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March 12, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

ESPNChicago.com
  (1:03 PM)

Hey everybody. Bruce will be here in a minute or two.

ESPNChicago.com
  (1:10 PM)

Sorry for the delay guys. Bruce is just wrapping up with someone.

ESPNChicago.com
  (1:22 PM)

Folks, I'm really sorry. We are having a hard time tracking down Bruce and I don't want you to have to wait around. Since we already have some good questions, we'll use this same chat room on Tuesday and start with a bunch of these.

ESPNChicago.com
  (1:22 PM)

Again, really sorry for the cancellation. Enjoy the weekend!

ESPNChicago.com
  (1:27 PM)

Of course... as soon as I said that we found Bruce. What the heck -- let's do it.

Bruce Levine
  (1:27 PM)

Good morning. Sorry for the late start. At my age sometimes the sun gets to me. All prepared for all your Cubs and Sox questions -- and everything Torii Hunter.

Matt (Chicago )

What is the buzz on Sori in camp? During Saturday's game on tv, he looked very tentative in the field and he hit a couple of lazy pop-ups, which is all reminiscient of last year's sub-par campaign.

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

Your eyes did not deceive you. He has a slower bat coming into spring training than (I believe) even he anticipated. Soriano will be Rudy Jaramillo's MAJOR project during the season. Some of the players are a little slow in adjusting to Rudy's five-point plan, but he told me that was to be expected.

caleb (zion)

what do you think would happen if jones ends up being the better fit in center field? think theres no way he can take it from rios or what?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

Somehow, some way the best player ends up on the field. If Rios struggles offensively, Ozzie will find some way to get Jones into the lineup. But remember, Rios is an outstanding defense outfielder, probably with more range than Jones has at this point, and a key to the new "Ozzie Ball" the White Sox are going after -- good defense and winning a lot of one-run games.

Ryan (Darien, IL)

Bruce, is there any chance the Cubs and Indians can swap big contracts in a Kerry Wood for Carlos Siva deal?

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

Zero chance. There is still big money owed to both players, but Wood has a clause that kicks in at 55 games for the 2011 season at $10.5 million. That price of poker is way too high stakes for the Cubs at this point.

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

Let's add... Adding an aging starting pitcher like Silva wouldn't help the Indians beyond dumping a few dollars.

Brittany (Mt. Greenwood)

Hi Bruce,I love the starting pitching the Sox have, but how do you feel the bullpen is shaping up? Will it be hard to get the lead to Jenks and do you think Jenks will be the closer at the end of the year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

I'm not sure about Jenks at the end of the year, but I watched Putz and Thornton close-up yesterday. Putz's arm appears to be almost 100% back, throwing 92-93 and his splitter was falling off the table. Thornton is simply the most dominant left-handed bullpen pitcher in the AL. I wouldn't worry too much about their pen -- even Tony Pena is looking good.

Joe (Murph's basement)

Yo Bruce,How's the Cubs second baseman situation looking so far this spring? Who do you give the edge to heading into the season Fontenot or Baker?

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

Fontenot will get the most at-bats because he's left-handed and the pitchers are mostly right-handed. Fontenot has looked okay, but he also had a terrific spring last season before crapping out in the season.

Jeffrey Wilson (St. Johns, Antigua, West Indies)

Bruce! Do you buy all the press Fontenot is getting for his 'highlight' play at SS? I would rank Fontenot among the Cubs' worst middle IF defenders. Having Fontenot backup Theriot is a recipe for unearned runs, just put Castro at SS and Theriot at 2B, right?

Bruce Levine
  (1:36 PM)

I'm with you 100%. Your analysis of Fontenot is certainly accurate, but Castro needs just a little time to play in the minor leagues -- not a lot of time. Lou is in love with Castro (just talked to him this morning about him) and his sentiments are the same as what you said.

Biggy (Washington, NC)

Just HOW good does Castro have to be to break camp? Do you think they may be following the Rays' blueprint with Longoria to keep control of him later? I mean, he's been dynamic!

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

I don't think Hendry is worried about when Castro's major league time begins. Both he and Piniella know that they have to have a good year to remain GM and manager. They will not hold back. One caviat... Hendry will not rush a prospect just to save his job or Piniella's.

Derek (country club hills)

With the huge injury to joe nathan and the likelyhood that he will be sitting out this season, Does this completely shift the power of the al central to the white sox and twins? nathan was one of the top closers in the league i know the loss of his has to be big, right?

