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 (1:01 PM)
Welcome to the first chat of 2012. Hoping this is a better year for both the Cubs and White Sox. We'll be taking questions on both teams.
Matt D (Chicago)
Hey Bruce, love the work. PLEASE tell we are going to acquire someone (trade or FA) that we can be excited about this off season? Anyone...?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Put on your list Coco Crisp, although not sure if that excites you or not. If the Cubs move Marlon Byrd, Crisp may be in line to sign a 2-yr. deal with the Cubs.
William (Chicago )
Hello Bruce! Its seems pretty clear that Jacob Turner is the best name being thrown around for Garza. Who else would the Tigers be willing to throw in. Porcello? Smyly? Also, what are the chances the Yanks break and offer their big three. Would the Cubs be willing to add more pieces on their end to gain better prospects. Maybe Byrd? Marmol?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Porcello is a possibility, although he is already arbitration eligible, which kind of defeats the purpose of going younger. Detroit's top OF prospect Avisail Garcia is a power hitter that can also run. Cubs need both pitching and outfield inventory.As for the Yankees, I doubt that they will give up their top 3. I don't think they want to trade Montero.
whats is gonna be the Cubs starting rotation Two Months into the season?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
They don't have much in AAA that's ready. Other than what you see, you might be able to add Trey McNutt. Otherwise wait for Theo to trade for some pitching inventory. So look for Dempster and Wood as the only sure things at this point.
Do you think if Dunn, Rios, and Beckham bounce back that the sox could win the division?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
I think so, depending on how the bullpen shapes up. They've traded away a lot of depth in the pen. Tell me who their closer is and I'll give you a better answer.
Matt Garza (Ohare)
Where is my flight going?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
It's going all over the US right now. Call the airlines to get a really good fare going to Detroit, New York, Boston and Miami. Also, don't hesitate to look for an apartment in Chicago.
Bruce, who do you think is most likely to have a breakout year for the Cubs? Not saying anyone will, but who are your top candidates?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
If Geovanny Soto is ever going to get back to his numbers from his rookie year, this would be the time. Putting on 20 & 85 would solve a lot of problems in the Cubs' batting order.
Jason R (Lexington, KY)
How serious are the Cubs about Rizzo from SD? With meager Brian LeHair slotted in at 1b now, are the Cubs convinced to go with LaHair or will they bring in someone else?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I don't know if they can match up prospects with what San Diego would want for Rizzo. Certainly the Cubs would be interested, but not sure if there's a match there.
Mike (Waco, TX )
Any other players likely to be traded? It seems like the rotation is set but Floyd could easily be replaced by Stewart if the return is good and now that Frasor is gone, Thornton seems like he needs to stay in the pen.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Thornton may stay and he's a productive set-up man for sure. But at $5.5 million the Sox will likely continue to try and move him, which they haven't been able to do yet. If you notice, the Sox are building their young pitching inventory. There are still a lot of relievers out in free agency.
Jonathon (Anaheim Ca)
With all the transactions made by Theo, mainly the dumping of salary and the banishment of two of the Cubs top prospects, what direction is he taking the team in?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Younger, more athletuc, more left-handed and better defensively. All priorities for Epstein and Hoyer.
Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)
Do think the Sox are after a starting outfielder?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Right now I think they are going to go with what they have. I think they will mix and match De Aza, Rios, Viciedo and Lillibridge.
If Theo decides to hang on to Garza, will it be more for the hope that his value actually increases come the trade deadline for some team?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
That could be. Or they could also be looking at signing Garza to a long-term deal. I know for a fact that they have looked at the numbers in order to decide to offer him a four or five-year deal. I'm sure his agent would want something similar to what John Danks got from the White Sox.
Grant (Burnsville, MN)
Can the Cubs pay a team to take Soriano, or just pay him and cut him? I mean, wouldn't there be more production with his roster spot open? Don't get me wrong, I'd love to trade him, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen.
