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 (1:07 PM)
Hopefully you're all excited about the drafts for the both the White Sox and Cubs, as well as the White Sox three-game winning streak. And maybe the next Yasiel Puig is on his way. Welcome to the chat!
Matt Sheahan (downtown)
Ok.....Baez hits 4 homers last night.....do you think part of Starlin Castro's struggles might be related to feeling the heat of the hot prospect?? Maybe hes worried about losing his job? Or maybe my imagination is just too crazy!
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
First of all, you're a Cubs fan so you already have a great imagination. I don't think Castro worries about anyone taking his job, especially after signing a $60 million contract. I still think that every 2-3 weeks he needs a day off to rest, educate himself and watch the games. Dale Sveum is an old school guy, who believes that ballplayers belong on the field all the time. In his era, he was right. In this era, a day off once in a while is likely a real good idea. Castro hasn't had a day off since 2011. I think certain days off just for mental health are a good idea for any young player.
Patrick (Lexington, Kentucky )
Would Joge Soler be in AA by now if he hadn't been suspended earlier this season?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
I don't think so. There's some adjustments for foreign players that have to take place. You don't want to rush a guy just because he has great talent. You also need him to assimilate into the new country that he is living in. No rush for him or Baez. Maybe by the end of next year you'll see them ready to come up.
Mike (Ingleside )
How soon to do expect Bryant to be signed/reporting?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
All 2013 draftees must be signed by July 12. Otherwise they go back into the talent pool for next year. So the quicker he signs the better it will be for him and the Cubs. Minor league seasons are usually done by Sept. 1. So if he gets two solid months this year, he could be ready to play in the bigs by June of next season.
Joe Carnduff (Southern Illinois University)
Is Adam Dunn worth the $$ the Sox spent on him? I know every 25-40 games he has a multiple home run game that carries the south siders to a win, but the other games he usually strikes out or hits barely over .200
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
I'll answer your question with a question: what are their options? But Dunn is a hard player to quantify because he drove in almost 100 runs, hit over 40 homers and walked 105 times to lead the American League. Those are all very imposing numbers. The sub-.200 batting average is another matter to consider. All in all I think they are getting the player they thought they were getting, although the average has really dipped over the last few seasons.
With guys like Ike Davis, Ackley, and Montero being sent to minors for struggeling, do you see any chance of Castro going down?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Considering where the Cubs are at I would highly doubt it. There is plenty of room for developmental at-bats for Castro at the MLB level. This is not a team that is going to win anything for a while. The Cubs have been struggling to find a leadoff hitter all year. I would just put him there and let him hit his way out of it at the top of the order. You're going to see better pitches -- more consistent, good pitches -- at the top of the order than at the bottom. Meanwhile, Sveum and the Cubs hitting coaches are doing everything they can to get out of it.
Justin Timberlake (Memphis, TN)
Should I be singing "Bye, Bye, Bye" to Ian Stewart after his twitter outburst last night?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I think Stewart should just clam up and do what they ask him to do for the $2 million. Do you think you would sit on the bench for a few more months to collect a few million dollars? The Cubs executives are sending a message and saying you haven't earned your money.
Marc Lang (Wheeling)
Do you see Ian Stewart being traded instead of taking a roster spot in triple a?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
No. A roster spot at AAA is not a big deal. If it was a developmental spot like in AA, that would be a different story. He's not on the 40-man so he's not taking anyone's position.
Any news on Scott Baker?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
He's slowly working his arm into shape. He has not pitched off a mound yet, but they are hoping that happens soon.
C. Williamson (Robinson, IL)
Harder to trade, Marmol or Soriano?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Definitely Marmol. Soriano is still looked at as a run producer in the right environment. Marmol will need another 10-12 solid outings before anyone takes a serious look at him again.
