Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 27, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (12:32 PM)

As I suggested when everybody was on the ledge a couple of weeks ago, things have turned around for both Chicago teams. It's funny what a three or four-game win streal will do for the pscyhe of a fan base. Welcome, and let's go.

Biggy (Washington, NC)

Any chance the Cubs go after Juan Cruz?

Bruce Levine
  (12:33 PM)

I haven't had a chance to ask the question, but Cruz didn't get anybody out with KC. That's how you get released. He was very good in 2008, not so good since. I think the Cubs have found their answer for the set-up man in Carlos Zambrano.

Corey (Chicago)

Could Hudson become the main MR soon?

Bruce Levine
  (12:34 PM)

Nothing wrong with the Sox bullpen as is.

Mike (St. Louis)

What do the Cubs need to do to be a good competitor in the NL Central?

Bruce Levine
  (12:35 PM)

First and foremost, they need to keep their bullpen cohesive. With Zambrano there, at least some of the pitchers have established roles. No. 2, Hendry needs to go out and get another bullpen guy and bring Castro up Double-A. Nothing wrong with Theriot, he's a gamer, but he can be a gamer at 2B.

ryan (st. louis)

With Z's comment that he was told his stay in the pen would be temporary, how long do you think this can last without him becoming a little less than content with the situation? Winning helps a lot so if we keep that up it would certainly help I guess.

Bruce Levine
  (12:37 PM)

Having a little success like he's had so far might keep him focused for a period of time. Also, he'll probably get a chance to close some games out when Marmol is used three days in a row. This might excited Zambrano and help him create another image of himself, in his mind. Don't forget, John Smoltz had a late-career move to the bullpen that not only was beneficial for the team, but for him personally. Then you'll remember Smoltz went back to starting.

kenny (chicago)

i love you bruce, you are the best.. will you be in cooperstown in july for andre dawson ?

Bruce Levine
  (12:38 PM)

Thanks for the compliment. ESPNChicago is sending me to the event. I'm looking forward to it.

Pat (Chicago)

Big Z says the move is temporary. What do you think Lou is thinking right now?

Bruce Levine
  (12:39 PM)

Lou's thinking his team has a chance to win every night. Z in the set-up role, Grabow in the 7th, Marshall and Marmol to match up in the 8th and 9th. It has the feel of a team that knows what it's doing at the end of a game.

Gergs (Davenport, IA)

Bruce, who has the worst middle relief contract - Zambrano or Linestink?

Bruce Levine
  (12:40 PM)

Linebrink makes $5 million per year, Zambrano makes $18M. You make the call.

Cormander (Chitown)

Hey, Bruce whats up. I was just wondering where the cubs starting rotation ranks in ERA in MLB??? Also, what have you noticed with Aramis Ramirez at the plate??? Ive been watching and I cant seemed to put my finger on it.

Bruce Levine
  (12:41 PM)

He's dancing at home plate, moving his feet a lot, and cheating all too often. The term cheating for hitters means he's gearing up to try to pull the ball too early. When Ramirez is right, he's hitting the ball to center and right-center. Last I saw, the Cubs' rotation was 3rd or 4th. Lot of good staffs in the NL and poor offenses.

Gergs (Davenport, IA)

The White Sox want to be small ball - but lead the AL in HR's... why cant Ozzie just take the fact that they play in a bandbox and take full advantage of it.

Bruce Levine
  (12:42 PM)

I don't think you've seen much small ball from Ozzie yet. The only way you can play small ball is to have men on base, the Sox haven't had a lot of men on base. If not for the home run, they'd have 3 or 4 wins right now. Take what you can get while you can get it.

Bill (Chicago)

What do veteran scouts think of Josh Vitters?

Bruce Levine
  (12:43 PM)

I talked to some during the Fall League, they like his bat but not much else. He's not a polished fielder, his motivation is unknown.

Chad (Wakarusa)

How exits from the Cubs if and when they bring you Castro?

Bruce Levine
  (12:44 PM)

I would say if Castro is brought up, they have to look at either Fontenot or Baker as a moveable part. There won't be a lot of playing time at second for either one. Baker plays 2B and 3B. Fontenot is really just a 2B.

Brandon (South Dakota)

Who do you think of the current Cubs players or minor leaguers will be out there as trade bait leading up to the Trade Deadline?

Bruce Levine
  (12:45 PM)

In a big deal, the Cubs may include Vitters, but that's just conjecture on my part. Cashner, and both Jacksons, are pretty much untouchable.

Bob (Chicago)

Aramis Ramirez is swinging for a home run with every swing he takes. Is he doing this with his eye on a new contract?

Bruce Levine
  (12:47 PM)

Ramirez has two more years left with the Cubs, but he can become a free agent in Nov. He'll have a window of 10 days to become a free agent. If he does, he blows the $30 million left on his contract. I really don't see him making a move.