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

Who says the Twins won't go after Heath Bell? Remember there's a new philosophy, a new ballpark and they want to continue to sell lots of tickets in that outdoor stadium. The Twins have a lot of good young prospects, and San Diego would be more than happy to listen. Also, don't discount Jason Fraser of Toronto. The Cubs and White Sox both like him.

Doug (North of Wrigley)

Have Chad Tracy or Jeff Baker been taking some flyballs out in the OF?

Bruce Levine
  (1:40 PM)

Baker can play left in a pinch. That's not the direction this team is going. The Cubs would like a better defensive outfielder. Putting those guys out there would not be a benefit.

Chris (Omaha)

With Sori playing with the Rangers and already being under Rudy's system. Wouldn't you think that he would pick it up a lot quicker than most?

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

You would think so, but the bat speed is the key, and right now it's hard to determine if at age 34, going on ?, if the bat speed will return.

Jon (Mundelein)

If Mitchell and Jordan Danks continue to impress, who is the odd man out in the outfield picture in the next year or so?

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

I think both can be viable players for the White Sox. Mithcell will need at least a year, maybe a 1 1/2 years. Danks might be ready right now.

greg (buffalo)

its crazy that tyler colvin cant start in left this year but soriano can. its sad that it is all about money.

Bruce Levine
  (1:42 PM)

Don't bet on Colvin not being on the team. Piniella told me this morning that Colvin has made the strongest impression on him, compared to just about any player in camp. I'd say he's going to make it.

Eric (Chicago)

Bruce, you've had an up close look at the future Cubs SS...what's impressed you the most so far about him?

Bruce Levine
  (1:43 PM)

He's very relaxed, and also has a lot of range and a strong arm at short. The kid hits line drives. Like most Latin American players, he would rather hit than walk. That's the only downside, the possible OBP hole in his game.

Boomer (Lisle)

K, if you were a Sox fan, what arguments would you use to show a fellow Cubs fan how better your team is than theres because Cubs fans always seem to get on that subject? So you don't get 50 of the same questions you might as well make a case for the Cubs side of the argument as well

Bruce Levine
  (1:45 PM)

It's pretty simple for Sox fans, they're pitching staff looks stronger. Jake Peavy is pitching for my team instead of yours. That has to hurt. I can't give you a strong argument for the Cubs being better than the Sox right now. I hope I can in midseason.

Jim (Missouri)

Bruce, looking at all the young talent in camp this year, I have been getting really excited about the future of the Cubs. It seems like the farm system is really starting to turn around and put out some nice players. You have seen more than us, would you agree that the future looks bright at this point?

Bruce Levine
  (1:46 PM)

Absolutely correct. Bigger, stronger, better. For once, Cubs fans really have something to look forward to, and I'm talking about Cubs management. I go by what scouts tell me, and they say for the first time in 20 years, the Cubs have legitimate prospects on the way up.

ladisa (san diego)

With Byrd in center, can we trade Brett Jackson for Heath Bell already.

Bruce Levine
  (1:47 PM)

I don't think you want to do that. Jackson is one of those really good young players we're talking about. Let's let the farm system develop a bit, so you don't have to look for free agents past their prime every year.

Larry (Lake Villa)

Any update on where Dye is going? Why is it so difficult for him to find a job?

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

Right now Dye is going to the Fashion Mall in Scottsdale with his family, and that's totally his choice. I still don't understand why he turned down a $3M offer from the Cubs. He would have had a great chance to play for the offensive-minded Lou Piniella.

Doug (North of Wrigley)

Have the Cubs thought about free agents David Weathers or Braden Looper for bullpen help?

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

Both are long of tooth, and short on residual talent left. They feel they have better younger arms in camp.

Doug (North of Wrigley)

What's it going to take for the Cubs to get Frasor or Gregorson?

Bruce Levine
  (1:49 PM)

They have a better chance with Fraser. But it's going to cost them a good, young arm or two. Toronto doesn't really have to move him, but at age 31, he's probably better suited with a contender.

Jim (Missouri)

Do you see Colvin taking over for Fukudome once he leaves after next year, or possibly before?

Bruce Levine
  (1:50 PM)

Maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. But that is a distinct possibility. This is a guy who really drives the baseball now. He's no longer a singles hitter. Lou is excited.

