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April 24, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (12:03 PM)

Bruce is running a few minutes late, but lots of great questions in the queue. Keep them coming and we'll get rolling in just a moment!

Bruce Levine
  (12:08 PM)

Welcome to the chat! Ready to talk about both the hottest and coldest teams in baseball.

Grant B. (Burnsville, MN)

Hey Bruce, how much longer are the Cubs giving Soto to get his bat figured out? I assume he's on the block right now? He must have some serious intangibles behind the plate to be keeping Clevenger on the bench and Castillo at AAA!

Bruce Levine
  (12:10 PM)

You have to be careful when you trade a catcher. The unknown is whether Clevenger and Castillo can catch in the bigs everyday. Calling a game and endurance are a huge part of what a major league catcher is all about, not just results on offense. Teams would be interested in Soto, but like with any commodity, you try not to sell at the bottom.

Kevin Ryan (West Lafayette)

Do you think the Sox should send Gordon Beckham to the minors for a month or two, maybe just to let him find his groove? He has great potential and can be a great asset to this team.

Bruce Levine
  (12:11 PM)

Potential in his 4th year is something that people question at this point. What you see is what you might be getting -- a top quality defender and a .250-.260 hitter.

Dave (Northside)

With the Cubs picking up so much of Marlon Byrd's salary, is the ptbnl from the Red Sox going to be anyone special?

Bruce Levine
  (12:13 PM)

It's going to be a pitcher, most likely a left-hander that the Cubs have to choose from a list of players that they were given by the Red Sox. Now the Cubs are scouting those players to determine which one they want.

Ryan (kinmundy, IL)

How is it possible that we couldn't get a deal for Byrd that didn't involve us paying the whole contract? Was this also to get the Red Sox to drop the whole compensation issue? Glad to get bullpen help I guess and I like that Campana will play more now, but this seemed a bit one sided.

Bruce Levine
  (12:15 PM)

It's really not one-sided when you consider that the Cubs eventually have to open an outfield spot for Brett Jackson and when you have more pliable parts like Campana, Johnson and Mather who will make it easier to segue Jackson onto the major league roster in the late summer. Also Byrd hit .230 since being hit in the face last May, so there wasn't a big market for him.

Brian (Massachusetts)

Why sit Bryan LaHair against lefties. I would rather take my chances with LaHair, the lineup is already power deficient.

Bruce Levine
  (12:16 PM)

He just hasn't hit lefties primarily during his career. I don't disagree with you that they should try it out, but you don't want to clog up your lineup with a lot of swing and miss guys, which LaHair has been against lefties. He's hitting .433 against righties this year.


Just wondering, but has any hitter currently on the Cubs benefitted from Jaramillo? That was such a heralded addition and I haven't seen glowing results over the years.

Bruce Levine
  (12:18 PM)

The one thing Jaramillo had going for him in Texas was better hitters. You can't be a great hitting coach with below average hitters. I think Jaramillo is a very good hitting coach, but he's not a miracle worker. Once the Cubs get some better hitters for him to work with, I guarantee he'll get better results. Just ask the Texas Rangers hitters that swear by him.

Jon (Evanston)

Do you think the Sox can stay competitive with the Tigers?

Bruce Levine
  (12:19 PM)

Tell me what the bullpen ends up doing and I can give you a better answer. I'm not sold on the young bullpen yet. If they continue to develop and throw strikes, then I think the White Sox could win between 85-90 games. Let's take a harder look at the White Sox around Memorial Day. Right now enjoy the ride.

Trey (Chicago)

Now that Byrd has been dealt who do you think goes next? And how good can Bowden be?

Bruce Levine
  (12:20 PM)

I don't know on Bowden. He's been around for a while but has never really been given a solid opportunity. Epstein and Hoyer love the kid's make-up, and that's why he was a high draft pick of theirs. We'll see how he does in the set-up role.

Jason (NY)

What is Svuem's plan with CF going forward? A platoon of Johnson and Campana until the organization thinks Jackson is ready to come up?

Bruce Levine
  (12:21 PM)

Don't leave Mather out -- he'll get some time there too. It's Campana time to show them that he can play as part of a platoon against right-handers.