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
They talked to at least 8 teams over the last two months, all in the American League. There is a DH possibility with the Orioles, however teams know that the Cubs will eat more contract as time goes on.
Based on what you have seen, who do you think has the better probability of becoming (short term and long term) a successful starter for the Sox -- Zach Stewart or Dylan Axelrod?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I haven't seen enough of Axelrod to give you a qualified answer, but what I've seen of Stewart is pretty good. Anybody working with pitching coach Don Cooper has a chance to get better.
Is there any way that Ozzie takes on Z in Miami? I don't care how much we need to eat on that deal. If Fielder indeed signs with the Nationals (as is rumored), the Marlins have to counter that some how don't they? Maybe Garza & Z?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I'm not sure they have enough young pitching to trade for Garza. However, for Zambrano the Cubs could take a non-pitching prospect in return. For Garza they need at least a couple of pitchers.
What are the chances that Byrd gets traded? If so where?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Teams like Boston, Washington and Atlanta have all had interest. He'll make $6 million this year, so the Cubs are hoping someone takes the entire contract.
The Braves have been actively shopping SP Jair Jurrjens and 2B Martin Prado all off-season for a right handed OF bat. Any insight on why the Cubs and the White Sox were not in reported trade discussions? Jurrjens would be a #2 starter and Prado an upgrade at second for both Chicago teams.
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
There seems to be some health concerns with Jair Jurrjens. Neither team is taking on much salary at this point. Although the White Sox did have discussions with the Braves.
Any update on Cespedes and Soler?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Both are supposed to get Dominican Republic citizenship in the next week or so. They are not allowed to sign with a major league team until then. Both the Cubs and Sox should be in active pursuit of both players.
Albert (Los Angeles)
Can you elaborate on the Manny Corpas signing? What role will he play with the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Corpas is looked at as a possible set-up man in the bullpen if he can regain his skills. He's not more than a year away from Tommy John surgery, so he should be a strong contender for a bullpen spot in spring training.
Albert (Los Angeles)
Any word on the Kerry Wood front?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
This suspicion is that there is an agreement and I'm sure something will be announced before the Cubs Convetion, a week from Friday. It's been strange that the Cubs have not put out a list of players that will attend the convention. Normally they tell you who will be there a month in advance, but not this year.
Jake (Manito, IL)
Is Josh Vitters ever going to figure it out so he's a decent option in the cubs lineup down the road? With his smooth swing and pop he could be a decent corner outfielder at the major league level...just strikes out too much
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Vitters did improve in the Arizona Fall League. There seems to have been a question about his defense and maturity until now. It's time for him to move up to AAA and see what he can get done there.
Keith Peterson (Grenoble, France)
Would it make any sense to try Soriano at first base?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Not really. Just getting his footwork together over there would be a scary proposition. I think the only position in the future for Soriano is DH.
Are the Cubs out of the running for Fielder now?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
No, I wouldn't say that. I think there has always been interest. But it appears that Washington might give more years than some other teams. It's got to be at least 7 years to get Fielder.
Is there a market out there for Marmol? Doesn't make sense to keep a hot/cold streaky closer when we wont be winning too many games anyways.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
His contract is relatively modest for a closer at this point. He has two more years left until he is a free agent. You could look at him either way. Building a whole new bullpen though is quite a chore, especially since Samardzija is getting a shot in the rotation. Marmol probably stays for now.
Dave (Lincolnwood, IL)
What's your opinion about the Marshall trade?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
If you're not going to compete for this year I think it's a good trade. Wood might turn out to be a pretty good starting pitcher. And Marshall was just a year away from free agency. This year I don't like it. Maybe in the future it will turn out to be a good deal.
Over/Under number of starts for the Cubs this year?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
Zero. I don't believe he'll be with the team on opening day. That's just me talking, no great insight on a deal at this point.
is there anyway the cubs could package garza and a couple minor leaguers for Mike Stanton?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
I doubt it. Stanton is going to be one of the top power hitters in the game, and maybe as early as next year.
