Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

February 22, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine and Doug Padilla

Bruce Levine
  (1:02 PM)

Out here watching James Russell and Ryan Dempster and Carlos Silva throw to live hitting. Welcome to the chat live from Mesa.

Matt (Chicago)

Please keep a close eye on Vitters. His development , or lack thereof, will have a huge impact on our offseason needs & our ability to let Aram walk, no?

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

Still needs a little more maturity and work on his defense. They still feel he's a major league hitting prospect.

Brandon (las cruces, nm)

How well do you think the cubs big 3 starters are going to work with each other? It seems that Zambrano has matured a lot since his breakdown last season.

Bruce Levine
  (1:04 PM)

In reality, starting pitchers don't work with each other. They work independently on the days they pitch, but they can be big assets to each other in the clubhouse. Zambrano has showed all positive signs in camp as far as being supportive of his teammates.

Juan (Texas)

I am a Ranger fan who misses Byrd and with his relationship with the Balco guy, any chance the Cubs trade him to the Rangers for Davis and Borbon?

Bruce Levine
  (1:05 PM)

Things like trading Byrd were talked about in the winter. The Cubs are paper thin in the outfield. They're not about to make a move there right now.

Timmy (Chicago )

Bruce, I know Coleman is not a sexy pick to get the 5th spot, but I like him n I know Maddux's likes him to any chance he beats out Cashner, Silva, Looper and Russell?

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

It is an open tryout. Everyone will get their opportunity and they like Coleman as much as you do. But he'll have to pitch almost perfectly to get a rotation spot.

Joe (Chicago Pilsen)

Bruce, I know its to early to tell, but if Cash does not make the rotation will he go back to the pen or sent to AAA to get some starts?

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

Definitely not going to minors. The plan is he'll get stretched out, and if he goes back to the pen, so be it. They want that arm in the big leagues. Russell may be a different story, however.

chris (oswego)

Are the Cubs content with Ojeda and Barney as back-up IF's or are they still looking, or maybe they feel they have swing-men in Baker/DeWitt that can play 3rd if(when) Aramis goes down.

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

You have a handle on it pretty well. They're not looking elsewhere, although in my opinion they should. If something happens to Castro or Ramirez, they'll need another veteran backup who can hit a little better than they guys they have.

Kevin M (Champaign)

Bruce -Who would you pick to make the 4th and 5th rotation spots? My gut instinct would go with Cashner and Wells, but if Silva is anything like the first half of last year he should be given the spot.

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

I'd go with Wells and Silva, if they pitch the way they should in spring. I would send Russell to get stretched out as a starter in Triple-A, put Cashner in the pen.

Bruce (Elk Grove)

If the Cubs can come up with timely hitting, can they contend for both the NL Central and NL?

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

Going to be about pitching first. They top 3 have to win 50 games.
  (1:12 PM)

Bruce had to step away for a second. Please stand by.

Anthony (Des Moines)

Bruce, I think the Cubs are okay at 2nd with DeWitt, Barney, and Baker. But to put it into perspective if Pena, Castro, or Ramirez go down then that means that 2 out of the 3 of those guys will be playing everyday, Ouch. That is when it is really going to sting. I know that Covin will get some time in spring training, but I'm assuming he will be an emergency option only.

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

Colvin and Baker will be primed to back up Pena. Baker and DeWitt will back up Ramirez at third. About the only real backup for Castro is Barney or Ojeda. The team will have to decide which one to go with.

Ted Lilly (Los Angeles)

Is there any chance the Cubs would trade for me in late July if they're in first place and my Dodgers are below .500? Would the purse strings be loosened under that scenario?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

I don't know Ted, a 3-year commitment to you at your age might be a little iffy. We might have to check with Ken Williams to see if it's alright.

Ed (Chicago)

Bruce,Any chance the Cubs are going to add a bench player with some pop before spring training breaks? They seem to be pretty lacking in that department; a guy who can come in a give you a clutch extra base hit from time to time. Thanks.

