Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

March 1, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine, Doug Padilla

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

Welcome to Scottsdale. Dempster makes his first outing of the spring. The Cubs are hoping to make less than three errors today. Welcome ...

T.J. McGowan (Chucktown, EIU)

will reed johnson make the 40 man roster or have any promise to getting back to when he was a solid backup?

Bruce Levine
  (1:04 PM)

Johnson is in a battle with Fernando Perez. It's winner take all but Perez has options to be sent back to the minors. Ideally you want to carry a guy like Johnson who is a great makeup person, but the Cubs are void of any speed outside of Perez and you would like to have that as an option. For now, I have thoroughly not answered your question.

Gabe Hauari (Richmond, Virginia)

Who is the best Cubs prospect under the AA level? What is the latest on Hayden Simpson?

Bruce Levine
  (1:05 PM)

Simpson has had some helath issues. It's hard to project him although the Cubs are very high on him. I'll have to do some reaearch on the below-AA types. I've been concentrating on the AA and AAA guys. i'll get back to you next week on that.

Edgar (Chicago)

Hey Bruce,Great job...My question has to do with the Trey Mcnutt. How close of a prospect, ability wise, is he to Chris Archer? Do you think Tampa Bay might have considered the trade for Garza centered around Mcnutt instead?

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

Most of the Cubs officials felt McNutt was a higher end prospect than Archer. That's not to say Archer may not become a very good pitcher, but after going 10-1 in two minor league stops last year, they feel McNutt is the best pitcher in the organization not at the major league level.

Jason (WI)

Should we worry that all spring the talk has been about better defense and in the first two games six errors?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

It's too early to worry but it's something you have to pay attention to. The two guys you should pay the most attention to on errors are DeWitt and Castro. That's the area they really want to tighten up.

Joe (Chicago Pilsen)

Bruce, why no interest in Glaus or Blalock frm the Cubs? Both can provide power off the bench and back-up 1st and third instead of having Colvin and Baker

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

Neither are very proficient defensively. Ideally a bench player has to play defense as well. Money is also an issue. Having versatility is another. In an ideal world you would have one of those guys as an extra man but the Cubs coffers are empty.

Hugo (Chicago)

After missing all of last year, how have uve seen Looper look this spring? Does he really have a shot to earn a pitching spot?

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

I can't tell you I'm smart enough to tell you how good his stuff is after watching him in practice. I think we will have a better idea after he starts Thursday. He does not want to be a bullpen guy, I can tell you that.

jason (anna)

Have there ever been players completely turn themselves back around as late in their careers as say Sorriano? Do you think he could have a big year this year or do you think about the same as last year

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

If you think back to Vlad Guerrero a couple of years ago it wasn't great and he came back strong last year. Soriano feels his leg will be as strong as it has been since 2008 after a second year of recovery from surgery.

Ryan (College Park, Md)

How has Casey Coleman looked so far in spring training? He looked really good at the end of last year.

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

The Cubs like him a lot. His most likely desitination in Triple A when the season begins. But it's not like they don't take him seriously. The Cubs have some depth at Triple A if they have injuries or lack of success.

Manny (Chicago)

Will Hill be the back-up of Geo or does he have to battle for that spot against Max and Castilo?

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

It's Hill's job. Castillo is ticketed for Triple A. Ramirez is out of options.

Alan (Chicago)

There hasn't been much talk about Matt Szczur after he opted to join the Cubs over the NFL combine. I know he is a few years off, but watching his speed in some of Villanova's FCS tournament games and reading his NCAA baseball line I am wondering if the hype is only a short distance away. Do you think that he'll have a brighter future in baseball than he had in football? And how many years away from the main roster do you think he is?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

I don't mean to turn you off but I'm not smart enough to say how good he is but the Cubs believe the kid is off the charts talent and makeup-wise. I'll keep an eye on him over the next few weeks.

Danny Baggot (Nashville, TN)

Hi Bruce. Do you thing Angel Guzman will be on the Cubs ML roster this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

No. He's starting to throw a little bit in spring training. But he is going to have to rebuild his arm and find out what he has left after surgery.

John (Baltimore)

Alright Bruce, I'll ask the question everyone is augie ojeda gonna make the team? Please say yes...

