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February 17, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine and Doug Padilla

Bruce Levine
  (1:00 PM)

It's a beautiful morning here in Mesa. First baseman Carlos Pena is taking his first cuts and the White Sox officially open camp today. What could be better.

Doug (Oswego)

Bruce, How would you grade the Cubs offseason? It seems like they were able to fill the holes they had without spending that much money.

Bruce Levine
  (1:01 PM)

Exactly. Hendry went about his business without griping about the fact that they cut $12M in payroll in 2010. In reality, he was able to get Garza, Wood and Pena and sign Marmol for less than $14M toward this year's payroll. Pretty amazing.

Josh Riggs (Saint Paul, MN)

Can we trust the Cubs 4th and 5th rotation spots to have good production this season? And with that, can Wells come back with another season like he had his rookie year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:02 PM)

Can't trust anything right now as far as the bottom of the rotation. Wells is dedicated to having a better season. As for the results, we'll have to wait.

Adam (Chicago)

I'm not wasting my time dreaming of Pujols in a Cubs uniform next year. But with $40 million or so coming off the Cubs' ledger, who should I think about in a Cubs uniform next year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

Think about Fielder. That's more realistic. Plus, he's 27 years old. If you can project his weight won't affect the rest of his career, you've got yourself a superstar at 1B for the next 5-7 years.

Eric (Cincinnati)

Bruce, How does it make sense for the Cubs to consider paying Albert the money he is looking for if he did not resign with the Cards?. Would they just want to put themselves in a longterm hole again?

Bruce Levine
  (1:05 PM)

I'm not sure anybody with the Cubs has said they're going after Albert Pujols. Then again, I'm sure all 29 would be very interseted in having Pujols for the next 4-5 years, but not 10. That's a crazy number, and so is $30M per year.

David (Chicago)

Please don't speculate for now on the Pujols saga : ) Season hasn't even started, and eyes are already on 2012. I think this Cubs team will be better than expected.

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

I like your optimism. There's no super dominant team in the NL Central. There are 4 who can win it, and the Cubs are one. I don't like to play fantasy baseball, anymore than you do. Or talk about 2012 or '13 or anytime in the future.

Bryon (Chicago)

Is there any chance that Fukudome will be traded before the begining of the year? Also, any chance the Cubs might make a run at Young from the Rangers?

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

There's no matchup for those two right now. The Rangers are not interested in a part-time OF who has no power.

Alan (Chicago)

One of the keys to the Cubs season seems to be the 4th starter. We can skip the 5th starter from time to time because of off days but really need consistency and innings from our 4th. I would love for it to be Cashner. Has he developed a good enough third pitch to succeed in the majors as a starter? Who do you see grabbing that spot?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

A wonderful question. Because of the fact none of us know if he can consistently command a changeup. He's going to have to have all 3 pitches working to get NL lineups out. If confidence is factor, he'll be a success. Both he and the Cubs have great belief in his ability.

Lewie (Southside Chicago)

Had Quade indicated that hes going to go with the hot hand like he did at the end of the year? Because i just grew very annoyed with Lou Piniella's constant starting of Fukodome and Soriano when they clearly weren't the best options at times!! I use Thibs for the Bulls as an axample if someone doesn't do his job he benches them, ala boozer when he doesn't play defense! i respect that a heck of a lot!!

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

I think you're going to see Quade use a player he feels can win a game that particular day. I'm hoping that earning playing time is part of Quade's MO.

Chris (Evansville)

If the majority thinks Pujols will get $300M for 10 yrs somewhere, what do you think P. Fielder will get? Better options for Cubs?

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

Fielder will get whatever Boras tells people he'll get. Boras is sitting in a very good position, because he will wait for Pujols to sign and set the market. And then he has both Fielder and Pena as the only 2 quality free-agent 1B out there to estabalish a new market. $20M+ is the basement figure for Fielder.

Chad (Columbus, Ohio)

What are we to realistically expect from Starlin Castro this season? Is he going to step up as a star on the team, or will he go through a slump this year? More importantly, is getting a Castro t-shirt jersey a good investment?

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

I would invest in that Castro tshirt if I were you, as long as it says Cuba and not Cubs on the back. Seriously, though, Castro should cut down on his errors at SS. Contact doesn't seem to be a problem for him. Hard contact is another issue. I think he'll hit the ball with more authority as he grows into his body.

