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 (1:02 PM)
Don't believe all the rumors, just the ones you hear here. Welcome to the chat.
Zac Schwartz (Elkhart, IN)
I keep hearing Mike Olt's name associated with a Garza deal.....Shouldn't we be looking for pitcher prospects with all of our hitters coming through the pipeline? Almora, Soler, Bryant, Baez, Alcantara, Lake, Vogelbach, etc.....seems like we have no pitchers coming up
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
For more immediate needs, Olt is ready to play in the majors. All he needs is an opportunity and he can also be moved around if Bryant or Lake ends up being the better player. There are some concerns with him because of concussion syndrome but he is a talented player. They will concentrate on getting mostly pitching back with other players in the deal. Texas has some nice pitching prospects in Class A.
Why hasn't Junior Lake been called up? I know Jed & Theo like to have a player get a minimum number of at bats in AAA, but he did have 400+ in AA last year and already over 150 in AAA this year. I just don't want this kid to get lost in the mix with Baez, Villanueva, and now Kris Bryant all vying for future infield spots.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
There is plenty of time for player development at the major league level. Look at the struggles Rizzo and Castro are going through. They believes in those 600-800 at-bats at the higher levels before they bring them up. That said, I think Lake could be up by August or September.
Kash Bhoj (chicago)
garza is only one year older then samardijza. how come jeff samrdijza is then such a big part of our future, and garza is someone we probably are going to trade?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I don't look at their age I look at the bodies. Samardzija has an arm like a 22-year-old's. He doesn't have any metal in his arm, and he hasn't had the forearm issues that Garza has had. The analogy is that of two buildings the same age, one has been maintained better, though no fault of Garza.
Will the Cubs think about packaging either James Russell or Dioner Navarro with Matt Garza to try to get a higher end prospect such as Mike Olt or ideally Martin Perez?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
I think the Cubs are open to any type of combo. They don't care if multiple guys go to the same team as long as they are getting quality back. Any type of packaging would probably be something they would investigate.
mike b (oak lawn)
The sox need young position players, so trading rios for a minor league power hitting third basemen is a must right?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
The Sox feel they need a lot of things including outfielders. But what they really need is a fast centerfielder who they can project for the next 6-7 years. The Rangers' Leonys Martin is that prototype. Oddly enough he also fits some of the traits the Cubs are looking for.
Max (Hollywood fl) [via mobile]
There were talks earlier about getting David price for the cubs.. Is that all over now?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I never heard any legitimate talk about that. Dominant pitching is something the Cubs want but I don't think they want to spend $200 million for it.
Brian (Palos Hills, IL) [via mobile]
Why hasn't Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro been the .300 hitters that they've been in the past? Have pitchers figured them out or are they just swinging at bad pitches?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Combo of both. It may just be that hitting major league pitching is a lot more difficult than we understand. Castro told me he is back to looking for the fastball now. He said for awhile he was looking for breaking pitches and swinging out of the zone. He also said on a good slider he's not going to hit it anyway so why bother looking for it. For Rizzo it's about his body and his hands coordinating together. He seems to get out in front of his swing sometimes.
Gary (West Town)
Is there any real chance of moving Soriano? I just don't see a trade until this time next year.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
I think so. The Cubs will be generous about how much they will eat of the contract. He;s proved he can still hit. His legs are healthier than they have been in the last 2-3. If he's used as a DH they will get good production from him.
Do you think the white sox will actually rebuild, or will they hold on to most of their roster because they believe they can be competitive. I just am worried that they will keep this roster, which is solid but not championship worthy, and it's time for a rebuild.
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
I still think that Rick Hahn and Co. feel they have good pitching. If that is the case and they are right, then they need to rebuild the offense and the defense. At this point they need two and most likely three new OFs. They need a third baseman and they must find out if Phegley can handle everyday catching. Those are some of the major elements they have to shore up.
Dan(chicago) [via mobile]
Hey Bruce, I just wanted to know your thoughts on whether Darwin Barney would get an extension or a new contract? Or would the cubs still try to find another second baseman?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Barney is a tough one to figure out. We get a lot of varying opinions on him in these chats. On a lousy offensive team he stands out as no help. On a good offensive team he's looked at as a valuable piece because of his defense and leadership. He's one of those gutty guys. He's a valuable player on the right team.
How long before Kris Bryant makes it to the big league? Will we see him at all in 2013?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
If he has success this year I would say June or July of 2014 would not be out of the question. If he's the No. 2 pick in the country he's already dominated in college baseball so you think he should arrive quickly. Most are probably thinking 2015.
Chris (Joliet) [via mobile]
Starlin Castro will start the 2015 season on the...?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
... on the Phillies. Rollins will be pretty much done in the next two years and they will be looking for an offensive SS.
