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 August baseball, which is certainly compelling on the South side, and kind of ugly on the North side. Cubs baseball has the spring training-feel to it right now. Welcome.
Now that Soriano has cleared waivers, any teams willing to bite on a trade for him?
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
He cleared waivers, but there is still $38 million owed to him over the next two years. I don't think any team is willing to make that commitment this late in the season, even if the Cubs will eat 28 or 30 million. Besides, any deals that were possible were vetoed by Soriano with his no-trade clause.
Matty Ice (Chicago)
Bruuuuuuce-Santiago scared me last night. Is there any waiver-wire relief help out there that Kenny can get?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
I asked Kenny yesterday and he laughed. He said there's nothing there because too many teams think they are still in the Wild Card hunt. But vets like Juan Cruz get released every day, so you never know.
what have you liked and disliked from vitters and jackson so far?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Jackson is a good baseball athlete that needs to get more consistent with his mechanics and swing. He has a tendency to take his head off of the ball. Vitters is going to hit. They continue to work hard with him in pre-game drills on defense. It's still unknown whether he'll hit for enough power to be an every day third baseman.
Do you see the Cubs keeping Sveum after his contract expires? Could his uneasy relationship with Castro be a deciding factor?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I think Sveum is just helping Castro grow up. Any good baseball coach would have a tough love teaching technique with this special player. Sveum doesn't have to worry about his job until after the second year. But he and his coaches have proves to be valuable assets in the Cubs' retooling and rebuilding plan.
Charlie (Orange County)
If the Angels fire Mike S, do you think the Cubs should go after him as Manager? I think so but what does that matter.
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
I think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves, but I was thinking about Scioscia's shelf life being much shorter than it ever has these days. That said, Scioscia will be snapped up very qucikly if he is fired. But no, the Cubs should stick with their game plan.
Johnny Baseball (Chicago)
Please tell me the De Aza injury is nothing major. I think he makes that lineup go.
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I think he'll be fine within 12 days. He did his best to show the staff he was OK in batting practice on Monday, but he definitely needs some time to heal. He is certainly a huge factor for the White Sox.
Luke Hanover park [via mobile]
Do you think wise can keep up what he is doing while aza is out? I think a lot of people forget he has a career .225 avg
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
And that's what he'll end up hitting if he plays every day. He brings a very good approach and good defense as a substitute. Another good pick up for Kenny Williams -- your American League Executive of the Year.
I don't totally understand the Cubs strategy. You can still build your minor leagues and be competitive at the major league level. The cubs had a staff of Garza, Samardjiza, Dempster and Maholm. That's not too bad and if you threw in a few decent hitters you have a decent team. Trading those guys did not really net the Cubs any solid prospects, they got Rizzo, Soler, and Almora through other ways. The payroll is getting low now, why not put some money into the major league team to make it watchable?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
That's not their plan. Their plan is to be a great organization for 12 or 15 years, rather than just be entertaining and somewhat competitive like they have been. No one knows if that plan will work out, but they are committed to making it happen over the next 5 years.
With the Sox offense being so "hit or miss"--so to speak--these days, and its heavy reliance on the long ball to get these wins, where do you see the team's odds of making the postseason? Does it have a shot at winning a series (or more)? Thanks, and keep up the good work.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
It depends on their starting pitching -- it has to be able to get at least 7 innings per game. Somebody is going to have to step up in the 4th and 5th slots of the rotation and do the job. The bullpen will be OK if they don't have to go out there and pitch 3-4 innings every night. September will be a bonus for the White Sox when they are able to bring up more young pitchers to keep their main arms fresh.
Ryan Darien, IL [via mobile]
It appears Castillos bat is coming around, but do you think he is the catcher of the future? It's hard to get a read on his handling of a staff with our patchwork rotation.
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
That's always been the concern with Castillo, how he calls the game. He has a potent bat and a cannon for an arm. The question is about his baseball IQ as a catcher. Jamie Quirk, the bench coach, is working extra time with him and Clevenger since Soto was traded.
Being a year where expectations have certainly been met or exceeded, what direction do you see the White Sox taking in the offseason? Lots of questions need to be answered about the rotation and some key positions on the diamond.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
There are a lot of questions on the Sox. Would be free agents like Peavy and AJ, as well as Kevin Youkilis' $14 million option. I guess it's a one day at a time approach, just like they've taken all year with this team. They'll look at November in November.
So tell me what the difference is between the Sox perception of Veal and the Cubs who let him go?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Let's not start getting the Cy Young award ready for Veal just yet. He does seem like he can be a serviceable reliever. He may be a late bloomer in the bullpen but this is not an indictment on the Cubs from 10 years ago.
Anything to get excited about in the minors for the sox, anyone exceding expectations, and.or sleepers?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
It appears the whole minor league system has been in the majors all season. Jordan Danks will be back with De Aza out. Callups will happen in 10 days, although Charlotte will be in the playoffs so players will be staggered in getting here.
dolores (darien, il)
Why caan't the White Sox draw fans? Is it park location, parking fees or low fan base? Thsn
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Everyone has their theory. Mine is that the ballpark location and lack of an entertainment hurts White Sox attendance. I think the city's refusal to build commerce on 35th street has hurt the team significantly. The ballpark is a great, fan-friendly place and the marketing department stands on its head to make it work. But it will take the city's cooperation to build up 35ht street with bars and restaurants to make US Cellular a destination for fans and frontrunners.
