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

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

Welcome to the wonderful world of the new Cubs front office. You never know what these guys are going to do. Well, we do know that they were in the D.R. to look at the Cuban outfielder. Lots going on, so let's get started.

Jamaal (Lansing, Michigan)

Bruce, have you heard anything else about the Cubs and Yu Darvish and the cuban outfielder?

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

The Cubs execs were looking at Cespedes during a private workout this week. There are at least six teams involved. The guess is that he'll get $30-40 million. The Cubs are definitely in play. For Darvish, too, actually. They just have to deal with the posting process, which Epstein went through in Boston. They had to put up $50 million just to talk to Matsuzaka. There's another issue with the new CBA where teams will have to pay a tax on international players, making these signings more prohibitive. Details coming soon as they are announcing the new deal now.

Dale (KY)

I don't see a half way commitment. Do the Cubs go full scale rebuild, or add significant pieces like Fielder?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

I've said all along that their idea of competing is by getting the best young players in the game. So if that means going to the international market, or signing Fielder, that's all a part of their philosophy. I expect the Cubs to be big players for Fielder.

Matt Allen (Oklahoma )

With Aramis coming out and announcing there is no chance he re-signs with the Cubs, what do you think the management does to replace his consistent production. And why do you think they didn't try harder to hold on to him?

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

Well there's an interesting issue that will come up tomorrow. That is, all teams must offer arbitration to their free agents by Nov. 23 in order to get a draft pick as compensation if they go elsewhere. The Cubs can get a Class B free agent if Ramirez departs -- a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds -- however, if Ramirez changes his mind and accepts, he may get somewhere in the neighborhood of $18-19 million in the arbitration process. That said, they aren't looking to 33-year-old players -- at least not position players -- as part of their future right now.

Matt Garza (Limbo)

Am I really on the trading block?

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

I think the Cubs will explore every issue that makes sense. Texas has some of the best young players in the game, and if you remember, Texas was the other team most interested in Garza when he signed with the Cubs. The Cubs would be foolish not to at least listen to a package of prospects Texas might throw at him. It costs you nothing to listen.

Lawrence (Toronto)

Who benefits from the move of Houston from NL to AL; Houston or the rest of the AL West?

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

In the long run I think MLB benefits more than Houston. They're going to the superior league and they're currently at the bottom of the majors in talent -- so in a sense they're like an expansion team. Travel is also an issue for the team, now playing in the AL West.

dan w (illinois)

will the cubs pursue c.j. wilson or mark buerhle to help their pitching staff

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

I'll think they've kicked the tires on both. They did talk to Wilson's agent at the GM meetings, but they are one of 10-12 teams that conversed with him. As for Buehrle, he might be the exception to their rule about young pitchers because of his durability.

Dustin (Chicago)

Who do you see the cubs hiring as Pitching coach/Bench coach?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

Chris Boscio and Ed Sedar are possibilities. Boscio is the former pitching coach in Seattle and Sedar is a major league coach with the Brewers.

Mr Baseball (Lincoln Park)

Bruce -Any more rumblings about the Cubs pursuing Carl Crawford? It has been brought up here and there, and maybe a package of Zambrano/Soriano and Specs/Cash could potentially get it done? I know Boston was never excited about the Crawford signing to begin wtih

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

Not sure Zambrano would get it done, even after a bad year by Crawford. They'd probably have to throw in a big name like Castro.

Andrew (Joliet)

What is the cubs position on their catcher Soto? I have heard great things about wellington castillo. Soto is average at best behind the plate and his offense is decent enough to bring in maybe some prospects what your thought?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

The first thing Theo and company did was asked the remaining front office staff what trades were on the table at the trade deadline that weren't made. Soto was one of those deals -- the Pirates were very interested. There's some question about Castillo's pitch selection when he's behind the plate. He has a great arm and a good bat, but I'm not sure they're ready to commit to him as their everyday starter.

John (Chicago)

When do you expect big name free agents starting to sign with teams?

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

Usually by the beginning of the Winter Meetings in Dec. a lot of things happen. Between next Monday and Dec. 15 you're going to see a ton of activity as far as signings and trades.

Sagar (Chicago)

How do you view Marmol's trade value currently?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

I think he has a lot of value. Most MLB execs look at Marmol as being overused. 75 appearances for a closer is a ridiculous amounnt. Also the way he was used in the bullpen -- getting up and down numerous times -- had an impact on his season. Marmol had 27 back-to-back appearances, the most in baseball. He has a lot of value.

JT (Naperville)

Hey Bruce, what's our plan for 3B? Super shallow FA group. Any thought of bringing a veteran SS with a good arm over to the hot corner? Was thinking maybe a Furcal, plus would weaken the Cards too. That or is Vitters really our option?

