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 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET!
Bruce Levine (4:01 PM)
Welcome to our post-Winter Meetings chat. The Sox and Cubs aren't finished as of yet. Let's go.
Looks like Detroit is listening to offers for Porcello. Likey! Are the Tigers interested in Marmol? Or would another team beat them to the punch with other options like Hanrahan or another possible closer?
Bruce Levine (4:02 PM)
I think as time goes on, Marmol's market will increase. As soon as the free-agent reliever market dries up, Marmol will be more attractive to teams like the Tigers and other would-be contenders.
Brian Korea [via mobile]
Do you know if Cubs management have seriously taken Campana aside and stressed to him taking more pitches? His short frame and blazing speed could easily net him 60 steals in a season as a starter if he'd just be more patient and draw more walks.
Bruce Levine (4:03 PM)
I believe you hit on one of the concerns, the other is if he's strong enough to play 162 games. They let him know what they think he should do. He certainly is a weapon that other teams have interest in. The White Sox had interest after last season.
Scott B (Gold Coast)
Are the Cubs done looking to add starters? Jair Jurrjens seems to fit their model at the moment.
Bruce Levine (4:04 PM)
If you mean going after injury plagued pitchers looking to rehabilitate you would be correct. The Cubs need more starting pitching inventory. Epstein and Hoyer believe they've been behind in starting pitching since they took over the team last October.
Mike (The loop )
Now that McCarthy is off the table, who's left that you see the cubs targeting? They Can't be done adding starters yet right?
Bruce Levine (4:06 PM)
I think they'll have to turn to the trade market pretty soon. The problem is they have to trade some of their young people for other team's youth. There are risks involved in trading your young player. If you have a great scouting staff and you listen you can trade your youth for other youth, ie Williams, Hahn and Reinsdorf.
Do you think the Nationals are going to trade Mike Morse? If so, would the Cubs want him? What would it take to get him?
Bruce Levine (4:06 PM)
Morse is starting to make money at this point. His best position is first base, and that's occupied with the Cubs. If the Cubs deal Soriano, then a deal for Morse could make sense.
Will. Lville ky [via mobile]
who's playing center opening day for cubs. If Dejesus then who is in RF? And is Dejesus our leadoff man
Bruce Levine (4:08 PM)
If it's a right-handed pitcher it's Schierholtz. If it's a LHP than possibly David Sappelt. The Cubs are in need of some right-hadned hitting off the bench. In the OF and IF.
I understand his versatility, but was Keppinger a "smart" signing? He is 32 years old and they give him a 3 year deal? Reminds me a lot of the Mark Teahan deal. (not a good thing)
Bruce Levine (4:08 PM)
I guess that's a pretty good analogy. Right now it's all supply and demand. The demand is much greater than the supply. Keppinger had offers from seven other teams.
Hi Bruce, If Garza proves healthy in the Spring , should the Cubs try and sign him to a 3-4 year extention or trade him for prospects ?
Bruce Levine (4:10 PM)
That's a difficult question because at age 29 he's going into his prime years. You would love a guy like that to be your staff leader. The other side is coming off an injury, forearm problems in 2011 do you want to commit long-term money to someone who may continue to get hurt. My guess is if he's healthy in the spring he will be traded.
Bruce, are the Cubs still looking for outfield help? I feel like Shierholtz is a backup outfielder they are hoping to get production from.
Bruce Levine (4:11 PM)
As I just stated, they need a right-handed hitting OF. Right now ,they extra OFs are Campana and Sappelt. Neither is RBI-type guy, so again a right-handed bat is somethign they need. Maybe get a right-handed bat in return for Soriano.
Bob (Foley Al.)
I think the weakness for the cubs in the minors is pitching and catching, do you agree? And if so, how can you turn this weakness into a strength?
Bruce Levine (4:12 PM)
Better scouting and player development. The Cubs did develop three catchers over the past seven years who have caught in the majors. As to whether Castillo or Clevenger are everyday catchers remains to be seen.
Bob (Foley Al.)
With Texas being shut out on Sheilds and Grenke, what is the possiblity of a Garza for Olt deal after Garza proves he is healthy this spring?
Bruce Levine (4:13 PM)
Texas always has been interested in Garza. Very interested before trading deadline when he got hurt again. Still viable if he's healthy.
