Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

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

Bruce Levine
  (1:02 PM)

It's a beautiful day in the desert. I hear it's nice in Chicago as well. Two weeks until Opening Day, and the Cubs still have some roster questions. Welcome to the chat ...

Jamie (cincinnati)

Do you think Kerry Wood may get a crack at the closer role if Marmol struggles?

Bruce Levine
  (1:02 PM)

That's not the plan. Wood is going to be 1A as far as a closer goes if Marmol is tired or has worked three days in a row.

Shawn (Pekin, Illinois)

Are the Cubs at least talking to teh Rangers about Chris Davis? He seems a perfect fit for what the Cubs need - a back up 3B and 1B who could move in to the staring lineup as needed, a 25-year old with 25-30 HR potential, a solid glove, not over-priced and would make their bench better as well.

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

The player that the Rangers wanted were traded in the Garza deal. I don't see a matchup right now. Hendry said as recently as three days ago that he hasn't talked to the Rangers since the winter meetings.

Kevin SD (San Diego)

Where do you think Matt Szczur will start this season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:05 PM)

Probably at Double A or maybe high A. They really like him. Hendry told me that the kid's makeup is off the charts. They think he has a big future.

Pat (Chicago)

Bruuuuce! What's your Final Four? Also, do you see Grabow having a bounce back year and being a solid contributor for the Cubs in the 6th or 7th innnings this year.

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

I believe it's UCLA, Louisville, Notre Dame and Illinois. I'm taking UCLA because I feel Alcindor will have a big tournament and Wooden is the best there ever was. How's that for a wayback machine? We'll know more about Grabow starting today. Grabow participates in a game this afternoon for the first time since Feb. 27. He had an injury in his shoulder.

Karen (Lake Forest)

At what point does Silva get traded or released?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

Released is an $11.5 million hit. Contrary to some opinions that the Cubs only owe $6.5 million, that was the case last year when some of the money was paid by the Mariners in the initial part of the Bradley trade. It is hard to go to an owner and say please eat $11.5 million. The most likely scenario is Silva continues to pitch better and the Cubs eat a portion of the deal after they make a trade.


Bruce, what are the odds Silva gets moved? Rumors are out there that he could go to the Rangers for there 2nd baseman Michael Young. Would the Cubs really pick up that much in $$$? I personally love the move but don't think it will happen.

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

The move has never even been talked about. The Rangers have little interest in Silva and the Cubs have no interest in the $50 million still owed 34-year-old Young.

Josh P (Itasca, IL)

How hard would a position change be from SS to 2B for Darwin Barney? Do you think he will make the 25 man roster or would it be better for him to see regular time at Triple AAA?

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

I think that is an excellent question. Barney has played well at spring training and impressed the coaches and management with his business-like attitude for his game. At this point he is the leading candidate to back up Castro at short as well as Baker and DeWitt at second. Ojeda has suffered from back spasms over the past week and that is hurting his chances. Barney would benefit from playing everyday but may be ready to be a very good sub at the major league level. Coaches describe him as Theriot-like because of his tenacity.

Eric (Iowa)

James Russell starter or reliever?

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

Right now, he has progressed as a starter to the point where the Cubs may ask him to go to Triple-A and continue to hone his skills as a starting pitcher. Keep in mind he is their only viable lefty prospect as a starter in the upper level of the organization. This type of move would make sense for them.

Luke (Oak Park)

Bruce, what can you tell us about how the Cubs view Josh Vitters after his performance this spring? He is obviously still young, but do the Cubs still see him as the 3B of the future?

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

I've watched him play and have not been impressed with his defense. That said, Quade said his improvement from last year to this year is night and day. I guess it's up to him as to how good of a position player he will be.

Erik (Bloomington, IL)

Great work as always Bruce. It seems like Reed Johnson and Perez are in a contest to see who doesn't make the team. Will Perez's speed end up winning out over Reed's experience and clubhouse impact?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

It's too close to call right now. Neither player has impressed with the bat. The Cubs know what to expect with Johnson as far as being a quality backup. Perez gives Quade a game-changing speed player at the end of the game. Hard to say which way they will go.

Jimmer (Land of Lincoln)

Will Ramy have a bounce back year? or is he finished?

Bruce Levine
  (1:17 PM)

I don't think he is finished. I think he is still capable of 30 and 100. I'd like to see him be able to play 145 games. Quade showed the ability to rest his players properly at the end of last season. If he can do that in 2011 players will have a chance to play at their peak most of the time. Ramirez is in an option year so there is plenty of incentive to have a big season.

