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 (1:03 PM)
Welcome to the wonderful world of free agency. This is the week that would-be free agents declare. Welcoming all Cubs, Sox and MLB questions. If you're a newcomer I'll be gentle with you.
mike altman sioux falls sd [via mobile]
will the soxs get in on david price and other top pitchers this offseason?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
With a new GM in place, I'm not sure of the exact direction the White Sox will go. However I don't expect Rick Hahn to be any less aggressive than Kenny Williams was in the role. He may have a more pragmatic way of going about it. But the answer to your question is that will investigate all ways to get better. Price might be right, but I doubt it.
what changes do you see rick hahn making thay kw might not have?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Good question. I think Rick will depend more on his scouts and reports rather than a gut feeling. Kenny looked at all those things, but at the end of the day he would sometimes act on his gut. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.
RGX. TX. J.R. [via mobile]
Are the Cubs now in better shape than Sox by starting rebuilding a year early?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I don't think so. The White Sox have a semblance of a starting rotation. They have Danks coming back, Chris Sale, Quintana and Santiago, not to mention some strong bullpen arms. With all due respect after Samardzija, Russell, Wood and Marmol I'd be hard-pressed to tell you the Cubs have any pitching beyond that. As you saw with the Giants, pitchers are everything. 8 of the pitchers from their 2010 championship were also on the 2012 team. If you need any better description of how to win titles, I don't know how to write one. The White Sox are way ahead of the Cubs as far as I'm concerned.
Any news on the latest cubs announcer? Karros still the favorite?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I believe Karros, Moreland, Hollandsworth, Gary Matthews and Dan Plesac will get consideration. Not sure how limited some of them are due to other contracts. But I think all of those names bring something positive to the table.
do you see the cubs making a play for josh johnson? seems like him and garza could either become a formidable 1-2 duo for cubs or major trade bait? i know it will take some of our prospects but i dont think any top ones b/c of the situation in miami.
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
I reported in a blog post last week that the Marlins had approached on Johnson. No word yet as to their response.
Jason (Findlay, Oh)
Saw recently the Angels trying to trade Haren and/or Santana ahead of option deadline day. Any chance the Cubs take a shot with either? Options not cheap but if bounce back could make qualfying offer after season and get pick at worst.
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
I know the Cubs have had conversations with the Angels, but not sure which players they talked about. The Angels have had interest in Carlos Marmol.
Is Marco Scutaro a possibilitiy for the Cubs in free agency?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Happy Birthday Marco Scutaro! You're 37 today and you certainly don't fit into any of the Cubs' future plans.
JT (Alliance, NE) [via mobile]
Bruce, where would you rank the Cubs farm system right now? Middle of the pack or more towards the bottom?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
I'd say it's on the rise due to their last two drafts and signing Soler.
Darwin Barney's trade value is at an all time high, possible Gold Glove, capable of playing short stop, and he's cost controlled. Any chance the Cubs deal him this winter for prospects?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I would not be shocked if that happened. I think Barney is the missing piece for a lot of contending teams like the Tigers. Personally, he has good leadership qualities. That's something that would make me hesitate before trading him.
John (Milwaukee, WI)
Hi Bruce.....do you think that the rumors of Buehrle and Johnson to the Cubs has any legs?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I would say Johnson something that makes sense for the Cubs, Buehrle at age 35 and a huge amount of money still owed to him -- $48 million -- doesn't at all fit into what the Cubs are doing. He wouldn't be around for the future and his contract is not easily flipped.
Joaquin from Humbolt Park [via mobile]
Do the Cubs have any real pitching prospects in their minor league system that can make an impact in the rotation next year?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I don't know about next year. We're just going to have to continue to monitor some of the guys that they drafted in 2011 and 2012. They drafted 10 pitchers out of their first 11 picks last year. And they think they have some quality arms for the future.
Matt W. (Ankeny, IA)
The Phillies just declined Placido Polanco's option. Do you see the the Cubs trying to sign him to a one or two year deal? Sure he's injury prone and 37, but when he's healthy he's still a good contact hitter. He's also won numerous gold gloves and could help mentor Vitters and Valbuena.
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
As long as he has a movable contract, that type of professional player is one the Cubs would consider. He can have an impact early in the year for the team and still bring them back something for the future at the trade deadline. Those types of players will be considered by this management.
C. Williamson (Robinson, IL) [via mobile]
Bruce, any update on the injury with Javier Baez? Doesn't sound to be too serious.
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I just know that they sent him for x-rays on what could possibly be a broken thumb. They are waiting for results.
Bob (Foley, Al.)
Do you think the Rays will trade some of their pitchers this off season for some bats? Soreono would look good in a Rays uniform.
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
As they get closer to free agency the Rays always have to consider trading some of their pitchers. That's why names like Shields have come up over the last year or so. Due to each major league team getting another $25 million per year from their broadcast contract, that may change some of the philosophy of the small market teams like Tampa. In other words, they may be able to hold on to some of the pitchers that they would normally have to deal.
Ron Savoie (Jessup, Maryland)
Being a lifelong cub fan for over 50 years I have experienced the lack of foresight & creativity associated with CUB management. That being said I want to remind everyone that Lou Brock had an average similar to that of Tony Campana before he was traded and blossomed as a hitter to destroy the Tigers with his speed in the World Series . I hope we give Tony more chances to do the same. Regarding creativity, i was wondering if any thought has been given to trying out Brian LaHair at 3rd base also. He has the power and just might be able to fill a need at third.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I believe you brought up a good point about Brock and Campana. I still don't understand why Campana hasn't gone for special training from a former player like Maury Wills or Davey Lopes, who specialize in training small ballplayers. As for LaHair, I don't see him playing anywhere but first base or occasionally the outfield. I hope the Cubs deal him to another team where he has more opportunities and can play more often.
