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 (12:59 PM)
Welcome to the chatroom. Plenty of on and off-field stuff to discus. Let's begin!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
When will the Renovation to Wrigley Field will Begin?
Bruce Levine (1:00 PM)
That is unclear right now. Ricketts said that they need time to be able to plan the first stage of renovation. And for the first time yesterday he said it would take five offseasons, which is almost an eternity when it comes to baseball seasons. How they propose construct and reconstruct during every new season is still a mystery to me.
Bill Hobart ind [via mobile]
Does the Ricketts family really think that these proposed renovations are going to actually buy them more time of putting subpar talent on the field n line their pockets with $$$?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Evidently 25,000 people still think so. That's the number of season tickets they have sold. There's a certain air around the Cubs that says, 'Our fans will stick with us regardless of how much it costs to come to the park and how long it takes to win.' And so far that has proven true. They already had 2,000,000 tickets sold before the season even started.
Mike Riordan (Westford, MA)
Bruuuce, Where in the heck are they going to put a 6,000 sq foot jumbotron?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Anywhere they want. It will stretch mostly from the left field line to center field, it appears. The 6,000sf doesn't mean it's all in length. It will dwarf the size of the existing scoreboard, but it will be configured differently.
Casey (Dallas, Texas)
Hey Bruce, Ricketts really went out on a limb by predicting that the Cubs will win the World Series in the new stadium huh? That gives them a minimum of what 40 years?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
It was a bizarre statement, to say the least. Especially when Tom was not able to answer my question about when payroll will be increased due to the new revenue streams. If you read all the reports today, very little is written about the Cubs on-field product. This is so contrary to what Theo Epstein was brought here for to begin with.
tommyjo (waukesha wi)
Would it be a screaming indictment of the Theo and Hoyer regime if Rizzo hits less than .250 and strikes out over 150 times?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I don't think so. Rizzo is still a developing player. Just as Castro is. What you're seeing an entire organization of player development, some of it at the major league level.
Any update on John Danks? ETA?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Danks will need at least another 3-4 weeks to get his arm back to where he needs to be. What the White Sox are looking for is a consistent 90-91 fastball and seeing him pitch without laboring. When he's able to complete all his pitches and look relaxed out there, they will be closer to making a decision on bringing him back.
Casey (Dallas, Texas)
Bruuuce, was Jorge Soler known to have temper issues? I thought a big part of the Cubs way was getting guys with a good makeup.
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
According to people with the Cubs, there was never a temper or attitude problem with Soler that they could detect before they signed him. If anything, it was more of a cultural response to someone threatening him. Remember, this guy is a Cuban defector, by way of Haiti. This is not an excuse for his conduct, rather an explanation as to why he responded like he did.
Matty Ice (Chicago)
Bruce- You've said that Floyd is a trade chip when Danks comes back, but if he keeps pitching poorly, would the Sox consider trading Peavy or Quintana to score a bat?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Rich Hahn's belief is that the strength of the White Sox is their pitching staff. I doubt he would trade a pitcher unless he was getting pitching in return. That said, if the White Sox are out of it by the trade deadline, all bets are off on who Hahn might deal.
Have you spoken to Don Cooper recently? If so, how is he feeling?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Have not spoken to him, but have asked about him. They're hoping he returns to the team this next homestand. Bobby Thigpen has done a good job in replacing him for now. But Coop is an invaluable resource for the White Sox and their pitching staff.
Buster Olney rated the cubs as the number 1 suitor for David Price. What would be a realistic package to get him? I would assume Baez would have to be included.
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Doesn't make much sense to me at this point. Realistically, I don't think the Cubs want to trade all of their good, young talent to get one pitcher. Andrew Friedman is going to want a guy like Baez and pitching talent back for Price. I don't think the Cubs have the pitching to make that happen.
Why has Dale refused to allow his best reliever a shot at closing? James Russell is clearly the best candidate for the job.
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
You may be right. He is one of the most improved relievers in baseball over the past few seasons. The only reason I can think of is that it negates Sveum's ability to match up against other teams' lefties in the 7th and 8th innings.
Cole B (Cedar Falls, IA)
Bruce, fair to say DeJesus will be the first/likeliest position player traded given the organizational depth in the outfield? Or are the Mets serious about Sori?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I don't know how serious people are about trading for Soriano right now. DeJesus is the only player outside of Rizzo that gives them any type of on-base percentage at all. The Cubs are second to last in NL in OBP. With all due respect to David, what type of prospects are the Cubs getting back for him? He's much more valuable for the Cubs to hold on to, at least until the trade deadline.
Paul (Denver, CO)
Bruce, when will Kameron Loe make his Cubs debut?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Don't have the answer for you on that. They need him asap. Cubs bullpen has been taking an awful beating lately. And the roles seem to be undetectable at this time.
Bruce, everyone keeps saying that Dale gets a pass because of what he is given on the field. At what point do all the errors and mental lapses start to creep up the ladder a bit?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I think it's more about the players that you have on the field, rather than the coaching itself. Let's be honest - the Cubs have only marginal talent in many areas and as I wrote and talked about in spring training, they are paper thin when it comes to bench players and bullpen backups.
Casey (Dallas, Texas)
Bruuuuuuuce, the rotation looks good, and the bullpen needs help. Who makes the move if Garza comes back in a few weeks?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I guess whoever is not pitching the best at the time. Right now it would likely be Feldman. He has struggled and he is dealing with an iffy shoulder. To me, he is the likely candidate.
Max Alioto (Oak Forest)
I know it early but if the White SOxs fall out do you think the White soxs will trade Paul Korenko?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
That would be up to Paul himself. He is a 10 & 5 player, with complete control of whether he gets traded or not.
Shaun from Bradenton FL [via mobile]
Is Ian Stewart really healthy and will we see him produce closer to his 09-10 form?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Two good questions, that I can't give you 100% answers on. For now, he is physically able to play in the minors. Sveum says that if Stewart stays healthy he will be up in about two weeks. As for the quality of his game, that remains a mystery. He wasn't very good last year before he got hurt.
Bruce, this might be way off base, but has there been any speculation at all on the possibility of the goat head package being a really odd publicity stunt? I know that the Cubs don't need to generate additional pub, but the symbolism of ending the curse did come very shortly before the agreement on the renovation plans. Maybe it was meant to leverage sympathy for the Ricketts family? Maybe I just love a good conspiracy theory.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I think Bison Burgers are about as far as the Ricketts family will go as far as using animals to promote their product. I don't think the reverse psychology works for them very well and I doubt they were involved in that.
Do you think Mark Buehrle will pitch for the White Sox again in the future?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
Yes -- maybe in 2020 for an Old Timers Game. But their is zero chance he'll pitch for them again during regular seasons since he makes around $15 million per year.
Bob (Saint Charles, IL)
Well Camp clearly isn't the answer and Fujikawa is out so why not just give Marmol the closer role again and let him sink or swim with it? A loss is a loss right??
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I hear your frustration. The bullpen seems to be a mess right now. Marmol has always been the best candidate to close and Chris Bosio told me that their goal is to build him back up to return to the closer's role. If you look back to last year, almost the exact same thing happened. For the last two months of the season, he was one of the most effective closers in the game. And to be fair, he didn't get a lot of opportunities.
Travis (Nevada) [via mobile]
Epstein has stated that he would prefer to see prospects get a full year of AAA ab's before a promotion to the show. Is there a chance we see the likes of young prospects such as Soler or Baez promoted to Iowa this summer so that we can see them in Wrigley sometime next season?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
They need to progress in the lower minors in a proper way. There is no real sense in rushing any of their top prospects. I like Epstein and Hoyer's idea that their top players should get 500 ABs in AAA. To me, that's where you see the closest to major league pitching.
Chris Richert (Platteville, WI)
Bruuuce, whats your over/under total wins for both teams this year.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
For the Cubs, probably 72. For the White Sox, 85.
mike b (oak lawn)
Any chance the sox bring up some prospects to try and ignite that stagnant offense. It the same thing every year station to station and takes three consecutive hits to score a run.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
They don't have a lot of prospects that are ready. Carlos Sanchez needs more work at AAA. Trayce Thompson still needs a full year in the minors too. That's why you see them signing free agents like Tyler Greene.
Riley, Dallas [via mobile]
So what ended up happening with the stadium? Are we getting the additional sign, video board and keeping the scoreboard? And if so how big of a problem are the rooftop owners going to be?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I'll find that out for you tonight, when the rooftop owners have their own dog and pony show. They are threatening to sue to maintain their original deal with the Cubs. The Cubs are supposed to getting the video board and keeping the scoreboard, but it's up to the landmark commission and the city council as to whether they will sign off on it or not. Keep in mind though that the city council is usually a rubber stamp for the mayor, who has already signed off on this.
Are the Sox hurt by playing in a HR friendly park? They look lost trying to score runs in bigger ballparks on the road.
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Well that's the reason why they went and got Jeff Keppinger. He's an OBP guy that makes a lot of contact. So far his impact has been negligible, but over the last two series it seems he's coming out of it. De Aza has done his share. So the top of the order has to set the table in order to score some runs. Believe it or not losing Beckham actually hurts. He was really coming around with his new swing.
Is it too early to be worried about Dunn?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Dunn will be Dunn. He'll hit his 35-40 and drive in his 90-100. He probably will strike out 200 times too. So I guess the answer is yes, too early to worry about him.
Do you think White Sox regrets signing Danks over Buehrle?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
They're apples and oranges. One is 28-years-old and one is 34. You're not going to make a commitment to your future on an older pitcher with over 2500 innings under his belt. In the short term, yes, he is still a very good pitcher, but only for a big market contender, which the White Sox are not. They may be a contender but they are not big market.
Antonio (Downtown Chicago)
What's up with Edwin Jackson? Is he hurt? Trying to hard for the strikeout?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
He'll probably be a little better than he's been. But this is a career .500 pitcher with a 4.20 ERA. If you're expecting a performance like a #1 or
I thought the Ricketts family was all about bringing a winning team in for Cubs fans. So far we have seen nothing but garbage, and now we have to wait longer? Seems to me they are more concerned about their tourist attraction of a stadium, instead of their product on the field.
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
I think Tom and his family want to win. But they feel the business model is the first priority in order to sustain the baseball product.
Wait, the Cubs sold 2,000,000 tickets already!?!?!....then what was all that talk about increasing revenues so they could purchase some decent free agents? Haven't cubs fans given enough?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
To the Cubs, enough is 3.3 million tickets sold. That was where they were at in 2008 and 2009. Epstein and Hoyer are spending their money on prospects and dipping into the international market.
Chris (Lake in the hills)
If the bullpen struggles continue, how long before Bosio gets fired? How can our bullpen be so terrible?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
It's hard to blame Bosio, really. The manager and coaches are accountable, don't get me wrong. But what is the real talent level of the players they have right now? Everyone is accountable. But we're not dealing with the 1976 Cincinnati Reds. More talent is definitely needed on the North Side.
Tracy (West Chicago)
I don't get it, Bruce. Why do they need to upgrade their revenues if their model is to build their farm system with young, cheap guys. The latest CBO prevents them from spending tons of money on the draft and I thought they were out of the business of buying older, expensive veterans?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
It's all about the international market, where they are spending a lot of money on core players. We -- the media -- do not always know when they have signed a new foreign player. Unless they put him on the 40-man roster they don't announce anything. Epstein and Hoyer have beefed up their amateur scouting department. They plan to outwork and out-man other teams when it comes to finding the best young players, both foreign and domestic.
Justin (Lake in the Hills)
Bruce, are you more surprised at how solid the Cubs rotation has been or how awful the bullpen has been? I actually thought our bullpen was a strength heading into the season.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
I don't rate Cubs rotations until after the month of April. The weather impacts the performances during that month. I think you'll have a better indicator of what that staff is like after May.
Andrew (Lake Zurich)
Bruce, can the Cubs acquire a young third base prospect, like Mike Olt or Nick Castellanos, by way of trading Matt Garza, Alfonso Soriano, or Carlos Marmol during the season or will they have to draft one?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Probably both. They'll do their best to acquire a young, third base prospect between now and the trade deadline. But Garza has to get on the mound and stay healthy first.
Shouldn't Soler be suspended for more than 5 games for going after another player with a bat?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
He never got to the dugout, he was stopped. The intent is what he was punished for. Luckily, he never got to follow through with any action.
Brian (Fort Smith)
I have a sinking feeling the Cubs deal Shark for prospects at the deadline, am I crazy?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
I think Epstein and Hoyer would listen to trade proposals on any player they have, but Samardzija seems to be a building block for them right now. At some point the Cubs are going to build upon what they have, so keeping the good players and building around them should be where they are going. They're not going to have as many chips to trade at the deadline as they did last year.
Sveum is the wrong manager. do u agree?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
No, not necessarily. Name me a manager that would be getting more out of this team right now. You think LaRussa or Leyland would be doing better? I'm not saying he is the greatest manager that ever lived, but how about giving him a chance with a decent roster? Then I can give you a formulated opinion.
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
We'll be reporting about what the rooftop owners have to say this evening, they'll have a meeting before the Cubs game tonight. And hoping the White Sox get it going before they return home Friday. Follow me on Twitter: @ESPNBruceLevine and listen to Talkin' Baseball on ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com, Saturdays from 9am-Noon. Thanks for all the questions!