Chat with Bruce Levine
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox reporter Bruce Levine stops by Tuesday to chat.
Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.
Send your questions now and join the chat Tuesday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
It's getting down to cut time for the Cubs and Sox. Within another week we will know the Opening Day starters and who will make the bullpens. Welcome ...
Peavy pitched great in his last start, why can't he do that more often?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Relative to his arm strength on the day due to the multiple injuries that have occurred over the years. You never know what he will be able to do on a given day.
Nik (New Albany, IN)
How realistic is it that DeWitt gets traded, and if so, what are the Cubs looking for in return?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Teams like Philly should be contacting the Cubs. However DeWitt is a valuable backup at 2B and 3B and a left-handed hitting alternate. I feel he has more value to the Cubs than he does in bringing back a marginal prospect.
Has Crain's injury taken him out of closer race? If he starts year on DL what does the bullpen look like?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
It looks like five young guys. Most of them you have never heard of before. That's the biggest question mark going into the season.
Tim (Lafayette, IN)
Who's closer to being ready to compete and contend in their respective divisions, Cubs or Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Tell me who gets injured as far as the opposition players go and that will give you a better handle. I'd have to say the White Sox but they have some gaping holes.
Paul (Longmont, CO)
What are the chances we might see Travis Wood being sent down to Iowa?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
I think excellent unless someone gets hurt. He is nowhere close to the form he showed as a rookie in 2010.
How far away is Junior Lake from playing everyday in the bigs? What are his strengths and weaknesses at the moment?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I would say at least one year. There is no sense in the Cubs rushing any prospect at this point. The one thing I like most about Epstein and Hoyer is their insistence upon young players developing properly in the minors. Hoyer admitted a mistake with Rizzo in San Diego last year. And being a smart guy he is unlikely to make the same mistake twice.
Frank (New Orleans)
Which Adam Dunn will show up in 2012? To say Dunn had a miserable year in 2011 would be an understatement. He had the worst season of his career, and his production was terrible.
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
No, he had the worst season of anyone's career. My guess is he hits .250 with 34 home runs and 97 RBIs.
Bruce,All the talk about Gavin Floyd has the Sox potentially moving him before he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2012 season. But trade offers aside, do the Sox have any genuine interest in exercising their club option for Floyd in 2013 and signing him to a contract extension beyond that?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
I'm not sure he has a club option at this point. I'll double check it.
Ross Wahoo,NE [via mobile]
I know samardzija is pitching well and could possibly be our 4th starter, but he pitched so well out of the bullpen towards the end of last year don't you think he could benifit the cubs more as a late inning reliver than take a chance as a starter?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
It's probably the toughest question that management has to answer this spring. But I'll throw the question back to you: Is it more important to develop a young power pitcher in the rotation or in the bullpen? I think you can answer that one easily enough.
How concerned are Theo and crew about Lahair's spring struggles?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I don't think that much. They are more concerned with the quality of the at-bats rather than the results. The only other option is Rizzo and they are not ready to put him out there everyday.
If Peavy threw 3 or 4 really good starts to begin the year do you think KW might be able to move him for anything of value to a contender? I am thinking he might be of interest to someone like Boston
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Nobody is going to pay that kind of money. They have a $17 million commitment to him. So my answer is no.
Due you expect Gavin to still be moved and what should we look foward to out of Beckham and Sale this year?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
At some point in the season I do expect Floyd to be traded unless the Sox come up with a multi-year deal. I expect a good year from Beckham, not a superstar but .275 with 15 homers and 70 RBIs. As far as Sale goes, I think the sky is the limit if he can show some endurance in his first season as a starter.
Bill (N Side)
Who do you think be the most improved players on each side of town this year? I'll say Samardzija and Morel.
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Those are pretty good picks. My choice is Morel and Ian Stewart. I'll go all third baseman.
I know it's early, but does it appear the Cubs got taken in the Travis Wood trade? I'd hate to think they gave up one of the best setup men in the league for nothing.
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Time will only tell on that. It's obvious that Wood needs to gather himself with a minor league stint. That doesn't mean he's a washout but it is a concern.
Travis Crowley (Hinesville GA)
Does Jay Jackson make the team? If so where?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Jackson has pitched well but I think he is a Triple-A starter.
Any chance the Cubs trade Byrd to make room for Jackson in the outfield?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
That's been talked about and could happen at some point. Not sure that it will happen at the beginning of the year. The belief is that Jackson needs a few months in Triple-A plus they don't want to start his arbitration clock early. Don't expect to see him until June or July.
Any news on player from Red Sox or eligibility of Soler?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Nothing on either but the Soler situation is interesting due to the fact that most think the Cubs will have a leg up on the competition for his services. There has been two reports saying that he has already signed which of course is not true and would be illegal. The Cubs would be subject to tampering charges if that was proved true.
allen (benton harbor)
Hi Bruce. One name the Cubs invited to camp in the offseason that we hear nothing about is Nate Robertson. Do you know whats going on with him or any of the other veteran "re-treads" the Cubs were taking a look at this spring?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I haven't heard much about him. I don't think they are too interested in re-treads at this point.
Do you see Sale starting off hot and then slowing coming back as hitters become use to him?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
I'm not that smart that I can project that. Sale has good stuff and if he can command his breaking stuff like he did yesterday he will be a good major league pitcher. That's as far as I can project it. I will tell you that if he gets up to about 140 innings the Sox will probably shut him down for the rest of the year. That's pretty much the way it goes for young talented arms starting out in the big leagues.
