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 (1:00 PM)
It's getting to be crunch time for the White Sox, for the Cubs it's all about Starlin Castro's contract and Barney's fielding record opportunity. Welcome!
Scott (Manhattan, IL)
Hey Bruce, what would you say in Sale's ceiling? He's young, and he's a lefty, do you see him as better than Mark Mulder in his best years, and could he touch Randy Johnson production for a year or two?
Bruce Levine (1:02 PM)
You know I've never tried to compare pitchers. I believe that you just try to look at them and enjoy what they bring to the game. I don't think you could compare Sale to anyone that's ever pitched. He's unique and hopefully he'll last a long time. Many baseball people are concerned about his mechanics.
Bill (Rockville, VA)
Though much, much better than last year, I don't think that Adam Dunn is having a great year, do you?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Adam Dunn is having an Adam Dunn-type season. And this is what Kenny Williams paid $56 million for: 40 homers and 100 RBIs. I still don't think he is a #3 hitter, but Robin Ventura has been right. Dunn has had impact in the first innings of games with home runs. I still think your
Dave in cleveland [via mobile]
Do you see any Kenny Williams pitching pick ups before Sept 1?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
I can tell you that he's trying. I talked to him on Saturday and he said there is nothing good that's not being blocked before it gets to the White Sox.
Matty Ice (Chicago)
Bruce- What did you think of Hawk's latest rant? I think the reaction to it was a bit much. I have no problem with an announcer criticizing an ump.
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Well that's what Hawk does. In the world of the Chicago White Sox, he is the voice of the fan. White Sox fans are for the most part, in your face type people. I think for the majority of White Sox fans, Hawk speaks for them. I think he belabors the umpire situation. But the other night he was spot on as far as Lance Barrett having a bad couple of innings.
Andy (Kville, Iowa)
Bruuuce!! Since Vitters call up he has been awful do you think they brought him up to early or is he just not the player they thought he was?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I don't know. A week ago they were saying the same thing about Jackson. So it's obvious that from a player development standpoint these two guys have a long way to go. Both have good talent, especially Jackson. Vitters' throwing mechanics from third base leave a lot to be desired.
Mike (Eugene, OR)
I'm finding myself a bit jealous of the Dodgers fans out here on the west coast. Will we ever get to see a team that spends $250 million on a single trade to buy an elite team--on the North OR South side?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I'm not so sure that's what you want to do in order to be a successful team. The Dodgers are spending money to make money. The reason they spent a quarter-billion dollars is to A) try to win this year and B) have an interesting, Hollywood-type product to sell to Fox or another big TV company for their local baseball TV rights. The number I keep hearing is between $4 and $5 billion. So part of the decision to spend that much was baseball-related, but much of it was marketing and revenue related.
Tom (Southern California)
Hi Bruce, Since the Cubs basically got rid of every big contract with the exception of Soriono; do the Cubs expect to spend any money on free agents? If not with very little starting pitching I see much of the same in 2013. I do like the direction of Castro, Rizzo, Barney, Jackson and the Shark.
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Epstein and Co. will sign or trade for veteran starting pitchers. What they will look for is contract flexibility. Meaning, that the pitcher can help them stabilize the 2013 team and that the reasonable contract will allow them to trade him before the deadline. This type of formula has been used by Oakland's Billy Beane for the last ten years.
Tom, st george, ut [via mobile]
What's the latest on pitchers danks and floyd? how much effort and money should the sox throw at peavy for a long term deal. is there any chance peavy would give the sox a discount.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
I think Peavy is going to looking at a 3-year, $35-40 million contract. My guess is the White Sox will not go more than two years with an option. Danks will be hopefully ready to pitch in spring training, and he won't pick up a ball for at least a month or two. Floyd's elbow soreness will not end the season for him, but it may be at least a couple weeks before he starts again.
Who do you think the Sox will run out there in the playoffs, if they get in? I know Sale, Peavy, Quintana...but then who do you see starting after that in a 7 game series? And do you think they can make a run with thier pitching staff?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
If they can get Liriano to start throwing 7 good innings, they'll be in good shape. He's a difficult guy to trust, very inconsistent.