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

I'm with you,and Orlando Cabrera can be the right guy. He signed a 1M contract with the Indians. However, the Indians may part with him in the right deal. Right now, the Cubs don't have any money.

Stanley Yelnats (Saint Paul, MN)

Is there any chance that the opening day pitcher will change over spring training? Also, is there any chance that Zambrano will be a sore loser about this thing? Has he really changed? I know he went 8-0 after anger management, but that was a long time ago and I don't really know what to expect from him this season.

Bruce Levine
  (1:17 PM)

They're not changing the Opening Day starter, however all the other things you said about Zambrnao are true. We're hoping to see a different Zambrano, the same one who was a good teammate the last third of 2010.

Mike (Downtown)

Bruce, if Aramis and Pena have bounce-back years, Colvin continues to get stronger and hit for power, where can we realistically see the Cubs finishing in the division (understanding their pitching is pretty solid all 9 innings)?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

I think they can 85-88 games. That might be enough to win the division depending on how strong the Cardinals, Brewers and Reds are.

bob (minnesota)

Who will leadoff against lefties? righties? Who is the starting 2b? Who gets the lionshare at 2b?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

The answer to 3 of those questions is most likely DeWitt. Against lefties, it's Baker. Fukudome is another option to lead off.

Mike (Winchester, VA)

Are there still currently talks about renovating Wrigley Field? I know a few years ago there was talk about renovation and the possiblity of playing home games on the South Side. What is the status of this?

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

Board of director member Todd Ricketts said last Friday that the Cubs should have renovation plans set within the year.They're going to have to wait to see who the new mayor is before they get going in that area. They'll need city cooperation.

dan (ny )

will zambrano give th cubs 10 wins?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

10 will not be enough. If it's only 10, they'll be in trouble. They need 10-15 from Z, and he's capable of doing it.

Adam (Loop)

Bruce - I haven't heard much about prospects for the Cubs infield. Obviously, Lee was #1 on that list, but after the trade for Garza and aside from Vitters .318 career OPB, who can fans be excited about to watch in spring training?

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

CJ Lemahieu is someone they feel wil be a major league 2b in the next few years.

Jim (Chicago)

What can the Cubs realistically expect from Fukudome this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

Depends on how many at-bats he gets. Looks like he'll be a part-time player, but if he gets hot, Quade will have no choice but to use him and lead off against righty.

Jerry (Orland Park)

Would you rather pay Pujols 35mil for 6 seasons or pay Fielder 30mil for 6 seasons?

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

Personally, I would take Fielder. But if you asked 100 guys, I would be the only one. I just like that he's 27 and hasn't reached his potential yet. But most people would call me stupid.

BassmanUW (Chicago)

I know that the Cubs want a left handed pitcher in the rotation, and I know that James Russell is working on his change up, but they have to be worried about his complete inability to get out right handed batters last season. He struck out 12.64 left handed hitters per 9, compared to only 4.13 right handed hitters. His xFIP against left handed hitters was a strong 2.65, but against right handed hitters was a bad 5.77. This guy can't be seriously considered as a starter unless he's a vastly different pitcher than he was last season, right?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

Command of the changeup will determine whether he'll be able to get right-handers out. We shall see.

Tex (Austin)

I believe the Cubs need to keep at least 3 lefties since they will most likely have all righties in the rotation. I liked what I saw of Scott Maine last year! Does he make the team as the 3rd lefty?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

He does if Russell makes the rotation or is sent to Triple-A.

J.P. (the 815)

Bruce,Do you think Quade is going to make some changes to the order? How would you set the lineup for '11?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

Against right-handers: DeWitt, Castro, Pena, Ramirez, Fukudome, Colvin, Soriano, Soto.

Burns (Machesney Park,IL)

Will there ever be a time when Soriano will look good to AL teams as a DH if we agree to pay part of his salary? Or are we stuck another 4 years?