Matt - Bloomington, IL [via mobile]
Bruce, what's holding up the Garza deal? Is the Cubs asking price to high, are we overvaluing him?? Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I think there is a lot of variations of the trade being talked about, including possibly other Cubs being included. I don't see the rush other than the fact that people are concerned about him being injured. But if he gets hurt a week after he's traded that's not good for the Cubs either because other teams will not want to deal with them in the future because they'll think they are getting damaged goods. I'm out of the prediction business as far as when this trade will happen. Buster Oleny said on a podcast today that he's heard it's 80 percent that he will be traded before Friday. He's a very reliable source especially when it comes to his relationship with Theo Epstein.
What is the next move the Sox make?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I'm pretty sure Rios is going to get traded and the Pirates and Ragers are both candidates. As much as Texas needs a pitcher, they are going to need a run-producing OF if Nelson Cruz is suspended, which has been rumored. Rios is a perfect fill in for Cruz.
Len (New Lenox)
Adam Dunn on August 1st will be playing for...John Danks on August 1st will be playing for...
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Dunn will be playing for the Sox on Aug. 1 as will Danks. He's part of their young pitching core. The Sox have three quality lefty starters and Santiago might make it four. That's not a commodity you want to trade.
Do Jed and Theo feel as if they are on schedule, ahead of schedule, or behind schedule in the rebuild. In my opinion, I think it seems to be a little ahead. Any possibility of a big name signing or trade this off season?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
If you read the Tribune's story with Epstein today, it appears he feels he still has a long ways to go. Therefore plugging in big-name free agents this winter does not seem likely.
Zac Schwartz (Elkhart, IN)
Does Vitters or Jackson get moved in a package deal? Maybe a change of scenery helps them out.....I just don't see them doing big things on the North Side
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
I think Jackson's market value is at an all-time low. Moving them for the sake of moving them doesn't make sense to me. I know for a fan it just clears their mind, but you need warm bodies in the minors whether they are producing or not. Not every player is going to be the next Mike Schmidt or Willie Mays.
Bruce, do you think the Sox starting Peavy this weekend is in hopes showcasing him before the deadline? Seems like under other circumstances they might bring him back a little more slowly
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I think they feel that Peavy is a pretty durable guy. There was nothing wrong with his arm. It was all in the ribcage. Once that is healed he should be good to go. And yes, I think he will be a prime candidate for a trade. He pretty much said he wants to be traded to a contender and I don't blame him.
How many more years to the cubs have control of Samardzija after this one? What type of contract do you think he should get from the cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Samardzija has two more years of arbitration after this year. I'm not sure how much money he should get. You want him to be consistently accomplishing things but some of that is hard to analyze by the W-L record. I think if the ERA stays at 3.50, which it is not at now, and he throws 200 innings rather easily, I wouldn't be afraid of a four- or five-year deal. If Edwin Jackson is making $13 million, what do you think Samardzija should make?
Do you think Beckham could be traded? Beckham and Rios to the Pirates for prospects would make sense.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
I don't see him getting traded. I don't think his value is as high as people in Chicago think it is. He's just evolving into the hitter he might become. The new crouch has really served him well as far as making consistent hard contact. Run production is another matter.
Jack (Crystal Lake)
Are the Cubs better than their record shows considering how many losses have come from their terrible bullpen? And are the Sox as bad as their record indicates?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
What your record is indicates what you really are. The Cubs have earned nine games under .500 only by having a very good rotation at times. Even though they are better than they were last year, no one is throwing a parade for a team nine games under .500. The Sox have earned their awful record by playing a lot of stupid baseball. They would be the first to tell you that. Awful defensive decisions and maybe the worst baserunning team in baseball have earned them 55 losses at the break. I feel bad for the manager and the staff because they work very hard with these guys. Ultimately they will pay the price just like the players will.
Can you explain the success of ex White Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon? It defies logic that he's doing so well.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Not known to many people, Colon is a very hard worker. His size makes him seem not very athletic but that is not the case. Are we suspicious of why he is this good? Yes, especially with a recent PED suspension, but take nothing away from his competitiveness. He's pitching very well at an advanced age. I'm not smart enough to tell you whether he is using drugs. That said I just have to take the performance for what it is. One side note, PED users are among the hardest working guys in sports. The old anabolic steroid users had to work out a lot just to keep their mojo going and yes, they had extra strength from the drugs to do it.
Any chance Sox would consider a monster deal for Sale like some columnists have suggested they should?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
I highly doubt you're going to trade one of the best young pitchers in baseball. I believe we broke a story in spring training that he signed a long-term deal. Why would you want to trade him?
