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)
It's all about the Cubans at this point for the Cubs. They are waiting for Cespedes and Soler to become Dominican citizens. When they do they are going after both. Welcome ...
Is there ANY scenario that Fielder would be in Cubby Blue come spring training? Do you think that Sveum is secretly campaigning for him? Does signing him go counter to the new THEOlogy?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Spending this type of money on one player doesn't seem to be part of the new "Cubs way." They are trying to get more athletic, younger and spend a bit less on the major league roster, saving their money for the draft and international players.
dave (brooklyn via chi town)
We've all heard about Cespedes and Soler but enlighten us on the lefty Concepcion. Cubs and Sox said to be players for him.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Don't know much about him right now. Still waiting for a couple of baseball people to give me their opinion on him.
With so many pitchers on the Cubs right now, how is the rotation looking like it's going to be? Who's the best choice for relievers? Is Marmol still considered the closer?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
If spring training started today it's Garza, Dempster, Travis Wood, Paul Maholm and 3-4 guys fighiting for the fifth spot including Samardzija, Wells, Lopez and Coleman. Sonnanstine also could be in that mix.
Gerry (Vicksburg, MI)
What is the latest on Garza talks? Do you think he's in their long term plans?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Here's how I have it analyzed. Either they sign him to a long-term deal before spring training or he is traded between now and July 31. The Cubs will not go into 2013 with Garza a year away from free agency having his trade value diminished.
What does Theo have in mind when it come to the 2nd base spot? Are the cubs planning to keep Barney?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Barney would be the ideal backup at 2B and SS. I'm not trying to downgrade what he did last year but if the Cubs could make a move for a second baseman that would help solidify both 2B and SS being backed up by Barney.
Marlon Byrd (Chicago)
So would Detroit really rather take one of the DHs still available? Instead of me and shifting maybe Young to DH?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
That might be an interesting scenario for them. But my guess is that they make a move for Damon before they trade for you.
Soriano & Soto for Burnett
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
No thanks. Move on.
Any truth to Yankee and Cubs discussing a trade for hughes/dempster?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Haven't heard it. I'm sure the Cubs would consider that. Not that they want to trade Dempster but because he has only one year left at $14 million. Name your source.
Where does Shawn Dunston Jr fit into the Cubs future plans ? Where does he stand in the organization as a prospect ? I for one had no idea he was in the Cubs organization until the convention.
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
He was just drafted so let's see how it plays out for him in 2012 before we start evaluating him. We know he has good tools and an outstanding pedigree.
Who will start at first base in 2012 LaHair or Rizzo? Where do you see either in the line up
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
LaHair will get the start. Rizzo will start at Triple-A, according to GM Jed Hoyer. Right now LaHair could hit anywhere from third through sixth in that lineup. I have no idea who the third and fourth hitters are in that lineup. It could be Castro third, LaHair fourth and Soriano fifth. That doesn't sound all that intimidating right now for the rest of the NL Central.
Did the Cubs sign Tolbert? Danny Valencia tweeted that Tolbet had sign with the Cubs.
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
The answer is probably yes. The Cubs will not confirm it at this point. It's most likely a minor league deal.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
For one of the earlier questions on the rotation I missed Volstad. He should be right there in the top five.
One of Theo and Jed's main objectives heading into the off-season was to compile "assets", with that being said i am surprised they have not pursued players that are low risk/high reward moves like :Mark Derosa, Joel Pineiro, Grady Sizemore; do you see any of these types of moves coming now that spring training is approaching?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Epstein's goal is to get younger, more left-handed and more athletic. He's not interested in retreads at this point with all due respect to those other players.
It has been nearly a week since any kind of trade or news has come out of the Cubs camp. Are we done making moves or just at a stalemate? What kind of moves do you expect to be made before "Moving Day?"
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I expect them to go strongly in their attempts to sign Cuban players. As far as the major league team, they are in need of a starting 2B or a backup for Barney who can plays 2B and SS. There is no one in the organization who can fill that role.
Bruce if you had to guess is soriano stil with the cubs come spring training?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
At the beginning of spring training, yes. Ask me again on April 2 when the Cubs break camp.
Mike (Dallas, TX)
Now that the compensation for Theo is up to Selig, what do you think the compensation will be?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I would say a marginal prospect and possibly some cash. That was what was given up for Andy MacPhail in 1994 and the criteria should be no different this time.
Phillip D. (Florence, SC)
If the Cubs get Cespedes, would they move Byrd or Soriano to make room for him and Jackson?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I think they would trade Byrd or Soriano right now. Cespedes may need a month or two in the minor leagues. It just depends on how he competes in spring training if he's signed by then.
In your scenario of Barney being the ideal backup 2B/SS, what full-time 2B options might be out there?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Atlanta's Martin Prado has been mentioned although I've never been able to confirm if the Braves will trade him. The Braves have had interest in Byrd for the last 8-10 months. Again, I haven't been able to confirm whether anything like that could happen.
I've read reports that some believe Rizzo's swing is long/slow. Do you believe that Theo and company have it right because they have the inside track, or are they blinded by their admiration for his character and ability to overcome adversity?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I believe Hoyer and McLeod were able to convince Epstein that Rizzo is going to be a run producer in the major leagues. That is why the trade was made. I'm told Epstein hesitated to trade Cashner. None of them were that crazy about giving up a power bullpen arm like Cashner's.
Mike Alioto (Oak forest )
Did Soriano said no to the Cubs about being dealt to the Balitimore? And if yes who was in that deal?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
Don't know if it ever got around to that. The conversations were only speculation on two sides talking. As Soriano said to me at the convention, the city and the team will have to be acceptable to him and his family if he decides to waive his 10 and 5 rights.
Patrick (North Side)
Is it smarter for the cubs to go after Cespedes and Soler? Or just one of them?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
What's wrong with both? The Cubs need as much young talent as they can get. Both are considered outstanding young talents with multiple tool sets. The Cubs have enough money to spend on them, believe me. And I believe that's why they are being prudent with their major league payroll.
Trent Steele (Springfield)
MLB has rated Rizzo as top 1b prospect, with Volbach at #10. Baez was in top 10 at SS, BJax #5 OF. Has the minor league system moved into the top 10 range? How do other insiders you talk to view it?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Maybe with Wood and Rizzo they have taken a step up but their system is not rated in the top 10 at this point.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Keep your eye on the Cubans. The Cubs' main competition for Cespedes will be Miami and Detroit. It could be a bidding war if it gets into the $40 million to $50 million area. Follow me on ESPNChiCubs and look for a new twitter handle coming in the next week or 10 days.
Doug Padilla (1:33 PM)
Let's dig into some White Sox talk.
Do the Sox plan on slotting in Dunn into the DH spot everyday? Hoping last year was a complete fluke?
Doug Padilla (1:34 PM)
That seems to be the plan but we haven't talked to Robin about it too much in depth. He might address it this week at SoxFest. Dunn will get a clean slate under a new manager and they will go from there.
Robert (Madison, WI)
Do you think the White Sox would give any consideration to the following crazy trade proposal: Adam Dunn for AJ Burnett? It would relieve the Sox of approx $9M guaranteed (Dunn approx 3/$42M, Burnett 2/$33M). The yankees have excess starters and are looking for a LH DH. Burnett could benefit from a change of scenery and it would give the pitching whisperer (Coop) the type of project he thrives with.
Doug Padilla (1:36 PM)
I just don't see Dunn drawing too much attention on the trade market right now. And even if he does show signs of life this spring or early in the season, his contract calls for two more years after this one. Teams will be hesitant to make that big of a commitment. Dunn will be a hard piece to move if the White Sox aren't picking up most of the contract in the process.
How confident are you that Addison Reed gets the 9th inning job out of Spring Training?
Doug Padilla (1:39 PM)
Not confident at all. You have to give the kid some seasoning in the big leagues before dropping a job like that on him. Looks like Crain or Thornton starting the season with the closer job and Reed getting more of a chance to find his legs in the big leagues. Not out of the question, though, that he finishes off some games by the time the second half rolls around if he is getting the job done in the 7th and 8th innings.
Heard through the grapevine that Dunn has dropped a significant amount of weight? Any truth to that?
Doug Padilla (1:40 PM)
Haven't heard, but we will know by Friday when he shows up at SoxFest. It might not have looked it but he was genuinely crushed by his struggles last season. Wouldn't be surprised if he made big offseason changes. He does not want to go through that again.
At what point do we officially stop pretending that Gordon Beckham is going to be good? We know Hawk and Stonepony will play him up, well, until he isn't on the team anymore, but realistically how short is the leash?
Doug Padilla (1:42 PM)
It has shortened significantly, but there is still talent there and the White Sox still believe they can tap it. He's figured out the defensive side but if he doesn't figure out the offensive side by the break, the White Sox will have to consider a change. Where they go for a second baseman is the question. Could Lillibridge handle the job?
kaufmak (Rogers Park)
How do you plan to stay awake during Ventura's press conferences this year?
Doug Padilla (1:44 PM)
Wouldn't call Robin boring at all. He will do just fine. He might not be outrageous like White Sox fans are familiar with but there's nothing wrong with that. The key is whether or not Robin is accessible and so far he has been just that.
Why is Adam Dunn appearing at Sox fest? Isn't he going to get boo'd mercilously?
Doug Padilla (1:46 PM)
Good for him to show up and face that. I think it would be worse for him if he didn't show up and face the music. Maybe he's going to do the Rocky thing and get knocked around in the face a little bit to get him fired up. Wait, I'm giving away a story idea.
Who do you see from the minor league system other than Addison Reed having the biggest impact on the team this year?
Doug Padilla (1:48 PM)
Possibly Eduardo Escobar and Jared Mitchell. The White Sox are going to need a utility guy and while it seems like they will sign a journeyman type for that job, Escobar does play multiple positions. Could be a Plan B at second base too. As for Mitchell, he is getting another chance in big league camp. We'll see how that ankle is holding up. It's a big year for him.
Have you heard any rumors as to what color the sky is in Hawk Harellson's strange little world?
Doug Padilla (1:50 PM)
You've asked this twice now so we will address it. I would say that it is black and white for him. That could be metaphorical or it could be literal since those are the White Sox's colors.
Jeff (Jacksonville, IL)
Expectations for Chris Sale as a starter? Just how good was he in the minors in that role?
Doug Padilla (1:53 PM)
I'd say that 13 victories an ERA at or under 4 and a strike-to-walk ratio of 3-to-1 would be a success. If he can get his changeup to compliment his fastball he could be dangerous. But he needs time to evolve into the role so don't judge him by the first month (good or bad). He only had just over a month in the minors so it's hard to judge him on that.
Will the White Sox sign any free agents?
Doug Padilla (1:54 PM)
They could bring in some guys for bench roles, but as far as impact guys that wasn't in the cards this offseason.
It seems pretty likely that both Floyd and Thornton will start the season with the Sox. If the Sox were out of the running by the trade deadline, how likely is it they would trade both?
Doug Padilla (1:56 PM)
Those are two of the prime targets for deals if the season goes south early. No reason to keep one if you've traded the other. I could also see A.J. agreeing to a deal if it gets him to a winner.
Scott (Rockford, IL)
After last year's complete flop at the closer role, does Matt Thornton really deserve another shot? Or do the Sox just have no other choice?
Doug Padilla (1:57 PM)
It's a little of both, I guess. As we've said, everybody gets a clean slate with Robin. If he earns it in the spring he will get it, but it's not like he will end up with it because he has the most experience. That seemed to be the case last season. It's between Crain and Thornton, with Reed pushing them both.
What is your thoughts on having Dunn hit below 6th in the lineup? It could take some pressure off
Doug Padilla (1:59 PM)
Spring should be telling, but in a perfect world he is in a middle-of-the order role. He'll have to earn it, though. Going 70-30 that he starts in the cleanup spot. Whether is stays there is the question.
Would it be safe to say that this year hinges on Dunn and/or Rios having a great year? Seems like they cost the sox 5-10 wins last year.
Doug Padilla (2:02 PM)
No. The year hinges on getting great pitching. But run support is necessary to win. It's not like this staff is going to win 2-1 every night. I think finding a closer shouldn't be overlooked. But yes Dunn and Rios need to rebound for the club to have success.
Agree on not judging Sale to soon. But gaging success on win totals? Come on, you're better than that. He's a work in progress, if he only wins 8-9 games, but shows improvement, that's a success
Doug Padilla (2:05 PM)
Don't be afraid to look at wins. Winning just 8 games while having solid internal numbers if fine. Wins aren't the only thing to look at and pitchers aren't in complete control when it comes to them, but it isn't a nothing stat. If you knew Sale will have 13 wins this season and an ERA under 4 would you take it?
Jean-Jacques (Taylor, VA)
What's the latest on Juan Pierre?
Doug Padilla (2:05 PM)
There certainly has been silence on the JP front. Guessing he's still waiting for more than a one-year deal.
How do you thinkg AJ and Flowers working together this year will go? And do you see JR signing AJ for another year or two after 2012?
Doug Padilla (2:08 PM)
A.J.'s White Sox days are most likely done after this deal expires. Would be shocked if he got another year. Flowers is going to have to get time behind the plate so AJ will end up getting more days off than he's used to.
Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)
Will the Sox go hard after Cespedes or Soler?
Doug Padilla (2:08 PM)
They had been looking into it and Viciedo dropped a good word for the organization, but it no longer looks like they are among the favorites to land either.
Doug Padilla (2:10 PM)
As always, thanks for the questions. We'll see some of you at SoxFest. Talk to you all next week.