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)
Welcome to an important time for baseball on the South Side and continued development up North. All is not doom and gloom for you South Siders.Welcome to the chat.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that the Chicago White Sox will make the Playoffs?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
I think they have a good opportunity because of the self-belief that they have. This is not the most talented team in the AL, but it is certainly one of the more cohesive teams in baseball. Although the starting rotation is starting to show some cracks, Ventura and Cooper have done a real nice job of using the expanded roster to get their way through games. Ventura's growth chart has continued to rise as strategy becomes more essential in September ballgames.
Ryan (Darien, IL) [via mobile]
Hey Bruce. What's the probability of the Cubs locking up Samardzija for the next few years before the season ends?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
That will be an interesting approach in the offseason, but Samardzija still has three years of arbitration left. It's not like he'll be a free agent soon. I think the Cubs may make an offer in the offseason, or take another year to look at his progress.
Matty Ice (Chicago)
Bruce I'm a huge Youkilis fan and I think he's been great for the Sox. But I don't see them paying him $13 million next year. Any sense on if the White Sox want him back yet, or do they just want to see how the year plays out.
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I think the latter more than the former. The one edge that the White Sox have over many other teams is their strength and conditioning program, which are headed by trainers Herm Schneider and Brian Ball and strength and conditioning guru Alan Thomas. There may be some as good as that group, but I guarantee you none better. They have the ability to keep an injured player like Youkilis out on the field. As another example, look how they got Adam Dunn back on the field in to days after a strained oblique muscle. They identified it as a moderate strain. But they also identified that dehydration was an issue. That's why the White Sox have success with other teams' injured players.
Bruce, i really dont see Vitters being anything more than a utility infielder in the future. Do you think we could see Baez opening next year at third in the minors and moving to the big club later in the year?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I talked to three scouts that I'm friends with about Baez. All three believe he'll be in the majors within a year and a half. One thought that he would start next year at high A, progress to AA and be ready for the 2014 season at the major league level. All three say he can handle shortstop, so it'll be up to the Cubs brass whether he or Castro will move in a few years.
Bill Wiggins (Rockville,VA)
What to you think the White Sox need to do during the winter to be able to get more fans coming to the games in 2013? The attendence is pathetic, could It be the pricing?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I still insist the prices are reasonable. But they should be more stabilized as far as not charging more for the marquis games. I believe when you create an image in people's mind that certain games are more important than others, you're changing the method on how they shop. To solve your initial problem, the city and the White Sox need to come up with a gentrification plan to add shops and restaurants on 35th Street. Fans need a reason to spend more than just 2 or 3 hours a day on the South Side.
Hey Bruce, Will the Cubs coaches and higher ups be asking Starlin Castro to come down to Mesa to work on some things this offseason ? I think he desperately needs to start working on his defense and his pitch selection. He could only benefit from this.Thank you Thank you very much...
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Dear Elvis, don't have a Blue Christmas. Castro will continue to improve without a minicamp. The Cubs do send their players home with thick booklets of ways they can improve during the offseason and strength and conditioning plans. I do like the idea of minicamps and something before the holidays this year would be a good idea. Normally that time of the year the weather is better in So. Fla than Arizona. But a minicamp in the Dominican Republic wouldn't be a bad idea either. I'm a huge proponent of a small ball minicamp where players spend the majority of the time working on pitch identification, moving runners by hitting to the other side, bunting drills and most important, base-running philosophy. If you can concentrate on these things for a 10-day period I think both young and vet players will benefit greatly. But it would be difficult to make it mandatory with major league contracts.
If the White Sox make the playoffs, what is one main issue that will keep them from the World Series?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Starting pitching. You need three starters at the top of their game going into the playoffs. Sale, Quintana and Peavy have not been close to the top of their game as of late.
Bruce, do you think Castillo is the Cubs full time catcher next year? His bat has shown a lot of promise this year but his defense could use a little work.
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Castillo is by far the better baseball athlete when it comes to comparison with Clevenger. Clevenger has a better feel for calling games. I've heard some scouts compare Castillo to Miguel Olivo, who has been around for about 10-12 years now. Castillo has big power and should be a 17-20 homer guy if he catches 130 games.
Any chance the Cubbies would deal Soriano for an MLB ready prospect rather than a package of guys who "may" pan out??
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Depends what you call major league ready. I think they'd love to add any type of pitching depth that they can. Right now the Cubs are one of the weakest teams when it comes to pitching depth in the majors. That's why they drafted 10 pitchers out of their first 11 picks in June's draft.
Paul (St. Louis)
Bruce, have you heard any recent updates on the Wrigley Field renovations?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I'm not hearing that anything big will happen during this offseason. Maybe some minor things. The Cubs and the city of Chicago still have to sit down and straighten out their differences. Once this presidential race passes, both sides may have some more common ground. It is safe to say that any type of complete renovation has been backed up at least one year.
Hey Bruce,What Cubs minor leaguer do you think has the best chance at making the Big League club next year?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
If you consider Brett Jackson a minor leaguer, I would say him. The major league staff has already helped him cut down on strikeouts. I would be shocked if he's not your opening day center fielder next season.
Looks like Brett Myers has replaced Thorton as the set up guy, any chance Myers is back next year?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Probably not. As a free agent he's going to be looking for a 2 or 3-year deal, and I don't know if the Sox will go that route or continue to develop their young pitchers. My guess is they will continue to develop their own young pitchers for that role.
