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February 8, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:01 PM)

Now that the football season has gone it's time for the real season. I'll begin reporting from spring training on Sunday. Look for my preview and Doug Padilla's previews soon. Welcome ...

Steve (Chicago)

Any chance milledge makes the opening day roster???????

Bruce Levine
  (1:02 PM)

I believe so. He is a veteran player. The Sox need a backup OF, and he has some power and is not a bad player overall.

Matt (Chicago)

Please tell me that Ricketts is all in if Pujols gets to the mkt next winter? In the event of another lackluster season, it seems like he'll have no choice.

Bruce Levine
  (1:05 PM)

Let's take a good look at Pujols. It says that he is going to be 32 after this season. He is the best player in the game but how many years are realistic to give him? Players' peaks are between 28 and 32. Some will tell you that Pujols may be older than his said age. If you're talking about a five-year deal at $150 million I think teams would be interested. If you go past five, and it's said that he might want up to 10 years, you are really rolling the dice. Maybe Ricketts will be more interested in Prince Fielder, who at 27 may have his peak years ahead of him.

Jeff (Glen Ellyn)

Bruce, who is going to be sitting next to pat hughes next season, and what former cub will jim hendry sign next?

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

Mrs. Hughes normally sits next to Pat, but during Cubs games it appears to be either Dave Otto or Keith Moreland. The Cubs and WGN have talked to numerous other candidates. However people like Sutcliffe and Plesac have other contract constraints that will not allow them to be considered for the job. A conclusion should be made some time in the next week.

Frkol (Argyle)

Who is going to be the Cubs power bat coming off of the bench? They were talking about trading for Chris Davis, but that never happened. Any FAs available to fill that role?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

Not really. What you see right now is what you get. The power on certain days will either come from Soriano or Colvin, when one is not in the starting lineup.

Dan (Chicago)

Hi Bruce: Hey, if we really are all in, shouldn't we at least make an offer for Michael Young rather than rely on a rookie for third base? I have this sickly feeling that Morel is but another version of Josh Fields or Brian Anderson --- yuck!

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

That may be the case. However, Young is going to have to be paid a lot of money over the next three years. At age 34, most people will tell you that his best years are behind him. I do not believe Texas will give him away and pay all his money.

Eric (Chicago)

What is with the john danks to the yankees rumors? Do the sox ask for bullpen help from the bronx bombers? and if the deal does happen does that mean chris sale HAS to be in the starting rotation?

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

The Sox are not going to trade starting pitching, especially the ace of their staff. With Peavy's return unknown, you are not giving away your top pitcher.

Miller (Vegas)

If Ramirez isn't back next year, who is the Cubs 3rd baseman? I doubt Vitters will be ready, and the FA crop doesn't look to good.

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

Free agency is always a possibility. Ramirez can only be a free agent if the Cubs don't pick up the option so they have control over the contract.

Eric (Chicago)

Bruce, the Cubs leadoff hitting solution for this year and maybe next is Scotty Pods. Why haven't the Cubs signed him yet? Don't tell me money because they have that. Lead off and speed at the top with Castro hitting 2nd will score a lot of runs.

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

Good but who is going to sit on the bench? they have four years committed to Soriano, two to Byrd and a rookie breaking in in right field.

Phil (Chicago)

Is this going to be Mark Buerhle's last year on the south side?

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

Knowing the affinity that Reinsdorf has for Buehrle, and Buehrle's persona with the fans, he could end up staying with the Sox. But certainly not at $14 million a year unless he has a 15-plus win season.

Miller (Vegas)

Bruce, do you see Byrd, Marmol, Pena, and Ramirez getting traded at the deadline if the Cubs are out of it?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

Slow down, Tiger. It's a little too early to throw in the towel. The Cubs are going to have to continue to compete in years to come so trading all their vets is not what they are going to look at. However if they are not good there will be changes made all the way through the organization.

Kevin (South Side)

Were you on the Peavy conference call today? Do they seem to be rushing him considering that is kind of a freak injury?

