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 (1:02 PM)
Nine days until Opening Day for the Cubs, 10 for the White Sox. Only a few more questions to be answered on both rosters. Let's begin ...
Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)
I think the Sox should send Viciedo down and let Danks make the team at least for a month or two. What do you think? How is Viciedo's weight?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
He's not looking all that small. He had his best hitting day yesterday when he drove in his first run of the spring. It's not a bad thought but then again Danks doesn't hit much either.
How significant is it to Rios that Ventura is batting him third?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
It makes sense. He's a decent hitter and he also can run. Him batting third breaks up the slow guys in the lineup too.
Jake (Elmira, NY)
If Viciedo struggles this year who will step in and get his playing time? Brent Lillibridge perhaps?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
The Sox don't really have a lot of strong candidates but you can bet that Fukudome will get his share of time against righties.
Bryan LaHair (AZ)
Any chance I might end up in the outfield so Rizzo can play first? Long term, I mean.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Dale Sveum says "I have enough problems with the range in my OF without you there."
Jeff G. (Glen Ellyn, IL)
Though the Cubs do not have an ace, I feel pretty good about their core starters in Volstad, Garza, and Dempster, and I'm confident that at least one of the four competing for the last two spots (Samardzija, Wood, Wells, and Maholm) will pan out. Am I delusional or can the Cubs starting five keep this team in contention in a watered down NL Central this year?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
If you tell me what the pen does I'll give you the answer to that question. I think you have some real concerns after Marmol, Wood and Russell. A lot of young guys are going to have to throw strikes.
David (Oak Park, IL)
What is going to happen with Tony Campana?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
If Joe Mather is healthy he's your fifth outfielder. That means Campana goes back to Triple-A.
Do you think Byrd will be moved before opening day?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Like the Sox, the Cubs don't have a lot of depth inthe outfield. Until they are ready to move Jackson to the majors they may choose to hold on to him for awhile.
Lou Barahona (Chicago )
Do you see any chance of Brett Jackson, and Anthony Rizzo making the starting line up this season?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I think both will be up in the major leagues at some point this year.
Bill Wiggins [via mobile]
I think the Sox should inquire about Gerardo Parra, don't you. It's hard to imagine a Gold Glove fielder in a Sox outfield, plus he can hit!
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
That's assuming Parra is made available. The Sox certainly are in need of OF depth for the future.
Jake P (Elmira, NY)
Best guess on who the White Sox closer will be? Thornton? Crain? Reed? Santigo? Bobby Thigpen?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Thigpen is managing in the minors. My guess would be Reed. I just think Thornton and Crain are more vital in the seventh and eighth.
Hack Wilson (Boulder, CO)
Bruce, What is your opinion of the treatment of Randy Wells this spring? One would think that a rotation spot would be his to lose, yet Samardzija seems to have fooled everyone but... me, and anyone else who's been watching him these last few years... into believing that spot is his. What has Wells done wrong? He's matched or bettered the performances of Samardzija and RoLo, and without the forearm injury last year, he was beginning to prove himself a solid, young starter. Why is he being cast aside, given what appears to be a lack of equal opportunity?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I'm with you. I think Wells has been slighted. The only thing he may be doing wrong is making close to $2.5 million. My baseball sources have said that a number of teams have asked about his availability.
I have been hearing alot of rumors about Byrd and Garza trades popping up in the last 2 days. Any true to the Byrd to the Braves or Nationals or Angels and Jays being interested in Garza?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I think a lot of teams might be interested in them. The Cubs would have to get four top young players back at least in order to trade Garza. Someone will have to gut their farm system. Byrd will not require anything that substantial.
Will Sappelt actually ever be anything for the cubs? or was he just a throw in - in the marshall trade?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
He's a decent OF who can run. He gives them security in case there is an injury in the outfield.
Jason (Arlington Heights)
All of a sudden it seems as if the Sox have a lot of options (Santiago, Jones, Stults, Stewart, Bruney, etc) for the final 3 bullpen spots. Who do you think will break camp with the club?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
My guess is Santiago, Bruney and Stewart. That also includes Addison Reed to go with the other three veterans.
The Sox have named John Danks the starter for Opening Day. Do you think he deserved it or somebody like Peavy or Humber did?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
The way it is set up, Peavy will get the opening day start at the Cell on April 13. That's kind of a little bit of an honor for him. No one has really stood out among the others. They have all pitched pretty well.
Bobby (Oak Lawn)
Is there any chance of us seeing both B. Jackson and M. Szczur patrolling the outfield at Wrigley this summer?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I doubt Szczur. They won't be that quick to start his clock. Look for him to spend most of the year at Double-A.
Jason (Arlington Heights)
Adam Dunn is having a productive spring so far. Is this a reason for optimism that he will be who we thought we were getting or will we not know anything until the regular season starts?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Just hope that he hits .250. If he does he will hit between 30-40 home runs.
where would u bat Ian stewart in your lineup Bruce? 2nd? 3rd? 5th?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Definitely fifth. He doesn't run well enough for 2. Doesn't make enough contact for third. Fifth or sixth is good for him.
Mike (Chicago )
If LaHair stuggles will Mather get some time over there as a stopgate untill Rizzo is deem "ready"?
Hi Bruce,How does (our Canadian) Crain look? Will he manage to get 5 - 10 saves this year?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
He could and so could Baker.
Chris (Orland Park )
It seems that Dejesus is going to be batting lead off. He has struggled through spring training. What do you think batting Barney in the leadoff spot and moving Dejesus to the 2nd spot
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Neither one of them are base stealers so mix and match would be all right. Barney doesn't walk so he would be a poor choice at lead off.
With Mather playing as good as he is, you almost have to find him a spot to play. Any chance this happens?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Let's not get too carried away with Mather. He's a good player but let's not make him into Jim Hickman quite yet. He'll do well as a backup.
Brandon freihage (FL)
Its obvious the Cubs have many areas of concern, but how do you expect Cubs management to help increase home run production? Trades or mostly developing youth?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
I don't know if that is really what they are seeking. I think OPS is where they are going. They wouldn't mind a guy that hits 50 doubles and has an on-base percantage of .380. Those are the types of guys they want.
Which player on the White Sox do you forecast to have a better than normal year, and which player are you worried about just from what you have seen in ST?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
You have to have concerns about Viciedo. I'll go with Alexei Ramirez as having a better than expected season with 25 homers and 80 RBIs.
Who will be the biggest surprise on the cubs this year?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Soto. I look for him to have a season similar to 2008 when he was Rookie of the Year.
Jose (Glenwood, Illinois)
Do you think the Cubs and Garza will reach a long term deal or will he be traded if so where to?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Management has been pretty guarded about their negotiations. But if they don't sign him he will be traded before July 31.
Kevin Mato (Joliet)
If the Cubs would trade Soto for relief help, do you think Castillo or Clevenger would be able to handle the # 1 catching job?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Not right now. Clevenger is the most likely backup for Soto. Castillo has better tools but has yet to show he can call a great game. Both need much more seasoning if they are going to replace Soto.
Gerry (Des Plaines)
Marmol hasn't been having the best spring. He's allowed multiple base runners in the majority of his outings. If he continues to struggle into April and May do the Cubs look to replace him as their closer? If so, who's the top candidate on the roster?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
The Cubs are not that deep in their pen. One guy to watch is Dolis. He has really good stuff although there is some concern with his delivery. They're concerned about injury. He's had a great spring and has already made the team.
Bruce, with Theo and Jed so focused on reclamation projects this offseason (i.e. Stewart, DeJesus, Maholm, even LaHair and Soto) is the main goal to get good starts out of these guys then flip them for young talent, or does anybody actually have a chance to stick with this team for a few years?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
I think their flexibility is what they really like about the players they have. I think they would trade anybody at any time in order to make them better. The future is not 2012.
Ryno (Glen Ellyn)
With Soriano hitting "well" in spring training could they get anyone to take him before the start of the season or would they be better suited to look for a desperate trade partner near the deadline?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
No one is going to be desperate enough to take $54 million off their hands. I think Soriano plays 130 games and bats fourth, fifth or sixth all season.
Robert Greene (McHenry, IL)
Sports Illustrated predicts the Sox will loose 95 games this year. Is this actually posssible or is it an extreme misjudgment by Sports Illustrated?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Anything is possible. The bullpen is real questionable and the rotation actually lacks a real ace so projecting them for 95 losses is a little steep but not exactly crazy.
What is the hold up with Soler? Seems like it's taking them quite a long time to clear him..
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
My opinion, MLB is concerned about media reports saying he already had offers from other teams. Soler is not able to sign with a team until he is cleared by MLB. It's been a sensitive issue.
Mark (Nashville, TN)
The Blue Jays sent Travis Snider to AAA, so he may be available/trade bait. Do you think the Cubs would have any interest in him, especially if the Blue Jays are supposedly interested in Garza?
Bruce, what's going to happen with Wells? I'm assuming Lopez is going to be the long guy in the pen, does that mean Wells will assume a setup role?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
Wells has a minor league option. It would be a tough thing to do. But a more likely scenario would be a trade. As I previously stated, multiple teams are looking at Wells for a deal.
Bill (Kansas City)
Do you think Tyler Flowers is truly a major league catcher, or do the Sox have to look elsewhere when they finally part ways with AJ?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
He seems to keep improving. Ultimately he might be a starting catcher who hits 20-25 home runs. His defense has been better. He's working hard at it this spring.
Bruce do you agree with sending Cardenas down? why not start him against RHP and put Barney on the bench to backup 2B&SS?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
He's really not a SS so playing everyday would be best for him at this point. The Cubs could use a veteran backup at SS/2B. But instead Barney has to be the backup SS, and that is not ideal.
Robin Ventura so far as a skipper...impressed or jury still out?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I like what I see. He always had great leadership qualities. He's impressed the veterans by the way he has handled them.
Bruce - given the performance of Manny Corpas (11K, no BB in 8 innings) - I'm surprised he's not listed as a lock or likely for the pen. What's the current status of his health? He would seem to be a pitcher with lots of upside if fully recovered, and still young.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
He had his best outing yesterday. He did sign a split contract, meaning the Cubs could send him out for a short period of time. I think he still has a good shot.
I'm sure management will give him every chance to prove he can start, but do you think Travis Wood ultimately ends up in the bullpen? He actually reminds me a lot of Sean Marshall (albeit without the big hook).
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Not really. I've read some people say he could pitch out of the bullpen but I don't see how that helps him. He does have options left so there's no reason why he can't go to Triple-A and start.
John (Evergreen Park)
I have not seen Viciedo this Spring, but his numbers are horrid. what's the problem?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Can't tell you that other than the face that he has just not hit.
Mike Alioto (Oak Forest)
Who going to get 4th and 5th starting Job for the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
We'll know tomorrow. Sveum will announce then.
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Our next chat will be a preview of Opening Day. In the meantime follow my Twitter at ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla at ESPNChiCubs.