Chad (Wakarusa)

Is Harry Teinowitz your most annoying co-worker? There are times when it sounds like you would like to just straggle him.

Bruce Levine
  (12:48 PM)

I love Harry, and great radio is created when people disagree from time to time.

mike (oak lawn)

Bruce, Should the sox think about trading A.J and bring up Tyler Flowers. That might spark the offense like Beckham did last year.

Bruce Levine
  (12:49 PM)

I'm not so sure I want to trade one of the top catchers when it comes to calling a game when I have a chance to win a division. If you bring up Flowers, I would do it now as a backup so he can get used to the major leagues. I'm not sure the Sox feel Flowers is ready yet.

Jeremy (Chicago)

Do you see castro coming up before september?

Bruce Levine
  (12:49 PM)

Yes.

soc gray (plymouth IN)

So whats the likelyhood of Fukodome being traded in the middle of the season for secondbase, granted a team would need a injury for that become a need, I assume he's odd man out with the developement of Colvin

Bruce Levine
  (12:50 PM)

First of all, the Cubs need as much left-handed hitting as they can keep. They are right-handed heavy. Fukudome also is owed $25M for this year and next. It's unlikely anyone would be interested in that contract.

Dave (Glendale Heights)

Hey Bruce....what's wrong with Carlos Quentin? Is he still struggling with any injuries or anything? In your opinion, was his first year a fluke and this is more like the real CQ or is it just a matter of time before he figures it out?

Bruce Levine
  (12:51 PM)

Quentin is wound pretty tight. I believe most of his funks are mental. His intensity and the way he goes about his job is off the chart. But maybe he needs to learn how to relax. I think that's his only problem.

Vito (Chicago)

Vitters' glove is weak, so he'll fit right in on this team. Are there any defensive aces in the system? If so, when will see them?

Bruce Levine
  (12:52 PM)

The Cubs have a bunch of middle infielders who are very good defenders. Among them are Castro, Darby and Kim. I think for the first time in years, the Cubs have some good looking defensive players, including CF Jackson.

Chris (Chicago)

I was listening to Steve Stone yesterday and he said the Carlos Zambrano will eventually get fed up over his bullpen role and demand a trade. He keeps emphasizing that he is a starter and this move is temporary. What are your thoughts?

Bruce Levine
  (12:53 PM)

Steve is a good friend and great analyst, but he hasn't thought this one through. Who is going to pay Carlos Zambrano $18M a year? He's still a good pitcher, but he's not a great one. Who's taking an $18M gamble on the rest of his contract?

Pat (Chicago)

Another solid outing from Silva last night. What do you think he's doing better so far that he hasn't in a while?

Bruce Levine
  (12:54 PM)

Except for the minor glitch in one of the innings they scored, he's been locating all his pitches. He hasn't walked anybody hardly all year. Throwing quality stirkes regardless of throwing 95 or 85, that's still the key to pitching.

Adam (Chicago)

Although it was wishful thinking from the start, Ryan Howard's deal eliminated any chance of him leaving Philly. Who is going to play first base for the Cubs in 2011?

Bruce Levine
  (12:56 PM)

Alfonso Soriano is available, isn't he? After all, Soriano was an infielder, so if Lee doesn't return, why isn't that a possibility?

Dino (Bartlett)

Hey Bruce I'm a big fan.... I see that Jay Jackson is off to a great start in Iowa. Do the Cubs see him as a potential 2/3/4 starter or backend bullpen guy?

Bruce Levine
  (12:56 PM)

Definitely a starter. He might have the best stuff of any of his young pitchers. He might get the call if there are injuries to the starting staff.

Adam (Schaumburg)

Silva's recent success and Peavy's recent struggles: more reflective of Carlos Silva and Jake Peavy or more proof that the American League is just a lot better?

Bruce Levine
  (12:58 PM)

I think the latter. The AL obviously has nine hitters, most of them are good ones. The NL lineups usually are 6 deep, maybe 7. Peavy's problem hasn't been that he's getting hit, just that he hasn't been locating. Let's see how he does tonight.

Shep (Romeoville, IL)

I love seeing Soriano hit, but I really wonder what triggered the turnaround, and I'm worried that he will revert. Ideas?

Bruce Levine
  (12:59 PM)

You don't have to worry about him reverting. Piniella has solutions. He has a five-man rotating outfield right now. All of them except Nady have been hitting, and they're not concerned about Nady. So there are solutions to slumping outfielders for Piniella.

Jeff (Schaumburg, IL)

Do you see Hendry being able to make a deal for another setup man in the near future or is it realistic to think that it won't happen until around the trade deadline?

Bruce Levine
  (1:00 PM)

From what we've seen, nobody has traded any relievers of quality for over six months. It would have to be a deal where a team gave up an awful lot to get a guy like Heath Bell or Frasor.

Bruce Levine
  (1:00 PM)

Look forward to watching good play from Chicago teams. Both should be over .500 when we talk to next Tuesday. Thanks for the questions.