I don't know who is doing the negotiating with Tom Ricketts as to who he is asking players that he should or should not use in a trade. My guess is minor league director Oneri Fleita. You would hope he would ask assistant GM Randy Bush. But it's hard to say.
If your Theo Epstein, what's your first move as Cubs new GM / President / whatever his title is?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
To get a beautiful apartment in Lake Point Towers. After that I need to address the manager situation. It's not fair to Quade and his staff not to know if they are coming back or not.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Bruce, will Ricketts give Theo more money to spend on the team if he asks for it? Or is there a strict budget?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
I think that is a great question. You would have to think that was al ong conversation in their negotiation. The Cubs have about $45 million coming off the books if they do not re-sign Ramirez, Pena and Grabow. That leads them void of any run-producers. Realistically Epstein might only have $80 million in commitments for a team without any producers other than Castro. Will he let Epstein go back to the $150 million area? Not sure at this point.
Bruce, looks like the cubs have been mum on bringing Ryno in for the managers position, but fans are buzzing about it. Since Theo tried to hire Ryno for the boston AAA job last year is there a real chance of him coming over, or is this just a pipe dream for us true fans??
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I had a source say that Sandberg's name didn't come up in the interview process when Epstein was asked about managerial candidates. But we know how public opinion can change people's ideas. Sandberg has certainly done his due dilligence in the minor leagues. The question is will the Cubs hire their second manager in two years without major league managing experience?
Where does Crane Kenney fit with Theo here?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Kenney has his own office. It's called President of Business Administration. He will be in charge of all the team's business projects and he will let Theo or whoever is the baseball boss do his job. Way tooo much concentration on Kenney's impact on the baseball side.
Jay (Skokie, IL)
Based on your knowledge of Epstein's baseball philosophy, do you suspect there any untouchable Cubs other than Castro, Cashner and Barney?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I would think not. He is clearly going to want to hold on to some of the good young minor league players. Brett Jackson is their top minor leaguer. Unless the Red Sox are asking for him in return for Epstein you would think Theo wouldn't consider using him in a deal. I'm not so sure I would put Barney on the untradeable list. You might just want to leave it at Castro and Garza.
When do we find out if Theo is our GM? Tomorrow?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I have no guess on this. Like every other baseball reporter in Chicago and Boston, we've been wearing out the phone lines and e-mails trying to get a handle on when this compensation will end. I can tell you Boston can keep it going on as long as they want.
Jeff Buttikofer (Los Angeles)
Is there any chance that we can move Zambrano and/or Soriano without paying all of there remaining salaries?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Yes and yes. Zambrano is going to look a lot better to teams than you might imagine. He's 30 years old, healthy and experienced. Not many people have a fourth or fifth starter that compares to him. By the time the winter meetings are over, numerous teams will be interested in Zambrano if he hasn't been traded before that. He's an erratic player on the field but he's not the anti-Christ. I know Ozzie thinks he can still pitch.
Luke (Indianapolis, IN)
Will the cubs try to gain a top of the rotation starter such as Roy Oswalt, Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, CJ Wilson, or CC? I see Edwin Jackson as the most viable based on age and potential, if the Cardinals cannot retain him
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
The question is why does Jackson keep getting moved? He's a good pitcher and a 200-inning guy. The question is, if you are are looking to the future, whomuch money are you going to tie up with him? I'd love to see the Cubs go after Wilson or Danks.
Luke (Indianapolis, IN)
Do you see Theo signing Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Carlos Pena, keeping Brian Lahair at 1B or another option?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
I don't think they are going to be players for Fielder and Pujols. I just don't think they would be attractive at this point. Neither couldp project that they would win with the Cubs immediately. I think Pena would be a nice fall back. They can sign another short-term deal with him.
Chris (Bartlett, Tennessee)
With the Cubs being a few years away....do you see them trading a guy like Garza to bring in a few prospects?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
No, that would be the wrong move. Garza is the guy you should build your staff around. He's 28 and under Cubs control for two more years.
Chris (Quincy, IL)
I saw that the Cubs minor league affiliates do not teach the same hitting techniques the Rudy Jaramillo does an the big league club. Why is this? Do you think Epstein's hiring will bring continuity to the coaching styles in the minors and the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
You would hope so. Whjen Jaramillo was hired he was told he would have a hand in finding the right minor league hitting instructors. That part of the equation has never happened. The Cubs let their Triple-A hitting instructor (Von Joshua) go after the season.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I hope we have some news to report today. With the Red Sox getting ready to name a new GM, let's hope the Cubs and Red Sox are close to agreeing to compensation for Epstein. Follow me on Twitter ESPNChiCubs and on "Talking Baseball" Saturday mornings at 9.
Doug Padilla (1:33 PM)
Time for some White Sox chat. Lets get to it.
firstname.lastname@example.org (south side)
Is this the start of a youth movement by the chi sox?
Doug Padilla (1:34 PM)
I wouldn't call it a "youth movement" but where they can go young they will. Dunn, Rios, A.J. and Konerko aren't going anywhere, for now at least, so that prevents a full blown movement to young guys. But expect Viciedo and De Aza to get their chances and A.J. to play less with Flowers getting some chances. Sale figures to be in the rotation.