Kirby Robinson (Winston-Salem, NC)

Hi Bruce and Doug-What are y'alls thoughts on Carlos Zambrano?s decline in velocity? It would seem that his age is not the only factor in this decrease as he is really not that old. With his fastball not exactly exploding towards the plate, what pitch do you see him leaning on for outs this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

Changeup and slider. He also throws a split-finger pitch once in a while. Zambrano pitches backward compared to how he threw when he first came up. His fastball is more like a changeup now. Meaning you can't just sit there and expect to get the heat.

K. Thomas (Indiana)

Although he struggled throughout the year, will Zambrano make a 7th consecutive appearance as opening day starter or will Dempster or Garza be given the nod this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

My choice is Dempster. But Quade hasn't asked my opinion yet. I think he'll wait a while before he names one in mid-late spring training. Zambrano is the only one who said he'd actully prefer to be the Opening Day starter. But all 3 would like to.

Tex (Austin)

I never hear any talk about Jeff Stevens being one of the guys fighting for a bullpen job. Is he still in the mix and what are his chances?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

He's in the mix, but way in the rear view mirror.

Jake (Manito, IL)

Is there a possibility that the BoSox sign pujols and don't extend Adrian Gonz? I would much rather Adrian Gonz. than Pujols, and want to Avoid Fielder and his 500lbs like the plague. Also any chance of bringing in someone like a Mike Young or Grady Sizemore? they could fill some voids we need to fill, namely Young at 2b.

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

I think the Red Sox will do everything they can to sign Gonzalez. He fits perfectly into that ballpark and he's 3 years younger than Pujols.

David (Chicago)

Any chance Andrew Cashner starts the year at triple A if he doesn't make the starting rotation so that he can truly be stretched out, rather than bullpen patch-worked? (if he truly is meant to be a starter long term)

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

I don't think that's the plan for Cashner, but it might be for Russell. Cubs are defininitely in need of a lefty starter. And if Russell shows real promise here in spring training, the Cubs may choose to extend that through the first month of the season at Triple-A. Not a bad plan considering that Wellemeyer or Looper can be kept. And if they don't get the job done they're not making that much if you have to release them.

David (Chicago)

Any progress with Matt Garza getting contract extended for the three years that has been discussed?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

It's been discussed in the media, mainly by me. I don't think they've had substantive talks with the agent at this point. But it is on their radar screen.

Chris (Chicago)

Bruce, would you trade Marlon Byrd for Michael Young? Opening up a spot for Colvin or Jackson. Assuming of course the Rangers were interested. Or does the extra money & years on Young's deal make it impossible?

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

The Cubs are not going to commit $50M toward Young. End of story. If Texas will eat a third of that, the Cubs GM would have to go to ownership to make that deal happen. And there is no money. Payroll is set at $133M.

Brett (Lexington, Ky)

How are the Cubs second base options looking and who will get the nod come opening day?

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

It appears DeWitt is the favorite to win the job. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo feels that DeWitt will be the pick to click for the Cubs.

Ian (Chicago)

I need your help! I've had a debate with my future father inlaw about Ron Santo. I say, based on the numbers compared to other players of his time, Ron Santo should be in the Hall of Fame. My future father inlaw aruges that Santo never came through in the clutch and for that reason Santo is not a Hall of Famer. What's your take?

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

I believe both of you are right. Ron wasn't the greatest hitter in the ninth inning, but he was a dominant player at his position for over 10 years, and one of the best fielding third basemen ever. He belongs in the Hall of Fame, but your future father in law isn't exactly wrong.

Derek (Lawrence, KS)

Who would you say would be the "make or break" player(s) for both clubs this year to make a run at a postseason spot.

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

With the Cubs it's always Zambrano and Ramirez. 15-plus wins from Z and 100-plus RBI from Ramirez are imperative if the Cubs will win the division. To me, the No. 1 most important guy for the Sox is whoever is the closer. That means either Chris Sale, Matt Thornton or Sergio Santos. Most important hitter to me is Beckham. If he can come back to his rookie form, the Sox batting order might be as good as anyone in baseball.

Mike (Chicago)

Who will be the most exciting players to watch this year in Chicago?

Bruce Levine
  (1:27 PM)

I'll choose Dunn for the Sox and Castro for the Cubs.