Erik (Bloomington, IL)

What does Cashner have to improve on to be an impact starter?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

Command. He has to be able to not walk the ballpark. Walks have been the only problem for this kid, who has tremendous upside. According to team sources, if he doesn't make it in the rotation he will go the bullpen. He will not go to Triple-A.

Quinn (Chicago, IL)

What is the state of the Cubs clubhouse? I know Marlon Byrd is a vocal leader, but how are the rest of the guys getting along? Is this a 'fun' team?

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

It looks like it has that potential but fun is a relative state. It's based on wins and losses. I've never seen a happy team that won less than 85 games. If you are asking if the clubhouse has good makeup I would say yes. And Byrd is a leader. But there are plenty others to go around.

Bill (Chicago)

If Carlos Pena gets injured and misses a month or two what is plan then? Is it Jeff Baker for 2 months or maybe LaHair?

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

You forgot about Colvin. He would be the most obvious, especially against right-handed pitching and Baker against lefties. I think that's what the plan would be. Not to diminish what LaHair has done because he has had some big hits this spring.

dwayne (indiana)

According to their splits, Soriano and Fukudome should be platooned. That would also get Colvin in the lineup every day. What do you think?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

Not a bad idea. Politically I don't know that it would fly. Also, Colvin hasn't proved to them that he's an everyday player yet. As much as they like his potential, he still has a ways to go. The swing and miss factor is somewhat of a concern.

mike (bellwood)

will we see any surprises on the cubs roster this year? scales? jackson?

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

There are two Jackson, Brett and Jay, and both could be in the majors this year. Jay has shown well as a bullpen pitcher. Brett Jackson, when he comes up, expect him to be around for the next 10 years. Scales is there as a backup in case there is an injury to some of the middle infielders. He's not scheduled to make the team out of spring training.

Gertrude (Houston)

Can Hendry survive another playoff-less season? And how hot will Quade's seat get?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

Let's put it this way, a real bad season would be tough for Hendry and his front office. An above-average season where prospects continue to flourish and vets have decent seasons would probably prove to ownership that Hendry and his group are the right ones for now and the future. The only pressure on Quade is to stay consistent and be the same type of manager he was for the last month and a half last season.

Spence (Chicago)

Why not play Colvin every day and develop him, instead of platooning him with a player who isn't part of the big picture?

Bruce Levine
  (1:27 PM)

Because Fukudome is part of the big picture for Quade, who may use him as his lead-off man against right-handers. Colvin and Fukudome are two differenty types of players.

Buckysaz (Tucson)

what u think of Milwaukees upgraded pitching staff. Do thet have the bullpen to make a move?(standings wise)

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

They have the ability to be as good as anyone in the division if Greinke pitches up to the real potential he has, not the 10 wins from last year. Marcum is as an upgrade for them as well. I'm not a big Greinke fan though. Hard to get excited about a guy who won 10 games last year and prefers to play basketball over baseball.

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

Great talking to you. Catch you for only two hours this Saturday on Talking Baseball from 9-11. We hope to have both bench coaches on the show this week. Now my buddy Doug Padilla is ready to talk White Sox.

Doug Padilla
  (1:31 PM)

Hello all. WIth one eye on hoops and the other on this chat, let's talk White Sox.

Doug Padilla
  (1:33 PM)

Still haven't heard if the White Sox will change plans and go with the green caps. As of yesterday they decided not to. Two games today, I'll be at Scottsdale for the game vs. the Rockies.

Bill (Virginia)

Which one of the sox starting Pitchers will have the best year?

Doug Padilla
  (1:34 PM)

Bill, if I had to guess it would be Danks. The guy just knows how to pitch. If he gets some support there's no reason he can't push 20 wins this season.

Bob (Lake Forest)

What is Buehrle's future after this season? Will he really retire?

Doug Padilla
  (1:36 PM)

The guy is pretty coy so nobody knows for sure. I don't even think he knows. But my guess is that he will keep on pitching. Reinsdorf talked about him yesterday and said he sees Buehrle continuting to pitch as long as he's competitive.

brandon (omaha)

Hey Doug, let's assume Peavy isn't ready until late April/early May. Who is your front runner for that interim fifth slot? Or will they go with a platoon of sorts?

Doug Padilla
  (1:37 PM)

I'm in Scottsdale today where Pena is pitching. He could be the guy. There is talk that Phil Humber could get the slot too. But even if a spot guy is needed, it's not expeted to be for long.