Still trying to figure out that Sergio Santos trade. I thought you were supposed to keep young productive guys with friendly contracts
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
They probably think that Santos has peaked and they have better answers in terms of closers down the road. 2012 appears to be a developmental year for the White Sox.
Have you heard or do you have a gut feeling with what the Cubs' team payroll number will look like this year?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Right now they're committed to over $105 million. Last year it was around $131 million. My guess is that it will be about $10 million less than that.
Dave (Lincolnwood, IL)
Personally I think acquiring Dale Sveum will make a big impact by bringing more accountability to the Cubs. What is your opinion?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I like the staff he has put together. I have a lot of personal knowledge of Bosio and McKay. Jamie Quirk is a solid baseball man. I think he's off to a great start having chosen this group of coaches.
JJ (carol stream Il)
Who is the Cubs 2nd Base man on opening day and dont tell me it D Barney hes a back up on the other 29 teams
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
I might have to tell you it is Darwin Barney. This is not the other 29 teams. I think the Cubs will still add more infield depth before the season begins.
Dan (St Louis)
Been a struggle living down here in Cardinal nation. With the departure of Pujols, can the Cubs be as good, if not better, than the Cardinals this season. The recent signing of Beltran doesn't help the Cubs' cause. Thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
I think there is some danger in the players the Cardinals have signed. Furcal and Beltran have struggled to stay off the DL in the past few seasons. If they don't each play 125 games the Cardinals may have some problems on offense.
Fielder isn't coming to a rebuilding team that isn't going to offer the most money. Could this be a lineup with Zero big bats?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
That's a good question. Would he want to come to a team that doesn't have a lot of support around him in the lineup? But it still remains to be seen. I'm one who still believes the Cubs are still in it.
Big D (Evansville Indiana)
Your picks for the NL Central 1-6?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I'll just give you 1 & 2. 1. Reds and 2. Cardinals. The rest is a grab bag.
John Ascher (Alaska)
Who will play in left field opening day for the cubs
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
It appears that unless someone takes Soriano and pays a small amount of his salary it will be him in left field.
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
I assume Danks will be the opening day starter and De Aza can be the leadoff man, although Lillibridge might get some shots.
Miguel (Ferndale, WA)
Is Wrigley getting an upgrade? New stadium in the future?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Upgrades yes, but not in the next year or so. They still have plans for renovations, but it could be a 4-6 year process.
Is there any possibility the Cubs search the Free Agent Market for a 1st Baseman (Lee/Pena) or is LaHair there guy? and With Oswalt & Jackson still out there any possibility the Cubs look into signing either one?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Jackson is asking for too many years and too much money. Oswalt is a one-year option for a number of teams. Haven't heard the Cubs associated with him yet. Pena is always a possibility.
What am I missing about Cespedes? He seems to be an expensive 26-year old question mark. Why should/do the Cubs have interest?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
He's a tool player and GMs love tool players. Most people think he is major league ready.
If the Reds are 1, the Cubs could win it with 85 games in the W column. Why not go for it?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Because that philosophy has gotten them in trouble in the past. It's time to reload with prospects and get some more athletic-type players on the North side.
which team will have the worst record, CUBS or SOX???
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
I prefer as to who will have the best record. Right now I would say the White Sox.
Nick (tourist hell)
I've heard more than enough doom and gloom for the South Side this season. How about a couple of things I can get excited about going into Spring Training?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
I think the chance for White Sox hitters to work with hitting coach Jeff Manto and find out if a new voice is all that is needed for their improvement. Watching young pitchers develop should be fun too.
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
White Sox and Cubs will continue to be active and we will be here for you. Follow me on Twitter at ESPNChiCubs. Thanks for all the questions and see you next week! By the way, Bill Polian would be a good GM for the Bears!
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