Christian (Washington, DC)

Bruce, I'm coming out to Spring Training for the first time with my Dad to see the Sox play the Cubs (He's Cubs, I'm Sox). Besides the games going on, what are some fun things to do in Arizona during that time?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

If you're a hiker, there are a lot of great hiking areas. The two Troon golf courses are among the best, and the restaurants are only a shade less than Chicago. Try Don and Charlie's restaurant and The Grotto in Scottsdale.

jason (anna)

Any way that the cubs Barney could crack the starting line-up out of spring training... I saw him play and if he put on the muscle they said he did he could be a nice addition to that line up

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

He goes into the season as the backup 2b/SS. And he's fighting Augie Ojeda for that position. DeWitt and Baker will handle most of 2B.

mike (chicago )

the million dollar question that im sure everyone is asking...do the cubs have a legit shot at Pujols? has there been any indication that rickets and co would be willing to invest that much money into one player?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

Mr. Ricketts will be here tomorrow and speak to the media on Saturday. I'm sure it will be one of the first questions he asks, and I'm sure he knows talking about players on other teams is tampering. But we'll wait and see what the fine owner of the Cubs has to say.

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

That's it for the Cubs' part. We'll pick up with you next Tuesday. Tune into Talkin' Baseball on Saturday for equal Cubs/Sox talk. Now it's time for my buddy Doug Padilla to talk about the Sox.

ESPNChicago.com
  (1:32 PM)

Doug will be with us in a second. Thanks.

Doug Padilla
  (1:41 PM)

Sorry for the delay. Technical issues. I'll be here for a half hour starting now.

Chris (Schaumburg)

What do the Sox do with Viciedo? Is it at all possible that they view his as somewhat of an insurance policy in the event the season tanks and a Konerko or Dunn has to be moved for payroll reasons?

Doug Padilla
  (1:43 PM)

Viciedo is an interesting situation. He will play some OF this spring and might have to grow as a major leaguer in a backup role. Not easy for any young player, but his bat will tempt the Sox to do it that way. Too early to think about salary dumps just yet.

al novak (upland, ca)

I think that Sale should be penciled in as a starting pitcher and keep him there. If Peavy proves sound they then would have six viable starters. Trade one for a young left handed hitting outfielder and a young catcher and this team is set. what do you think?

Doug Padilla
  (1:45 PM)

Sale probably won't start unless he will be in that role for at least half the season. He looks headed to the bullpen for now and could be the closer if all goes well.

Rob (Algonquin)

Assuming the Sox are 100% healthy (Peavy included) and in 1st come July - what positions should Kenny target to upgrade at the deadline?

Doug Padilla
  (1:47 PM)

If the offense can't get going, look for KW to chase a third baseman at the deadline. That's the best bet right now, but of course so much cahange by then.

Kit (Chicago, IL)

What's the chance on Lastings Milledge playing well this year and taking Juan Pierre's role in 2012?

Doug Padilla
  (1:50 PM)

Milledge has a perfect chance to revive is career and become the kind of player that was expected of him. The problem is that as a fourth OF he won't get consistent at-bats. If he can handle that role at age 25, he would be an ideal Pierre replacement.

Frank (Atlanta)

How will the whitesox finish in the AL Central

Doug Padilla
  (1:52 PM)

Talent wise, the White Sox are as good, if not better, than anybody in the division. MN didn't get much better but it looks like Detroit did. I'd say the Sox are the favorites, but the pesky Twins always seem to find a way.

Juan Pierre (Tucson)

Do you think I can get 80 steals this year?

Doug Padilla
  (1:54 PM)

Well Juan, since you just told me about a half hour ago that you will take 50 teals and a World Series title over another stolen-base crown, I'd say not good. Seriously though, with Konerko and now Dunn behind him, he might not run as much. Why take a guy off the bases when a HR could come at any moment?

Max (Ft Worth)

If Sale joins the pen and Peavey doesn't start the season who is our best option for the last rotation spot?

Doug Padilla
  (1:57 PM)

If it's just two or three starts it might be Pena. If it's longer, perhaps Lucas Harrell or Charlie Leesman. If it's half a season or more then Sale would be the guy. It will all be determined on how Peavy progresses this spring and whether or not he has any setbacks.

al novak (upland, ca)

This team looks pretty well set for the season other than Peavy. Who may be a sleeper to make the team?

Doug Padilla
  (2:00 PM)

Lucas Harrell could sneak in there with a good spring. Even if Peavy is back his innings could be limited so having two long men in Pena and Harrell would help. (As a Damien HS guy I felt OK answering two of your questions Al.)

chuck h (wheeling, il)

Does Ozzie still wear his post-game pink slippers?