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

Either he or Barney, and I don't mean the guy in the purple suit. There is some thought that Barney playing SS at Triple A wouldn't be bad. On the other hand, Barney showed late last season that he wasn't intimidated by major league pitching. We'll know more around March 25.

John A (effingham il)

How is Geo Soto doing so far this spring training? Is he looking fit and in shape i really hope so?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

He is in shape and wanting to be the best he can be. He and I talked the other day about driving the ball more in 2011. He wants to get back to 85 RBIs that he drove in in 2008.

Corey (Normal)

How's Josh Vitters looking so far in camp? Does he continue this recent trend of Cubs draft picks actually working out and contributing to the big league club?

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

There are some holes in Vitters game. Defense has to be improved. At 21 there is still a maturity factor. The Cubs feel that he will hit in the major leagues.

AmPhotog (Chicago)

Bruce, my impression is that Quade is favoring veterans to fill out his roster over rookies who may have more upside. Do you agree?

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

If you're talking about the battle for Colvin to get playing time, it appears to be the same dilemma Piniella had last year. But you're right, he does want Fukudome to lead off. That's his best option. I don't know if he is looking at vets vs. young players. He's looking at best options to win.

Iain (MA)

Bruce, from what I've found online Samardzija is due $3.5 mm this year. How much does that salary affect whether anyone will claim him off waivers should he not make the team out of camp?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

I'll double check on that and get back to you on Thursday in the chat.

Big Ant (Madison,Wi.)

All i hear is Cubs targeting Pujols after the season,why dont the Cubs target Prince as the #1 choice??? Is it possible the Brewers trade him to us before the seasons is over if they are out of the race, if so do we have enough to get him???

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

Wow, that's a big stretch trading a guy like that in your own division. I don't see that happening but he could get traded because he's a free agent. I'm like you. I like Fielder over Pujols. At 27 if his weight doesn't get to him you can project big years from Fielder.

Bill (Wilmington,DE)

What's your outlook on Brett Jackson's prospects this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

Jackson will probably start the season at Double A, and then move up to Triple A if he does well. He could be in the majors by late summer. That's how much they think of Jackson and his progress.

brian (santa rosa)

do you think silva can compete at early last years level again this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

Except for his first outing last spring he was lights out until his heart procedure. The guy is a professional pitcher so if he works hard there is no reason to think he can't make the rotation.

Aaron (Madison)

Am I the only one that is worried about Colvins, BA, strike out rate, and defense?

Bruce Levine
  (1:27 PM)

No, everybody is watching it. Strikeouts are a concern. But he is the first one to tell you he is making some adjustments. That means against left-handed pitching as well. His defense will be OK but there is some concern here that dividing between the OF and 1B could be a distraction for him.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Did any of you guys knew Duke Snider who passed away on Sunday at the age of 84?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

I got to know Duke as a broadcaster. He did Montreal Expos games for years. He was really a nice man and an underrated player because he played in the shadow of Mantle and Mays. Duke was a classy player on the field and off.

dan (texas)

Bruce-any chance Cashner can eventually develop into a stud starter?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

I don't see why not. He's got the right attitude and good stuff. The concern with him is the wildness. He had 30 walks in 54 1/3 innings. He's going to have to do a lot better especially as a starter.

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

Now for more on the White Sox, here is my teammate Doug Padilla.

Doug Padilla
  (1:35 PM)

Just got back to the press box from the clubhouse. Let's begin.

John (Cincinnati, Oh)

Where does Santos fit into this bullpen? For a rookie with his lack of experience he was more than could be expected last year. What are expectations this year?

Doug Padilla
  (1:37 PM)

The White Sox simply want to see progress from Santos. If he can hold down the seventh-inning role they would be more than happy. It would put him on track to set up and eventually close down the road. If he can't progress this year, his chances of closing in a few years will take a hit.

Dan (Florida)

What do you think of Ozzies new lineup with Dunn batting third?

Doug Padilla
  (1:41 PM)

Lots of questions about Dunn's spot in the lineup. I'll use this one.Dunn seems like an ideal fit in the No. 3 hole. But if the strikeouts mount and Pierre and Beckham are being left stranded for long stretches, Rios could find himself back in the three spot with Konerko four and Dunn five. However it ends up, Konerko and Dunn seem desitned to bat next to each other in some form.