Doug, what do you see as KW's next big move? Sign Danks to a nice long-term deal, sign Buehrle (and say goodbye to Danks or Floyd), or shake things up with another surprise?
Doug Padilla (1:37 PM)
You are correct to think the biggest news they will make is from something internal. They aren't expected to do much on the free agent market. I think they wait to see what the market bears for Burhele. If that's too much, then they possibly concentrate on signing Danks long term. He has one more season where he's arb eligible and is a free agent after 2012.
Lisa Marie (Chicago)
Do you think anyone can take Ken Williams seriously at this point? With the new coaching staff nearly in place and Kenny's job already under major scrutiny, was it risky or brilliant to sign Ventura?
Doug Padilla (1:39 PM)
I think it's a decent size risk. Nobody expected or was begging for this type of move. He's on an island with it. But remember, Ventura probably won't have the total package of talent in 2012 that the White Sox carried in 2011, not that it ended up working out.
Mike G (chicago il)
Out of the veteran players who have been rumored to be leaving the Sox, who do you see being back next year? Buehrle? Danks? Quentin? Floyd? Thornton?
Doug Padilla (1:41 PM)
I think we had a version of this question last week, but to answer it again, I see Danks and Thornton as the most likely. Kenny says he likes gamers and Danks is certainly that. If Sale goes to the rotation, Thornton will have to provide lefty help back there.
Mike G (chicago il)
Will Chris Sale be a starter next year?
Doug Padilla (1:43 PM)
Yeah, that would seem to be the case. It will lessen the blow ever so slightly if Buehrle goes elsewhere. The White Sox not only get a lefty starter to replace Buehrle, but one with some nasty stuff. Sale was always promised he would start one day and that time seems to be now.
Is it either Danks or Buehrle or is there a way to move things around and sign both? Is Williams ever serious about possibly shopping Konerko?
Doug Padilla (1:45 PM)
It would be tough to see both Buehrle and Danks back next season mainly for financial reasons. I don't think KW is thinking about shopping Konerko, but when AZ claimed him in August, he would have moved him for the right package. But remember, Konerko can reject any trades so it would ultimately be his decision to go.
Assume we are NOT going the big $ route this offseason. Who would you add to man the corner infield spots?
Doug Padilla (1:46 PM)
I'm not adding anybody. I would have Brent Morel playing third and Konerko at first base.
Mike G (chicago il)
After Robin Ventura, what will be the biggest surprise we will see over the winter from Kenny Williams?
Doug Padilla (1:48 PM)
I think the most eye-raising move will come regarding Quentin. If he's traded it would be interesting to see if they go for prospects to bloster the system or get somebody major-league ready like perhaps a left-handed late-inning reliever. And if they keep Quentin that would also be interesting because they would have to once again figure out a plan for Viciedo.
Hey Doug,I am so confused on why Ventura was named manager when he has no experience. Why didn't Kenny want Francona?
Doug Padilla (1:52 PM)
They have always gone the up-and-coming route when it comes to managers. See Ozzie, Jerry Manuel, Bevington, etc. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Ozzie got them a ring and the same type of move with the Bulls is working out just fine. I don't think they had anything against Francona, but his $4 million a year price tag was a bit much. Ventura is probably making half that, if not less.
Doug, if the Sox don't make the playoffs in 2012, do you think Kenny would get fired?
Doug Padilla (1:55 PM)
I don't know about being so black and white. It would depend on what type of season they have. Are they competitive? Does Detroit just run away with things? Do they collapse down the stretch? But remember, Reinsdorf is in on the dicision making once Kenny brings in a plan.
Doug, how does the baseball world view the White Sox, Kenny, Reinsdorf? Has the organization become a joke? I also was very surprised by the Ventura hiring, though I think he can do very well. Thank you.
Doug Padilla (1:57 PM)
They are not considered a joke. Far from it. They are respected for being competitive every year. And they are also respected for having guys in place for a long time like Kenny in the GM spot and the fact that Ozzie lasted 8 seasons. But a dedication to a winning product, even though it doesn't always work, is what is most respected.
Why would Kenny Williams admit that Paul Konerko was an option to manage the team AFTER hiring Ventura? That's so strange to me. Plus, doesn't a player-manager smell a little bit like "we have no money so let's install a player-manager." More strange days on the South Side?
Doug Padilla (1:59 PM)
He admited to it because hw as asked about it. He said that yes, he did entertain the thought, but it was far from something they almost did. It wasn't even close. Kenny said he thought about it because of his respect for Konerko's baseball savvy mind. It was meant as a compliment to Konerko and I think people have made way too much out of it.
Does it make the White Sox look bad that the Cubs got themselves an A-list General Manager?
Doug Padilla (2:01 PM)
The White Sox weren't shopping for a GM so no. The Cubs got one so good for them. It would have only looked bad if the both teams were after him and Theo went to the North Side for less money.
Doug, it seems like these questions are getting pretty repetitive. I guess we're in for a long, uneventful winter. Did you see Moneyball? What did you think?
Doug Padilla (2:03 PM)
Phil, that's your assignment. Get me some good/unique questions. We'll see how you do next week. Did not see Moneyball yet. Maybe this week now that things on the White Sox front have calmed down. Talk to you all next week.