Bruce-As a Sox fan, I'm somewhat confused as to why the Sox aren't resigning AJ. I understand that Tyler Flowers is now 27
Bruce Levine (4:15 PM)
His days as a top defensive catcher are behind him. He has trouble with balls in the dirt, and that's why the Sox staff was second in baseball in wild pitches. He's still a good offensive player, but doesn't really fit in unless he's willing to give them a hometown discount for one season. Most likely destination would be Tampa.
Tyler Colvin (Denver, CO)
I think that Epstein and Hoyer are GENIUSES. I know my career PALES in comparison to what Stewart has done for you guys. And Lord knows the Cubs don't need a quality back up 3rd baseman like D.J. Hope you guys have fun with Stewart in '13
Bruce Levine (4:16 PM)
The Cubs were 1-for-2 with trading youth last year, winning with Rizzo for Cashner.
Bruce, with a lot of money to spend and SP still looking pretty thin, do you see the cubs signing Francisco Liriano?
Bruce Levine (4:17 PM)
There were some conversations in November. At one point somebody repoted he had a two-year deal on the table. That was never confirmed. Wouldn't be bad but would have to be a flexible contract.
Kyle (Charleston, IL)
With the 3B market being so...abysmal, do think if Junior Lake has a strong spring training he could make his case for a big league role in some aspect?
Bruce Levine (4:18 PM)
Epstein and Hoyer have a rule that players must have 500 at-bats at Triple-A before they can play in the majors. I think they'll stick to that.
Geoff (Des Moines)
With Ryan Dempster reportedly turning down deals in Boston and Kansas City, do you think he will return to the Cubs and if so is that a good signing?
Bruce Levine (4:19 PM)
As I reported last week from the Winter Meetings, the Cubs and Dempster's agent had conversations about a possible one-year deal. According to a source, the Cbus talked in parameters of one-year, $10M offer but never made a formal bid. Dempster has family ties as well as foundation ties in Chicago.
Tom (Stuck in school)
will the cubs go after Dice K? I know its risky but get him for a reasonable price he could turn it around
Bruce Levine (4:20 PM)
I don't know, he disappointed Epstein first time he signed him. Not sure he wants to be disappointed a second time.
Hello, any chance the Sox trade Floyd to the Red Sox and get Salt back in return? I know Boston has had interst in Floyd before. Also, any chance at all to toss De Aza, Thornton and some othersin there to bring Ellsbury to Chicago too?
Bruce Levine (4:20 PM)
Boston still needs pitching and the Sox do need to fortify their catching. Salt is more offensive, although scouts say he's improved his defense.
Taylor Sickles ( Readlyn, Iowa)
Our signings that we have made are short term. Yes we have made our bullpen stronger. What is the long term goals. Alot of us from Iowa are die hard Cubs fans and come to Chicago every summer to watch the Cubs but would to know if we are going to have a competitive team. Our starting pitching is 3's, 4's and 5's.
Bruce Levine (4:22 PM)
If Garza is healthy he's a 2. And Samardzija pitched like a solid 3. So my point is Samardzija can continue to go up the ladder, but the others -- you're right - are 4s and 5s. I would say the team will be entertaining, not necessarily competitive.
Jay (San Antonio)
Why couldn't have gone after Chris Johnson (15 HR) from Houston last year when he became available. Stewart had bombed by this time and we had no one else. They use the excuse we are rebuilding. What's wrong with building one piece at a time? We still needed a third baseman this offseason. Heck, even Eric Chavez (16 HR) would have been better at $3 million than Stewaert at $2 million.
Bruce Levine (4:24 PM)
The Cubs bid on several third basemen they didn't get like Chavez and Keppinger. No. 1, they're not making any long-term commitment. No.2, they're making 101 games last year. That combination tells you many players would prefer a destination where they could win.
Gazing into the Abyss (Brooklyn)
Hi Bruce,I'd like the Cubs to spend a little cash and acquire a couple quality free agents just to give the Cubs a chance at .500 baseball during the next two rebuilding seasons. I'm not asking for the playoffs in the next two seasons, I'm just asking for some sugar to help choke down the medicine. Over two seasons, we're talking about 1000 hours of baseball. Will all of them be as miserable as last year?
Bruce Levine (4:25 PM)
Nobody said the Epstein plan would be easy. Both he and Hoyer knew they would take some shots. And that there will be growing pains. They will be proactive if a player like Justin Upton is available in trade. That's the type of player in their plan, a 25-year-old with five-tool skills. Bidding long-term money on 30-year-old players is not where they're going.
Julie - Milwaukee [via mobile]
What is more likely, Starlin Castro gets traded or Baez moves to 3rd. When will either scenario happen???
