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)
This chat is dedicated to the memory of Kevin Hickey, who was laid to rest today. A great competitor and even better person. Welcome
Colton W. (Robinson, IL)
I'm hearing rumors of Rizzo being brought up to the Majors by mid-June which would move LaHair to Left Field. Are there any takers on Soriano? He's been hitting the ball good lately.
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
I think at this point we should get a fund together for all the fans who want Soriano moved to contributed toward the $54 million he's owed. Soriano is the hottest Cub right now, hitting .360 over the last seven games. However he really doesn't fit on hardly any teams. He's a DH who at this point only has occasional power. The real question is would they platoon him or out of respect feel they have to release him?
Illini Bill [via mobile]
Were you shocked by the Sox going after Hudson? I was!
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
No, they have gotten nothing out of 3B so far. Morel has been hurt since the first week of March. Obviously he has been able to play through it. Adding a veteran presence of Hudson might give the Sox a little juice. He's known as a positive energy guy who tries to lift his teammates.
Do you think Chris Sale will turn into a Ace or do you see arm issues arising? Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
I hate to predict someone's injuries, especially a young talent like Sale. But his mechanics aren't the greatest. I've asked some Sox people why they don't change them and the answer usually is what you see is what you get.
Lee (New Milford, NJ)
Hi, Bruce! I really believe if the Cubs could find a way to unload those three (Soriano, Mamol, and Soto) the sooner, they have better shot at winning the World Series this year. What do you think?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I think you should check in with somebody and have them make sure you're all right. Epstein and Hoyer will figure out the right time to trade the veterans and the right time is when you can get back optimum young players in return.
Brian (South Side)
Do you think the sox will get some interest for Dunn, Peavy, Rios since they are playing back at their expected levels? and should the sox pull the trigger? We are sitting at .500 not exactly a clean house record.
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
The Sox as a team are evolving with young players. So if Kenny Williams feels at some point it's the right time to trade the vets he will. For now they are competitive in a very ordinary division. There is no need to blow it up. Who knew the Tigers were going to be a rudder-less ship at the quarter mark?
Jeff (Lansing, IL)
What do you think about moving DeJesus to center and getting Joe Mather into the line-up? I like Campagna's speed, but don't think he's a bonafide starting CF. Or put Mather at 3rd and bench Stewart, who's not hitting? What would you do line-up wise to help this sinking ship?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I don't mind either one of those moves. I think your ideas have already been looked at and may be approached by Sveum. Sveum said he was going to shake up his lineup and I would expect that to happen as early as tonight. Be ready for Castro to bat 1 or 2.
Andrew (Quincy, IL)
Do you think the Cubs will move Garza an attempt to add more youth to the team? What are the chances they are able to find a taker for Soriano?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
You get conflicting stories with Garza. Some national writers say the Cubs are trying to sign him. Others are saying there is no way the Cubs will give him five years and $100 million. As usual, Epstein and Hoyer play it close to the vest with their long range plans.
Illini Bill [via mobile]
Why not send down Escobar and call up Dan Johnson to pay 3rd for the Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Johnson is deficient at 3B. He's got a little pop in his bat. I think the Sox would prefer to see if Hudson can play the position on a platoon basis.
Why is the Soler decision taking so long
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I was told MLB is making sure that Jorge Soler is actually Jorge Soler. And by that I mean all signees from other countries are being scrutinized to make sure no more Fausto Carmona situations occur.
Ryan (Lake Zurich, IL)
Do you see the Cubs trading Dempster at all before the deadline?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
With his cooperation, yes. I think at this point, Dempster believes his baseball future will be in some other city considering he will be a free agent after the season. At 36, he seems a long shot to be re-signed by the Cubs.
How long is Ian Stewart's contract? He was terrible last year even before getting injured, he's terrible this year and is not the answer at third. As far as I know, we don't have any upcoming third basemen. What are options there after this season?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Vitters is an option in the minors. Also the possibility that SS Junior Lake or Castro are switched to 3B. They don't really have a commitment to Stewart after this season.
