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April 17, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:02 PM)

Kind of a typical start for the Cubs this season, certainly the White Sox have looked better until last night. Welcome to the chat...here we go

Izzy (Trop)

Why isn't clevenger starting? soto is horrific he is not rookie of the year anymore!

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

Soto is the guy with the experience, and he's also a guy that can generate between 17-25 homers. After a week and a half, you just don't kick your starting catcher to the curb. Also, remeber the scouts don't have a book on Clevenger yet.

Scott (Rockford, IL)

Do the White Sox have any answers for a #2 hitter?

Bruce Levine
  (1:04 PM)

They have a lot of questions but few answers so far. Run production may be a difficult proposition for the Sox this season. You basically have Beckham, Morel and Rios that are not hitting.

Patrick (Chicago)

When do you think the Cubs will bring Brett Jackson up to the Majors?

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

Brett Jackson timetable probably won't begin until mid-July. That's only if the management group feels he's had enough at-bats in AAA. These guys are concerned with player development, not with appeasing the fans because some veteran is failing. I think they'll stick to their guns and bring Rizzo and Jackson up when they think they are ready to play every day.

Mr Big Shot (waterloo il)

Marmol and Soto to the Giants for whatever and bryd to the Red Sox it"s time to move on.

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

Fantasy trades are nice. But in reality, you have to get back something that is going to help your club now or in the future.

Ross (Wahoo, NE)

Why does Svem put the whole bench in on Sunday, I mean we had no pop in the lineup at all. I think our AAA team donw in Iowa would have beat us that day. How you think they would have done?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

Managers have to play their bench players from time to time to keep them fresh. In reality, Baker and Johnson have as good a chance to get a hit as anyone in the lineup not named Castro.

Jim (Ca)

Last weeks delusion of a "spark of life" from the Cubs has passed, is there anyway I can expect to get face value for my cubs-sox tickets? What did I pay to see??

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

My advice is to get rid of your season tickets as quickly as you can. The Cubs are not going to be good this year, but they can get better if Epstein and Hoyer make some astute trades. Cubs plan is for 2014 and beyond.

Gary (Antioch)

With Reed looking unhittable, does Robin start to mix up the closing duties with Santiago?

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

Ventura won't do that with a knee-jerk reaction to one blown save. Remember, they have four rookies, if you include Stewart, in their bullpen. What that is called is player development at the major elague level. The last thing you want to do is start yanking guys back and forth between roles.

Jerry (Chicago)

Hey bruce - I look at the Iowa Cubs box scores each night and see a very high likelihood that 4 position players on that roster will be starting for the Cubs within next 12-14 months (BJax, Rizz, Castillo, Vitters). Can you recall another time the Cubs Triple A roster looked like this?

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

Probably not since the late-1980s. That's when you had players like Grace, Palmeiro, Girardi and Berryhill coming along.

JT (Naperville)

Are you getting a warm fuzzy feeling seeing the guys in Iowa playing well? Rizzo and Wellington tearing the cover off the ball, Vitters is above .300, Jackson adding on to a great spring. We just need some front line pitching and Jorge Soler and I'm ready to get some season tickets.

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

Hold on to your horses a bit and let these players develop. Maybe by mid-July you'll start seeing the team of the future at Wrigley. Right now other than Barney and Castro, it's hard to envision any of this group being here in 2014.

Bob (Princeton, NJ)

Do you think Konerko makes the HOF? I say yes, based not only on his consistent hitting but also his defense. It's always tough with so many outstanding first basemen.

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

Konerko probably is in the Hall of the Very Good. Certainly if you watch him every day you feel he is a Hall of Famer, but without any MVPs, HR or RBI crowns, the national media might not get the same warm and fuzzy that I do, or the people that watch him play every day.

Bill (N Side)

Would Josh Vitters bring anything worthwhile back on the tade market?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

No reason to trade Vitters at this point. Why would you trade young players that can hit? Let him continue to develop at AAA and find out what you have for the future.

