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 (1:01 PM)
Welcome to the chat room. Both the Cubs and White Sox are on winning streaks, although the Cubs is just a bit shorter than the Sox...
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What Chicago Cubs Or Chicago White Sox Pitcher will be a 20-game winner?
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
Not sure if you mean now or in the future, but I would say Chris Sale, but his innings may be limited, so I'll go with Jake Peavy at this point.
Who will start at 3B when Morel is back? O-Dawg or Morel and why?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Not so sure Morel is coming back any time soon. He's going to have to re-learn his swing as well. They can't just bring Morel back as a part-time player. He has to be healthy and playing everyday somewhere, which means that eventually he could be optioned down to AAA.
Frank (New Orleans )
With Ian Stewart struggling at the plate should Josh Vitters be called up to majors to start the rebuilding process?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Not right now. If you want to ask me that again in August or September, I might have a different answer for you. Stewart is just trying to get himself back together right now. Vitters needs another year in the minors, and he's only 22, so he's like a college player that would be drafted this June.
Dan (Oswego, IL)
Hey Bruce, do you think the White Sox will retire Paul Konerko's number when he retires?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Yes. He gets that plus a statue and his own day. He most likely will retire with the most home runs in White Sox history if he continues like this for the next few years.
evander Beaumont [via mobile]
how far is clevenger from coming back
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Clevenger is back. He was activated today.
Does Chris Sale remind you at all as a young Randy Johnson?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
From the people I talk to, Lake probably will end up as a third baseman. Baez is the best hitting prospect in the minors right now. So movingup the ladder sometime this season would not surprise.
do you think Samardzija can run faster than Castro? I bet from his days from ND that he is one of the fastest on this team!
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
I don't think so. I think it takes him a little time to get going. He is the best athlete on the team and one of the best in baseball.
andre (the High Desert)
Would the Sox ever consider moving Addison Reed to the rotation? The 1-2 tandem of Sale and Reed at the top of the rotation would seemingly be one of the most feared in the AL.
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Doesn't have the secondary pitches right now to be a starter. However, this is what they've done in the past with some of their top prospects. Kip Wells, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Chris Sale all started in the bullpen.
Does Garza's puzzling starts this season (6 runs @ Miami, 7 runs @ Houston, 6 runs @ Pittsburgh) have any effects on the Cubs working on an extension with him? Those are the kind of numbers you expect from an "ace."
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I think Theo and Jed look at every one of the starts and try to determine whether he is the team's ace of the future.
Karl (Illinois) [via mobile]
I know the Sox said they want to limit Sale's innings this year, but can they really afford to do that if they are still in contention later in the season and he continues to be pitch well?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I think the organization's future is more important than one year of pushing your top pitching prospect beyond his limit. I do agree it will be a difficult thing for the White Sox to do if he's the ace of their staff in late August. But maybe it's a nice situation to have.
Dan (Orlando )
Bruce,Do you think for the next two years and change Soriano will continue to play too poorly to get traded yet too well to justify releasing him and eating his salary? Part of me suspects he is ours until the end of his contract. Cheers.
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I think that's a good way of analyzing Soriano's situation. Right now he's second on the team in RBIs and second in home runs. His .272 average puts him in that area where other teams aren't quite interested and the Cubs have no choice but to put him in the middle of their order.
Paul (Denver,CO) [via mobile]
Who do you see representing the Cubs in the All Star Game?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I believe first base coach Dave McKay, who was part of Tony LaRussa's coaching staff. As you know, LaRussa will be the All-Star manager this year. Seriously though, the most deserving guys are DeJesus and Castro.
Luis (Chicago) [via mobile]
Bruce do you really think if the White Sox are in first place by the deadline that Kenny is going to be a seller and not a buyer?(I wish the Sox had Cubs money)
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Kenny is on the record as saying that he needs the Chicago White Sox fans' support in order to have the dollars to go and add on to the team. The White Sox are down 5,000 fans per game this season. And with average ticket prices around $30, that equates to about $12 million. White Sox fans-- come out and support your team. It's worthwhile. And no the White Sox don't pay me anything to say that.