Bruce Levine
  (1:17 PM)

Those are Peavy's comments, not the White Sox. They will be conservative with him considering they have a long-term commitment and a lot of money on the line. I'd say May is more realistic when the weather starts to warm up.

Matt (Indianapolis)

Why not keep Cashner in the bullpen? I saw him pitch in the minor leagues and as a starter he was throwing in the low-90s....I was surprised to see him consistently in the upper 90s in the big leagues.

Bruce Levine
  (1:17 PM)

A lot of it can be mechanical. Cashenr is still a young pitcher developing. No reason to think as a starter he couldn't throw between 94 and 95 mph.

Chris (Downers Grove)

Who are the young arms that could impress us this spring training for the sox and the cubs?

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

Look at Jay Jackson and Trey McNutt for the Cubs. For the Whote Sox, the team feels that Luke Harrell is worth watching. And Sale can either start or close.

Eddie (Chicago)

How do you think Ohman will perform? Will his ERA balloon now that he is in the AL or does he have the stuff to be reliable over an entire season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

I think that's a fair question. I don't look at relievers' ERAs. One bad outing can ruin your ERA for six weeks. I look at runners inherited, runners scored. If they keep him in the sixth and seventh inning I think he can be efficient.

Chris (Downers Grove)

Is it true that former white sox center fielder Brian Anderson is trying to pitch for the Yankees this year? If so what are the chances he makes the bullpen this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

Anderson was converted to a pitcher last year, spending time in the Kansas City organization. Adnerson always had a very strong arm. He, along with Andrew Sisco and Neal Cotts and Freddy Garcia are former Sox pitchers trying to make the Yankees. Mark Prior is also in the mix and if you can get away from your day job they might give you a shot.

Randy (Minneapolis)

Bruce, does Soriano's contract (and how it's turned out) make the Cubs leery of going after Pujols if he makes it to free agency?

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

I don't think so. That's in the past. The Cubs will have some big contracts that will be ending in the next two years, including possibly Ramirez, Zambrano and Fukudome. Money should not be an issue for the Cubs. It shouldn't be now and it shouldn't be in the future. Money well spent is another issue.

Eric (South Side)

Bruce, there are many who think Carlos Quentin had a fluke year in 2009 and that he is ultimately injury prone. With that being said do you think there is any chance they trade him before the deadline, if he starts out slow, and give Viciedo a shot at RF or perhaps call up Jared Mitchell and see what he can do?

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

Mitchell is an unknown quantity at this point. He's got some things to prove in the minors first. Quentin has big upside home run and RBI-wise. I don't see anyone on the roster that can replace him at this point. See me in late July if the Sox are struggling. I might have a different answer.

mike (college of dupage)

will Augie Ojeda make the cubs 25-man roster?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

The answer is probably. Having an experienced backup SS for Castro is a real good idea. Darwin Barney looks like a nice player of the future. Playing everyday at Triple-A for awhile wouldn't hurt him.

Ryan (Boston)

If Sale becomes a part of the starting rotation, and the Sox are able to resign Buehrle, what are the chances that someone like Floyd or Danks get traded next offseason?

Bruce Levine
  (1:27 PM)

Very good chance. Especially because Danks will then be going into his last season before free agency. If the Sox feel they can't sign him they may consider making a big deal. However trading a young left-handed arm with 20-win potential is not usually the prudent thing to do.

mike (chicago)

do you ever get tired of answering the same question week after week? With that said will Sale open or close?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

The answer is no, this is my job, and I'm lucky to have it. At this point it looks like Sale will close. But as Ozzie says it will be determined in spring training. Initially he will be stretched out as a starter.

Billy whiffle Ball (Swift, Ave.)

Do you feel by Mid-June, the Cubs will be questioning the hiring of Quade?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

They have a two-year commitment to him for comparatively small money, a shade under $2 million for two years. If it doesn't work out they can make any type of move they want. I'd be more concerned with run production from the outfield than Quade's managerial acumen.

Tom (Denver)

Are the cubs looking into Texas' Michael Young? The Rockies are after him but are gonna have to get a ton of cash with him to make the deal. Would be a huge upgrade over what we have and then dump off baker or dewitt.

