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October 13, 1:00 PM ET
Talk baseball with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:00 PM)

Hello everyone, welcome to the chat room. Let's get going.

Chris (Gilberts)

Bruce, I've heard a lot of "should do's" as far as the Cubs' offseason is concerned. What in your opinion is a "must do"? Thanks Bruuuuuuuuuuuce!

Bruce Levine
  (1:01 PM)

Must-do is more outfield production. The Cubs have been chasing outfield RBI production since Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou left, unfortunatley for Jim Hendry, he's thrown money at Fukudome and Bradley over the last two years without any real production coming back.

Justin (Bolingbrook)

Any chance the Cubs are looking at Mike Cameron to play center next season? He shouldn't be too expensive and his glove hasn't declined.

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

Cameron may be a fall-back plan for the Cubs, but at age 37, Cameron's best years are behind him. The OF doesn't run as well as he used to, doesn't cover as much ground, and more importantly he strikes out at too high a ratio.

David C (Tucson)

So do the Cubs finally pull in a leadoff hitter this offseason?

Bruce Levine
  (1:04 PM)

It would be nice to think so. Chone Figgins appears to be the top leadoff man in free agency. Figgins will have his choice of any number of teams, including the White Sox, Cubs and his own team, the Angels. Figgins will be asking for at least four years, and probably $40 million. At 32, although he stole 42 bases this season, he was thrown out a major-league high 17 times. That's something to watch for in a speed player.

Andrew (CHI)

Hi Bruce, Do you see Kenny Williams pulling off one more big move this offseason?

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

Kenny will most likely decline the option for Jermaine Dye, meaning the team will be looking for a power hitter, preferably from the left side. Because of economic constraints, it appears the Sox payroll will be around $95M in 2010. Therefore, Williams' best avenue to get better will be via trade. Bobby Jenks going from $5M to most likely $7M in arbitration is a likely candidate to get moved.

Mike (chicago)

Is Aramis Ramirez going to have surgery on his shoulder? If not, is the chance of a relapse high, medium, or low?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

Very good question. This year was the third time that his right shoulder popped out. Ramirez at this point told me he's going to continue to rehab the muscles around the shoulder and avoid an operation that would not guarantee the shoulder not popping out again and would take 4 months to rehab after surgery.

Ryan (Chicago)

The Burrell for Bradley rumor won't seem to go away. If the Cubs are able to make this move, do they plan on trading Burrell to another team? The Cubs with an outfield of Soriano, Fukudome, and Burrell would be the worst in the league defensively. If that were the case, they should have gotten Adam Dunn a year ago.

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

The Cubs outfield as it stands is already way below average defensively. Burrell has a contract for $9M next year. He would be most likely traded since he is a below-average LF with a below-average arm and would not be a candidate to play right field. Unfortunately for the Cubs, the NL doesn't have a DH.

JIm (Naperville)

The assumption is that Bradley will be moved this off-season but how about Fukodome as well. With the obvious desire for another RBI bat in the line-up right field is the only real option. I know Fukodome is a Gold Glove caliber right fielder but he has shown a lack of RBI production and unless you can find RBI production from second base or center field, it seems like Fukodome may be the odd man out.

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

Unfortunately for the Cubs, not a lot of people are looking for OFs who hit .260 and drive in 50 runs. The Cubs have to face the reality that Fukudome will be part of their team for the next two seasons. His best position is RF where he is an above-average fielder. He proved this year that CF was not his strength. The best solution for the Cubs is go after a CF via trade or free agency if and when they can move Bradley's contract.

ben (omaha)

who will take of the DH spot for the chicago whitesoxs in 2010?

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

That question is open to debate among White Sox management. Due to Quentin's plantar fascitis, there is a temptation to leave the DH spot open as a rotation for him, Konerko and possibly even Podsednik, if the team decides to bring him back as a free agent. The Sox were not totally closed to the idea of bringing Jim Thome back as a DH, however it would impede these other options.

Kyle (Chicago)

Any truth (to what seems a crazy rumor) of a Northside/Southside swap of Aces? Big Z for Big P?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

It's a fascinating rumor that has been floating around since September. According to some sources, the Sox first broached the issue with the Cubs when they were unsure of what Peavy was going to bring to the table. Since Peavy's last two outings were extremely impressive, that type of deal will probalby not be discussed again. Keep in mind both pitchers have complete no-trade clauses, although it didn't stop Peavy from being traded to the Sox.

Travis (Chicago)

The White Sox and Cubs (and many other teams) are sure to be interested in Figgins this coming off-season. Does either team have a realistic shot of bringing him to Chicago?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

Figgins obviously would fit nicely into either team's plans. Both teams are pretty desperate for a leadoff man who scores runs, and gets on base a lot. Figgins was 2nd in the league in runs and had an OBP of .395, something both teams need desperately. As to whether they have the kind of money or sizzle to attract Figgins remains to be seen.

Rob (St. Anne)

Bruce, do you have any idea who Kenny will be looking to put in the bullpen next season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

If Williams trades Jenks, his main goal will be to get a run producer back or a couple of young arms that Dr. Don Cooper can bring along in the pen, much like he did Matt Thornton, who would take over the closer's role if Jenks is used in a trade. The bullpen was a disappointment for the Sox at the end of '09, aging vets like Linebrink and Dotel will not be counted on in '10, although Linebrink is under contract for 2 more years at a total of $10M (Dotel is a free agent. The Cubs may have some interest).

Tim (Chicago)

How much power does Lou Piniella have in player personnel decisions? I ask because he didn't like Weurtz which led to his unfortunate trade to Oakland.

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

Less than you might think. Lou is well respected by Hendry and his hierarchy, but going into a lame-duck season for the manager, the direction for where the team will go as far as player personnel will probably start with new owner Tom Ricketts in conjunction with chairman Crane Kenney and Hendry. Lou was an integral part of the signing of Soriano and Bradley.

Kevin (Mt. Prospect)

Bruce, do you think sometime next year we will be talking about some of the young outfield prospects, Danks or Mitchell being on the sox if Podsednik leaves via free agency, or if Quentin can't stay healthy?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

Acccording to the people I talk to, Mitchell is goign to need at least one year in the minors. The only area they're concerned with is the swing-and-miss nature of his game. Everythign else is major-league caliber. Danks is playing in the Az fall league and may have a shot at making the team out of spring training.

Steve (Naperville)

When the Rickets sale is complete, any idea on when the Cubs and Rickets were thinking about building the complex across the street with the parking structure, underground batting cages, and retail space?

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

The triangle building is what you're referring to. That plan has been sliced and diced over the last 10 years. The plan itself would probably be somehwhere around $100M. According to my source,s that type of building would go along in conjunction with the restoration of Wrigley Field, which in general is planned to be in place by 2014 when Wrigley Field will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Eddie (Northbrook)

Hi Bruce. Both teams missed out on Bobby Abreau last season, and he turned out to be a great addition to the Angels. Do you think Cubs or Sox will look at Abreau after the postseason. I believe he is a free agent.

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

Abreau signed a one-year deal with the Angels and will be a free agent. If he continues to drive the Angels toward an AL penant, there's no reason to think that owner Artie Moreno would not throw out a long-term contract for this important player. Working against Abreau is the fact he's 37, although there's no apparent downhill slope in his game.

Chris (Chicago)

Is Adam Dunn an option for the Cubs??? He crushes at Wrigley.

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

No. Dunn's defense, lack of footspeed and propensity for strikeouts outweighs his OBP and home-run ability, according to people I've talked to at Clark and Addison.

Craig G. (Fairfield, California)

Hey Bruce, I first discovered you on the Waddle and Silvy show a few years back and have been following your work ever since. Ozzie is my favorite manager in baseball. Do you think his honesty with the media is good for the game?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

Ozzie is a brilliant tactician as far as handling the media. He sits for an hour and 15 min before every game, filling up all the reporters' notebooks with information about him and the team. This is invaluable for a modern manager to have as part of his arsenal. By the time Ozzie is done with the media, they have more than enough info for that day and usually don't bother the players in the clubhouse after batting practice is over. This is a true function of a manager protecting and relaxing his players.

Nick (SoCal)

Is there anything in the Cubs farm system that could be a fit for the Cubs issues in the outfield?

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

Outfielder Tyler Colvin who came up at the end of '09 doesn't really appear to be an impact player. It's uncanny that the Cubs have not been able to develop an OF of any impact in almost 20 years. Their best prospect is SS Winston Castro who probably needs just one more years of minor-leauge ball.

Tim (Chicago)

If Alex Rios has another poor season in 2010 do you think Kenny Williams will be on the hot seat with Reinsdorf? That's a lot of money for a guy with average at best production.

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

Mistakes are made every day by MLB GMs. Even the very best like Boston's Theo Epstein has made monumentally disastrous signs. Consider Julio Luogo's 4 year, $38M contract that the Red Sox basically had to eat. Ned Colletti has done a super job with L.A. getting them to second round of the playoffs two years in a row, giving Andruw Jones two year, $36M and Jones was a total bust. Give Rios one more year to prove he's not what Kenny thinks he is.

John (Niles)

Who is the Cubs best option as the fifth starter? Samardzija? Gorzelanny? Or do they look into to free agency?