Mike (Chicago )
With Soriano's recent power surge are teams gaining any interest? I realize we'd still have to eat a ton of contract but it should be worth it.
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Too early in the year to be trading for hitters. Teams are lining up for starting pitching and bullpen help. Ryan Dempster should be the center of many teams' attention at this point.
andre (the High Desert)
Is it time to move the Tank up in the order?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
I wouldn't. I like him right where he's at. Robin has always been good about trying to take pressure off young guys. I think for now you just leave him.
Colton W. (Robinson, IL)
Is it possible that we might see Casey Coleman in the Rotation this season?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Right now he's in the mix as the Cubs closer, believe it or not. Dale Sveum said today that Coleman would be considered along with Camp and Russell as pitchers that might close games.
2 Years from now Nate Jones is what? No one can hit this guy....
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
That's hard to answer. We have to wait for the league to see him a few times first. The good news is that the bullpen has a number of strong arms that continue to gain experience on a daily basis. This could bode well for the White Sox during the season when other teams' veteran bullpens start to break down because of attrition. Pitching Coach Don Cooper and Bullpen Coach Juan Nieves are bringing along these young guys beautifully.
Please describe the catching situation. Is it still Soto's job when healthy? If Soto gets moved - Clevenger and Castillo are both young guys that need to play regularly. Do one of them get moved as well?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Soto isn't getting moved anywhere until he shows some signs of his previous ability to hit and hit with power. It's always interesting when people want to move players when they are not productive. How would you move a guy to a team unless they desperate for a player, like the case of Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox. On top of that, Soto has proved that he can catch every day, while Clevenger and Castillo do not have that track record. If Soto gets moved, the Cubs would still keep both Castillo and Clevenger because they are both young with potential.
Bruce, Seems like a veteran having a great season could be used by many, many contenders. What is the market for Dempster? What kind of return should the Cubs be looking for in regards to prospects?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
He's a top of the line rotation pitcher. But he is a free-agent. That means the team trading for him has no control over his contract for next season. All of that means that you get lesser prospects and fewer prospects since it will only be a 2 or 3-month rental. Also, Dempster controls his own fate. Much like Derrek Lee did, he may turn down a trade to a city or two before he says yes.
tom (pennsylvania) [via mobile]
With beckham's recent play is it reasonable to think he is finally becomming the player everyone thought he would be when he was drafted or is this just an aberation?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
We need more than this small sample size to be sure of all that. But it's interesting to be in the clubhouse every day and watch Beckham talk to Paul Konerko and hitting coach Jeff Manto about his new approach.
Bruuuuuce! This Cubs has some quality players, and despite bullpen woes, should not be the worst team in baseball. What's missing with this team, grit? game situation understanding? eye of the tiger???
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
Look at the middle of the order. Today you have Mather hitting third, Soriano fourth and Baker 5th. With all due respect, how many runs do you expect to score with those guys in that order? Maybe for a day or two it works, but how can you expect consistent offense from guys that are very good bench players. And not too mention a bullpen that is evolving, which is a way of saying it nicely.
Do you see the possibility Cubs trade Dempster in July and resign him in November?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
When I hear about these types of situations, I think about what Greg Maddux told me after he was traded tot he Dodgers: why would a player want to come back to a team that just traded him? In other words, when a team says they want to part with you, why would you go back? It's not like you're part of their player development team.
Which is more inexcusable? Leaving Dolis in the game to walk numerous players and throw a hbp walkoff, when he clearly gets raddled with guys on base. Or sending snail slug Lalli home from third where two mediocre relay throws get him thrown out by twenty feet?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Your question really is: how can the Cubs win with the talent base that they have. When you see a third-base coach doing more than he normally would in sending a guy, or you see a manager leaving a pitcher in too long, it shows they have a lack of choices in getting run production and in closing games. Your question is a talent issue.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Besides Dunn and Peavy, what other players in the league have a shot at CPOTY this year? ...I can't think of any.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Kendry Morales of the Angels is a possibility. Depending on how things turn out, maybe Morneau or Mauer with the Twins. In the NL my choice is Johan Santana.