Bruce Levine
  (1:33 PM)

The Cubs have no money at this point. So they would have to trade a salary like a Fukudome to make it function on just a one-year basis. Committing money to Young after this year may be a difficult process to get by ownership. Nobody wants to be spending big dollars on aging veterans no matter how good they have been in the past. Young would certainly be an upgrade though and has great previous experience working with Rudy Jaramillo.

CBdot (Frankfort, IL)

Bruce, I was impressed with Edwin Jackson last year. Is he a good clubouse guy? I ask because he's been bounced around alot and I think he might be the best starting pitcher CHW have this season. Is there a chance he could stick around and given an extension in Chicago? Thanks!

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

It depends on what happens with the rest of the staff. He and Buehrle are potential free agents.Jackson is not a detriment in the clubhouse. He's just been put in situations where he has been traded because of money and other pitchers coming along.

Wes (Minooka)

Bruce, Loved the celebration last weekend. Lots of good stuff. Besides the 4 and 5 spot in the rotation, are there any interesting competitions to watch for during spring training for the Cubs? Besides the 5th OF spot, I don't see one. Thanks in advance!

Bruce Levine
  (1:36 PM)

Competition in the bullpen will be there. Samardzija will compete for one of those spots. Becuase he is out of options he must show some ability to get people out. There also could be competition between Perez and Johnson in the outfield.

Dennis (St. Charles)

Bruce,Where do you see Looper fitting in with the Cubs. He was a 14 game winner in 2009.

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

Considering he didn't pitch at all in 2010 I believe he either wins a rotation spot or gets released. The Cubs are going to need all the spring training B games they can play in order to get all these starting candidates time on the mound.

Doug (Oswego)

are the Cubs looking to give Garzza a long term deal like Marmol, I think it would make sense

Bruce Levine
  (1:38 PM)

Yes, they would love to. They would like to be able to control some of the money that he will be making if he continues to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Look for them to attempt a three- or four-year contract with him down the line.

Erik (Bloomington, IL)

Bruce, it seemed like trading Fukudome was a priority at the beginning of the offseason. And thus far, it seems like there is no movement. Any chances he gets moved? Or is his contract just too prohibitive?

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

He will make $13.5 million. Even if the Cubs eat half, most teams don't look at him as an everyday player. That's the reason you haven't seen any movement around him during the offseason. He doesn't hit for power, he doesn't have much speed and he's limited to being a corner outfielder.

Brett (Chicago)

Did the Cubs make any effort to trade Zambrano in the offseason? Was / is there any market for him?

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

The Yankees I'm sure have shown some interest. However they do not have much in the way of pitching to trade back. It would be difficult to trade a top-of-the-rotation pitcher and not get something back for now and the future. Also remember Zambrano is on the record saying he wants to complete his contract with the Cubs. That runs through 2012.

Joe (Chicago)

Where does Randy Wells stand in the 4th/5th starter race? Does he have an inside track, or is he just another candidate? It's hard for me to believe a guy who can pitch 200 innings and has a 3.65 career ERA has to win a job given that all the other candidates are questionable at best.

Bruce Levine
  (1:42 PM)

Wells will be pushed to the limit to be the best he can be early in spring training. Having talked to him at the Convention, he's fully aware this could be a make or break season for him with the Cubs.

Erik (Bloomington, IL)

Does Marshall get any shot at the starting rotation?

Bruce Levine
  (1:43 PM)

No plans for that. He was one of the best left-handed late men in the game last year. He and the Cubs are happy with him staying in that role.

bill (chicago)

fantastic anniversary show last week, bruce. what can you tell us about pat listach and how he will fit in with the staff.

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

Listach was highly regarded in the organization as a minor league manager before leaving to coach in Washington. He has strong ties to the management group and is considered a managerial candidate in the big leagues.

David (Aurora,IL)

Do you See Blake Dewitt putting some big numbers this year

Bruce Levine
  (1:45 PM)

An interesting question. People forget he is still very young and could improve under Jaramillo. He's not a home run guy but he could be a 40-double player.

