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February 1, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:01 PM)

Ok, here's what happened in 1967. We walked down the middle of the street above the cars and tried to find a friend's house to hang out at. I advise all Chicagoans to do the same.

Matt (Chicago)

Which young, Cub player or pitcher do you see surprising people by estabilishing himself as a mainstay this season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:02 PM)

Watch for Jeff Jackson out of spring training. He's got a live arm and can start or relieve.

Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)

In the post steroids era it seems like pitching is king and power hitters are almost undervalued. Case and point, Prince Fielder. I know Fielder is represented by Scott Boras, projects to be a DH down the road, and is scheduled to become a free agent but Doug Melvin can't seem to get young pitching for Fielder at any point over the last few years. Do you think the pendulum has swung too far towards young pitching at the expense of young pitching?

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

Look at the Giants and answer your own question.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Which Chicago Baseball team do you think will make the Playoffs by looking at them on Paper?

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

White Sox appear to be the Chicago favorite at this point.

Omar Martinez (Alsip IL)

would the white sox ever consider a trade for Micheal Young we don't have an established third basemen that would make sense rite brue?

Bruce Levine
  (1:04 PM)

They tried that 3 years ago by offering Jermaine Dye. Texas asked for Aaron Poreda as well. The Sox said no. I think the main value of Young has passed them by.

Zak (Richmond, VA)

Any chance the Cubs could trade Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, and cash to Philladelphia for Raul Ibanez and Joe Blanton? It would solve needs on both sides and give the Cubs lots of flexibility heading into the winter of Albert

Bruce Levine
  (1:05 PM)

Great idea, but no-trade clauses prohibit any real discussion on anything you brought up.

Nate (Joliet)

Bruce, how serious were the white sox to getting Garcia back and would you agree that it was best to stay away from him just by his era agst. the twins alone.

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

I think Freddy would have been a nice cheap buy in for the Sox, but both sides knew they couldn't promise him rotation-time. The Yankees staff is much more makeable for him.

Dre (Highland,IN)

If the Sox are doing good do you think they will try to aquire someone around trade deadline time??? and who maybe do you think they might target

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

If the Sox feel they need to fortify third and Morel hasn't worked out, they might look for a short-term answer there. Injuries will dictate any other moves.

Michael (Chicago)

What would you say are the Cubs most critical "long term plans" in terms of roster and front office personnel?

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

Hendry has one more year left under contract, and he controls the fate of 90 people in baseball ops. If Hendry's role changes or he's dismissed, you can see upwards of 20-30 people coming into the Cubs organization over the next year. As far as roster, I think the Cubs will spend money if the young players aren't developing.

Peter (Peoria)

Are the Cubs getting closer to signing Orlando Cabrera?

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

Not according to my information.

Matt (Chicago)

Any chance the sox invite Dye to spring training? or do some other teams have interest?

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

I really don't have any knowledge about Dye, other than the fact he'll be 37 and a part-time player at best.

Troy (Champaign)

Bruce -Any truth to the rumors regarding Figgins or Kinsler to the Cubs? Could use an upgrade at second base....

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

What sites have you been reading? There is zero chance that the Cubs have the money for Figgins or the players it would take to get Kinsler from Texas. Just stick to ESPNChicago.com.

Johnny Blaze (Morgan Park)

Would you characterize Alexei's extension as a steal? Also, where do you see him hitting in the line-up this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

Considering they only paid $4 mil per year for the first four years, that would make it 8 years and $36 mil, that type of math makes it a great bargain.

Brad (Normal, IL)

Why do I keep hearing anout Sean Marshall joining the rotation? He was fantastic out of the bullpen and seemed to find a good fit there.

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

The Cubs have no plans to switch Marshall into the rotation. They will let James Russell have a shot at it.

Gary (Peru Post Office)

With Ramirez now extended, are the Sox planning to extend Danks before the season as well?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

The Sox have been trying to sign Danks to a long-term deal for 2 1/2 years. Danks and his agent Jeff Barry do not seem interested. It appears he'll go through arbitration until he's a free agent in 2013.

Andy (Muncie)

What are the odds that the castro is the leadoff man this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

It's not beyond the realm of possibility. But his OBP, meaning the fact he doesn't walk, makes him a prohibitive choice. You might see a combo of Fukudome, Baker and DeWitt.