Patrick (South Carolina)
Bruce. I have been saying from the very start that Castro isn't in the future of the franchise. We are getting closer to the all star break and his approach still hasn't changed. Do you think he can return to form even if he still doesn't take many walks? If not, where do you see his future season numbers at? I see 250 BA 280 OB 15HR 70RBI
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I still think Castro is a .280-.300 hitter with his eyes closed. This funk he is in seems to have a life of its own. On Saturday I saw him three balls on the nose and get nothing for it. I still think he is one of the stars of the future for the Cubs.
Are the White Sox considering calling up Josh Phegely from Triple-A? Having Flowers hitting .214 and striking out once every 3.06 ABs has to be a cause for concern. And has Flowers playing sub-par really surprised the organization?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I think the Flowers situation just points out how difficult it is to be a good defensive catcher and also produce offensively at the major league level. Castillo is having some of the same problems with the Cubs. But both teams are happy with the generalship that they are both showing in handling their respective pitching staffs. And that's the main job as a catcher. So I don't expect Phegley to be called up anytime soon.
best arm since dunston (Chicago)
Would Garza go for 3yr/36m plus incentives that could make it 3yr/48m based on # of starts
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
That might be what the Cubs offer. But that contract would be much less than what Edwin Jackson is making overall. I don't think the Garza's agent looks at his client as the same type of caliber or salary spot as Jackson. The only thing that would get Garza to sign a deal like that is concern with re-injuring his elbow.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Bruce what happens if the Cubs can't move Garza? Do they keep him and make a qualified offer in the off season? Or try to sign him long term and make him an anchor here?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
One of two things has to happen by August 1st: He has to be signed by the Cubs or traded. There's no way the team could be in-between because of his ability. The Cubs can't afford to take this to the offseason, even if they make him a qualifying offer. It would not be equitable compensation.
I've been telling my White Sox friends the reason the Sox can't release Dunn is because we have no other options. We can't develop a young hitter to give those at-bats to. He's it. The Sox need to start developing position players/hitters. We've had too many misses in free agency lately.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Agreed. That's why they drafted a college shortstop this year in the first round. The White Sox need a whole lot of help when it comes to position players.
With a decent bullpen the Cubs are a .500 baseball team this year based on the numbers. What are the chances that the Cubs will try to find another Kevin Gregg in someone like Brian Wilson?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
It's such an inexact science to go after other team's released players. It's not like you're planning your future with these guys that you pick up. You're just trying to get through the season. Gregg was a nice find for them, but they still could flip him in the next month or so.
Mike (The loop )
Almora is playing lights out, I know this season is out of the question, but could we see him late- next year?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
He's going to have play AA ball and do well there first. One season at AA with a promotion to AAA could prepare him for the majors. He's not jumping from low A-ball to the majors. But the future appears really bright for him.
Who are the all-star reps this year for our teams? Gregg and Sale?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
My #1 All-Star rep for the Sox is Jesse Crain. He's as good as any reliever in baseball right now. He's been totally dominant. For the Cubs I would say Travis Wood if he puts together a few more good outings before the All-Star Game.
Jack (MN) [via mobile]
How close do the sox need to be at the all star break to have a chance?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Right now the strength appears to be in the AL East and West, so wild cards might be out of the question. And they are much further behind in those races than they are in their own division. So winning the Central may be their best chance. So at the break they need to be above .500 to get into contention by the break.
Overall draft grade for the Cubs: (a) Outstanding, (b) Dynamic, (c) No Idea (By the way, excellent call on Bryant last week)
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Thanks for the compliment. It would have been Appel if he was there at #2, so I'm not that start. I can't really tell you right now other than to say they drafted 7 college pitchers in their first 10 picks. And the first one they drafted, Rob Zastryzny, is said to be a diamond in the rough. I spoke with three scouting directors that said he was an excellent choice by the Cubs.
Why didnt the Cubs sign Puig and Soler?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Money. They weren't going to spend another $40 million after signing Soler. Even though they are a rich franchise, they can't just throw around $40-50 million to every good looking player that shows up. Besides, Puig has allegedly had some personal issues in dealing with people that the Cubs may not have liked.