Hey Bruce, thanks for doing these chats, keep up the good work. Tank has been doing great lately, finally swinging the bat like I expected "the Cuban Babe Ruth" to do. Think he'll keep up this level of play when the streak ends or will he fall into a slump once its over?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
He's been very inconsistent, but his power to right-center field is eye opening. I don't think anybody in baseball can hit balls farther and further to the opposite field than Viciedo. Pitchers continue to get him out with inside pitches.
thoughts on the castro deal? seems to be a win-win for both sides. castro get some financial security and a long term deal, and the cubs lock up a guy at an important position before hitting free agency, while still having some flexibilty with the contract.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
The gamble for Castro is that he is giving up $50 or $60 million in money he could have earned. The Cubs concern would be complacency for a young player that is signed for seven years. As you say, it appears to be a good deal for both parties.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Bruce, do you see the White Sox ever trying to build their minor league system?? It seems KW always uses any type of prospect for trade bait and goes for the bigger trades for veterans...and gets guys in free agency. Can this approach work year after year?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I don't know, but it seems like a lot of young players have contributed to the Sox' success this year. Sale and Quintana in the rotation and Jones and Reed in the bullpen. White Sox are scouting and signing foreign players more than they have in the last twenty years and part of their plan is to build through their farm system.
Bruce, Is there any possibility of taking Crawford off the Red Sox hands and giving them B. Jackson and most of Crawford's contract?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Appreciate you joining our hour session, but that's really not rational thinking at this point.
Joe (Wicker Park) [via mobile]
Hey Bruce do you see Carlos Marmol being traded in the offseason? Carlos would be a very good set up man for a World Series contending team.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Actually over the last seven weeks he's been as good a closer as there has been in baseball. He just doesn't get too many opportunities these days. Marmol will make $9.2 next year -- a little pricey for a set-up man. A team like the Mets, who have one of the worst bullpens in baseball may be a trading partner.
Bruce, Sox are starting to look a little like a tired team that has overachieved. Do they look that way to you?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I don't know. They still have the resiliency to come back like they did last night. They have a lot of vets and they don't seem ready to lay down at all.
Tim (Morris, IL)
Bruce!!! Since it seems like the core of the lineup is beginning to take shape in the form of Rizzo, Castro, and possibly Jackson/Vitters, I was wondering what are rotation is going to look like in 2013, 2014 and beyond. The only arm that I am more certain than not about is the Shark. Travis Wood has been way to up and down this season. What pitchers do you think the Cubs will build around?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
I believe you'll see Epstein and Hoyer go out and get a couple of veteran starters next year to round out the rotation. The approach will be similar to the one they took with Paul Maholm this year. They will look for guys that will take one-year contracts with options, that are also movable pieces at the trade deadline. This is how Billy Beane has done business over the last decade. It helps you stay competitive as well as build for the future at the same time. Not necessarily a winning formula for that particular season.
John (Cincinnati, Oh)
All this Strasburg talk, and I watch Sale out there for 115+ pitches his last start. I get sending him out there for the 7th, but why not be ready to get him out of there since he was already at around 90 pitches to start the inning?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I'm with you. Actually it was 103. Ventura's been trapped sometimes with a worn out bullpen, and he has needed to get an extra inning out of his starters. It's not an enviable position to be in.
Is there some reason why the media around the Cubs keep pretending the rebuilding plan is not mostly just a cost cutting excuse? There is no reason why they can?t put together a watchable team and build a good organization if they are competent. It would be nice if people would stop pretending that all free agent deals are albatross contracts. Just because they are not a World Series contender during yr 1 of a multi-year deal does not mean that it is a waste of money to acquire good players for the team since the other option is to spend more on inferior players later because they are "ready" to compete.
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I think their commitment to Castro is a sign of what they want to do for the future: identify good, young players and get them signed long-term. I agree that they could be more competitive by spending a few more dollars. It will be interesting to see how they come at the season ticket holders after 100+ losses in 2012.
What's the fall-back plan if Jackson keeps striking out? How much rope do they give him?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
There's no reason they can't send him back to the minors next year. The Cubs did it with Rizzo this season after he failed with the Padres last fall. I don't think it's a crime to ask a guy to get more experience in the minors. He needs to have a better approach with his mechanics.
How are the Sox doing overall profit-wise? Attendance is low & KW is always talking about lack of cash, but what's the real story?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
I think the White Sox will come close to breaking even and draw close to 1.9 million in attendance. Jerry Reinsdorf is just concerned with winning at this point, but he also has a keen eye on the bottom line. The White Sox payroll is about $20 million less than 2011.
Bruce, since when did pitchers become unable to throw beyond 160+ innings? Are there more injuries bc guys throwing too hard to enable longevity? Use to be that low-mid 90s was power arm, but was also durable.
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
I'm a firm believer in pitchers pitching a lot to keep their arm strong. Now in the case of Strasburg, he's coming off an injury and missed a whole year, so I think it's smart to limit his innings. I don't care how much pressure the media puts on a team or whether the players rebel against you. They have to do the right thing for the player and the organization. I believe each pitcher should be looked at on a case by case basis. All I know is that you have to throw in order to have a strong arm. That's a face no one can argue with.
Ty (San Francisco)
Do we have trust in Addison Reed? I have seen him blow saves and he very rarely closes with 1-2-3 innings i.e. heart burn every time...
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
If you look at the reality of a one-inning save with no one on base, if you have a good fastball you can command and a decent breaking ball, it should be a piece of cake for you. The one-inning save is the most overrated statistic in the history of baseball. I think Reed is evolving on the job and doing pretty well.
Cheese (Washington, DC)
So far this season it seems to me that AJ has carried the team on his back. He's come up clutch so many times, it really has been a career year for him. Paulie and Rios have done their parts at various points, too, but I think down the stretch it will be AJ who will rally this team into the postseason.
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
No question- he's had the biggest hits on the team. When they've needed a tying or go ahead base hit, he's been the guy. He truly should be in the MVP conversation along with Trout and Cabrera. By the way, Pierzynski's team is in first place.
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and my tag team partner Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs for all the latest. Thanks for the questions!