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!
ESPN Chicago (1:05 PM)
Keep the questions coming...Bruce will be by in a moment!
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Welcome to the battle of the Sox and Cubs. Who would you rather have for the future: Sale or Samardzija? Here we go...
C.Williamson (Robinson, IL)
What do make of Dusty Baker's comments towards Matt Garza and Johnny Cueto?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
I thought it was pretty funny. I think what Dusty is saying is that this is much ado about nothing. The ball was nowhere near DeJesus -- it was way over his head. Cueto was just upset because DeJesus was playing games with him, making him wait until he got into the batters box. There was really no need for an umpire warning there. Players take care of these things themselves.
It's been well-reported the Cubs offered Samardzija a 3-year deal in the offseason. However, they tried to get him on the cheap for those 3 years (3yr/$21M'ish). If they offer him serious extension years and money, he'll listen like any player would. What are they waiting for? What kind of deal makes sense for both? 5yrs/$70M?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
The question and answer is really what Samardzija and his agent Mark Rogers think is the right price. Otherwise, Samardzija has told me on many occasions that he is happy going one year at a time. Remember the Cubs have him under contract for two years after this. Samardzija is not a greedy guy. He realizes he already has plenty of money to live on for the rest of his life. What he is more concerned with is how they build a team around him.
I'm tired of hearing how Flowers is the better defensive catcher than AJ. Yes, Flowers will throw out more base stealers, but anytime Flowers wants to start moving his feet/body to better get in front of pitches in the dirt and smother them, I'm waiting. What say you?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I think it's been kind of disappointing so far. But remember that some of the balls Flowers gets a piece of, AJ is waiting for them to bounce off the back wall. Flowers is a better catcher. As you said, he hasn't played his best ball during the first 50 games of the season.
Joe (Bloomingdale )
Bruce Why cant Tyler Flowers hit? Are the Sox going to call up Josh Phegley any time soon? Phegley is tearing it up in triple A, 331AVG,11 homers and 29 RBI's.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
The number one job of the catcher is to handle the pitching staff. Flowers has the confidence of all the starters and bullpen guys. Let's give him more than 50 games before looking for his replacement. Remember, his maturation was retarded last year by AJ's exceptional offensive season. He really hasn't caught on a regular basis for a few years.
The cubs payroll is slightly above the Brewers. How does the new ownership get away with this? Cuba fans are loyal, but the lack off effort to compete is offensive.
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I don't think spending money is the answer for the Cubs right now. Finding good, quality players to spend it on is where the concentration should be. As an example, the Cubs tried to give $80 million in the offseason. He chose to take that money from a better team. That's the situation the Cubs are in.
Zac (Elkhart, IN)
Assuming Garza stays healthy and effective into July, what is your opinion on keeping him or trading him? I like him, but I don't love him. I think we should try and move him personally......
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Garza has been an injured pitcher over the last few years. He has number one-starter stuff. But going on 30, I would assume the Cubs will try to deal him by the deadline. If Garza is willing to take a short-term deal, it might work to the benefit of both sides. Otherwise the Cubs have to deal him by July 31.
Rich (In Knoxville)
Hi, Anthony Rizzo in 2nd place in the home run category and 3rd place in the RBI category, do you think he has a chance of leading the league in either Home Runs or R.B.I.'s?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I think the most important thing for Rizzo is to understand is to concentrate on consistency, rather than numbers. I talk to him a couple times a week about his swing. He's always talking about hitting the ball the other way. He's going to be a very good hitter, but he's not a finished product yet. But your answer is no because his support system around his not good enough yet. So he won't get the RBI opportunities like 3-4 hitters on better teams get.
Tommy Chicago [via mobile]
Bruce will Barneys inability to hit force the Cubs to trade him?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
In all commodities, the best deals are to buy low and sell high. So trading Barney now will not get the return you should get for a Gold Glover. He's more valuable to the Cubs than he is to trade. He keeps the defense together. I don't think they would get proper compensation back for him right now.
Ricky (Western Springs)
Will you see the White Sox bring up a pitcher from the minors soon such as a righty like Troncoso or some lefty help such as Leesman since he is back from surgery? The bullpen has not been great as of late
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I would say that Troncoso is the number one candidate to come up next. He's pitched well in the minors and he has a track record in the majors. But what the White Sox could use is another lefty in the pen, although for now Santiago is back there.