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

I think he's a career Cub at this point.

Jerry (Orland Park)

Do the cubs trade Fukudome at next years trade deadline?

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

You're not going to get anything for Fukudome. If he's good, keep him. If he's bad, no one wants him.

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

We expect to talk to Carlos Zambrano after practice today. Keep reading to see what he says. Now time for Doug Padilla on the White Sox.

Doug Padilla
  (1:34 PM)

Time to bring your White Sox questions. The team hit the field for te first full squad workout of the spring less than an hour ago.

abraham garcia (oak lawn)

What would happen if the whitesox got off to a start similiar to last year or perhaps a mediocre one, would kenny and jerry hAve the same patience before they start dismantling the team?

Doug Padilla
  (1:36 PM)

They probably do have the same patience, if not more. This White Sox team would appear to be more talented than last year's. Then there is the temptation to give Peavy the time to round into his Cy Young form. If they were going to go young they would have done it in the offseason. Talk to me again if they are 20 games under .500 toward the end of July.

john (chicago)

have u seen peavy pitch yet? how does he look relative to his peers?

Doug Padilla
  (1:39 PM)

Peavy looks about the same as everybody else, perhaps a little behind them. He isn't throwing hard yet, but most guys aren't at this time of the year. Danks and Jackson did let it go a little bit yesterday. He's not expected to stay on pace with his rotation-mates, though. He will ease into a routine that gets him back by April 10 or April 20.

D Simon (Bucktown)

If Viciedo is capable of playing RF (great arm, claims it's his natural position), would the Sox look to trade Q? What type of pitching prospects could we get for him? I think it would be a great course of action if Viciedo is actually capable of holding it down.

Doug Padilla
  (1:42 PM)

Carlos Quentin, for all his ups and downs, is a guy that would be hard to let go. You know he'll figure it out eventually. As good as Viciedo's bat is, and will be, it's too early to project him as a starter in RF without the Sox not having watched him play there yet.

Michael (Orlando)

Good thing or bad thing for Rios to say the Sox are the team to beat?

Doug Padilla
  (1:45 PM)

It's not like the comment is going to fire up the Twins any more than they already are. But it's not wise simply because the Twins might not make the sexiest offseason moves, but they figure out a way to make it work for them. The defending division champ is always the team to beat. Konerko said as much this morning.

Tom S. (Madison, WI)

If Ozzie names Sale his closer and the kid succeeds in the role, will this bullpen be the best we've seen on the Southside under Kenny and Ozzie?

Doug Padilla
  (1:47 PM)

If Sale locks down that closer role, it could be a pretty nasty group. Santos has to move forward, though. The 2005 group didn't look dominating at the start of the year, but they figured it out fast.

Ryan (Crystal Lake)

How does Teahen win the 3B job? Not to take anything away from Moral...just wondering if its possible for Teahen since Moral is a front runner.

Doug Padilla
  (1:50 PM)

Teahen would have to bust out offensively, while Morel flops badly. Morel is viewed as the favorite and the more you talk to people down here the more it seems as if the job is his. And that's before the games begin.

Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)

Does Quentin's defense bring the Sox over all outfield defense to below average? You cann't have a great pitching staff without ,at least, good defense.

Doug Padilla
  (1:52 PM)

There are certainly better right fielders. And with Pierre's arm in left, this isn't the most talked about group defensively. But Rios in center helps the cause and Pierre can track down balls that others can't.

Andrew (Columbia, MO)

If Sale leap frogs Thornton, how can that be seen as anything other than a slap in the face for Matt? Thornton should have taken the role from Jenks full time last year. He has been nothing but dominant for 3 seasons. Why would he NOT be the closer?