Abdul (Hyde Park Chicago IL)

Whats up Bruce keep up the good work. My question is if the Sox moves Chris sale to the Rotation wouldn't Matt Thornton be the automatic closer or is their some other candidates for the job?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

I like Santos, but they don't feel he's had enough big-league experience. I imagine it would be Thornton, but that would put a hole in their set-up role. Ohman is better served pitching in the 6th or 7th inning.

Northside Mo (Chicago)

Does Quade support more hit and run's and overall aggression on the basepaths or is he more conservative?

Bruce Levine
  (1:17 PM)

Hard to tell, depends on who's in the lineup on a given day. He did have the tendency to move runners more than Piniella, but that was because some of the hitters like Ramirez were functioning in the 2nd half.

Northside Mo (Chicago)

Will anybody on this team (excluding Perez if he makes it) be capable of swiping a bag?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

Very doubtful. The Cubs continue to be one of the slowest teams in the majors.

Joe (Cary)

Have the Cubs considered trading Soto? Given his low cost and productivity, he could bring a healthy package of prospects. Perhaps the same for Marmol? It seems like those two have up-and-comers behind them and would bring in the most

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

First and foremost the Cubs will work on a long-term deal for Marmol and Garza. Trading Marmol and/or Soto would mean the team had another bad season. And there's really no one other than Wellington Castillo to come up and catch. So the answer to Soto is no. The answer to Marmol is maybe, depending on the situation.

dan (texas)

Bruce-I just saw that the NFL Pro Bowl received better ratings than the World Series. What does baseball have to do to change the game / increase ratings or increase excitement?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

Baseball has to hope people bet baseball games as much as the Pro Bowl. That's the allure of the NFL. I had the over, did you?

Northside Mo (Chicago)

Hey Bruce, what do you think about Samardzija not having a shot at the rotation? Seems like he made good progress in AAA last season with the intent of having a shot this season. Why cut it short?

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

I'm not a fan of how Samardzija has been handled. I think the Cubs showed they really don't have a handle on what his ability really is. And who he should be. This it the third or fourth change of job description for Samardzija. It's been a detriment to his ability to get better.

scott (joliet)

The White Sox seem to have an over-abumbance of MLB ready infielders, but a shortage of outfield depth. Will Kenny try to trade some of the infield talent for a outfield help?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

The Sox are going to try to figure that out by putting Viciedo in the outfield this spring. You're thinking right along with the management group. Williams said he'll get a shot at left field.

chicken (fried)

will we have enough salary cap next year to pursuit alberts 300 million dollar request

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

If Tom Ricketts wants Albert Pujols, he has as much money as anyone to offer. That type of commitment comes from Tom, not from the baseball people. Same thing with Fielder.

pooter (rolling meadows)

any idea what the mariners' needs are? payroll aside, are we a match in any way to swindle chone figgins from them? or do you think their GM is still licking his wounds from the milton bradley debacle

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

Figgins is 34 and on the downswing big time. Taking on his deal would be bad for the Cubs. Seattle needs hitting, lots of it. And the Cubs have none to offer.

Derek (Denver)

What are we going to do with Teahan?!

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

He'll be back in the role he can succeed in. Play a little left a little right, and a litlte 2nd and 3rd. If his right shoulder is better than in the past, he can be a very valuable semi-part-time player for the team.

Ryne (Champaign)

Do you think Starlin Castro will suffer from a Sophomore Slump? As did Soto and Wells?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

I would be surprised if he doesn't get anything but better. I'm not saying he'll hit .300 every year, but he has a lot of ability and shoulder start centering some of his hits and hitting for more authority. He should be much better defensively this year.

chris (oswego)

The DeWitt\Baker combo doesn't excite many of us(neither are lead-off types)...what about bad contract for bad contract Silva for Luis Castillo?..I know he's way past his prime but Castillo could rebound and is probably better defensively as is..

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

Not a bad call. The Cubs have always liked Castillo. But he's older and much slower now. And he'd probalby just add to their lack of speed.