Justin (Iowa)

Bruce-Given his extremely poor offensive showing at the plate so far, would you continue having Morel play as often as he is, let alone batting second?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

I have problems with both Morel and Beckham playing every day at this point. The only reason you can feel good about them playing is that they're both above-average defensive players. Sooner or later both are going to have to hit to keep their starting jobs.

Matthew (Cedar Falls, Iowa)

What are the chances that we see the cubs swap Maholm and Travis Wood to see how he fairs over Maholm

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

The Cubs are committed to a five million dollar contract with Maholm, and as a left-handed starter that six or more major league seasons, you cannot send him to the minors. You can try and trade him, but he'll have to pitch better in order to do that.

Mo (Chicago)

Do you see a legitimate market for Dempster at the trade deadline?

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

It depends. If he continues to pitch well, he certainly would be a candidate, but he does have a no-trade clause, which could prevent them from moving him. Ideally, Dempster would go in a trade to a contender because he is a free-agent after the season.

Fisher (Round Lake)

Enough with all the Betty BooHoos. The Cubs are doing what they should be doing this year. I want to know what the sitiuation with Gaza is. Are the Cubs still looking to sign an extension or are they going to look to get prospects?

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

No word out of Cubs camp as to whether or not they have offered Garza a long-term deal yet. Garza's people are going to want at least five years and between 65-75 million dollars. It just depends if there can be a meeting of the minds, otherwise he will be traded.

Chris (DC)

ESPN said that Castro will be a top 5 player by next year. That is great to hear. That being said, do you think they mean like a 20HR 40 SB .300 BA guy?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

My projection is that he'll hit 20 homers this year and be an RBI-producer if he bats in the 3-hole or lower. I believe the sky is the limit for him with his talent.

Gabe (Virginia)

Castro has stealing bags alot this season. Does he have a green light at all times? Do you think this is a stint and he will come out of it or is he a legit 40 SB guy?

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

It just depends on how Sveum decides to use the running game. He keeps improving at stealing bases. I think 25-30 is a nice number for him.

Adam (Des Moines)

What is the time frame for the renovation of Wrigley, 2014 All-Star game?

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

2014 is too soon. The Cub plan is 2016. That will give them 3 1/2 years to renovate the ballpark and will also commemorate the Cubs' 100th year of playing at Wrigley Field.

Dave (phoenix)

When, oh when, will the cubs bench Marlon Byrd. He looks absolutely lost. No power whatsoever, hacking at pitches left and right. Are they leaving him in to show him off for a trade or what?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

It's difficult to trade a guy that has two hits on the season. I know every Cubs player thinks that a guy that doesn't play well for them is easily traded. The positive side is that Byrd is much better than this. And other teams that are desperate for OF help will want to trade for him at a reduced price.

Yopper (Woodridge, IL)

With 5 of the first 100 picks and this draft being so critical to the success of the new regime. Does Mc Cleod have complete control or is it a committee so to speak between him, Jed, and Theo?

Bruce Levine
  (1:27 PM)

Mcleod is the guy that will pick out who they draft, but it will be collaborative. He will have Epstein and Hoyer look at the amateur players before he drafts them. You're right about one thing -- his scouting acumen is the key element to the success of this organization.

T.R. (Indiana)

Why are the Cubs sold out on Marmol? I feel like I'm the only one that sees that he is such a liability for this team (present and past). Walks, Hit Batters, fastballs down the middle. I pray our starters finish the game so he can't give it away.

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

The Cubs signed him at this peak and when it would appear to be a reasonable 3-yr, $20 million contract. With proper handling he should come back to being a dominant closer.

Danny (West Loop (work))

The Sox had a pretty good series against Detroit. Was that a fluke and can we begin to expect more games like last night? (Horrible bullpen troubles, bad defense, etc) Or does this team have an outside shot at the 2nd wildcard spot?