Doug Padilla
  (2:02 PM)

Haven't ben able to see his slipper choice for this season. We talk to him for the first time after today's workout. Let's hope that whatever hotel he "gets" them from this year, they have a better selection than in years past.

chuck h (wheeling, il)

What's the difference between DJ Carrasco and Tony Pena? Why did the White Sox let DJ go but give Tony Pena more money?

Doug Padilla
  (2:03 PM)

Pena's spot starts last season are probably the reason he is still with the club. Had he not showed that, especially the start he had in KC, he might be elsewhere this season.

Danny (Chicago)

Do you think Teahen can turn it around after his disappointing 2010 season? Will he even be the opening day starter?

Doug Padilla
  (2:05 PM)

Teahen should be better. Hard to get any worse. As for being the starter at 3B, that's an uphill battle. Morel would have to flop badly while Teahen tears up the Cactus League offensively. Morel is a huge favorite right now primarily because of his defense.

Matt Powers (Lake Geneva, WI)

How is Jared Mitchell's recovery going and is there any shot he makes the major league roster this year?

Doug Padilla
  (2:06 PM)

Mitchell wasn't invited to big-league camp this spring so that's a big sign that the White Sox are still taking his recovery slow. If he makes it to the big leagues, it would have to be much later in the season. Opening Day figures to be out of the question.

Derek (Lawrence, KS)

Compare this years Sox team with the 2005 Team that won the World Series. Are the position players an upgrade or comparable? And which rotation/pull pen would you rather have on your team, 2011 or 2005?

Doug Padilla
  (2:10 PM)

Talent-wise the 2011 team stacks up with 2005. But remember, that 05 team did all the little things and nobody felt they were above moving over a runner when it needed to be done, even Konerko. Not sure this club can do that as well as the 05 club. As for the bullpen in 05 that team was shaky at closer too and had a lot of guys step up and have career years. Cliff Politte anybody?

Alexei Ramirez (AZ)

What do I have a better chance at doing this year. Hitting above .300 or winning a gold glove?

Doug Padilla
  (2:12 PM)

I will say winning the Gold Glove will be easier for Alexei. Stick with me here. Offense is much more a mental challenge than defense. If Ramirez presses and tries to "earn" his new contract, it would probably show up more at the plate.

JJ Hughes (Aurora, IL)

Would the White Sox consider going after Michael Young? I know they are just about sold on Morel with Teahen as the back-up, and that they are aslo strapped down financially, but if they moved Teahen's horrible contract as well as a minor leaguer or two, could the deal get done?

Doug Padilla
  (2:15 PM)

Ozzie loves Young, but it doesn't figure to happen. They can't take on any more salary and moving Teahen would hardly help there. Teahen isn't going to be wanted by any club any time soon after the year he had in 2010.

ross (lagrange )

do you think jordan danks can make the roster

Doug Padilla
  (2:17 PM)

Jordan's time will come, but Opening Day doesn't seem likely. Even if Milledge flops, De Aza probably gets the fourth OF spot. He will get key experience in big-league camp this spring and could be in line for a promotion later in the year if he continues to get better.

Mary (Naperville IL)

How much does getting off to a good start in Spring Training matter to starting the season. Is it necassary to win a lot of games since both teams do not have to many position battles to deal with?

Doug Padilla
  (2:19 PM)

The one player the Sox want to see a solid spring from is Alexei Ramirez. He has a habit of starting slow. He's been in the major leagues for a few years now so he's going to have to stop blaming the cold for his slow starts.

Albert (Chicago)

If Morel takes the 3B job, Teahen would be moved to a utility role. With him, Vizquel, and Castro on the bench already, would Ozzie really prefer to have Viciedo as the #4 bench player? I would think they would prefer a defensive/speed player for that role.

Doug Padilla
  (2:21 PM)

Milledge or De Aza (whoever gets the backup OF spot) would have to be the speed guy. Not ideal but they are pretty boxed in with the players they have.

Tim (Milwaukee)

Which is better for SP Arizona or Florida?

Doug Padilla
  (2:22 PM)

I'm a West Coast guy so I'll say AZ. But to be honest, in 10 years of covering ball I haven't done a spring in FLA. Teams are too spread out there anyway. All 15 teams in the PHX area this year will be nice.

Doug Padilla
  (2:23 PM)

Thanks for the questions. Off to watch some workouts.