Justin (Iowa)

So who do you think should win the starting 3rd base job for the sox, Tehan or MorelAlso, who should eb the Sox closer?

Doug Padilla
  (1:39 PM)

I'll go with Morel at third (everybody loves his defense) and Thornton at closer. But Teahen will get alot of chances at third too. He's had an impressive spring, with the bat anyway. If I had to predict, I'd say Morel starts 110-120 games at third.

John (Cincinnati, Oh)

With Thornton the clear favorite to close, will the Sox move Sale to more of a 7th inning role to split up their power lefties? Perhaps more Santos up to 8th inning duty?

Doug Padilla
  (1:41 PM)

The plan with the rest of the bullpen will be somewhat situational. If the Twins' lefties are coming up in the eighth it will be Sale. If right-handers are coming up they can use both Santos and Crain. They have lots of options late in games. The pen really looks impressive as long as Thornton can hold down the closer role.

Kevin (Chicago)

So from what you been seeing what do you think are seaspn ranking is going to be? meaning in front of behind of the twins in the standings? Also who is pitching this sunday against the dodgers?

Doug Padilla
  (1:43 PM)

A lot of people are predicting the White Sox to win the division. The Twins manage to find a way to get it done every year though. Should be fun. Notice I didn't commit. As for Sunday pretty sure that is Gavin Floyd's day.

Fred (Chicago)

Doug, are there any concerns that Dunn could have a hard time mentally only DHing? His strike out rate is prety high and wont be able to spend time in the field to get his mind off of it. Could this be why he has had so many at-bats this spring? thanks.

Doug Padilla
  (1:45 PM)

Fred you are right. Dunn has been given plenty of chances to adapt to that DH role ad should get even more as the spring comes to a close. The guy is a pro and a pretty level-headed dude so I doubt it should affect him greatly.

Andrew (Milwaukee)

I keep hearing that the Sox Cubs rivalry is not a big as it used to be. As a Sox fan I still want to beat the Cubs but knowing the Sox have a better team its still seams to be cooling off a bit. What do the players think?

Doug Padilla
  (1:48 PM)

As long as the fans care, the rivalry is alive and well. Most of these guys didn't grow up with the Cubs-Sox rivalry but they feel the energy from the fans and certainly get up for those games. Buehrle said the big crowd for the Cubs game last week got him pumped up so much that he was overthrowing at times. They care because you care.

DJ (Antioch IL)

What is the feeling your getting when the young guys get cut. Are they ok with it knowing its coming or are they still upset?

Doug Padilla
  (1:50 PM)

Most guys know it's coming, but it still hurts. They go into the spring with the concept that they want to pull an upset and achieve their dream by making the club based on performance. It's harder than ever to break through like that this year since the roster was pretty set heading into the spring.

Big M (Chicago)

Does Dayens injury make sure he gets a full year of RF in the minors with the hopes of breaking camp with the Sox next year?

Doug Padilla
  (1:52 PM)

Not completely clear on the question. Viciedo shouldn't miss much time this year, but yes he definitely is headed for RF in Charlotte. I'd be shocked if he wasn't recalled at some point during the season.

DJ (Antioch)

Need an intern? I am very good at getting coffee, driving you around, typing for you! Let me know!!!!

Doug Padilla
  (1:55 PM)

DJ, if you can figure out a way to sneak craft beer and deep dish pizza into the press box, I'd hire you in a heartbeat. Gonna guess my boss won't go for it though.

Kevin (Chicago)

With Morel doing good in spring training, do you think he locked up the third base position or is there still a chance for teahen?

Doug Padilla
  (1:58 PM)

It was supposed to have been decided by now, but Ozzie wants to take this down to the wire. Teahen's offense has earned that and his defense is getting better after a slow start. My best guess is that Morel gets the job and teahen gets time at third, first and RF to maybe get 300 ABs. Gonna be hard to get that many in that role though.

skip (aurora)

if you had a chance to see the minor leaguers during the spring - who should we expect to see in the bigs within the next 2 years

Doug Padilla
  (2:00 PM)

In the next two years I would have to go with Jordan Danks and Stefan Gartrell. Those guys looked close. I could even see a scenario where Danks gets recalled this year to play with his brother. But Jor. Danks should be ready by next year and Gartrell the year after that.

Doug Padilla
  (2:01 PM)

Thanks for the questions. Talk to you next week. Time now for hoops and Sox vs. Rockies.