Doug Padilla
  (1:54 PM)

Thornton would be considered the favorite for the role. He said he has no problem having to prove himself again. Without the presence of Sale, who could be capable of some special things, we're probably talking about Thornton as the closer right now.

ross (lagrange)

do you thinks bacon will get off to a better start this year and if not does his deffense keep him in the lineup

Doug Padilla
  (1:56 PM)

Gordon Beckham looks comfortable so far. It looks as if his offensive struggles taught him a lot last year. He's not going to over-think things this year and will just let his talet shine thorugh like it did in the 2nd half last year. Also, he will limit outside distractions in 2011 like appearances and media requests. Not a bad idea.

Johan (Scottsdale)

Do you recommend any other spring training stadiums to watch the Sox at aside from Camelback Ranch?

Doug Padilla
  (1:59 PM)

Drove past the new park in Scottsdale for the D-backs and Rockies and it certainly looks impressive. The Giants have a good atmosphere in Scottsdale but good luck getting tickets. Surprise and Peoria are generic parks, but Peoria has a lot of resuatrants nearby, including one of the best all time fast food spots In-N-Out.

Ryan (Crystal Lake)

Who is in the 2 spot in this lineup?

Doug Padilla
  (2:00 PM)

Beckham for now. Alexei could get some chances there.

Craig (Kansas)

Who is going to be our number 5 starter, with Buehrle, peavy if healthy, Danks and Floyd holding the first four.

Doug Padilla
  (2:06 PM)

If Peavy misses the April 10 fifth-starter opening, Tony Pena could be the guy. Lucas Harrell has a chance depending on what he does in the spring. The fifth spot will only be needed once before April 20 so Pena could take that one giving Peavy some extra time to get ready.

Ron (WV)

Won't the Sox be better off with Sale in the rotation and Thornton closing?

Doug Padilla
  (2:08 PM)

Perhaps in the long run. But the team doesn't want to use a young guy like Sale in multiple roles this year. They know a bullpen role will be there all year so they're going to put him in it. It's hard on anybody to go back and forth, much less a 22-year-old with two months of big-league experience.

Ryan (Crystal Lake)

Is it me or are people looking over Edwin Jackson? Cooper really got him going after the trade.

Doug Padilla
  (2:10 PM)

If Jackson continues to do what he did at the end of last year, the White Sox will be in good shape. They will watch him closely and start out with the same plan they had when he arrived in Chicago. Just saw him throw briefly yesterday for the first time so it's hard to say how he looks, but he was a bit wild at times.

JJ (Aurora)

Does Lastings Miilidge make the major league roster, or are we stuck with another year from guys like Brent Lillibridge?

Doug Padilla
  (2:12 PM)

Lastings Milledge is the favorite for the fourth outfield role, but the Sox staff doesn't know much about him so he will have to show it first hand in spring training.

Jeremy (Quincy)

Why do the Sox and so many Sox fans want to see Sale start so badly? It seems as though every other scout in baseball says he's built for the bullpen. Yes, starters are worth more than relievers. But no pitcher is worth anything with a blown-out elbow.

Doug Padilla
  (2:14 PM)

Sale wil be a starter eventually. He has been promised that by the White Sox. He has some incredible stuff and if he can use that for seven or eight innings an outing he could be dominating. They are taking baby steps for now.

Tony (Champaign)

Wait why did you not say Edwin Jackson for the 5th starter?

Doug Padilla
  (2:16 PM)

Everybody keeps asking about Jackson. I must have missed something earlier. The rotation is Buehrle, Danks, Floyd and Jackson. Pena is the favorite to assume Peavy's role for the short term.

John (Naperville)

Does Viciedo make the roster out of spring training? I know they have been trying him out at 1st, 3rd, and RF, but is there realistically any room for him on the roster with guys like Millidge, Lillibridge, and De Aza competing as well, plus guys like Vizquel already penciled in on the roster?

Doug Padilla
  (2:17 PM)

Viciedo is a tough call. Having him on the bench could hurt his development. They would rather he get 400 at-bats at Triple-A

Doug Padilla
  (2:19 PM)

Good questions. Let's do it again soon.