Mari IL [via mobile]
I know there is alot of hype around the cubs rebuilding efforts and i wanted to know your opinion on it and will they be contending sooner than expected
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I believe everybody has bought into Epstein's and Hoyer's plan. I'm not sure everyone believes they'll be successful, because the only way those young players will do well is to augment them with free agents.
i noticed on an earlier question you posted that castro would be playing for the phillies in 2015 but a few weeks ago you stated that he is part of the long term plan. what changed?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
I don't believe Castro is necessarily a player they're going to build around. He has a lot of baseball skills but he's not at this point a talented shortstop. Let's give this hypothesis, if he's a left fielder and he's hitting 12 home runs and driving in 70, how important is he to your future? Now, if he's a quality SS and putting up those numbers he can be a cornerstone. That's the difference in looking at a guy like Castro from position to position.
Paul (St. Louis)
Do you know if the Cubs are serious players for Cuban pitchers, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Dalier Hinojosa?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I heard they're in the mix but not sure if they'll sign.
Jay [via mobile]
Any chance Baez trade bait?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Don't see any reason to trade someone who can be a special offensive player for the next decade. What's the upside? Don't people agree his bat speed is as good as any in baseball?
Bruce, you seem to be a proponent of keeping Nate Schierholtz around. Given that he's only signed to a one year contract, why not try to get some value from him now rather than bidding for him on the open market?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
I'm of the mindset you sign him to a team-favorable extension and then you have valuable veteran players to put around your young players. I think part of Rizzo and Castro's growth will be based on hitters around them in the lineup. They did a very good job of identifying Schierholz as a decent player, why back away now? It's not like he'll bring 2-3 awesome prospects. To me he's more valuable to hold onto.
Anthony (Des Moines)
Bruce, what if Castro is a 2nd Baseman putting up those numbers?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Those would be great numbers for a 2b. Proving my point that players are looked at differently based on position. If you're a SS you have to play butt-kicking defense.
Joe (ar) [via mobile]
How many all-stars do the cubs send in 2014? Will we finally have 2
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
You could have as many as three. I think Castillo is still a developing All-Star caliber catcher, Rizzo and one of the starting pitchers should be a candidate.
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
I don't mean to exclude Castro, but he has to prove he can hit like this for more than just a week.
Bill (Seattle) [via mobile]
If the Cubs made a good enough offer, could they get Jurickson Profar from the Rangers?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I'm told no.
You don't see the upside in trading Baez for some proven major league talent like David Price or Stanton?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
That's a different premise. If you tell me the deal, I would listen to offers for anybody. Baez could be as special or moreso than Stanton. What's the rush. Not like they're close to a championship, and those two players are for teams close to winning. Give the Cubs' farm system a chance to develop.
Horacio (Park Ridge )
Is there any chance the Cubs make a trade for Giancaro Stanton from the Marlins. Seems like the Marlins dont want to pay players now.
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Stanton scares me because he's been injured too often. He has scary power, for sure, but hard to project him staying healthy any given season.
Monte Waterloo, Ia [via mobile]
I am 60 years old and went to my first Cubs game 52 years ago. Will I ever see a Wprld Series at Wrigley?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
You may have a chance around 2018.
Do you really think it's more likely Castro is a Phillie than a Cub in 2015? or just on another team in general?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Someone just asked me to pose a wild guess. That's all it was. I'm just staying another big market will probably make a play if the Cubs decided to trade. Philly will be losing their SS more than likely by that time.
What do you attribute the increase bat activity and OBP. with Castro lately? Better approach, seeing the ball better? etc....Thanks Brrrruuuuuccccceeee
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
He's looking for the fastball. So he's gone back to his old approach of see ball, hit ball. It sounds simplistic but he was just getting too busy on breaking balls and now he's sitting on them.
The Cubs have been playing well lately is this a sign of improvement or will the Cubs tumble after the trade deadline?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
The easy answer is they'll probably get worse if they continue to trade pieces away, but so far that hasn't been the case. Villanueva has pitched well in Feldman's spot. The bullpen is going to be key as to whether they'll be better. The pen has a chance to be much worse if Gregg is traded and they start to develop a new closer. That's just part of the player development process.
What are the chances Arismendy Alcantara is the Cubs starting 2B at the start of next year?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
I don't know about next season but they're very high on him. He's done exceedingly well. A promotion in September might be possible.
My only concern for this season as we are still in a rebuilding process is what do you think are the chances for the following, a Winning Record or at the very least less than 100 losses?
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
As you start to get young, developing players, the record should start getting better. Right now don't see anyone in the major league level other than Castro, Rizzo and Castillo that you can necessarily project for being on the roster next year. If my assumption is true than they have a heck of a lot more work to do.
Dean (Glen Ellyn) [via mobile]
Do you think the Cubs opening day pitcher is on the roster now, on another team, or developing in the minors?
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
I think it's Samardzija or Wood. Right now, you'd have to say Wood has moved ahead for time being.
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
ESPNBruceLevine on Twitter, we'll keep you posted. Thanks for the questions.