Hi Bruce,What can we expect the line to be for Orlando Hudson? Also, with Midddlebrooks playing so well in beantown, a) what is the likelihood of the BoSox trading Youkilis, and b) what is the chance that the ChiSox get him?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I'm not sure that the Sox have anything that interests Boston other than young pitching, and that's one thing they cannot afford to trade. Adam Dunn doesn't fit there. One person who would is Peavy if he continues to pitch well. But that's more of a July 31 deal. Hudson hasn't played 3B so I'm not sure what he is going to give you there. But in short spurts he will get on, steal a base and score a run.
Dan (Orland Park)
During the game last night, Len Casper said Castro is number seven hitter in a good line up because he is a free swinger. Do you agree? I think he's much better than that.
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I couldn't disagree more. I still think Castro is a 20-25 home run guy who will drive in 100 runs. Even on his worst day he is a .300 hitter. That's a rare commodity.
Would the Cubs move Castro if they were offered top pitching prospects?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I think the Cubs would trade anybody. Remember the Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez and he was as solid a SS prospect as there has been in the last 20 years. If Epstein and Hoyer can better the team, they will trade Castro and anybody else. That said, they have to be getting real close to signing to a long-term deal with arbitration beginning next season. Castro gets four years of arbitration rather than the normal three because he will have super two status coming into this offseason. Super two means he is in the top 30 percent of his playing class in service time, and the top 30 percent gets arbitration after their second year.
Is Dejesus trade bait if he hits well and we need a spot for both Lahair and Jackson (although he is struggling lately)?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I think anybody is. If you haven't noticed, the Cubs along with the Twins are the worst in baseball. But the difference between Epstein and Hoyer and a fan's philosophy is making a trade when they can get top talent back for the player, not just moving someone for the sake of a trade.
Kevin (Homer Glen) [via mobile]
Do you see the Sox making any relatively big moves at the deadline if they still feel they have a chance at a playoff spot?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
When I asked Reinsdorf that recently he said it's based on fan support and where the team is at before the deadline. He wasn't threatening the fan base, he was just saying economically he'd have to see what the White sox can do. In other words fiscal sense is as important as baseball sense and opportunity.
Andy (South Holland)
So what is the extend to Morals injury? If we sit him for a month or two can he come back and hit the ball like a major league batter?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
It's unclear at this point but it's a lower back injury that is similar to what Crede went through for many years. When I walk through the Sox clubhouse, Morel is a walking ice bag. I feel bad for him because I think he has talent but he just has not been physically able to show it.
Theo Epstein (Wrigley Field)
Bruce, with the way LaHair has been playing this season (minus this past week) what kind of return could the Cubs see if we start listening to offers from other teams?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
What if he's hitting .285 10 days from now? We're talking about a guy who in baseball people's minds is not a proven commodity. The round about answer is I think you might get less than you might imagine at this point until he has a proven body of work over a year.
Gabe (Arlington Hts)
What is your prediction with JR Lake, Matt Szczur, and Vitters? Who will get to the bigs first and why. Thanks !
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Barring injury I really like Junior Lake from what I've seen. I think he has a lot of upside power. Sxczur is a couple of years away and outside of singles and doubles, Vitters is a question as well.
Viciedo is MASHING! It's about time, do you think he can keep up an above average pace? It would do awesome things for the offense.
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
This is what they expected of him when they signed him five years ago. And his offense skills are still evolving. He may have as much raw power as any hitter in baseball. If he can continue to make hard contact he could be among the top power hitters in the game.
Andy (South Holland)
PK playing tonight? If not do you think we could see Flowers play DH? He hit the ball well Sunday.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Not sure on Konerko. I saw him at Hickey's funeral and his eye is still pretty black and blue. Don't know when the Sox medical staff will give him the OK but he's a tough guy. Knowing him he will want to play tonight.
Paul (St. Louis)
Any hope for Stewart to improve his hitting? Think Cubs will stick with him all year even if hitting doesn't improve?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Even in his best years he struggled to hit .250. He's kind of an Adam Dunn type. If he can hit .250 then he's liable to hit 20-25 home runs. It's hard to project anything better than that. Realistically I don't think anyone was expecting much from the Cubs' offense this year.
Can someone please teach Wellington Castillo how to catch? This guy not only doesn't frame any pitches but he makes them look WAY worse then they actually are. Seriously, how can he be in the majors when he really can't catch?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
That's something the Cubs are aware of. He has tremendous raw skills that includes a gun for a throwing arm and a lot of power. Calling games and the technical part of catching is still a work in progress for Castillo.