Matt (Lincoln Park)
Let's say Samardzija keeps this up. At what point do you think the Cubs would start talking to him about an extension?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
They have control of his contract for at least two more years. I think they want to see him evolve as a starting pitcher before they get involved with that.
Jason (South Dakota)
Is Bryan LaHair the .350 hitter we saw early in the season or is he the sub .300 hitter we've scene recently?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
I think he's somewhere in the middle of all that. To me, if LaHair hits .280, hits 25 homers and drives in 90 runs, that would be a great year. And although he may not be satisfied, I know the Cubs would be.
Whats the knock on Ryno as a manager besides experience? Theo shut that topic down as soon as it was brought up, and how are his numbers now?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Everywhere Sandberg has gone, teams have gotten better and gone to the playoffs. It's really hard to dispute his resume. Maybe if he was Ryne Sandberg, a career .250 hitter that was a marginal player he'd already have a job. Somehow the Hall of Fame thing seems to work against for some reason, but I don't know why -- he was the ultimate Blue-Collar player that made it to the Hall. Hopefully his time will come soon.
If tank finishes the year with 30+ homers and 80 rbi and a batting average of around .275, what kind of years and money do you think he gets in free agency?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
He's not a free agent yet. His major league playing time does not add up yet, but it's safe to say he'll make a lot of money down the road.
Bruce real quick Q - has the Jorge Soler free agency situation been one of the stranger cases? There has been absolutely no talk of him since he seemed on verge of being made a FA and signing 3 months ago? Where O where is Jorge now?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Nobody is talking about Soler. I make periodic calls but I can't get anyone to talk about his situation or why he has yet to sign. All I can do is repeat that MLB is very careful about players that are coming to this country after living in two other countries. In the case of Soler, he came from Cuba via the Dominican. Proper identity issues are #1 with MLB. This is not to say that Soler is under any extra scrutiny than any other Latin American player would be. I just don't know that.
Ry (Austin, TX)
What are your thoughts on Darwin Barney's performance at the plate? It seems like his average has historically been around .300, and he has been hitting better of late, but do you think his numbers this season are the result of a slump or of pitchers figuring him out?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Barney is your classic over-achieving major leaguer. Nothing wrong with a player like him that hits around .270 or so and does all the little things that help you win a game. His defensive play continues to improve under the tutelage of infield coach Pat Listach.
Colton W. (Robinson, IL)
Is there any truth to the rumors that Anthony Rizzo might not be called up before the All-Star break?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
It's only speculation all the way around. Nobody knows besides Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer when Rizzo will be called up. My guess is sometime near the end of June.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Quick news update: Clevenger was activated and Lalli optioned to AAA.
mvp: hamilton or konerko?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Take your pick. Luckily they don't hand out the MVP on June 1st. Over the last two weeks, it's definitely Konerko though.
Hark (Phoenix, AZ)
Alexi Ramirez is a notoriously slow starter (somewhat understandable, given that he was accustomed to routinely playing in warm weather in Cuba). That said, in each prior season with the Sox, he has bounced back with solid performance in the month of May. This is clearly his worst statistical start to a season since signing with the White Sox. What do you think is the cause of his prolonged bad start?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
He doesn't know. I did a story last week on that. He's unsure why because he feels he's hitting in some bad luck. I think with the warm weather here we'll see his average continue to go up.
SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)
So LaHair doesn't get a crack at backing up or starting 1B over Votto? If Votto's the 1B starter, who's the backup over LaHair?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
You're right in that there's not a lot of good candidates at first base this year, but we still have a month to go. I'm not trying to downgrade LaHair, but take a look at his credentials toward the end of June.
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
I look forward to a lot of talk over the weekend about the amateur draft with the Cubs and White Sox. I expect to have a number of draft experts on Talkin' Baseball this Saturday from 9am-12pm on ESPN 1000. Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and my tag-team partner Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs.