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January 26, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

ESPN Chicago
  (1:03 PM)

Bruce will be here in a moment to take your questions ....

Moderator
  (1:22 PM)

Sorry guys, Bruce is tied up with the breaking news that the Cubs and Xavier Nady have agreed on a one-year deal, pending a physical.

Moderator
  (1:24 PM)

Bruce will be here in approximately five minutes. Thanks for your patients. News always seems to break during Bruce's chats.

Moderator
  (1:24 PM)

Did I really write patients? Patience.

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

Good afternoon. Sorry for the late start due to the Xavier Nady agreement with the Cubs, pending a physical. I'm sure you Sox fans have a lot to talk about too, so let's go.

Justin K. (Wausau, WI)

I've been a big fan of Xavier Nady for a long time. Do you see Nady overtaking Fukudome as the starter in right field as the season wears on?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

It could happen, but it's kind of apples and oranges right now. Fukudome is a top-of-the-order, set-the-table type player. Nady is an RBI man. Unless the Cubs get somebody elseo to hit first or second in the order, I don't see Fukudome being benched.

Pathik (Chicago)

Any idea how much the Cubs are paying Nady?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

It's a one-year deal for somewhere between $3 million and $4.5 million. We'll know more when the doctors have seen Nady.

Justin (Chicago)

Bruce, now that the Sox have said that they will not be offering Thome a deal, do you feel confident with the rotation of the DH position? Who is most likely to see a lot of time there? Will Quentin get some looks there due to his history of injuries?

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

They're hoping Quentin is a full-time right fielder. They need to establish him in that position. Neither Jones or Kotsay is a full-time player any longer. I'm not sure, production wise, if those are going to get it done.

Greg M (Chicago)

What's the over/under on seasons until Milton Bradley is asked to leave the state of Washington? 1?

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

My guess is Fall.

Keith (Gurnee, IL)

The Ricketts family continues to be unimpressive. Jim Hendry continues to sign mediocre (or worse) players. Why can't the Cubs eat their mistakes and make the right signings for this team?

Bruce Levine
  (1:33 PM)

When either the Steinbrenner family or John Henry is running the Cubs, you'll see them spending through their mistakes.

Bruce Levine
  (1:33 PM)

Until then, this owner has a $25M obligation every year to pay his note on the ownership.

reza (san jose california)

hey bruce why didnt the cubs add depth to starting pitching ? i feel wells mght have a sophomore jinx silva is mediocre at best marshall and grozellany are hit and miss at best

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

I don't disagree with you on any of your evaluations. Money constraints continue to hold the team back from being able to add. I don't blame the Ricketts or Hendry. Prior upper management were the ones who dictated large, free-agent signings to Hendry.

Tony (Chicago, IL)

Bruce, do you see the huge hole at second base that I do? Where is the talk about Orlando Hudson (Great clubhouse guy, solid hitter, can steal bases)? Any chance?

hudoba (chicago)

Coming off Tommy John surgery, how much OF can we expect the Xman to play? Seems like the american league may have been a better fit. That being said, I'm happy to have him.

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

This is the answer for the previous question: Hudson still is asking something like $8M per year. I'd put my money on Theriot being the starting 2b on Opening Day, with a good shot for Castro to make the team out of spring training.

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

As for Nady, remember Lou Piniella loves offense. And if there's any struggle to score runs early in the season, you can bet your bottom dollar that Nady will be in the lineup.

Brian (Chicago)

Bruce, I am not sure that passing on Thome was the right move for the sox... I think its going to bite them in the butt... its not a bad move to sign a guy like that for a limited roll. Its not like Kotsay and Jones will be flying around the base paths.

Bruce Levine
  (1:38 PM)

Here's the thing about Thome, he's a very slow starter. April and May have been brutal for him over the last couple of years. Ultimately his goal is to hit 600 home runs. He's not going to get that shot with the White Sox. He's better off signing with someone like Tampa, which can offer him at-bats.

Gibboney (chicago)

Was their any effort to acquire Rick Ankiel? It's a risk, but a cheap one. They seem to have been be after a centerfielder, who hits for power and is a lefty for some time. Seems like a logical fit.

Bruce Levine
  (1:40 PM)

They couldn't promise Ankiel regular playing time after they signed Byrd. I liked the idea of Ankiel as well. He might be the best OF defensively who was available. His .233 average last year made him suspect offensively.

Mike (Chicago)

Bruce, I can stand the idea of the sox DH changing every 3 days. Its not a video game that doesnt work. Thome will sign with another team soon, so what do the sox due before the season starts when they figure that out? who do the sign?

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

I always like the idea of another left-handed hitting RBI type guy. Hank Blalock and Carlos Del Gado are guys who can play in the field and subsequently can be added to the mix. Thome was not that type of player.

Jeff (Schaumburg)

Now that Hendry has solidified the outfield, What are the chances that the Cubs make an offer to Ben Sheets to improve the rotation especially with Lilly out for awhile?

Bruce Levine
  (1:42 PM)

I think the Cubs are out of money at this point. Any other deals would have to be trades.

Justin (Chicago)

Bruce, any truth to the rumor of Thome signing in Minnesota? I'd hate to see him come to the southside that many times a year as an opponent.

Bruce Levine
  (1:43 PM)

Honestly I don't see how he fits with the Twins. They already have 3 strong, left-handed RBI guys in Mauer, Kubel and Morneau. To me, he doesn't fit there.

Josh (Champaign)

Now that nady is onboard, what is the next move the cubs make?

Bruce Levine
  (1:43 PM)

Jim Hendry will turn his attention to solidifying the bullpen. I've mentioned their interest in Luke Gregerson of the Padres and Jason Frasor of the Blue Jays. The Padres deal would seem to be more realistic at this point.

Len (decatur,illinois)

it's a very good day in chicago..glad to see they have agreed in principle with nady.have you heard if they are still interested in calero?

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

Haven't heard his name for a while. There are some physical red flags with Colero, and again the Cubs don't appear to have money to spend after they get through signing Nady.

Eric (Chicago)

Bruce, Sheets signed a one-year $8mil deal with Oakland...Cubs aren't going to get him and Oakland better hope he doesn't get injured again. How about a backup 3rd baseman in Chad Tracy? I know he's a FA.

Bruce Levine
  (1:45 PM)

You must have a pretty good source. I've heard that deal is very realistic. It may happen this week.

Ted (Milwaukee)

Sheets to the A's for $8 million. Maybe everyone can stop whining for him now.

Bruce Levine
  (1:47 PM)

$8M for a pitcher who hasn't thrown since 2008 and has been on the DL five times since 2001 is a big gamble for me. His upside is great, but Billy Beane always gets these pitchers not to win but to be able to trade them for younger guys in June or July. Just be glad Beane isn't your GM.

Gary (Atlanta,GA)

Why isn't Garland being looked at as a healthy alternative to Garcia as the 5th starter?

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

The Cubs actually had some interest in Garland, who signed with them before being traded to the Sox for Karchner. I'm a Garland fan, even though he's had a couple of down seasons. Sox are happy with Garcia, backed up by Daniel Hudson.

Doug (Northside)

Have you heard anything about Carlos Silva's weight? I know he's had problems in that area.

Bruce Levine
  (1:49 PM)

More concerned with him being able to throw when he comes into spring training. Anything he does for the Cubs will be a plus. Maybe being around friend and countryman Carlos Zambrano will help.

Artie (Monte Cristo, CO)

Does the Nady signing affect the leadoff situation?

Bruce Levine
  (1:49 PM)

Not really. Somebody has to lead off, other than Theriot and Fukodome, I don't see that guy right now. Even if Castro makes the team, to put him at the top of the order will be too much pressure for the 20-year-old rookie.

Scott (Chicago)

Does the Nady signing change anything for Sam Fuld? Will Fuld be on the opening day roster?

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

It could affect him. It's a numbers game, but the Cubs have to have some speed, some left-handed hitting. The two players who could be impacted are Fontenot and Hoffpauir. Before you say anything, I know Fontenot is penciled in as the starting 2B, but he has a lot to prove in spring training to Piniella andhis staff. Hoffpauir may be on the bubble, because Nady can play first base.

Greg (At Wok, IL)

Just to clarify, you are saying that the Cubs might be signing Chad Tracy as a 3rd Base backup? I thought Baker was going to be that for them and that they had no more money to spend?

Bruce Levine
  (1:52 PM)

Think left-handed. Also think about the fact if they do sign him, it most likely will be a minor-league contract. Also if he replaces a guy like Hoffpauir, you will not have to spend the money you'd put forward toward his contract.

Dan (Wilson)

What do you expect from Rios this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:53 PM)

I can only tell you Ozzie said he expects 20 HRs and 50 stolen bases. That means Ozzie will have his guys running like crazy. First things first, he has to get on base. He hit .180 for the Sox.

Alex (Cleveland)

Hmmmmm, Sheets at $8 mil or Soriano at $16 mil and Fukudome at $11 mil. Yeah, thank goodness we don't have Billy Beane, we'd have $8 mil burning a hole in our pocket to sign a pitcher.

Bruce Levine
  (1:54 PM)

You can have Beane and his "We'll compete sometime in 2015 attitude." I'd rather have a GM who tries to win every year. Thanks for your input.

Jorge (San Juan, PR)

Bruce, besides Grabow, how is going to be cubs primary righthanded setup man?

Bruce Levine
  (1:55 PM)

Well right now, on this team, you have to look at Jeff Gray and Caridad Esmailin. He only pitched in Sept. but he looked good. But Gregerson or Frasor would be better.

Dae Eun (Seoul)

What do you think of Hak-Ju Lee's future, especially comparison with Starlin Castro. Do you think he can be a good defender at SS in MLB? In addition, Chan-Ho Park to Cubs - good move or not? Thanks.

Bruce Levine
  (1:58 PM)

No money for Park. His agent is asking $3.5 to $4M right now. Lee had some outstanding numbers at Boise last year, hitting .330, stealing 25 bases in just 264 at-bats. Strikeouts remain a problem for Lee, but he's certainly on a fast track to move up in the organization.

steve (Chicago ridge)

Brett Jackson or Jared Mitchell?

Bruce Levine
  (1:59 PM)

I like both. I think the Cubs and Sox made good picks. Mitchell may have more upside because of his athleticism. Jackson is more of a finished product. Both should be playing in the majors at some point.

Chad W. (Wakarusa, IN)

What are the Padres asking for to get Gregerson? Come on Jim go get that right-hander we need and another starter why you're at it, Soriano isn't getting any younger.

Bruce Levine
  (2:00 PM)

The Padres have long expressed interest in Angel Guzman, who's in the mix for set-up man as well.

Matt (Indy)

Why does everyone seem to be giving up on Guzman? He did well last year late in games and of course had that injury problem toward the end of the year, but he was healthy for the majority of the season. With his relative inexpensiveness and talent why not him as the late inning set-up guy?

Bruce Levine
  (2:01 PM)

He seems to have Ben Sheets Disease, a propensity to be on the DL much more often than his bosses would prefer.He does have a great arm and good stuff, that's why other teams are interested.

Chuck (Chicago)

"Prior upper management were the ones who dictated large, free-agent signings to Hendry?" So you're saying that MacPhail

Bruce Levine
  (2:02 PM)

John McDonough and Crane Kenney were in charge of the team, and more importatnly, Sam Zell was the owner. The edict from Zell was spend a lot of money, try to win, so I can sell this team at the highest price possible. Anybody who tells you different is flat out wrong.

Hector (Lake Geneva)

If the Cubs make the playoffs this year will Pinella be offered an extension?

Bruce Levine
  (2:03 PM)

I think Piniella's future depends on the first couple months of the season. He is one manager who can turn things around in a bad year, like he did in 2007.

Travis (Chicago)

What will be the White Sox strategy regarding Jordan Danks this year?

Bruce Levine
  (2:04 PM)

Kenny Williams loves Danks and feels he's the starting OF of the future. It doesn't appear there will be a spot available on the major league team. He's best suited playing at Triple-A and waiting his turn when an injury occurs to one of the Sox outfielders.

Jeff (Louisville KY)

Hi Bruce. What Chicago starting pitcher (Cubs or Sox) will have the best season?

Bruce Levine
  (2:05 PM)

If you're going by the chalk, it's certainly the White Sox. They have some things to prove, too, Peavy has to show he can pitch through a season. And Buehrle only won two games after his July perfect game. Let's not give them the AL pennant quite yet. Still I like their rotation better than the Cubs' right now.

Dan (Lisle, Il.)

Can Juan Pierre steal 60 bases this year?

Bruce Levine
  (2:06 PM)

In the world of Ozzie ball, the answer is probably yes. The one thing about Pierre that Sox fans will like is his work ethic. He's a Chicago athlete, who knows how to get home well before midnight and be ready to play the next day. That's a bigger deal than you can imagine. Ask any of the proprieters on Rush St.

John Cena (WWE ring)

Bruce, why are the Cubs being cheap? Look I know they have the second or third higest payroll in the NL and Their payroll is about to reach its amount they set, but why not spent 10-12 million more on a couple of players. Mr. Ricketts and the Cubs should know they will get the money back with all the fans going to the games and when the Cubs make a run in October if they spend the money.

Bruce Levine
  (2:08 PM)

So far the Cubs haven't figured any way to get more than 3.2 million people in the park. They're going to sell that many tickets regardless. Mr. Ricketts wants to look at this baseball plan for at least a year before he commits to spending more money. Again, there's a chance of close to $50M coming off the books next year if Lilly, Ramirez and Lee choose to leave as free agents.

Matt (Chicago)

Would it make any sense to employ Baker as the 4th OF/ utility guy and signing either Hudson or Lopez for 2b? My point is that that the remaining 2b options are much more appealing than the remaining 4th OF candidates.

Bruce Levine
  (2:09 PM)

Whatever money the Cubs could have put toward another infielder will be spent tomorrow or Thursday when Nady passes his physical.

Greg (Lakeview)

Can the Ricketts family ban Ronnie Woo Woo from Wrigley Field? *please*!!