Jon (Chicago)

What are realistic expectations for the White Sox this year? World Series?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

I don't see why not. If everything goes right for them, and if Peavy comes back in May or June, they could be among the strongest teams in the game.

Jim (Westerville, OH)

Bruce, quite simply, where is the offense going to come from for this year's Cubs team?

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

It's going to have to be the same place: First and third base. There's really no one in the outfield you can count on to drive in 85-100 runs. Colvin might, but who knows. So it's goingt be Pena and Ramirez with an assist from Soto.

Jim (Iowa)

How come the SOX can get two starting firstbasemen and the cubs have to settle for an average one who strikes out alot?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

The luxury of the DH. If the Cubs had that, they would have a payroll of about 8-10M more with some big-time slugger in that role.

Bob (Chicago)

Jose Reyes is FA after this year. Does he have anything left and could he play 2B? If so, with $50M coming off the books, could you see Cubs signing him, one of the big FA 1B, and either bringing up Vitters or signing Aram to short term deal to solidify infield and lineup?

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

I think you're getting ahead of yourself. Let's see how 2011 shakes out. Maybe the Cubs will make some moves by the trading deadline if they're not in contention.

James (Chicago)

What's the word on Peavy right now? how is he progressing?

Bruce Levine
  (1:33 PM)

There's lots of different responses when I ask about him. He feels he is ahead of schedule. The Sox are going to try to hold him off to prevent re-injury. He could be ready anywhere from mid-April to June.

Crazy Larry (MA)

I am a Red Sox fan and I'm wondering if you know how hard Jenks was throwing last seasson. Thanks for your time.

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

He was throwing between 91 and 94 mph. I would worry more about command of his breaking ball. When he has good command he gets people out. Also his leg conditioning program has to improve. His legs have given out in the last two seasons.

Matt (Bloomington, IN)

Bruce, any way you see Ramirez back with the Cubs after next season? To me, his rare appearance at the Cubs Convention this year seemed to be the start of his farewell tour. Seems like rebound season or not, there is no way he's with the Cubs past 2011

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

It's the Cubs' call. They have a $15 million option on him so if he plays well I'm sure the Cubs will consider bringing him back. Otherwise they must pay a $1 million buyout.

Billy Whiffle Ball (Swift Ave)

As a starter, can Sale make it the entire season? 200 plus innings?

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

I doubt that the Sox would ever extend Sale out that far. If you think back to what Detroit did with Verlander, they shut him down in his first year after 165 innings. I'm sure the Sox would do the same thing to protect a young pitcher who had never been extended that far.

Gergs (Gergland Park, IL)

Bruce, do you think we will ever see another 300 game winner?

Bruce Levine
  (1:38 PM)

It's pretty doubtful in this day and age. Imagine you have to average 15 wins a year for 20 years. These days, 15-17 wins sometimes is a league leader. Doubtful.

Preston (VA)

I don't get it - they have enough to maybe pay Looper $3M, but can't keep Gorzelanny for about $2M???

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

The Cubs have no commitment to Looper. If he doesn't make the team out of spring training they didn't pay one penny. The same thing with Wellmeyer and Reed Johnson.

Tom (Tinley)

Do you believe this is the last year of Mark Buehrle in a Sox uniform? Any talks about an extention?

Bruce Levine
  (1:40 PM)

I think if he has his usual 14-win season and gets through it without too much arm trauma, Reinsdorf and the Sox would be open to bringing him back.

wintercamper (romeoville)

will Quade start Z on opening day? I hope not! I think that will tell a lot about him.

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

Not sure. I don't think the pitchers really care all that much about it. If you look at consistency, Dempster probably is the Opening Day starter.

AP (chicago)

What impact, if any, do you see in the change between Rothschild and Riggins? Stylistically, how are they different/same? Thanks.

Bruce Levine
  (1:42 PM)

That's a very good question. Larry had his communication down pat with some of the veterans. However that didn't help much with Zambrano. Riggins is a new voice but a guy who has a lot of experience. He should fit seemlessly with big-league culture.

Scooter (Minnesota)

Hi Bruce! Why trade Chris Archer? I know Garza is good, but it seems like our farm system pitching was a strength, and giving up our best young pitcher for a good older pitcher seems like we didn't gain much for the present and may have lost some ground for the future in the deal. What's your take?