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

I really wouldn't mind as a baseball fan watching the Cubs go after a veteran like John Smoltz to bolster that fifth starter's role. At the very least, his professionalism and leadership would be a much welcome part of joining the team.

Frank (Chicago)

Even though Gordon Beckham had a pretty good season defensively at third, what position will he ultimately play at?

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

The Sox believe they have the next Brooks Robinson at third right now. They adjustments that Beckham made to a position he never played were truly remarkable to the Sox coaching staff. Beckham's your 3B for the next 10 years.

Gabriel (Chicago)

Please tell me the Cubs will NOT resign mike fontenot, aaron Miles, aaron heilman, and Kevin Gregg? We really need a second basemen also. In addition, how do you think Gio Soto will bounce back in 2010?

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

Miles is under contrat for 1 more year at $2.7M. That will be a difficult one for the Cubs to eat. I can't imagine him coming back and being any worse than he was this season. Soto is still considered the team's starting catcher, although the Cubs will look for a stronger backup than Koyie Hill, who did a terrific job defensively, but is not the offensive batter as a backup. Heilman most likely will be used in a trade scenario. Fontenot does not have much value on the open market and will most likely not be back.

John (SoCal)

Any chance the Cubs bring back DeRosa?

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

It would be a popular move, but at age 35 and waiting for a wrist surgery in the offseason, it's unknown to baseball people what he maight bring to the party in 2010. Certainly from the point of view from PR and team chemistry, it would be a popular sign. DeRosa told me last year he would come back in a minute if the situation were right.

Noah (Chicago)

Is Ozzie's job at all on the line? I feel 2009 was such a dissapointment because the team definately had 90 win potential

Bruce Levine
  (1:38 PM)

Ozzie's the manager of the Sox for as long as Jerry Reinsdorf is the owner and Kenny Williams is the GM. It's been a successful management team, one that Reinsdorf wants to be his last.

Eric (Chicago)

There was some talk last year that Alexi could be converted to an outfielder, do you see that as a possibility or have you heard anything about that?

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

Both Ozzie and Joey Cora believe Ramirez's turnaround in the second half shows that he has the potential to be an All-Star at that position for many years to come. Both Ozzie and Joey told me their infield going into next year is set with Beckham, Ramirez, Gets and Konerko.

Nick (Athens)

Who is worse Milton Bradley or Steve Bartman?

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

Bradley. At least Bartman is known to be able to do his job and show up every day for work.

Jim (Munster)

Any chance a Bradley for Dye trade?

Bruce Levine
  (1:40 PM)

Dye most likely is a free agent. Dye has a $12M player option. The Sox hold a $1M buyout, which they probably wil opt to use. The Cubs will not hesitate looking at Dye as a short-term solution.

Chris (Chicago)

Does Soariano have a comeback year or is it more steady decline from here? He was never an RBI guy and cannot hit in situations so where do you stick him in a lineup that needs both?

Bruce Levine
  (1:42 PM)

Soriano is a fifth or sixth hitter for the rest of his five year commitment to the Cubs. He told me on the last day of the season he was going to work extremely hard at building his core muscles with a personal trainer during the offseason. He was embarrassed by this season and is out to prove it was just a fluke.

Joel (Highland, Indiana)

As well as Scotty Pods played last year why wouldn't the Sox want to bring him back? How are they a better team without him?

Bruce Levine
  (1:43 PM)

At age 34, with below average defensive skills, and continued baserunning lapses, the Sox aren't sure he's the answer. Even for the near future. He probably would be a nice fallback plan for the Sox if they can sign him to a reasonable one year deal with an option.

Gerry (Des Plaines)

The cubs were full of underachievers in '09, with the exception of the starting pitching and Derek Lee. Where do you think the cubs most need to improve? (other than Bradley) Do you think they will stick to their guns or come out in '10 with a completely new, younger, look?

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

No team is successful without a strong up the middle offense and defense. The Cubs only had one strong player in Theriot in that configuration. They need to upgrade at CF, 2B and get a bounceback year from Soto to have an impact in the NL Central.

Reach (bloomington, mn)

What does the future for D-Lee hold? Also, how happy are the Sox about not having to ever go back to the Metrodome?

Bruce Levine
  (1:46 PM)

Lee has one year left on his contract at around $13M. After a bounceback year, it would probably be smart to sign him to a short-term extension, since there's no 1B of any signficance in their minor leauge system. The Sox hated the Metrodome basically becuase they didn't have the type of players to compete in that quirky building. I don't hink they'll enjoy playing outside in 30 degree weather in April and Sept., any more than the Twins players will at the new Target Field.