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

I don't know if the new front office wants to use stopgaps -- the concensus is they prefer to develop a solution at those positions. You might see LeMahieu over there. Defensively he showed he can play the position.

Tommy (Pekin, IL)

Any word on what the compensation will be for Theo? And was there compensation due for Hoyer, as well?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

Lots of rumors out there, but they're still looking for a player off the major league roster. I've heard Tyler Colvin's name speculated. The Hoyer issue is an amicable one that should not be a big deal, and one for minor league talent.

lamont (columbia,missouri)

Will the giants make Tim Lincencum available? who else may be available via trade?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

Really, Tim Lincecum?! I really don't see SF trading one of the best pitchers in baseball unless they think something's wrong with him. But... everyone is in the listening business these days. Not too many people are interested in trading young pitching, but teams like the Cubs will listen to anything that makes sense.

Fred (Cicero)

LeMahieu just doesn't excite me. Would rather see if Vitters can figure it out at 3rd, since he has the obvious upside with the bat. Is he still that bad with pitch selection, patience and the glove?

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

Still a work in progress as a fielder. The Cubs are on record saying their No. 1 priority is to improve on defense. I don't see Vitters as ready at this point.

Todd (Kansas city)

What Minor league prospects do you see making an apperance next year for the Cubs? I like getting the Cuban prospect much more than Darvish - given the high cost. Thoughts?

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

Again, the Cubs will go after the best young talent available, weither via trade or international -- they won't be afraid to spend money. The wallet is open and Theo has been given the go-ahead to spend as he sees fit. There are lots of ways to get good young talent and they will check all those avenues.

Jon (Batavia, IL)

Will the Cubs trade Marlon Bryd and start Brett Jackson in center? Or keep Byrd and play Jackson in right? Also, do you see any other prospects getting a shot at starting next year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

I think Jackson is the closest to the big leagues. I think the Cubs will trade Byrd in the right deal, but he is good insurance at all three OF positions for just $6 million.

Edgar (Chicago)

Bruce...I've read that Dale Sveum is ok with bringing Jaramillo back, and already has said goodbye to DeJesus and Dernier, but I haven't heard anything on the status of Riggins..please tell me that Riggins won't be back as his pitching coach...

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

Riggins has had one face-to-face with Epstein and is expecting another conversation this week. I've also confirmed that DeJesus and Dernier will not be back on the major league staff.

sam (iowa)

i think we go for reyes and then move castro to 3rd base

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

I really don't see these guys going after Reyes. He is a great talent but the I'd be concerned about the continuous injuries and getting him to play up to the contract he'll receive.

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

Thanks for all the Cubs questions. Please follow me @ESPNChiCubs. Doug Padilla will be here soon, but let's take a couple Sox questions while he's wrapping up that wild Kenny Williams story.

Shawn (Chicago)

If the former Gov. Thompson said negociating with Reinsdorf was really difficult, why do the Sox have so many bad contracts?

Bruce Levine
  (1:38 PM)

Jerry doesn't negotiate all the contracts. Kenny, Jerry and Rick Hahn do that together. It's a group decision although Jerry has veto power -- it's called the checkbook.

John (Cedar Lake, IN)

Do you see the White Sox moving Floyd and Danks this offseason?

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

I see at least one of these guys being traded. You'd get the most back for Danks. There are a ton of teams looking for a left-handed power pitcher who's only 27 years old. Floyd is a decent pitcher, but beyond that 17-win season he's been a .500 pitcher.

Karl (Western Springs, IL)

ANy chance that the Sox will open the floodgates and make everyone available and go young? I am quite tired of this team, and would like to see some new blood.

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

If you check out the Sox blog you'll see a story about Reinsdorf's appearance Saturday on Talkin' Baseball. Jerry said he's still in the midst of deciding on a direction.

Debo (Peoria)

Does Ventura have the respect and admiration of the current clubhouse or is it something he will have to earn as the season progresses?

Doug Padilla
  (1:42 PM)

Im' here. Sorry for the delay. Just talking to Chicago police about the break in at K. Williams' home. We'll get into that shortly.

Bruce Levine
  (1:42 PM)

The latter -- you have to earn that respect by how you come in and treat people. I don't think Robin will have any trouble getting his message across or earning respect. Yes, he can be tough as nails one-on-one when he has to be.

John (Chicago)

Given the signing of LHPs Donald Veal and Jose Quintana, is this the end of the line for Thornton in a White Sox uniform?

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

I think the White Sox will take calls for Thornton. He showed some chinks in the armor last year and baseball historians will tell you that you should always trade guys one year early as opposed to one year late. Thornton may fall into that category.

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

With that, I'll turn things over to Doug. See you all next week!