Bruce Levine (4:27 PM)
Talking to Jason McLeod, he said Baez going back to playing short after a brief stint at 3B in the fall league. They feel his skills are those of a good SS. The answer may develop over the next two years. For now both shortstops. As an organization you can't have too many good shortstops.
Santofanforlife (Chandler, AZ)
If you could pick one player besides Rizzo and Castro who is due for a breakout year who would it be?
Bruce Levine (4:28 PM)
Viciedo for the White Sox and Castillo for the Cubs.
Tom (Tosa )
Is it my imagination or does it seem that Epstein and Hoyer pander to Cub fans when they start to get some heat? Are they not aware that we have already been burned by the next great Team President in Andy McPhail?
Bruce Levine (4:30 PM)
I think there are two areas. One is they ahve to keep their winning personas from their Boston days. And at the same time the business side hasn't given them any breaks. They haven't lowered many ticket prices. If you were a last-placed team, the idea to lower prices would make sense. The Cubs just lowered tickets in bleachers. That puts more pressure on the baseball people.
Mike (long lake)
What would you think about Delmon Young to platoon in RF for the cubs? he's a career .295 hitter vs. LHP and he has good power.
Bruce Levine (4:32 PM)
I don't know if he is the right makeup type guy for the Cubs. A guy coming from a first place team to a 101-loss team, you might have to deal with some negativity. That move doesn't make sense to me.
Paul (Longmont, CO)
When will Scott Baker be ready to start throwing/pitching for the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (4:33 PM)
They are hoping that he will be ready to pitch in April. It could be a couple weeks into April but they feel April is realistic for a return.
Mark (Winston Salem, NC)
Any ideas as to whom the White Sox might turn for a left-handed batter? Do you feel it will be a free agent or through a trade? And, if a trade what pieces do you feel we would give up? Thanks!
Bruce Levine (4:34 PM)
They are certainly in need of left-handed hitting. After talking to one of the Sox execs they would rather have quality right-handers than a marginal left-handed hitter out there against right-handed pitching. The answer was part truth and part lack of an answer for what they can do at this point. The Sox will trade right-handed hitting for quality left-handed hitting.
How happy do you think the Sox are to see KC trade away those valuable prospects?
Bruce Levine (4:36 PM)
They might be happy in the long run but in the short term, KC has jumped into the equation for the division title. They may not be done yet. They have some starting pitching they may trade for other needs. Most baseball people feel that the Royals are maybe one move away from contending with the Sox and Tigers.
Ray (WI (Enemy territory))
The Cubs could use a true defensive center fielder who hits right-handed. Any out there?
Bruce Levine (4:37 PM)
None that I see in free agency. Obviously a Bourn type does not appear on their radar. The Cubs might have to consider a trade.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Is there any trade market for Soriano?
Bruce Levine (4:38 PM)
We've been talking about this since last December, it appears it will have to be an AL team so Soriano can split between DH and OF. Few people realize that he had the third-most RBIs in the NL last year. Somebody should want that bat.
Dan C (Aurora, Il) [via mobile]
With the talk of Viciedo and/or De Aza being moved for prospects, would the Sox consider signing Michael Bourn?
Bruce Levine (4:40 PM)
Bourn is still in the area of five year, $90 million. I do not think the Sox want to make that commitment to him. Their relationship with agent Scott Boras is not advantageous for either side. Lots of hard feelings there.
Any idea of who the White Sox were looking at from Seattle in the Viciedo trade talks?
Bruce Levine (4:41 PM)
I'm not sure who they want back. I would not be surprised if they were talking about pitching. The Sox would not be afraid to add more pitching and then use Gavin Floyd as bait for other areas of need. Their real need though is a left-handed hitter and a veteran RH reliever.
Are the Cubs willing to entertain offers for Baez and some of their other top prospects?
Bruce Levine (4:43 PM)
That's too ambiguous. They are not interested in trading Baez. Would they listen to offers? Yes, they would for any player in their organization, including Castro and Rizzo. Epstein and Hoyer are not afraid to trade young talent. Hoyer was part of the group that traded Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett while Epstein was sitting out trying to negotiate a new contract with Boston.
You think the rangers would take marmol off our hands in a trade for garza in addition to giving us something valuable in return?
Bruce Levine (4:44 PM)
Not sure they are that interested in Marmol. I think to some people he is a different reliever than he was before 2011. That said, he showed that he could learn how to throw another pitch last season and be effective. Not sure he will ever be dominant again.