Won't the cubs be forced t sign Free Agents this winter? Considering how little payroll dollars they have committed next season, they won't be able to begin a season with an 85 million doller team. No way that flys in Chicago.
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
The first thing they tried to establish this year was to identify and put together a pitching rotation. So they have Samardzija, Jackson and Wood: 3 of the 5 for next year. What they need more than anything right now is to get some power arms into the bullpen. Hopefully that will come through the farm system in the next few years. Nobody in baseball trades power arms these days. Pitching used to be about 80% of the game, now it appears to be 90-95.
Bruce,If the Cubs want to kick-start this rebuild they need pitching prospects that are closer to the majors than the ones they have. Do you foresee them possibly trading one or two position player prospects (Jackson, Vitters, Lake, etc.) that are closer to the bigs for a pitcher that is closer to the bigs... similar to the Cashner-Rizzo trade?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Yes, except that Cashner was already a big leaguer at the time. These other players have not made the bigs yet, so it would be harder to quantify. I would say the Cubs are not going to force the issue in trading their young prospects. On the other hand, I think Epstein and Hoyer are in the listening business for any of their players, either in the major or minor leagues.
Why does it feel like Barney is under appreciated by the Cubs and is not part of the future plans? His Gold Glove defense anchors that infield and that alone seems worth keeping around. And I truly believe he could be a .280/.290 hitter if the Cubs could ever get a hitting coach to teach him to relax and not over think his at bats.
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
I'm a big fan of Barney. But if you look at numbers, you're going to like him. You have to look beyond the numbers with Barney and understand that he is a winning ballplayer, similar to a David Eckstein-type. He has tremendous leadership ability and helps make the Cubs defense function. I would take him on my team any day. But on teams that don't hit, his flaws at the plate stand out even more. He'd be great on a team like the Tigers or Red Sox.
The Sox are 7 games back, if Jake Peavy comes back with 3 or 4 solid starts prior to the trading deadline, should we expect the Sox to move him.
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
There's not enough time for him to have 3 or 4 starts before the deadline with that injury. That said, you can still trade a player through waivers after July 31. Peavy would be a candidate for that if he's healthy, and a willing one if the White Sox are not competing.
Paul (St. Louis)
Bruce, I always wondered how the Cubs traded Lou Brock, but now when I see fans already giving up on Castro, I think I totally understand. Do you understand why Cubs fans don't support their young players more?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
It's an excellent point you bring up. I think it's just that we live in a 'what have you done for me lately' era of baseball. People forget that Castro was a .300 hitter for the first 2+ seasons of his career. I think a few things have happened here. One, he might have got too rich too soon and two, there may be too many voices going into his head about his swing and plate approach. I do like the fact that Sveum is hitting other players in positions he believes deserving of those spots in the lineup. But eventually you have to have move Castro back to the top of the order. He's still your second or third most explosive offensive player.
keppinger to cubs? Gillaspie's in at 3B with Sox and Stewart's out at 3B with cubs...
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
The Cubs were certainly interested in Keppinger and made him a lower offer during the offseason. You haven't said though what the Cubs would have to give back. I know that the White Sox would ask for James Russell in return. Are you ready to make that trade?
The Sox double play combination next year?
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
It could be Sanchez and Beckham. With Beckham at shortstop. Ramirez is one of the best trading chips that they have. If they feel they have to revamp their team, he could go. I think Peavy, Crain and Ramirez could bring back a lot of talent. And I don't mean prospects for the future. I mean players ready to go now.
Is travis Wood as untouchable come July as Jeff Samardzjia at this point?
Bruce Levine (2:03 PM)
I think identifying a quality left-handed starter is one of the more difficult things to do in baseball. If they think he is a perennial 15-game winner, than yes, I would say so. The one thing we are seeing though with the warmer weather is that ERAs will be going up. So we'll see if Wood's ERA remains this low throughout the whole season.
Bruce Levine (2:05 PM)
Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and listen to Talkin' Baseball Saturdays from 9am-12pm with Fred Huebner and me. We hope to have Theo Epstein on this week. Thanks for all your questions!