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March 6, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

After covering White Sox opening day, I'm back with the Cubs in Mesa. Junior Lake just hit about a 500-foot homer to center. Of course it is only BP off the coach. Welcome. Let's go.

Chris (Purdue)

Hey Bruce, with the Cubs having basically just 2 starter spots filled, the cubs have some options to decide on the last 3. I know it will be based mostly on spring training performances, but what would the cubs best case scenario be (who would they want to see the most) as far as who wins those last few spots?

Bruce Levine
  (1:04 PM)

Maholm is a given at this point. You'll have Garza, Dempster, Maholm. After that, Wood and Volstad would seem to have a leg up, atlhough Samardzija has impressed Sveum and the coaches. Wells appears to be overlooked as well.

Chad (Whiting, IN)

Same old question....any updates on Soler?

Bruce Levine
  (1:05 PM)

Till he's given the OK by MLB to negotiate as free agent, the Cubs can't sign him. Make no mistake, the Cubs will do everything the can to get him.

John (Chicago)

How's Dunn's swing looking? Any better balance and better eye being shown so far?

Bruce Levine
  (1:05 PM)

Looking at bat speed, it apperas to be better, but too early to tell. Everyone is eyeballing him, that's for sure.

Sean (Niles)

How come the Cubs didn't go after Roy Oswalt? If he was willing to a sign a 1 year deal, I thought he would have been perfect as trade bait. I mean, the expectations are low for the Cubs, and if he pitches well, he could have brought back a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

The Cubs have a whole team full of trade bait. Epstein and Hoyer won't hesitate to trade anyone if it's going to make them better in 2013. They have great flexibility beyond Soriano's and Demnpster's contract.

Thomas Wrightson (Wauconda)

say Rios Beckham and Dunn have respectable seasons whats the sox record? what are the chances of prince fielder to have a breakdown season like Dunn had going from the National league to the American league?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

Kind of hard for someone with my background to predict. I don't know if even Leyland or La Russa can predict a down year, but very good lineup around him. As far as Sox, if two of those three have outstanding years, you'd have to think they'll compete. Eighty-five wins is not out of the question.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Do you think that Both Chicago Baseball Teams will be very bad in 2012?

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

Depends on what you call bad. I think in the case of the Cubs, they're obviously built for the future. If they can make a couple trades during the season to make them younger and better for 2013 and beyond, I don't think you should care what their record is. Sox fans have a different perspective. They have to hope to win this year with Pierzynski and Konerko going into their later years. The time is now.

Adam (Loop) [via mobile]

Hi Bruce- have you heard anything about a possible market for Byrd? I would think he could bring back a young player and open a spot in an already overstocked outfield.

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

You have to be careful trading people when you have little depth yourself in the OF. Outside of Sappelt and DeJesus, you don't have adequate defenders outside of Byrd. Brett Jackson's timetable will not be imposed until June or July.

Chad (Plainfield)

Do you see the Cubs possibly able to dump even more deadweight salaries before opening day? Players such as Byrd, Soriano, or even a Randy Wells?

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

Depends on injuries and other major league spring training camps. Cubs players will look good to other teams when injuries start croppingup.

Jerry (Chicago)

Cubs will be in a very, very strong financial position come next offseason. Right now - it looks like Cole Hamels has good chance of making it to free agency (maybe Cain as well, but less likely). He'll be just 28 for 2013 season - he's going to be a Cub in 2013, right Bruce?

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

Epstein has identified free agents 28 and under when he talked to us on "Talkin' Baseball" on Saturday. Hamels would fit into that category.

Norm Peterson (Boston)

I here a lot of bad talk at this bar I go to about how bad the White Sox farm system is, even after the trades made in the offseason. What do the White Sox have to do to make it better in the coming years?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

They have to spend a little more money in the draft and sign a Latin American player once in a while. The Sox haven't spent huge amounts of money in the amateur draft. They haven't signed a quality Dominican player in over 15 years.

J.D., New Mexico [via mobile]

Do u think Gavin Floyd will be dealt before the season opener, if at all? I think they should keep him at least 1 more season. I feel he is primed for a break - Out year.

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

I just don't see the reason to trade him. Someone has to pitch 200 innings. He and Danks are the only ones you can count on to throw 200 innings.

drnp (pearland, tx)

Any news on the Cubs former first round pick Hayden Simpson?

Bruce Levine
  (1:17 PM)

All indications are injuries and attrition have made him more of a suspect than prospect.

Dr. Emmett Brown (Hill Valley)

Say, hypothetically, Rios and Dunn play close to their career norms, Beckham offense is a little better, and they have a good year all many wins would you expect from them? Enough for the Tigers to say "Great Scott!"?

Bruce Levine
  (1:17 PM)

Probably 85. You have to tell me how that bullpen is going to shape up before I go all in.

Grant (Iowa City)

I really like the offensive capabilities of Tony Campana, but I know his defense is lacking. Any chance for him to make a big impact this season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

I don't know. If it were my club he'd lead off and play center every day. I'd have him find a way to get on base and score early. But no one has asked me to manage yet.

Willow (Southside)

What has Jerry Krause done in the past 15 months or so since he was hired to improve the image of the White Sox in Latin American after the scouting scandal?

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

He left the Sox a year ago and has been scouting with the Diamondbacks. He was with the team 11 months and they didn't show much interst in doing anything in Latin America while he was there. Their attitude has changed as we begin this year.

Bob (Chicago)

Everyone is writing off the Cubs this year. It maybe because I just saw the movie Moneyball, but I feel that the boys in blue can turn some heads this year and at least be competitive and make it a fun summer. Am I crazy for thinking this?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

No, because if four of the five starting pitchers live up to expectations, the team should be competitive. The bullpen is decent. You can win a lot of games in the NL with solid pitching and a good pen. Scoring will be a challenge.

Paul (NJ)

Bruce, do you think there is any chance KW would move someone on the team at this point Matty T, Floyd, Beckham if the right deal came along

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

As the season progresses, maybe so. They may go into full rebuilding mode once contracts of Peavy and Rios become more manageable.

John (Orland Park )

How has Josh Vitters looked in camp thus far? I don't see a future for him at 3b and the outfield looks crowded with prospects Jackson and Sczar. What the long term outlook for Vitters and when do you predict we'll see him?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

They're looking for Vitters to stand up and be more responsible and have a big year at Double-A and Triple-A. He's only 22 but seems like been around forever. The consensus is he'll hit.

Bill (Chicago)

Who do you see as the long relievers in the Cubs pen to start the season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

Could be Rodrigo Lopez or Wells. Could be Sonnanstine. Those are likely.

ralph (n'ville)

Any chance for Lillibridge to take over at 3b?

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

Morel is going to be the 3b and all indications are he's starting to fell like a major leaguer. He showed good power in Sept. last year.

Patrick Corcoran (Bloomington, IN)

A lot has been made of Rizzo as "the future". Do the Padres think the same about Cashner? I thought pitching is harder to find than offense? What was the motive behind this move?

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

It was a trade that was debated among the Cubs front office. The head of baseball operations had to be convinced by the GM that it was the right deal to make. Cashner going into the bullpen and may be their closer. He's throwing 102 MPH in camp.

Willow (Southside)

What will be one of the greatest challenges that Robin Ventura will face as a first time manager this season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

Keeping the team focused on playing hard every day. That's about all a manager can do. He's got Don Cooper to help with the pitching.

Bill (N Side)

Who will have more HRs this year, Soriano or Dunn?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

I'd say it's close. I'll take Dunn, say it's in the 30s.

Adam (Loop) [via mobile]

Bruce- Obviously, it's very early; the biggest pitching surprise out of Cubs camp has been...and why?

Bruce Levine
  (1:27 PM)

For the coaches, Jeff Samardzija. They've been impressed with how hard he's worked in the offseason and how badly he wants to start. He starts tomorrow against Kansas City.

Greg M (Chicago)

Whats the extent of Soto's groin injury? I think he's supposed to play today, but it seems like a bad sign that he was injured coming into camp after ending the season relatively healthy.

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

He's doing well. It was minor. He'll play Saturday or Sunday. He told me this morning he's doing all activity.

Tito (Libertyville)

Bruce is it just me but if Robin Ventura wasn't the very good player he was the media would already be all over him as the most boring interview in all of Chicago?, I mean he put me to sleep already and its only March!

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

I like boring managers, as long as they're competent and have their players' attention. We've been spoiled with Ozzie and Lou. Those types of personalities don't come around every day. Ventura's been direct and honest, like Sveum. That helps hacks like me give you the info you really need.

Rick (Montana)

Just saw an interview with the one and only, Ozzie Guillen. He is real. Immense respect for him.Your thoughts?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

Ozzie is terrific. His focus was on moving elsewhere at the end of last season, and that was the Sox's fault for bringing him back for 2011. Great guy and I think an excellent manager.

Drew (Chicago)

What's the status of Tim Wilken with the new front office? Seems like they don't think too much of his picks.

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

Jason McLeod is in charge of scouting and player development now. Wilken will work with him. It remains to be seen if he'll stay with organizaiton after this year.

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

Keep following me on my new Twitter account ESPNBruceLevine for Sox and Cubs. I'll be making the trip to both camps as much as I can.