Angry Cubs Fan (Chicago)

Bruce if Castro continues to play like this in the spring, why is Lou so hard headed to keep him in the minors? I mean its not about the money cause the cubs can afford to pay Castro early? And Castro looks to be a better option in the lineup than Fontenot or Baker. I just find it dumb to hold this kid back if he's playing well right now. He also seems to adjust at every level he's been brought up to.

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

It's not Lou's call. It's the call of the organization. Lou can make a case for him, but he knows playing every day in the minors at least for a month or two is a pretty good idea.

michael (Chicago)

Bruce, what are the chances Millar making the team?

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

Right now I'd say 50-50. He's really not ideal. Everybody loves him in camp, though. He brings a lot of professionalism and fun, all at the same time. And really, when was the last time a 25th man made a difference in winning or losing. Think makeup.

Mike (Chicago)

Marshall was far more effective as a reliever last year than he was as a starter. Is it your sense that he'll go back to the bullpen or start in the rotation until Lilly gets healthy? I think they could really use him in the 'pen.

Bruce Levine
  (1:52 PM)

It's my sense he's the long man again, and that Gorzellany will more than likely be the lefty in the rotation. I could be wrong, and I've been wrong before.

Kyle (Palos Heights)

What are the chances of Jordan Danks being called up at some point this season or is he still a year or two away?

Bruce Levine
  (1:53 PM)

It depends on the team's needs. If one of the veterans goes down with injury or is ineffective, Danks is there. If the Sox ever do trade for Adrian Gonzalez, Danks will be one fo th players in the deal.

Doug (North of Wrigley)

Silva was better yesterday. Anychance some GM is dumb enough to take him off the Cubs hands?

Bruce Levine
  (1:54 PM)

This ain't the rotisserie league. He's still out of shape, and still has a lot to prove. And that will coem on the north side of Chicago.

Dave (Missouri)

Do you see Fukudome improving this year? Everyone thought he was headed for a better year last year, but it really wasn't much of an improvement. Does the move back to RF help at all?

Bruce Levine
  (1:55 PM)

I think he'll be more comfortable there. He's a much better outfielde rin right than center. Swinging and missing is still a problem. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts.

Paul (St. Louis)

Was Silva really improved yesterday or was it a case of facing weaker hitters?

Bruce Levine
  (1:55 PM)

I don't put too much into early spring training competition. He still got hit around a little. His control - in the strike zone - was a little better.

Tom S. (Chicago)

Garcia was garbage yesterday, will he be on a short leash considering Hudson is waiting in the wings behind him?

Bruce Levine
  (1:56 PM)

I wouldn't call him garbage. I watched his entire 3 innings. After he gave up 3 runs, he came out the next inning and got them 1-2-3. This guy can pitch. It's a question of whether he'll be healthy enough to give them 6 strong every time out. Hudson has looked extrmely good.

Mike (Chicago)

Frassor.... I mean really? Costing two young good arms. I mean he had a good seasno last year dont get me wrong but he was below average the previous 5 years. It would be a pretty dumb move for hendry to give up anything of worth for him.

Bruce Levine
  (1:57 PM)

That's me talking. Everybody knows the Cubs are dealing out of weakness right now, not a good position to be in. Toronto doesn't have to trade Frasor. But there are other people interested, including the Twins.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

Soto, Zambrano and Marmol are being heavily relied on to have big bounceback seasons. How are each of them progressing so far this spring?

Bruce Levine
  (1:59 PM)

Soto looks great, hitting the ball with authority, moving around the plate like he did two years ago. Marmol is goign to be fine as long as his arm holds up. Never have been a fan of his mechanics. Zambrano has been all business this spring, never seen him more foucused. That can change, we've seen that happen, but for now he seems like a man on a mission. Hopefully the destination of that mission is 15 wins.

Doug (Chicago)

How has Andruw Jones looked in the batters box? Is the power still there? He's clearly in better shape if he can steal bases and play CF, but will that translate to hitting?

Bruce Levine
  (2:00 PM)

I think he has enough power, it's just a question of whether he wants to sacrifice a litle of that to hit the ball the othe way. That's how he's goign to be most effective now.

Bruce Levine
  (2:01 PM)

Sorry for the late sign-on today. There's a senior moment in the sun. I look forward to talking to all of you on my show tomorrow from 8-10:30 A.M. on Talking Baseball with J. Hood on ESPN 1000. See you again Tuesday at noon CT in our chat room.