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

The White Sox are going to have to play perfect baseball to win games. That means they have to get outstanding pitching from the starters and the pen, and play great defense. Last night they were below average in all 3 of those phases.

Jay (Deerfield)

You mentioned "astute trades" in an earlier response. Please put your Theo hat on and give us an example of a forward-looking trade you might make.

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

I would not hesitate to trade Maholm, Stewart, Dempster or Garza if I can get back players that will help me in the future. I'm not talking about 'maybe' prospects. There's no reason to make trades unless you will receive top of the line talent back. Garza and Dempster should bring back 4-6 top young players from somewhere else. Those are the type of deals I expect Epstein and Hoyer to make.

Nizzi (Des Moines)

Bruce, what is the deal with Soriano stealing a base with the cubs up 7 runs? To me that is a SB for him and his agent. Not the team.

Bruce Levine
  (1:33 PM)

It's also infuriating to the opposition when you do that. Unless it was a hit and run, it was the wrong thing to do. But Soriano is not looking for a new contract -- the Cubs still owe him $38 million for the next two years after 2012.

Peter M (Quincy)

seems like Reed Johnson and Mather are redundant. I'd like to see Campana called up to provide a spark. any chance of this happening soon?

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

Probably not. I'm one of the few that likes Campana, but the consensus among the Cubs brass is that he won't hit enough to warrant a starting spot in the majors. I just like the fact that he can win you a game with pure speed.

Craig (Seattle)

Bruce, with the amount of extensions that have happened (Carlos Santana, Cain, Baumgarner, Votto, etc), are you surprised the Cubs haven't locked up Castro? It seems like a fit given how the Theo/Jed regime is interested in club controlled players

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

That will be the next step by this management team, once Castro's off the field problems are solved. Until that happens, you won't see it. But expect to have a new Castro deal done by next fall at the latest.

Curious (Chicago)

Would you rather play Rios and pay him $12M, or if possible, trade him by offering to eat 2/3s of his salary, redeploy the $4M, and bring up/develop a young outfielder on a re-tooling team?

Bruce Levine
  (1:36 PM)

The one missing element is someone wanting Rios on their team. If he can't play well for you, it doesn't really matter how much money he makes. This is one where you hope he becomes an all-star, then hope that somebody takes a contract off your hands.

Alex (Chicago)

What is more likely to end first: Go Cubs Go or "celebrities" singing the stretch?

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

For me, you can have them both. Neither are worthwhile traditions for me. You can also get rid of the loss flag flying over Wrigley after a game. Nothing should infuriate Cubs fans more than advertising that you're a loser.

John (Chicago)

Zack Stewart looked like a BP pitcher last night and I would be horrified if a SP got hurt and he's our 6th man. Any update on how Molina is doing and when he might be ready for a big league call-up?

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

Molina still needs some seasoning in the minor leagues. Dylan Axelrod is also a possibility.

Sam (Central Illinois)

Percent that the Cubs lose 100 games this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:40 PM)

You have to be really bad to lose 100 games. I think the Cubs' starting pitching is too good for that to happen. The offense though, has to do its part, and it's hard to see them scoring a lot of runs.

Eric (Scranton, IA)

What is your feeling about putting Castro in the outfield? He is our best hitter, but he is having a horrible time at shortstop with errors.

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

I let him stay at shortstop. If you want to move to 3rd or OF in the offseason, that's fine. But a position change could get in the head of one of the best young hitters in the game.

Adam (Des Moines)

How much of the Cub's lack of patience at the plate has to do with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo?

Bruce Levine
  (1:42 PM)

I've never seen a hitting coach that can teach a guy to be patient. This is a skill that is developed by the hitters themselves. Hitting coaches work on the technical side of hitting the baseball. The mental approach is usually talked about sometimes with the hitting coach, but is handled more by the player himself.

SteveFitz (Chicago, IL)

Anything new on Soler? What the heck is the delay?

Bruce Levine
  (1:43 PM)

Can't get an answer out of anybody about Soler. Not the agent or any major league teams. After the Fausto Carmona disaster, MLB is being extra careful about identifying Latin players and granting them free agent status.

Andy (South Holland)

What are the chance that we send Beckam back down to the minors?

Bruce Levine
  (1:45 PM)

If I was a GM, I would do it in the next two weeks if he doesn't pop out of it. The swing last night looked worse than it has all season. It's not for lack of work, Beckham was out there hitting an hour before BP yesterday. Something eventually will need to be done.

Todd (Oak Park)

Will the Cubs move Lahair to a different position if he continues to play well but the Cubs want to bring up Rizzo?

Bruce Levine
  (1:46 PM)

I think that is doubtful. If they feel that Rizzo should be playing, LaHair can be dealt elsewhere. Teams are always looking for left-handed hitters with homerun power.

Matt (Chicago, IL)

Soriano cannot be traded. He is not nearly the player he once was, and he occupies the only position that gives the Cubs flexibility with their prospects. What is going to give?

Bruce Levine
  (1:47 PM)

I agree with you that he won't be traded, so the only other move would be to release him and pay him $54 million. And I don't see that happening either. On top of that, the Cubs don't have all that many great OF prospects other than Brett Jackson.

John (Austin, TX)

Bruce, had a chance to see the Iowa Cubs win last night in Round Rock, TX & I came away very impressed with Casey Coleman. Where does he stand in the eyes of the organization?

Bruce Levine
  (1:49 PM)

I'm not sure, but the guy knows how to pitch. He's kind of Greg Maddux-light. He doesn't have the same stuff Maddux had, but he has the same philosophy of throwing everything on an angle. I think he can start in the bigs. Maybe not as 1 or 2, but certainly as a 4 or 5 for someone.

Mike (Minneapolis)

Do you think Ventura's inexperience has been an asset or a detriment so far this season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:50 PM)

I kind of like the fact the he doesn't have any preconceived thoughts about the players. That type of openness is needed for players to develop at the major league level. I think he is going to be an outstanding major league manager if the organization gives him some talent.

Pat (Indianapolis)

Do you get tired of all the Soriano hate? I know I do. I realize he isn't in the long-term plans but when will fans start to give him credit for being one of the Cubs most productive hitters?

Bruce Levine
  (1:52 PM)

I like your take on it. Don't blame Soriano for the rest of the team not being good. This is a guy that hit 26 HRs and drove in 88 last year. Very few #7 hitters have those type of production numbers. He certainly is not the ideal player to build a team around at this point, but he still is the most likely guy in the lineup to drive in a run.

Caps (Miami, FL)

Any updates on the Cubs looking for bullpen help and the conversations with the Nats about John Lannan?

Bruce Levine
  (1:53 PM)

They've had those conversations in spring training. The Cubs are in need of left-handed pitching in the bullpen, which makes me really question why they let John Gaub get away on waivers to the Rays. When you have a left-handed power arm in your organization, you should do everything you can to keep him.

Jay (Deerfield)

If the Cubs window to win starts in 2014, doesn't Matt Garza almost have to be in that rotation? Do you expect that guys named Hamels, Lincecum or Greinke will be available through free agency given the fact that so many extensions are being signed?

Bruce Levine
  (1:55 PM)

I'm not so sure the Cubs are going to be ready to sign big name free agents after 2012. Development may take a little longer than that. I don't see them handing out $100 million contracts to pitchers until they have their young players more a part of the major league team. This is going to be a process for you Cubs fans. This is not a one-year venture, it will take some time.

Bruce Levine
  (1:56 PM)

Follow me on Twitter at ESPNBruceLevine and follow my teammate Doug Padilla at ESPNChiCubs for all of your Cubs and Sox needs. Thanks for all your questions and we'll talk again next week.