Scott Z (Berwyn, IL)
What are the current odds of Pierzynski resigning with the White Sox? I would love for him to finish his career on the Southside!
Bruce Levine (4:45 PM)
It appears very slim. I have him penciled in with Tampa but the Yankees and Rangers would also be interested. He has that intangible when it comes to winning that competitive teams need to look at.
What is the root of the Boras/Reinsdorf rift?
Bruce Levine (4:47 PM)
It stems back to general philosophy differences in the early to mid '90s. In 2001 Boras shut new GM Kenny Williams out when Williams tried to get a meeting to sign Alex Rodriguez. At the time Boras had his hooks into Tom Hicks, the Rangers owner at the time. He had Hicks bidding against himself for Rodriguez. Williams and the White Sox still have hard feelings about it.
Nizzi (Des Moines)
Do you think Welilngton can match Soto's numbers from his rookie Season. .280, 20 HR, 80 RBI?
Bruce Levine (4:48 PM)
That would be pretty nice for the Cubs. You're talking about 20 homers and 80 RBIs. I wouldn't got that far but he has the capability of being a good offensive player.
Paul (Longmont, CO)
Are the Cubs looking at any lefthand relief pitching?
Bruce Levine (4:49 PM)
Right now the Cubs would just like to add another quality arm or two to the rotation and the bullpen. I don't think LH or RH is a priority.
The Sox need a left-handed bat. Why are they not making an effort to re-sign a left-handed bat with pop in AJ?!? This way, in case he finally begins to fade with age (Which he hasn't), the Sox have a very good back-up in Flowers.
Bruce Levine (4:51 PM)
AJ wants a longer term deal than the Sox are probably willing to offer. Much like Buehrle's situation last winter. AJ has earned the right to get a multi-year deal but the Sox are not prepared to do that at this point.
I read that the Cubs guaranteed Feldman a spot in the rotation (correct)? Did they do the same for Baker (assuming health)? I'm asking to try and understand that if they sign another FA starting pitcher, would that mean Travis Wood guaranteed to be the one in the pen if (and I know this unlikely) all 6 pitchers are healthy on Opening Day?
Bruce Levine (4:52 PM)
One thing we learned about Sveum is that he will give jobs to people who earn them. Baker and Feldman were signed to shore up the starting pitching. The only way they end up in the pen is if they show that they have trouble extending beyond five or six innings.
Where do you see McNutt in the pen or rotation? Double A or Triple A to start?
Bruce Levine (4:53 PM)
He's a hard guy to figure out. He was the Cubs' top young pitcher in 2010. I still think the rotation is best for him. He just needs to stay healthy. Not sure if he will start in AA or AAA.
Nizzi (Des Moines)
Bruce, have the cubs been looking at Scott Hairston or Nick Swisher? Seems like two quality and durable OFers that will fit the short term model.
Bruce Levine (4:54 PM)
Hairston would be a nice fit, give you some power off the bench. Not a great OF but would fit nicely in a platoon. Swisher is looking for a long-term commitment.
Javier Baez (Rookie league)
What's so special about me?
Bruce Levine (4:56 PM)
You have maybe the best hands for hitting since Gary Sheffield was in coming up. You also have power to all fields. And you're also underrated as a defensive player at SS.
Jake (North Burbs)
With the Cubs resigning Ian Stewart, what place does Josh Vitters have on this team? Will they continue to develop him more?
Bruce Levine (4:57 PM)
Vitters will either go back to Triple-A or end up as part of some trade to bring back other talent. He's only 22 years old and most scouts still feel that he is going to hit in the majors. The position is a problem. No one is sure where he is going to end up defensively.
Dan C (Aurora) [via mobile]
Any chance the Sox trade Gavin Floyd and sign Anibal Sanchez? That'd be a big upgrade, IMO.
Bruce Levine (4:58 PM)
I don't see the Sox getting involved in Sanchez. He will end up with a four-year deal. I'm not sure the Sox are willing to commit $60-$70 million. Right now the Sox payroll is getting close to being maxed out.
As much as I like DeJesus, he would seem to have more value to a club in 'win now' mode. Could you see the Cubs maybe calling the Reds for a Stubbs-DeJesus swap? Stubbs is more of a natural CF than DD and gives us another player who is entering his prime
Bruce Levine (4:59 PM)
I'm sure the Cubs would make a deal like that. I'm just not sure wif the Reds value DeJesus as highly as you do.
Bruce Levine (5:00 PM)
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