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

Garza is still just 27, not exactly ancient. And the Cubs have control of him for three more years. I didn't like trading Archer either but the Cubs needed to solidify their rotation if they were going to have any chance of competing this year.

Miguel (Ferndale, WA)

Do you see an increase of duties/position for Greg Maddux in the Cubs organization?

Bruce Levine
  (1:46 PM)

As Hendry says, Maddux can do basically what he wants to do. Last year he spent time going to minor-league affiliates looking at and talking to players and also consulting with Hendry on trades. Maddux is a brilliant baseball guy who could end up as a manager or a farm director any time he wants to.

Mike (Logan Square)

Do you think that trading Daniel Hudson last year was a mistake? What are you thinking for Edwin Jackson this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:47 PM)

Jackson is a solid pitcher but Hudson looked awfully good in his two months with Arizona. Actually he was dominant. Time will tell. But the White Sox have traded very good young pitching away in the last few years.

Bert ((Shure))

Bruce - what is the consensus opinion of Brett Jackson within the organizations. 5 skills across the board but none that really stand out. Are we looking at Bob Dernier II?

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

They feel much better than Dernier. More like a Rick Monday player. A very good OF, home run potential, above average speed. Hopefully he will be a lead-off man/CF of the future, in the Cubs' opinion.

Adam (Gladbrook, Iowa)

What are reasonable expectations for Brent Morel this season? .260 average???

Bruce Levine
  (1:49 PM)

Put down 12 homers, 65 RBIs and a .285 average. If he does that and fields as well as they think he will that will be a nice rookie season.

Billy Whiffle Ball (Swift Ave)

Kenny seems high on J. Danks still, but his bat struggles. Is he comparable to a Brian Anderson?

Bruce Levine
  (1:50 PM)

Let's hope not because he has a left-handed bat that gives him a bit of a leg up on Anderson's type of struggles. This is a big year for Danks. He must prove that he can hit. Same thing for Tyler Flowers.

Skyler (Reinbeck, Iowa)

Who should Sox fans keep an eye on for that last bullpen spot?

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

There's a chance someone like Harrell ends up there, although Pena has filled that job very well.

Pat (Minneapolis, MN)

Bruuuuuuuuuuce, Have the Sox done enough to overcome the ever-pesky Twins this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

Never count out Minnesota. The Sox are going to have to do a better job of winning in their own division this year, especially against the Twins.

Jon (Parkersburg, Iowa)

Where is Jared Mitchell headed to open the season? Can we hope for Double-A?

Bruce Levine
  (1:53 PM)

My guess is Double-A. He needs to work on his batting stroke after missing last season. He did not look good in the Arizona Fall League. Hopefully he hasn't lost too much speed.

Ben (Benson)

Bruce - I didnt hear much about McNutt before this offseason. Where does he stand within the organization? 2012 arrival?

Bruce Levine
  (1:54 PM)

McNutt is their No. 1 prospect, and he could have gone in the Garza trade. The consensus in the organization was that he has a bigger upside than Archer. He pitched at three different levels last year and could be in the big leagues by the end of the season.

Doug (Saint Charles)

Do you think Marlon will be a Cub in September?

Bruce Levine
  (1:55 PM)

Hard to say. He has a lot of good tools to bring to a team. He's a winner and he's one of the most competitive people I've ever met. However at 34, if the Cubs aren't in contention he could get moved at the deadline.

David (Chicago)

Any chance the Cubs make a play for Michael Young? The Cubs need a solid 2b/super utility guy, not to mention 3b backup if Aramis leaves next year and Josh Vitters still needs more minor league seasoning.

Bruce Levine
  (1:58 PM)

Michael Young is making a ton of money and the Cubs do not have any to spend on him. I don't disagree with your premise. He's still a good player.

Bruce Levine
  (2:00 PM)

Next Tuesday will be our prelude to spring training. I'll be leaving on Feb. 11, if the snow is moveable at that point. Also, listen to "Talking Baseball" Saturday on ESPN 1000. It's our 20-year anniversary show. Among our guests should be Jerry Reinsdorf and Bud Selig.Everybody have a safe couple of days. See you next week.