Brian (Washington, NC)
Bruce, noticed that our 3-4-5 hitters, Rizzo, Soriano, Castro, all seem to have very busy swings. The bat is moving all over the place before they get set and take their swing. Do you think this leads to these guys' streakiness? Is this something the Cubs are working on? In your opinion, should they be working on it?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Soriano is going to be Soriano at this point. I think Rizzo and Castro are in the developmental stage of pitch identification and mechanics. I'd love to see Castro in some type of offseason seminar working on his philosophical approach to hitting.
Kaufmak (Rogers Park)
Hey Bruce--Does Robin Ventura get your vote for Manager of the Year? If not, who is your choice?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
I've been thinking a lot about it and I got my ballot last week. I have to turn it in by the end of the season. I am going to wait until the last week to turn it in. My three top votes would be Ventura, Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin. I'm just not sure what order I will put them in. They're all deserving but let's see what happens over the next few weeks.
Tom (Chicago )
Hi Bruce, I am so disgusted with the way Dale Sveum is handling Josh Vitters! He's is not giving this kid enough playing time! He won't start him against righties and you so the end result with the strike out yesterday! What is really going on here? Does he just have it in for the kid? The Cubs are making the same mistakes they made with Tyler Colvin! Never mind numbers realistically why isn't Vitters getting the lionshare of playing time at 3rd base? Thank you and keep up the good work!
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
For some reason the Cubs feel that Luis Valbuena is also a player they want to develop at this point. For me I would still have both of them in the lineup if they feel that way, by using one in the outfield on occasion. It wouldn't be terrible to sit down DeJesus or Jackson on a given day. DeJesus has played great for the Cubs. But at this point I'm more concerned about player development, not keeping a veteran happy. They both need at-bats to determine how much they'll play for you in the majors next season.
If Ozzie needs to attend a Sox game in October as a announcer, how do you think he will be recieved?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
I don't think the White Sox fans will be really interested in what Ozzie has to say at this point. He's always interesting with his commentary, but he's been in the other league all year and really hasn't seen the White Sox. Personally I'm always informed and entertained by Ozzie.
On the subject of managing and taking the lead from Tom from Chicago, your take on Sveum as the Cubs fearless leader?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I think he's shown some good toughness. He's making players be responsible by getting all their work done. I still think that Castro needs a day off every couple of weeks. Just because a guy is young doesn't mean he doesn't need a day of R & R every now and then. If a player plays 150 games you can still give him a day off every 14 games. That along with the other 18 off days throughout the year can go a long way in keeping a player mentally and physically strong.
JJ (Huntington Beach, CA)
Bruce...How can a kid like Mike Trout be so good and guys like Rizzo and Jackson and now even Castro look so average?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
It could be as simple as level of talent. Trout has progressed much quicker than any of those guys. That goes back to the age-old conversation of why one player is better than another. There's no way to quantify it. Adjustments made to go along with a player's ability seems to equal success at the major league level.
How much is the pitching issues a case a fatigue considering injuries and experience levels? Sale is in uncharted waters and Peavy has not been healthy for a long time.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I believe a lot of it. I've been making that point for over the last two or three weeks. I've had just as much concern for Peavy as I've had for Quintana and Sale. My main concern with Peavy is the wear and tear and attrition that have taken place over the last ten years.
Rosters are too big in September and its killing the game with the slow pace, can this be fixed? Can they set up a active roster daily and let the kids work out with the team?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
I think that's a fantastic idea, something I want to write about this week as well. I think you should have to name your 25 active players on that particular day and you can change it from day to day during the month of September. I also believe that expansion of rosters impacts the game unfairly in baseball's most important month. An example of that would be a team like Houston being able to matchup with hitters late in the game by using a different pitcher for almost every guy. That is something that would not be available to them during the first five months of the season, maybe helping them win games they shouldn't be winning. Or more importantly, impacting the pennant race.
Given the incredible success of Ventura and Matheny as managers why is it that a hall of famer like Sandberg, who has paid his dues can't get a gig in the majors? It doesn't make any sense why he's not up there yet.
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Certainly Sandberg has paid his dues. I think the focus on him being a Hall of Famer has hurt his chances significantly. There's been very few Hall of Fame players that have managed successfully at either the major or minor league level. Sandberg should be the exception because he was a working-class Hall of Famer. That means he has a finer appreciation of hard work as a defining factor for player success.
Kent (Blue Ridge, Texas)
Bruce, With the identified cracks with the Sox pitching staff, do you see another surprise starter coming in from the farm to spell a little more rest for the current starters?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
No, I don't see it. I think Dylan Axelrod will be the next guy and he'll be put right back into the rotation. The White Sox may juggle their rotation at this point to try and buy extra rest for their starters.
If the Cubs continue to play poorly next season while the team develops is there a danger that mentally they they develop a "loser" mentality which could stultify their development?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
That's an interesting question for sure. It's one that I asked Aramis Ramirez when he was in town last week. He did play on a losing team for the first five years of his career in Pittsburgh. And he told me that players can get too comfortable with the idea that they are not going to win. I think that's a fascinating point that will have to be explored during the Cubs' journey back to credibility on the field.
With Hawkins moving quickly through the minors, how long do you think it will be until we see him on the South Side as it looks like Kenny loves him? (ie, Beckham and Sale)
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Hawkins needs at least another year in the minors. Let's see if he makes it to AA ball and has success there. And no more backflips.
Kaufmak (Rogers Park)
Doing anything special for Hawk's birthday?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Hey Bruce, do you see Dale being the manager of the Cubs in 2015 when they should be contenders?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
It will be difficult. The management team will have to make a statement by giving Sveum more time in the form of an extension if they believe that he is the organization's manager of the future, not just the present caretaker.
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine for all your Cubs and White Sox needs and follow Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs. Thanks for all the questions!