Lisa (Rosemount Il)

Does the relationship of Kenny and Ozzie seem to be good at this point? How long until the first big blowup?

Doug Padilla
  (1:44 PM)

Funny you should ask Lisa. So far so good. Kenny was teasing Ozzie about yesterday's loss in the spring opener and both guys took it well.Today Kenny thought I was in the trainer's room (where media isn't allowed) and was about to chew me out. Turns out he was looking at Ozzie from behind but he thought it was me. Kenny's still laughing about it. Ozzie is muttering, but is telling the story to anybody who will listen.

Chris (New Orleans)

Do you see Gordon taking the next step up in his game? Was last year a aberation or is that the real Gordon Beckham?

Doug Padilla
  (1:46 PM)

Last year looked to be the classic sophomore slump from Beckham. He's gone back to his old approach at the plate and looks comfortable. Everybody is raving about how he looks this spring. He is definitely expected to show improvement this season, offensively and defensively, which only bodes well for the future.

Marcus (Milwaukee WI)

I know they said Sale is in the bullpen but what happens if a starter goes down for a long period? Do they bring up someone like Humber or put Sale out there? They figure him in the rotation for next year anway? Does is depend on where we are in the standings?

Doug Padilla
  (1:50 PM)

129-Sale is not expected to come anywhere near the starting rotation this season. If a couple of satrters go down early in the spring then maybe. But that is still a big maybe. He has been promised he will be a starter one day. It could be next season or the year after that, just not in 2011.

Scott (Woodridge,IL)

Doug, how is the race for the 25th man going? Who is standing out at this point most?

Doug Padilla
  (1:52 PM)

Still too early to tell. Waiting on whether the Sox take 11 pitchers or 12 into the season. That might shed a better light on things.

brian (santa rosa)

are the sox looking to upgrade at catcher or can aj still get 500 at bats?

Doug Padilla
  (1:54 PM)

No catching upgrades being considered at this point. A.J. had 474 at-bats last season and that might go down this year as Castro gets more opportunities. That's the initial plan anyway, as Ozzie tries to keep the 34-year-old Pierznski fresh.

Dave (South Side)

Whose the favorite to fill the last spot on the Sox roster: Milliedge, lilibridge, Vicedo, or De Aza?

Doug Padilla
  (1:55 PM)

If Milledge can show signs of what made him a top prospect with the Mets a few years ago, the backup outfield job is his.

DJ (Antioch IL)

Thanks for all the great info. You have to have one of the best jobs in the world. What is the general feel down there. Are the players pumped for this season?

Doug Padilla
  (1:58 PM)

DJ, the gig is probably second to owning your own brewery. That's my opinion anyway. There seems to be plenty of unity this spring. The "no distractions" theme has worked well even with Ozzie's recent rant on Jenks.

Nate (North Burbs)

Is there anyone willing to take on Tehans contract or does he still serve some value as the uber utility man?

Doug Padilla
  (2:00 PM)

Teahen doesn't have much trade value now, but a hot spring could help change that a little bit. He looks to be in great shape. We'll see how that translates on the field. That being said, Morel is steal the favorite for the 3B job.

Tim (D.C.)

Is Jared Mitchell in camp this year? Or is he still rehabbing?

Doug Padilla
  (2:02 PM)

Mitchell is not in big-league camp. I did seem him over on the minor league side, though. Not only did he have his ankle issue last year, but he had a bum hamstring in the Fall League too. Expect this to be the last minor-league camp for Mitchell. It's with the big boys from now on, as long as he stays healthy.

Charles (Southern California)

Is there a possibility the Sox may limited Quentin's innings, maybe for a defensive replacement late in blowouts? He seems to get hurt a lot and he was last in the majors in ultimate zone rating for right fielders last year. Or is he taking steps to improve his durability and range?

Doug Padilla
  (2:04 PM)

Expect the same plan for Quentin this year. Maybe a guy like Milledge will play the ninth as a defensive replacement, but what you have seen in the past figures to be what you will get this year.

Doug Padilla
  (2:06 PM)

Thanks for the questions. Talk to you next time.