If the Cubs are only 3 or 4 years away from something do you get in on Greinke or Hamilton? They are going to demand long term deals, and you might actually be ready at some point during the life of those deals.
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
You'd be wasting money on them over the next 2-3 years and projecting their production and their health would be difficult after that. Neither fit into what the Cubs have in mind.
Which of the Soxs' FA's do you see the team making a move to retain?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Honestly I think they would make an offer for Peavy. If you're going to compete with the Tigers in 2013, you need to have some veteran presence in your rotation. Peavy will be an attractive free agent to numerous teams. The question is whether some team will offer him more than couple of years due to past injuries.
Ryan (Addison, IL)
Bruce, do you have a feeling on possible landing spots for A.J.?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Some scouts were talking about Tampa. Just because they don't seem to have a top quality catcher and he is from down that way. Good hitting catchers are difficult to find in MLB. Coming off a career year he should have some decent offers.
Matt(Seneca) [via mobile]
Would it be possible for the sox to swing a trade with the Braves for Brian McCann? He seems to have fallen out of favor with them a little bit and the sox have an abundance of young talent at that position they can give in return.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
That's interesting. We know the White Sox' brass like Atlanta catchers. That's where they got Flowers from. McCann had some health issues last season but is still considered a top quality player and individual. I think the friendly confines of US Cellular Field would bode well for McCann.
Is the day of the extra-long deal (like Pujols') over? In this economy it seems like teams will be hamstrung by some of those deals for years.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Not really because the fact that local TV money has gone through the roof. It's almost like a drunken sailor on payday. Once these teams get that new found money, they somehow feel like they have to spend it right away.
This time last year the A's were 3-4 years from contending and they made the playoffs. Same with the O's. Why shouldn't the Cubs go for it?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
The only thing they should go for is to keep adding young pitchers. That and continue to look for a third baseman and an outfielder that has some athleticism.
Bruce, I know it is just your hunch but do you think Sox exercise option on Floyd?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I don't think there is any doubt they will pick up the option. That doesn't mean that he'll necessarily pitch for the White Sox in 2013. The prudent thing to do would be to pick up the option and then explore trade opportunities, if they feel that's the avenue to go. I think that's how the Sox will look at that.
Alan (Oak Park)
If the Cubs don't 'waste' some money on real players they won't see me at the ballpark. Would rather watch a 90 loss team with some All Stars than what they trotted out last year.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I certainly understand your point. As a guy that has had season tickets for 28 years, I'm also questioning whether I should renew or not. The past two seasons thousands of dollars of tickets just rotted in my desk drawer since no one wanted to go. All that said, I'm still prone to giving them another year to show me some progress. After all, Epstein and Hoyer have only been on the job for one year.
Hi Bruce...every article I read about Hahn is that he is a very good communicator and contract negotiator, no one says he is a good talent evaluatorseems to have much baseball personal experience should this concern us Sox fans?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Every year for the last ten seasons Hahn has gone through all the teams' minor league facilities and scouted players as well as looked at competition from other teams. In dealing with him I've found him to be very thorough and knowledgeable about players from other organizations. I think you're in good hands with Rick Hahn.
based on what you know now, who starts at 3B for the Sox on Opening Day?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
If he's healthy, most likely it's Brent Morel. Certainly the White Sox can experiment with Viciedo and put him back at his old position, but I doubt that they want to mess with him and give him too much to think about defensively, sue to his offensive progress.
Scott (south florida)
Do you think the Cubs will give Rizzo an offseason deal after the following season, something very similar the castro deal, to keep Rizzo longer and avoid arbitration down the road?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
I like the way you're thinking. That type of approach I expect from Epstein and Hoyer--trying to lock up players that they believe are the franchise players of the future. I would say after 2013 they might do that.
Where do you see the Cubs payroll at the beginning of the season?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Right now their obligation is around $60 million. My guess is they will go up to $90-$100 million. This is just to be competitive with short-term free agents.
Would Steve Stone get any consideration this year, or down the line? Would he have any interest in returning?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
Steve has two years and an option left with the White Sox. He recently told chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that he would like to end his career as a White Sox broadcaster.
Looking into your crystal ball, do you think Dale Sveum will be managing the next playoff team on the North Side?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
I believe Dale is an organization person. And I believe Epstein and Hoyer are trying to identify coaches and managers through all levels of the organization. As a comparison, look at Tom Kelly's record with the Twins when he managed there. He won World Series titles in '87 and '91, but also had 3 or 4 last-place finishes during that time. That would be the definition of an organization manager -- somebody who is a part of the fabric of the team.
Nizzi (Des Moines)
Bruce, tell me I'm crazy. Plenty of mediocre offensive teams have had great seasons riding 3 or 4 good starting pitchers. The moneyball A's for example. Hudson, Mulder, Zito. Am I crazy to think that if we add Johnson. We could have a very strong and competitive team with Johnson, Garza, Samaridzja, and Wood?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Depending on Garza's health coming back from elbow problems, I think they could improve marginally. but I don't think even in that case they could step up and win 90 games.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs. Look forward to talking to you from the baseball GM meetings next week!