Brett P (Granger, IN)
Hello Bruce! I was wondering what you think the future of Bryan LaHair will be with this team. Traded to make room for even younger players or kept since he is possibly under team control for pretty much the rest of his playing career.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I don't see LaHair with the Cubs after this season. There's really no spot for him. The only way LaHair is productive is if he has 500 at-bats. He may consider Japan again this offseason. The Cubs would have to sell him to a Japanese team. Strikeouts to at-bat ratio for LaHair has been a detriment to his 2012 season, striking out once every three at-bats.
Does the renovation of Wrigley and the costs of doing that and/or renegotiating our TV deals with WGN & CSN have any impact on when our next large free agent spending spree will be?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I think the answer to that is yes. It appears that 2014-15 would be the time that the Cubs look to start plugging in high profile free agents. The renovation of Wrigley Field is already backed up one year due to the disconnect between the Mayor's office and the Cubs.
Dannon (Thomson, IL)
Do you find it odd Brett Jackson is playing and batting quite well lately and Vitters hasnt shown much at all....
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
No. I personally don't like the way they are handling Vitters. I believe he should bat against all pitching at this point. They continue to feel that Valbuena is a prospect as well and should get equal playing time. I would rather see Vitters play every day and get the experience of 30 more games under his belt. At the very least you can give some other major league teams an idea of what kind of player he is in case you want to use him in a future deal.
If the Mariners are unable to resign King Felix, do you see the Cubs possibly taking a shot at him in 2 years? I feel the Cubs are one of the few teams that can offer him $25 million a year.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
A lot of other things will have to be in place if you're going to offer him a 6-year, $150 million deal. A lot of teams have to shy away from spending money on players whose best performances are behind them. That can be the case even for a young pitcher like Hernandez.
John (Umiat, Alaska)
With it looking like Garza might not pitch for the remained of the season, if the Cubs decide to trade him this offseason, what teams might be interested and what type of package could the Cubs expect in return?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
The physical health is going to be a concern for whoever trades for him. You would hate to give up three top prospects and then watch Garza be out for a year with Tommy John surgery. Texas and Toronto are still 1 and 2 with interest for Garza and they have been for a long time. He would have dealt to one of those teams, most likely Toronto, had he not got hurt.
Sal (Windy City) [via mobile]
Does Viciedo ever become a true number 4 hitter?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
It's hard to say. There's still some issues about his selectivity at the plate. But he has shown that he is one of the most powerful young hitters in the game and is certainly capable of 35-40 homers a year. He's a young guy so things should be looking up for him in the future.
Matt (NW Indiana)
Beckham is still really struggling out there, I've tried to keep the faith that he'll turn it around, but its looking pretty bleak now. He used to at least look fired up when he was the last out in an inning or game, but last night he had a look on his face like, "Well, everyone expected me to get the last out of the game anyway so it doesn't bother me." He doesn't even seem to care anymore. Is the season lost for any offensive hopes for Beckham?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I would say your evaluation is a little over the top. If anything Beckham cares too much about his hitting mechanics. He is constantly wearing out hitting coach Jeff Manto and captain Paul Konerko for more suggestions on what he should do. Konerko is like an assistant hitting coach for Beckham, although it is a non-paying gig.
What's the logic behind the Cubs' waiver pickups and minor league deals of late? Bodies to get them through the season? Can't be because these guys are better prospects.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
What would you expect for a pickup on waivers at this time of year? You're not going to get the cream of the crop, those players will be pulled back. What you do as a team in need of pitching, you take a shot on a guy's arm and you hope your pitching coaches can help with the mechanical parts. Right now there's not more than three pitchers on the Cubs 25-man roster that will be there next year, maybe 4.
Scott (Manhattan, IL)
What mechanical flaws do baseball people see in Sale's delivery?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
His balance in his delivery leave him in jeopardy of putting too much stress on his elbow and shoulder. Just by the way he violently falls off the mound when he delivers a pitch. The White Sox are just as concerned as anybody about mechanics. But at this point they won't mess with it in the middle of a season.