Nik (New Albany, IN)
If Ian Stewart struggles, especially early, how soon would Theo and Hoyer bring Vitters up?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Depends. He's an unifinished product defensively and also has a maturity question with getting his work done. I don't think the Cubs are too anxious to start the major league clock on all their young players.
Was the trade of CQ a cost cutting thing or did KW relize that he is damaged goods as he is injured again?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
If you're a Sox fan you know he is hurt every year. Part of that is how hard he trains and how hard he plays.
Soria just went down for KC - how about shipping Marmol there for prospects?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Then who closes for you? Do you want the Cubs to lose 100 games? I'm not saying it's a bad idea but it's too early in the season for that. Somehow the Cubs are going to have to keep the fans interested enough to buy the third-highest priced tickets in baseball. Trading all their decent players away I think would be a disaster at the ticket booth.
Pat from Minooka [via mobile]
Bruce, do you see Soriano carrying his hot spring into the regular season? Or is going to be the same 'ol Soriano?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
You're a pretty good baseball fan, right? If you know anything about Soriano it's that he's a streak hitter. He also will not be facing Triple-A pitchers throwing fastballs when the season begins. I'm not saying he won't have a good year. I'm just saying don't expect .300 with 40 homers. I don't think that's realistic.
White Sox traded Santos to the Blue Jays for Nestor Molina, and Molina was just cut. What was the point of the White Sox trading Santos with their bullpen being a huge question mark?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
They want Molina to be a starter and that's wehat he will do in the minors until they need him. But that doesn't preclude him from joining their bullpen at some point.
DOUG (URBANDALE IOWA)
Will Bob Brenley's son get a real chance of ever being the catcher for the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
Michael has made some real improvements in his game. He's also done a nice job of coming in in great condition. I guess a lot of people don't believe he is a major league prospect, but they didn't think his dad was either and he played for 12 years. So I guess the answer is don't count a Brenly out.
Anything new on possible garza or Byrd trade?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Haven't heard a thing. Also trying to find out whether they are working on a long-term deal for Garza. When I asked Theo that 10 days ago he politely said we are going to keep that information in house. If they don't sign him he is gone by July 31.
Tony (Kansas City)
Do you see Volstad and Wells securing the 4th and 5th slots in the rotation, with Samardzija being a more valuable asset out of the bullpen?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I don't. I think Samardzija will be in the rotation. I think they will make Wells available in a deal with another team.
What does it look like for Danks this year. They contend and keep him, keep him regardless, or are out of it early and try and get rid of him since he now is locked up for 5 years.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
He's the ace of the staff. He has a no-trade for the first year. After that they have flexibility to move him if they want to.
I keep hearing about how the Cubs need a number 2 hitter in their lineup still. With Barney pounding the ball this spring, hitting over .400, why are the Cubs still considering hitting him 8th instead of 2nd? Wouldn't it make more sense to have him hit 2nd to set up for the 3-5 hitters?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Barney is a questionable player as far as his ability to move runners along. He's a good little player but they are not sure if he is the .240 hitter from July and August or the .300 hitter from the first four weeks of last season.
Wich of the Sox minor league top prospects will be on the club at the end of 2012?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Molina and Jordan Danks most likely.
Scott (Amherst, NH)
Any chance the Cub's can unload Soriano before the trade deadline to a team in contention, assuming he has a descent first half?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
None in my mind. If you look at their organization they really don't have a lot of OFs, not that that would prevent them from trading him. He's just too old and making too much money to really interest many teams. You'd almost have to eat the whole contract if you traded him.
Does Alexei improve this year? Or has he shown us his potential already?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I think that's a great question. I thought last year was going to be a breakout season and it was mediocre. Maybe that's who he is. Defensively he is as good as anybody. I guess hitting .270 with 15 homers and 60 RBIs isn't all that bad.
Alex (Rutland, VT)
What do you think De Aza's line will be this season?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
To me he is a .260 hitter, on-base about .340, serviceable guy. He's your leadoff man until you find someone else.
Bill (N Side)
Where does Rodrigo Lopez start the year?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
Sveum and his coaches really like Lopez. He has a moderate salary and a ton of professional experience. I would start him in the bullpen just as security for the rotation. You always have him as a long man when somebody has a blip in their start.
What are the players saying about Robin? Good and bad.
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
It's all good and that's a stark change from last season. He's already had some strong one-on-one conversations with people and there is no mistaking that he is the boss. He's a very tough guy and has shown some good signs of his dry sense of humor with the media. He's certainly no Ozzie but he's quirky and glib in his own way.
What do you expect from Axelrod this year? Can he work his way into the rotation if he pitches well and the opportunity arises?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
He's impressed some people here especially over the last 3-4 outings. He has come out of nowhere to most likely make the team out of spring training.
Riley C. (Burns Harbor, IN)
With Mather being so versatile and playing well this Spring along with Vitters doesnt that make Baker and Dewitt expendable? Since this is a rebuilding year why keep either of them?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Vitters is not a backup player. Mather is. When you bring Vitters up you want him to play everyday and I don't see that spot available to him right now. Mather is certainly capable of being a good backup but trading DeWitt or Baker to Philly wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Eddie Mush (Bronx)
Will FLowers get more ABs this year?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
He has to. At this point he is the future catcher. I expect A.J. to be on a contender by the deadline. I hope it's the Sox though.
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Keep following me on ESPNBruceLevine on Twitter and Doug on ESPNChiCubs for all the latest from spring training. Talk to you next week ...
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