Tim (Chicago)

Do you believe Hendry will be on solid ground with Ricketts? I doubt Ricketts will be happy his first move will be eating Milton Bradley's contract.

Bruce Levine
  (1:47 PM)

Hendry has 3 years left, which Ricketts as well as the other prospective buyers all signed off on last year at this time when he received the deal. In this day and age in sports in big markets like Chicago, nobody is safe if you have a few bad seasons in a row.

esteban (austin tx)

witht he additions the sox made do they have a real chance of winning it all next year

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

On paper, the Sox rotation should be as strong as any in the AL Central. Detroit will continue to have a good rotation and the Twins' young pitchers have developed. The key will be to find one more run producer and solidify their bullpen.

SteveFitz (Cicero, IL)

I'm sorry Bruce, but I not not agree that Theriot is strong up the middle. He doesn't get to a lot of balls other SS do and his lack of arm strength cost the Cubs pitchers baserunners at times. Can't they move him to 2B and upgrade at SS?

Bruce Levine
  (1:50 PM)

I agree with you that Theriot will be better off at 2B. The number of SS available through free agency and trade will most liely be minimal. Theriot gives you everything he has defensively. But like you, I believe he's not what you want for an everyday SS if you have a better choice.

Jack (Chicago)

I kind of have some doubts about the Allen for Pena deal, in my opinion, pena is replacable, but allen looks to be tearing it up in arizona, what do you think bruce?

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

If you watched Allen's first games you saw him hit a lot of home runs and drive the ball. The last few weeks of the season they were getting him out pretty easily with breaking stuff. Pena certainly has the arm to get the job done. He showed some flashes late of potentially being the set-up man the Sox need. He needs to be more consistent and have better focus.

Gavin (Chicago)

Hey Bruce what do you expect from Randy Wells next year? Can he be a productive 4th or 5th starter without plus "stuff"?

Bruce Levine
  (1:52 PM)

Wells was the surprise of the '10 Cubs season. If you look back at his starts, he was most successufl when he was not walking people. There's no reason to think he won't be a decent 4th or 5th starter for the Cubs. But I wouldn't put him in that 15-win range at this point. He needs to show he can do it again next season.

Chad (chicago)

Chicago loves you Bruce! You're on point! Is it me or was Lou P. too quiet this season? Cubs players need a kick like the years before

Bruce Levine
  (1:54 PM)

I believe picked up something interesting from Lou's change in demeanor. Piniella was shocked at the lack of production early in the season, and it took him a good 6 weeks to adjust to the fact that this team wasn't going to score runs like the '08 team did. Give him and Rothschild credit for managing to win 83 games with an offense that finished 10th in runs scored in the NL.

DMK1980 (Florida)

what are the posibilities Jermaine Dye leaves the Sox ?

Bruce Levine
  (1:55 PM)

I would say 90 percent that he'll be gone. This was the 2nd year in a row that he faded in the second half. Just to go back and document, in '08 Dye failed to homer in his last 94 at-bats. Two years in a row is proof enough, even to the White Sox who love Dye that it's time to move on without him.

Tim (Chicago)

What is the plan for Tyler Flowers next season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:56 PM)

Most likely is Flowers will back up A.J. and get some valuable on-the-job training from one of the best pros in the game. Pierzynski was invaluable to Beckham during spring training, lockering next to him and helping him learn what it means to be a major-leauge player, which included taking a lot of garbage from A.J.

John (Hoffman estates)

Is Baker the 2b starter next year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:57 PM)

No Baker is the backup at 2b and 3b. He was a very positive addition to a team that needed him months before the trade was made with Colorado.

John (Chicago)

Is Gregg coming back?

Bruce Levine
  (1:57 PM)

He's a free agent and most likely will not be back.

Tom (ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL)

If the Sox were really serious about contending next year, wouldn't it make sense to get Chone Figgins at any cost?

Bruce Levine
  (1:59 PM)

If you're a Sox fan, convince your friends and neighbors to buy season tickets so that Kenny and company can have the type of payroll that will support going after yet another high-profile free agent. Give the Sox props for going deep in their pockets for both Peavy and Rios.

jesse (atlanta)

any possibility of tajada to cubs next year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:59 PM)

That's an interesting name. He had a terrific year this year. But if you're looking for a one-year at short, till Castro is ready to play, Orlando Cabrera might be a better choice.

Craig G. (Fairfield, California)

Hey Bruce, do you only cover baseball? Are there any non-mainstream sports or teams you'd like to cover?

Bruce Levine
  (2:01 PM)

I've covered the Bears for 15 years as well as the Bulls for 25. If I had one beat I'd like to cover for one year, it would women's tennis.

Bruce Levine
  (2:01 PM)

Thanks for all of your questions. Come back at this time next week.