Mike (NW Suburbs)
Do you think Wood's retirement helps or hurts the Cubs? He's a class act going out on his terms. Any chance if Soriano stops hitting again, he might conisder the same?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
Players usually don't retire when a teams owes them $50 million. The difference between Wood and Soriano is $51 million. If I'm Soriano, I ain't walking away from that kind of money. The Cubs are worse in the sense that Wood is not there on a daily basis just from the experience and character he brought for his team. But he was done being able to get people out on a regular basis.
The angels have ton of outfielders, why not trade crain or thortnon for one of those guys.
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Maybe at some point they will ask. The Angels will be desperate for good bullpen help if they can stay in the race with Oakland and Texas. The Phillies were predictable as a team that could have had a down season, but nobody thought the Angels after signing Pujols and Wilson would be playing the way they have.
Henry A (st Petersburg FL)
Why play Hill over Lalli?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Evidently they think they know more about Lalli than you and I do. I do know one thing about Hill and that is during his career prior to being released in the 2011 season, the Cubs won 60 percent of the games he caught. That's a pretty good percentage. And defensively he calls as good a game as anybody.
When Pk comes back, where do you hit Viciedo? in the 5th spot?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I wouldn't be afraid to move him up but managers sometimes like to keep guys in the same place for awhile. That way you're not putting pressure on a hitter to live up to his new spot. Ventura is pretty savvy so I imagine he might keep him where he's at for awhile.
Jake (Lincoln, NE) [via mobile]
How is Brett Jackson doing in Iowa? I know his stats suggest he's slumping and striking out a lot. Due to those factors, does he have to go on a tear offensively in order to be brought up, or is it simply a matter of finding him a spot to play? Do you realistically see him being brought up at all this year?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
The Cubs are in no rush to move him up. They would like to get him to be able to hit .300 at Triple-A first. Right now he's having a struggle with the strike zone. Casey Coleman told me he thought Jackson was just pressing a little bit because he anticipates an an opportunity to be called up this season.
Kyle (Kenosha, WI)
What are the Cubs going to do to add some offense to this lineup?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Probably not a lot right now. It's an organization that's going to have to be rebuilt. It's up to Epstein and Hoyer to find some quality young talent that they can trade for while Jason McLeod is re-stocking the organization with young players. The Cubs have to get even worse to get better. That means trade off some of the veterans they have at opportune times.
Harry (New York)
Do you see the cubs making a manger change in two years? I see Dale as vinny del negro like how the bulls got rid of him n broght thiibs to coach when it was time to win
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
It works that way a lot of times for managers. You make a commitment to him and let him know that the next three years are about player development and then after while, as a GM, you're not so sure that all that losing has gotten the best of the guy. It's an unfair situation that has gone on forever in baseball. In the meantime, Sveum and his coaches have been very impressive to me by the way they train and approach their players. And guess what? I'm not that easily impressed.
Favorite Kerry Wood moment for you? At what point, if any, does he join the Cubs front office and in what role would you guess it might be?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
My favorite was picking him up at the airport in 2000 and driving him downtown to Northwestern. And my program director at the time asking me if I had any information about when Wood would be arriving in Chicago and for his status. To the best of my knowledge he is going to continue to work with the team and will re-join them after the road trip. He also has a new book coming out on how to win at baseball. You can check him out at Barnes & Noble on May 29.
alan (lincoln park)
everyone seems to want to find ways to get campana out of the lineup. Why!? he is producing. Hitting well and ends up on 3rd base after drawing a walk because he can steal 2nd and 3rd.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
It's the old adage about not being able to steal first. Some are not convinced that he will hit enough to be an effective player at the top of the order. But for a second division team like the Cubs, why not give him some at-bats?
How important are the next 6 games for the Sox? With Indians-Tigers facing eachother this week, Is it important for the Sox to sweep the Twins?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
It's always a lot easier said than done when you have a weak team come into play your team. The Twins have always been the Sox's nemesis. Whether they are good or bad they always give the Sox a tough time.
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Enjoy the week of baseball and if you're a Cubs fan try not to be surprised that your team is not very good. Try to enjoy the game itself. No, I;m not running for office. But its' good advice. Follow me on ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla on ESPNChiCubs for all the latest on Twitter.