Josh (Northbrook )
What have scouts and baseball ops people you've spoken with said about Daniel Vogelbach? looks like he was hitting in Arizona and he's still hitting in Boise but hasn't received much attention. Is he a prospect the guys on top are excited about?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
They feel he has a good future ahead of him. Unsure as to whether or not he will play fall or winter ball right now. It does appear both Soler and Baez may be in the Arizona Fall League. We should hear an announcement in the next few days.
Surv (East Chicago, In)
With D.Wise playing so good in center field what do you do with De Aza??? I say you stick with the hot hand....
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
No, I don't think so. De Aza is your starting center fielder. What you can do is give off days to Rios and Viciedo against righties to give them a rest during the last month and keep Wise viable. De Aza will have to go on a rehab assignment before he comes back.
Hi Bruce, are you as frustrated as I am to see the Sox get swept by KC and then sweep the Yankees? Do they always play to the level of their competition? They make KC look like the best pitchers in baseball.
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I think that's a good point. This team does play to the level of competition due to the fact that they don't manufacture a lot of runs. They are more like a NL team in a lot of ways.
Too Many Shoes Jackson (Souf Syde)
White Sox win the World Series in 2012. What will their fanbase be like in 2013 and forward. 2005 seemed to have little impact.
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
Well if they win the World Series they will draw 2.5 million next year. They'll go up about 500,000 people. And they'll sell more season tickets to the front-running north shore and far southwest suburban upscale fanbase.
Hey, Bruce! Using your baseball crystal ball, presuming Jackson progressively improves his strikeouts, what type of player would you potentially compare to him to, say 3-4 years down the line into his prime?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I don't know if it's fair or not but to me he's a Kirk Gibson-type player. A lot of pure athletic ability and raw power.
Whats the fascination with Barney? He is a sub .300 slap hitter who never walks, and hits for little power and no speed. His defense is excellent, but you can't field a team with guys who can't get on base.
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Well I think that's a fair analysis. You love a guy that competes like Barney does. Every team needs a gutty, leadership type of guy. The bottom line is that he's not very productive offensively. The one thing you can say though is that he's not afraid to get a hit when the team needs a run late in the game. I think he's a very valuable piece on a much more progressed team. He could be a final piece for a contending team.
I've read Weaver on Strategy and Moneyball. Any other good baseball book recommendations?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Lords of the Realm by John Helyar, about baseball ownership.
Bruce, do you have a vote for Gold Glove? Would Barney get your vote?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
Baseball writers do not vote for Gold Gloves. Pretty much a Rawlings thing. It would be hard not to pick Barney as the best defensive second baseman in the NL. He hasn't made an error in 113 games and he leads the NL in assists at 2B. Assists tell you everything you need to know about a fielder -- being able to get to a ball.
matt (downnnn town)
does the castro deal get done and signed and anounced today??
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I would say that 90% sure it will. It better because he's been distracted by this going on over the last six weeks. Two more errors last night.
What do you see the Cubs doing with Marmol next year? Someone that walks as many as he does doesn't fit the closer role in my opinion.
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
I think they'll try to trade him. However there is $9.2 million left on the last year on his contract and that's a lot of money for a closer. The Cubs may be willing to eat a few dollars if they get a good prospect or two back in return.
Junior (Little Village)
With so much focus now on the WAR stat. Should this be the main indicator for MVP, CY Young and Gold Glove awards?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Not really. I think it's what you see and not just WAR. I don't think WAR always addresses the type of teammate you are whether or not you give yourself up for another player to score a run or move him over a base. The best player is more than just about what WAR tells you.
if castro is a 25 hr 25 sb and 90 rbi .300 hitter and gets to more balls at short than anyone else in the game, does 25 eerrors a year matter,, or does he project out to the above numbers next year and in the upcoming years????
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I think the main concern is trying to project what he is in the future. There's no doubt in my mind has impacted his play over the last six or seven weeks. I still think he's a .300 hitter that will be an impact player for the next 10 years. Ultimately I don't know if he will stay at shortstop for the rest of his career.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and my buddy Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs for the latest on the stretch drive. Thanks for the questions!