Big Cubs fan in Reds country. How long do you see this rebuild taking?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Depends what level of rebuild you are talking about. Entire organization? 5-7 years. Competitive team for a wild card? 2-3 years.
What will it take for bogusevic to get called up. Its hard to justify keeping him at AAA with a .369/.471/.573 line right?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
You would have to tell me where you would play him at this point. Cubs already have an abundance of left-handed hitters. I love Bogusevic's power but until someone like DeJesus is dealt, there's really not a spot for him on the roster.
Paul (Chicago) [via mobile]
What are the chances that the cubs trade Castro considering he's probably not the cornerstone player they thought he would be and his value is high because other teams probably still see an upside?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
You need to give me a better proposal. Tell me what players would match up well for him in a trade. Then I think me, Epstein and Hoyer would all consider it. Castro has been a minor disappointment in the first 50 games.
Dave (Springfield, IL)
Would you consider Travis Wood as one of the core players with Rizzo, Castro, and Samardzija? Or Do you think the FO will try to trade him.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Young left-handed starting pitching is very difficult to procure and retain. I believe that Wood has turned the corner, and could become a very productive pitcher for the Cubs for a long time. He's under contract control for four more years. So there is no rush in giving him a long-term deal.
Bob downers grove [via mobile]
The Cubs passed on Appel last year. Why would they select him this year? Why not Bryant the third baseman?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
They might take a 3rd baseman, and Bryant is a good one. There are some strong indications that Houston may take one of the 3rd basemen rather than Appel or Gray. At the end of the day, Epstein knows that pitching is the number one need in the organization, so it might be Gray over Appel if both are still on the board when they pick.
John (Buffalo Grove)
Bruce,why does Sweum trusts the worst of the CUBS relievers in tight situations? Rondon, Dolis, Camp (when not hurt). These guys couldn't get AA players out!!
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
You cannot pitch your best relievers every day. You're going to have to use your bullpen 150 times a year, at least. 7-10 complete games is about it for teams these days. Camp pitched in about 80 games last year. They can't allow that to happen to their relievers this season. Bottom line is some guys will get abused, but you can't abuse your best relievers every game.
Johnny D (Randolph )
Brucieeee, what's going on with the Sox defense this year? Last year they were incredibly sound, and they returned almost all the same players. Ventura seems like the kind of guy who stresses defense and won't let this slide (i.e. infield practice), but it's happening. What gives?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
I believe it's the Gordon Beckham syndrome. Beckham was much more important to the team than they realized before he got hurt. He's been out for 6 weeks and the defense is just starting to play a bit better, although I wouldn't count last night's game in that. I think you'll see an overall improvement in the defense once he returns.
Ray (Spring is here, WI)
Will the Cubs wait until the deadlines to start trading again or will the sell-off start much earlier?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
I believe that Epstein and Hoyer will trade anyone at anytime if they believe they are getting back quality players for both now and the future. If you look at the Cubs roster, they have a lot of decent major league players, but how many of them would you expect to see at Wrigley on opening day 2015? I'll give you that answer -- maybe 4 or 5.
Chris (Lake in the hills)
Why do the cubs have the worst hitting consistency still? Isn't that why we fired Rudy j as our hitting coach?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Excellent observation on your part. Team hitting has not gotten much better. More importantly, the approach of some of the better hitters on the team has not changed. So that poses a question: do you need better, more patient hitters, or new hitting instructors every year? I think we know the answer to that.
Thomas (Milwaukee) [via mobile]
Who will make the playoffs first: cubs or Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
What year are you asking about? I'd say the White Sox still potentially have a wild card chance for this year. Their pitching remains very good. At some point they'll need to hit the ball better and more consistently.
Todd (Carol Stream) [via mobile]
Is there any interest in marmol yet from other teams? He hasn't been pitching like the disaster he was earlier
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Not much interest yet. Remember, he's still making over $9 million this year.
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Interesting you point that out. It's all about the week to week frustrations of the fans. It's difficult to trade a player that has just been given a 7-year, $60 million contract. Less than 10 months ago the Cubs' front office was telling everyone he's the future. Now after a few mediocre months fans want to trade him?
Pete (Oak Lawn)
Everyone keeps saying trade Garza but honestly what are you going to get for a rent a player other than a mediocre prospect? Wouldn't be wise to sign him to a short term deal? That way he is more marketable and for him gives him more security.
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Garza signing a short-term deal really doesn't work to his advantage. He can be a free agent in November. The question is why he would take a two-year deal from the Cubs if he can get a four-year deal elsewhere? I'm not saying the Cubs will offer him a two-year deal, but they likely won't offer him a four or five-year deal considering his recent injuries. Someone may offer him that in November, but I just don't believe it will be the Cubs.
Could the cubs trade Castro in a package deal for Chase Headley? Castro could be appealing with his contract and we have Baez waiting in the wings. That way we can secure a 3B for the future, draft a top SP and bring up a top prospect.
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
I love your enthusiasm. And I would send resume to both Theo Epstein and Rick Hahn. However, the Padres aren't really interested in trading Headley right now, and the Cubs would still need a shortstop because Baez is not ready to play in the majors.
Johnny D (The Loop)
Assuming the Sox keep their head above .500, what positions do you think they need to address to bolster before the deadline? I can't pick out a clear favorite. Maybe an RP or an OF?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
I'd love to see them add an outfielder and two relief pitchers. Bullpen guys just get worn out. The more quality arms you have the better chance you have of winning. I'm not a big fan of the Tigers' bullpen. I think they are really vulnerable there.
Karl (Illinois) [via mobile]
With Nate Jones struggling in the pen, wouldn't it make sense for both parties to send him down to AAA and let him work on his control and regain his confidence?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
That may be coming. Jones is another one of those guys that pitched a heck of a lot last year. I think he does need to regain confidence. A short trip to the minors may not be a bad idea for him.
I find it interesting that the same folks tearing down Castro for his inconsistent D are also lauding Baez as the future at SS. Baez has had more than his share of errors so far this season, so what is it about him that has people thinking he's the answer?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
People love to fantasize about top prospects. Obviously people aren't thrilled with Castro's defense at this point, but it's not like he's awful. His problem is he has to overcome a certain lack of instincts on grounders. I'll take Castro as my shortstop for the next 10 years and worry about the other positions being filled. I think you can go the playoffs many times with Castro as your shortstop.
Hey, Bruce, everyone knows that most players on the team are fair game for trade, but given all the variables, I'd really like to see DeJesus stick around seeing as his plate approach consistency and leadership is really something all the young guys can really learn from over the next couple years. Your thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
I agree with you on your scouting report of DeJesus. Everything you said is true, except where are you going to go as a team with a 33-year-old free agent? He does do everything right and does have solid OBP. But he's a little too old to build around. You're best off getting a good prospect for him in return. Do him a favor and get him to a contender. You can always try to re-sign him after the season.
Lets say the cubs pull off a 6-7 game winning streak and all of a sudden put themselves within an earshot of .500. Would you see them as potentially being a buyer for relief pitching and/or anything else if they somehow managed to be in contention before the deadline or do you simply see them as being sellers no matter what happens?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
I just see them picking up players for the future. Right now the bullpen is in such tough shape that they just need to add arms. But their general prospective is to add quality players for the future, not just 2013 necessarily.
If the Cubs draft Appel, do you think he would start for the Cubs at some point next year?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
He is a near-finished product, so a couple of months in the minor leagues might be enough. The answer to the question is yes: I think he can advance very quickly.
Bruce - starting a franchise today would you take Chris Sale or Jeff Samardzija - as your staff ace? I like both a lot but think Sale can be the best in the majors
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
I would take them both -- thanks for the question. Just kidding. Very difficult question to answer. One is 24 years old and one is 28. On the other hand, one has had shoulder and elbow issues and the other hasn't. If I had to choose between the two I would probably take Sale. That's not to say I wouldn't want Samardzija as my number two starter.
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
Tune into ESPN 1000 now as I'll be joining Carmen & Jurko now to talk Cubs and Sox. Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and we'll see you here next week!