John (Effingham)

Why cant the Chicago Cubs start there own TV station? Or is it because Wgn wont let em do it.

Bruce Levine
  (1:46 PM)

There is another station, and it's called Comcast which controls more games than WGN. The Cubs have contracts with both stations for the next six or seven years. However the Cubs are looking down the road at having their own network much like the Yankees. No plan to make that move as of right now.

Chad (Goshen)

Has Riggins worked much with Jeff S.? We need somebody to help this guy put it together. I think he, Riggins, holds one of the keys to a sucessful Cubs season.

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

Riggins has great familiarity with all the pitchers who have come through the organization the past three years. I think he will have a real good impact on Samardzija on the major league level. The problem with Samardzija has been going back and forth between starting and relieving, a change that he is making again this season.

james coleman (south bend,in)

how is the state of the cubs farm system?

Bruce Levine
  (1:50 PM)

It's still considered pretty good even with the trading of four top prospects for Garza. Both Jay Jackson and Brett Jackson are considered almost ready for primetime. Trey McNutt is also on the fast track according to the Cubs. Welington Castillo is also considered a major league player in the near future. Lots of good young players still coming through the system.

Adam (Loop) [via mobile]

Hi Bruce- can't wait for spring training to start. My question: What will be the biggest difference between Q's camp and Lou's, specifically with regards to Riggins getting Cashner, Russell, etc. stretched out for a potential spot in the rotation. Thanks and keep up the good work.

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

Hard for me to say considerign I haven't seen Quade handle spring training yet. But you know Quade will be well organized. I think getting all the pitchers proper work will be his biggest challenge.

Adam (Chicago)

Does Pena have the glove to save all those would-be throwing errors that Lee picked?

Bruce Levine
  (1:52 PM)

Yes, Pena is way above average at first. You will not notice much difference between him and Lee defensively.

bill (chicago)

i heard jerry reinsdorf say on show that they can't afford to lose big money two years in a row. record aside, if the sox don't draw significantly better this year, what happens next?

Bruce Levine
  (1:53 PM)

You can see them starting to move some big contracts. Their commitment to Peavy and Rios as well as Konerko and Pierzynski doesn't necessarily mean they can't move other contracts.

Adam (Chicago)

Hindsight 20/20, but are the Cards regretting the Holliday contract? I know Pujols needs protecting, but you can't give Pujols a deal worth only slightly more than you gave Holliday, right?

Bruce Levine
  (1:54 PM)

Pujols will get a lot more than that. He's going to get somehwere between $25-$30 million a year. Soembody has to support Pujols in the lineup or else he will be walked 200 times. Big money is a part of this game and the best players are going to get paid the most.

Matt (Brookfield)

Will the Cubs hurt themselves by not having a Leftie in the starting rotation? I am not sure if James Russell will cut it. Lastly - is there anyone in there farm system to watch for?

Bruce Levine
  (1:55 PM)

James Russell will get an opportunity. It's always good to have a southpaw in the rotation just so other teams' offenses don't get too comfortable with the same right-handed arm slot during a series.

David (Aurora,IL)

i dont know a lot about Fernando Perez. What does he bring to the table?

Bruce Levine
  (1:56 PM)

He brings outstanding defense and great speed. He had an injury-plagued season in 2010 and his offense suffered. If he can hit he will challenge for a spot on the Cubs roster. They need someone who can run.

Michelle (Orland Park)

Are the sox done with upgrading their bullpen or will we see a proven veteran come in and compete for maybe the long relief role?

Bruce Levine
  (1:57 PM)

The Sox would like to find another reliever along the way but I think they are done spending for now.

Bruce Levine
  (1:59 PM)

I will be reporting from spring training on Saturday on "Talking Baseball" on ESPN 1000. Although I will be covering the Cubs on a daily basis, I plan to get to Sox camp at least 3-4 times a week. Check out my blog on the Cubs and Doug Padilla's on the White Sox everyday. We will cover every game for both teams all season long.