At what point do the Sox believe themselves to be legitimate contenders and look to upgrade their dificiencies at 3B or LF. Do you think it is possible for Beckham to hit or "not hit" his way off this team this season?

Bruce Levine
  (12:23 PM)

The White Sox are not adding anything that costs them money at this point. If they're in contention in early July, then it will be up to Jerry Reinsdorf as to whether they want to spend money to acquire a veteran for the stretch. First and foremost, White Sox fans have to show their love for this suddenly exciting team.

Bryan (Salt Lake City, UT)

Bruce, Why don't more coaches teach pitchers to throw a sinker? It would seem to me that if pitchers just pound the zone with a sinker and let hitters knock the ball into the ground it would cut down on pitch counts and allow starters to stay in the game longer?

Bruce Levine
  (12:24 PM)

Some pitchers are in the majors solely because they can do that, Randy Wells for example. But you do have to have other pitches to go along with that. Pitching coach Chris Bosio has changed Carlos Marmol's style by adding the two-seam fastball aka sinker.

kyle(antioch) [via mobile]

Do the sox have any players in their farm system, who could possibly find their way up the majors this season?

Bruce Levine
  (12:25 PM)

Very thin group down there. White Sox cannot afford any injuries to their starting pitchers. There's really no one of top quality to take their place.

Andy (Chicago)

Do the Sox have any concerns with Peavy's pitch count. Its good to see the complete game but once he hits about 90 pitches I start to cringe.

Bruce Levine
  (12:26 PM)

I think Peavy and the White Sox have the same plan. That is to treat him like a healthy, big league starter and let him go as long as he can for as many starts as he can. There's no sense in babying in his arm at this point of his career.

Tommy (Green Bay, WI)

Any chance the Cubs decide to put Castro in the outfield? This could be a similar situation to what the Brewers had with Braun due to the number of errors. And with Junior Lake being ready in a couple seasons... It only makes sense right?

Bruce Levine
  (12:28 PM)

Maybe in the future they'll change his position, but not this year and it won't come without some real hard thinking by the management team. You don't want to disrupt the kid by planting negative thinking in his mind. This guy is a special talent that will be an offensive force for years. So you need to be careful how you handle him, whether or not a position change is beneficial to the team. Most the scouts believe that he will eventually move to third base.

KO Stradivarius (Boulder, CO)

I've always been a fan of Geovany Soto, but at this stage in the Cubs' rebuilding process, he is obviously the wisest choice and the easiest player to trade next. Lots of teams need a catcher. Who do you think will trade for him, and when?

Bruce Levine
  (12:30 PM)

It's too early to trade for a catcher hitting .120. If you really want to trade him, wait for him to break out of this a little bit and start hitting some homers. The Cubs had a deal set for him last July with the Pittsburgh Pirates but they backed out of it because Jim Hendry did not want to take away the team's starting catcher from the next GM.

Chris (Purdue)

Bruce, I wish I got this question in before the weekend because i have been thinking about it all year...could joe mather turn into a jason werth type player? Maybe its just because they look/bat/throw exactly alike...what do you think?

Bruce Levine
  (12:31 PM)

That's what I've been saying--he does look like a clone. But more improtantly, he's maybe a late bloomer like Werth was. Even if he's not he is a valuable guy that can play 5 different positions if he needs to.

Joe (Wichita)

How long do the Cubs stick with Maholm and Volstad? Do you see them making a move to pick up any starting pitching or are we stuck with these 2 the whole season?

Bruce Levine
  (12:32 PM)

Think younger when the Cubs make deals. I believe this management group would trade anyone if they felt the team would be better in 2013 and beyond. This is kind of an experimental year for Epstein and Hoyer. They'll have plenty of money to spend on good, young players after the 2012 season ends.

Andy (Chicago)

Robin finally learn that Moral isn't the answer at the 2 spot?

Bruce Levine
  (12:34 PM)

Hard to imagine who the answer is for the White Sox. Maybe Lillibridge when he plays, if he plays on a semi-regular basis. The Sox don't have a great contact hitter to put in that spot.

Ryan (Purdue)

I just put a $100 dollar bet on the cubs making the world series in the next five year. Was this completely asinine???

Bruce Levine
  (12:35 PM)

I hope you got good odds. The Cubs plan is to get younger, more athletic and more left-handed. