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!
How many more heart stopping innings will Dale Sveum be able to take before finally making a change at the closer spot?
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
Welcome to the first week of baseball in the second month of the season. Curious to know what you think about your Chicago teams. Here we go...
Zac (Elkhart, Indiana)
Could LaHair take over left field when Rizzo comes up? Soriano should be in a platoon (or not playing at all).....and LaHair should play everyday against righties
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
That's a decision that the owner of the Cubs will have to make. You can't sit Alfonso Soriano. The only thing you can do is trade him or release him. And if you release him you have to pay him $54 million.
After having the worst season for a DH last year and so far this year with 5 HR and 16 RBI's is Adam Dunn back?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
I think Adam Dunn will hit 30 homers and drive in 90-100 runs. That doesn't mean he won't struggle and strikeout a lot. The one thing Dunn isn't is a number 3 hitter. Unfortunately, Ventura doesn't have a 2, 3, 8 or 9 hitter.
Anthony (KC, MO)
Bruce, if Lahair continues to produce do you see the Cubs 1) trade him by July 31, 2) trade him in the off-season or 3) keep him on the roster? Seems the 1B job long term will be Rizzo's.
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Those are all interesting scenarios. Any of those scenarios could happen. Let's let LaHair continue his success for another month or so and then see what type of player he is. Maybe he's the next Ryan Howard or maybe just a flash in the pan.
what's wrong with Soto? I thought he was a 10-year fixture behind the plate now he's below average. Will Castillo get more PT?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
The interesting thing about the Cubs is that none of the front office executives or the coaching staff have any previous ties to Soto or any of the other players. Therefore, I believe the evaluation will be totally on what the player is doing and what they believe the player can do, rather than they came through the system, was Rookie of the Year, etc. In order to get something good for Soto, he has to perform better. It remains to be seen if the Cubs actually got enough value for Marlon Byrd.
So glad they are finally giving Campana a chance to play. The speed element is huge without much power. Who is the next guy to get a look? (no Jackson or Rizzo because they not coming for while)
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Unlike most people, I still think Campana has to prove he can hit. I do like the speed element he brings to the game. But I'm not convinced he's a starting player. I don't know when they want to start the clock for Jackson, but in their mind there is no rush to get these guys to the major leagues.
Jake Peavy (Alabama)
When are the White Sox going to package me off to another team?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I think the White Sox would like to try and compete for a while, and see if they can win that division. The key is going to be whether the offense can survive with so many holes in it. Jerry Reinsdorf has always ponied up for players at the deadline if the team is close, except for 1997. The fans are going to have show some support for Jerry to ante up this time.
Hack Wilson (Boulder, CO)
It's easy to see problems on the left side of the field, so let's talk about second base. I love Darwin Barney, but his future seems solid in a backup role in the middle infield - the ops just isn't there. How does the organization feel about Cardenas and Valbuena so far?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I think Valbuena is just a nice backup. Cardenas they feel has a chance to be an every day player but he has to improve his defense.
Albert (Los Angeles)
Hi Bruce, Word is the Yankees have recently contacted Hoyer about Matt Garza. Anything to that? Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
I've said it all along and I'll continue to say it: if Garza is not signed to a long-term deal before July, he will be dealt. The Yanks are one of many teams that would be interested in Garza, and they have some minor league players that would be acceptable to the Cubs in a deal.
Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)
The Sox cupboard appears empty, I don't think they have any options for 2nd or 3rd at the major or minor league level, do you?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Not that we're aware of. I think that's why Morel and Beckham are getting extra opportunities. The White Sox aren't sure if Escobar and Lillibridge are every day players either.
Evander beaumont,tx [via mobile]
do u think joe mather should get more playing time and clevenger when he comes back
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I guess it's to sound kind of hard, but I don't think it matters much where some of these players play and how much they play. The Cubs are short on offensive talent. LaHair has been a really nice story and Castro will be a superstar, but besides them it's a bunch of guys who may or may not be around in 2014.
Bruce, with Castro most likely to move to third in the next few years, do the cubs have any young SS prospects worth watching? Lake was drafted as a SS but is projected more at 3rd as well right? Seems like that position is pretty well covered with Vitters in the system also.
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Not aware of any phenom shortstops in the system right now. What I think you'll see is other prospects from other teams being brought in via trade over the next year. For instance, if you trade Garza you need to get a couple top pitching prospects and a top infield prospect. He should bring that back at the very least. Look for the Cubs to move most of their better parts that don't fit in to their long-term plan by the trade deadline.
Any news on Soler? And how soon could we see Gerardo Concepcion in the bigs?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Concepcion has not been getting the job done at Class A. I was told that the Soler situation is still a mystery to most, and that MLB is not the problem. I wish I could tell you more but there is no other news.
Who get's sent to the minors when Wood and Dempster return the end of the week?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Not sure if Wood will have a rehab outing or not. There's a possible scenario where Volstad goes to the bullpen and another move is made. That's my presumption -- I don't that for sure.
Bill (N Side)
Unlike Jim Hendry, Theo /Hoyer obviously are playing everything close to the vest and never commenting on personnel/potential trades, etc. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It must be maddening for reporters.
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
As a reporter it's my job to communicate with whoever is in charge. That's way they do business, and I have to work with that and around it. Both new executives are good guys with great track records. They just don't trust anybody yet, and that will take time.
Matt (Lincoln Park)
How long of a leash will Ian Stewart get?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I'll answer your question with another question: what are the alternatives there? Is Jeff Baker or Joe Mather your every day 3rd Baseman? Right now Stewart is upgrade defensively over anyone they've had there in a while. I think he gets another month to prove that he can (or can't) hit.
Will we see Nestor Molina on the Southside before the end of the season?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I think they would like to promote him when he is ready, but right now it doesn't appear that White Sox starting pitching is a problem. The only way Molina is up here before his time is if there are multiple injuries to the pitching staff. I kind of like the White Sox pitching so far -- don't you?
cubFan Paul (Indy)
any chance DeWitt gets released/traded for a Cardenas call up? Cardenas could be the much needed offense off the bench and/or a platoon partner at 2B
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I'm not sure about that for Cardenas. There's also a couple million that DeWitt is making and being a left-handed bat probably keeps him around for a little while. I wouldn't be surprised to see Cardenas later in the season though.
Bruce, With Hector Santiago not being able to close right now, how short is the leash to allow Thornton or Reed take over the spot?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I think that Ventura can mix and match whenever he'd like to. Thornton's set-up innings are much too valuable to give up though. I always have this argument/conversation with baseball people: what's more valuable, a lock down set-up man or lock down closer? It's a good chicken or egg argument.
WIth the need to bolster the back end of the rotation and add some veteran arms from the left side, why haven't the Cubs been linked to Mike Gonzalez?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Don't know. I'm sure he's someone the Cubs would look into. But they're also interested in developing their own pitchers at this point.
Why did Rodrigo Lopez get outrighted to AAA? He's much better than Volstad and that's not saying much!
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Volstad is younger and potentially better if he can be developed. The Cubs are now about developing players to win rather than just piecing things together. There is a method to what they are trying to do, but unfortunately it can't be done in just a day.
Dan (Orlando )
If The Shark is the only starting pitcher who may be on the Cubs' staff when they compete down the road, can you give me the name of two or three minor league pitchers who we may see in the rotation in three years?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
Don't have the crystal ball to say who will be there in 2-3 years. Right now I can tell you that a lot of the prospects in the future that will be in those roles are probably in other teams systems.
Scott (Scottsdale AZ)
Whats going on with the possibility of no more SOX -vs- CUBS series? MLB cannot be serious? Right?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
According to the people I talk to, they will play each other 3 times a year, and every 3 years play each other 6 times a year when NL central plays AL central in interleague play.
Bill (Sao Paolo)
Frank Thomas keeps saying the Sox need to move Gordo into the 2 hole and let him play. He has been a star his entire life, and hitting #9 is killing him. do you agree, considering we really don't have a better option?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I just think that Beckham has to rework his swing, and the only place to do that properly is in AAA. They have to tell Beckham that it's not a demotion, but a brief instructional period to get his swing right. The coaching staff has worked to give him some new methods but unfortunately when he doesn't have quick results he resorts back to his previous swing.
Are the Tigers not as good as we all thought? Or are they just in a new season funk and the Sox will be huge sellers at the trade deadline?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
I don't know about the Sox being hige sellers, but Detroit is still a very good team. Unless they have more major injuries, they will still likely win the division. That doesn't mean that the White Sox can't be competitive. If they are out of it in July then they will trade some of their veteran players. But just remember that there are two wild cards this year--not one.
Bruuuuuccce.. what's your take on Carlos Marmol's future with the Cubs? I think he gives every fan in the country agita when he comes in to close a game at this point.
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Normally I have to eat a lot of peanuts to get 'Agita', however, Marmol is still learning and developing a new pitch, and that's the 2-seam fastball. I don't think he'll ever be the pitcher that strikes out 100 batters a season again, but that doesn't mean he can't be an effective closer. I just think he's still learning how to pitch and his stuff is good enough that I can be successful as a closer again.
was sad to hear about moose skowron passing... any quick story or anecdote you could share?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Obviously the most famous is Moose talking about going to dinner with Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. He said he shaved six times before he went to dinner with them, and was too nervous to say anything at all during dinner. He was a good friend to Chicagoans and personally I will miss him a great deal.
Cole Hamels (Philly)
Bruce, If If Rizzo and Jackson come up in July is there a chance the Cubs brass sign Garza to a long term deal and make a run at me to compete in 2013
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
No! No again! You're a little too old for this group and what their plan is for the future. Besides, I hear you're asking for $100 million over five years.
If Marmol can't develop the 2-seam fastball, any chance Dolis could close or is he strictly 7th/8th inning material?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
He's got a lot of learning to do at this level. But he has a great arm. I would not be surprised if he develops into that role eventually.
White Sox's ace at the end of the season is?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
Bobby (Oak Lawn)
Whats going on with Brett Jackson? He seems to be struggling
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Identifying the strike zone and what to swing are at are usually problems for young hitters. Jackson will figure it out. He's a bonafide talent.
Brent Morel (Southside)
Any chance I'll be sent to the Minors to learn how to hit?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Unfortunately you're not the only one that isn't hitting. I think you have another month to prove that you can.
Tom (On flight from Chicago to Dallas)
Since the cubs are rebuilding this year and we have 4 of the first 60 draft picks, Any rumors who they may select number one
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Not up to date as to the top prospects at this point, but I'll have a better idea as we get closer to the draft, which is just about a month away.
Are Casey Coleman, Travis Wood or Chris Rusin pitching well enough in Iowa to be brought up for a look in the 5 spot? Chris Volstad is absolutely unwatchable and 1 quality start in 5 chances should be viewed as unacceptable even for a rebuilding team.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
I think Travis Wood or Randy Wells will get the consideration for the 5th starter first.
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Have a great week and follow me on Twitter at ESPNBruceLevine, as well as my buddy Doug Padilla at ESPNChiCubs. Thanks for all the questions!