Bruce Levine
  (2:11 PM)

I'm not so sure we should ban Ronnie Woo Woo. We should definitely send the hat and uniform to a dry cleaner.

Jose (Milwaukee)

What are your thoughts on Randy Wells this year? Do you feel last year was a career year for him and batters will start to figure him out this year? Or do you still see room for improvement?

Bruce Levine
  (2:13 PM)

I like Wells and his attitude. I talked to him at the Cubs Convention. He's still hungry to prove he belongs in the majors as a starting pitcher. That type of attitude and command of his pitches will keep him there.

AP (Chicago)

Any further news on the Ricketts' plans for upgrading Wrigley Field for the 2010 season? I know they've planned on focusing on restrooms and concessions...but any other details? Thanks.

Bruce Levine
  (2:14 PM)

I believe there will be some announcements from the Cubs on areas of improvement. They've already started an extensive rehabilitiation project on the back end of hte scoreboard, facing Waveland and Sheffield. From what I've heard, there will be more announcements in the near future. Good question.

Zo (Southside)

If Rios turns out to be a bust; what are the Sox's options then?

Bruce Levine
  (2:15 PM)

If Rios is a bust, the Sox have four more years of contract to pay him. And the ability to put Pierre in center and Kotsay and Jones in a platoon in left. That's why Ozzie likes the flexibility of the team he has. Jordan Danks also is lying in wait.

Ryno (Chicago)

Bruce, should I be getting ready to manage the Cubbies next year after Lou fails to get them back to the playoffs?

Bruce Levine
  (2:16 PM)

You should get ready to manage for a Triple-A championship and do your due diligence. I like what you've done so far.

GPM (Chicago)

Are the Cubs worried about Soto losing some power after losing 40 lbs this winter? He needed to lose weight, but that seems a little crazy.

Bruce Levine
  (2:17 PM)

Catchers who lose a lot of weight are always suspect. And Soto was really an 8-hr type guy, before his breakout year in 2007. Let's wait and see what he brings to the party this spring.

Justin (Chicago)

How do you think Beckham at second will effect the double plays turned by the White Sox this year?

Bruce Levine
  (2:18 PM)

It might be a little slow at the beginning. Beckham's already been down to Camp Joey Core in Florida. One thing we've learned about Beckham is he's all about hard work. By May or June he'll already be an excellent 2B.

Adam (Schaumburg)

If Lilly, Ramirez and Lee leave, the Cubs are a AAA team.

Bruce Levine
  (2:19 PM)

They might be a Triple A team, but they'll also have $60M to spend on other players. The team never will drop below $120M again payroll wise. The Ricketts family didn't buy the team to lose.

Dore (Chicago)

Who's next in line to close if Marmol goes through another wild spell this year? I'm guessing I won't like your answer.

Bruce Levine
  (2:20 PM)

If the Cubs acquire a guy like Gregerson, don't count him out. The Chicago area native had 93 strikeouts in 69 innings. There's always another hungry guy out there looking for a chance to make good.

Todd (Wrigleyville)

Do you feel Jenks is worth the 1-year $7.5 million with a guy like Thornton around? And can Coop work his magic with Putz or have the injuries depleted him?

Bruce Levine
  (2:22 PM)

Putz is a very good sign for the Sox. I really like the idea of him signing. Thornton is best suited to be a setup man, one of the best in the game. The Sox bullpen on paper is solid, especially if Putz comes back. Coop's done his magic with a lot of guys, including Danks and Thornton, but with Putz it's not mechanical, its' physical.

Jason (chicago)

why don't the cubs go after a good speedster and defender in Upton from the Rays?

Bruce Levine
  (2:23 PM)

Not available. Thanks for asking. Maybe save your money for Carl Crawford, who will be a free agent after this season.

Justin (Wausau, WI)

Who would be theoretically available replacements if D-Lee and Aramis would leave next year?

Bruce Levine
  (2:24 PM)

Vitters is at least another year away, maybe more, and he's being projected more as a 1B than a 3B. But he would be one guy. The rest would be filled through free agency or trades.

Bruce Levine
  (2:25 PM)

Keep in mind the Ricketts family really loves Derrek Lee. And there's a possibility of him signing an extesion during the season.

Dan (Kentucky)

If Dempster has a really slow start to the season again and Marmol walks the bases with 12 straight balls, do you think Demp can be moved back into a closer roll? I think it makes sense.

Bruce Levine
  (2:25 PM)

Who's going to be the starting pitcher replacing Dempster? The Cubs are not paying him $12M a year to be the closer.

Bruce Levine
  (2:26 PM)

Thanks for your patience today after the Nady trade. Keep your eye on possible Cubs peripheral moves. Sox wise, don't count out the possibility of adding a left-handed bat at some juncture.