Doug Padilla
  (1:45 PM)

These guys are hardly ready to pitch in the late innings. Doesn't mean Thornton can't be dealt, but I wouldn't look for this pair to enter games when the White Sox have a lead. At least not any time in the immediate future. They'll still need to earn their way onto the team and into a crowded bullpen.

Dale (KY)

What do you think are the odds of the Cubs signing Buerhle?

Doug Padilla
  (1:48 PM)

I'd say really good if they make a strong offer. Buehrle obviously knows the city. Don't know that he wouldn't sign with the Cubs because of his loyalty to the White Sox. If the Whie Sox's offer doesn't come anywhere near the Cubs' offer, then maybe loyalty goes out the window.

Karl (Western Springs, IL)

Is Jordan Danks ready for the bigs? He could be a leadoff hitter possiblity with speed.

Doug Padilla
  (1:51 PM)

I wouldn't say he's ready for that kind of jump just yet. Offensively, Jordan needs to show more, at least from what I'm hearing. I don't see him on a daily basis. As far as on defense, he's probably better than anything the White Sox have now on the major-league level.

G (Chicago)

What is the biggest name free agent the sox might realistically pursue?

Doug Padilla
  (1:52 PM)

Maybe a guy like Coco Crisp, who can play left field and bat leadoff. But they will have to move contracts to find the money for that type of thing.

Alejandro de Aza (Dominican Republic)

Not mentioning any actual names but, if a guy, says his name is Alex, gets bad jumps on the ball and stinks at CF, could you see him being moving to LF? Also, any chance I get to lead-off and play CF ?

Doug Padilla
  (1:54 PM)

As of now Alejandro, you are projected to be the leadoff man. Still not sure how they position everybody. Alex probably gets the first crack at CF but if he struggles, anything is possible under a new manager.

Eric B. (Decatur, IL)

If Thorton is moved, will Crain be the set up man regardless of whether the opposing hitter hits from the left or right side?

Doug Padilla
  (1:55 PM)

I think Thornton gets a clean slate this year under Ventura to show what he can do. Crain is also a legit setup option, although he did fade a little down the stretch after an impressive start to the season.

Keith (decatur)

would the sox play dunn in the outfield

Doug Padilla
  (1:56 PM)

I would seriously doubt it. Maybe he gets time out there during interleague play if he's hitting. But I don't see it.

Tommy (Pekin, IL)

What is the wild Kenny Williams story?

Doug Padilla
  (2:03 PM)

OK onto Kenny. I'm sure many have heard that his home was broken into last week. Among the items missing was his 05 World Series ring. He got it back but only because the suspect returned, peeked into windows and police, who were on scene, approached the suspect. He had the ring on him.

Patrick (Chicago)

What are the Sox going to miss the most from Ozzie's departure? What are they going to gain the most from Ventura's arrival?

Doug Padilla
  (2:05 PM)

Hard to say without seeing what Ventura offers. The players seemed to like the fact that Ozzie let them be themselves and that they knew where they stood. That would seem to be Ventura's style as well but we'll have to wait and see.

Eric (Oak Lawn)

with gio gonzalez daniel hudson and clayton richard all being pretty good major league pitchers and chris young would look good in center too do the sox regret their philosophy of liquidating the farm system to get veterans?

Doug Padilla
  (2:07 PM)

I think there is always regret when a prospect leaves and delivers elsewhere. But that's the price to pay when you're looking for a veteran fix. You aren't going to be able to trade junk for veteran help. The moves really look bad when the vets you trade for don't help the club to get into the postseason.

Kevin (My Desk)

What is a realistic return for cq? Is he valuable enough to pry a couple top prospects or more midlevel guys?

Doug Padilla
  (2:09 PM)

I think he should get a nice return. Looks like KW will target guys about to break into the major-leagues, although he's starting to hint that he would be willing to take guys who are a few years away.

Chris (South Beloit)

Rumor has it, Kenny Williams is going after Fielder! Be a great move.. what do you think??? He can play 1b/Dh along side Konerko!

Doug Padilla
  (2:10 PM)

Not sure where that came from, but that doesn't seem legit.

Jason (Bmore)

Do you think Ventura could be less inclined to move Sale into the rotation, or will this be a mandate handed down by Williams and Reisdorf?

Doug Padilla
  (2:12 PM)

I think Ventura knows this move has to happen, but as of now we're only hearing Kenny talk about it. Not sure this would be where Ventura digs in his heels. If Buehrle is gone, Sale is a legit rotation addition and Ventura knows that.

kaufmak (Chicago)

If you could have any of the current Sox over for Thanksgiving, who would it be?

Doug Padilla
  (2:14 PM)

Probably Konerko because he knows good wine. If I knew of one that cooked, Konerko would be out.

Doug Padilla
  (2:15 PM)

Thanks for the questions once again and Happy Thanksgiving. Talk to you next week.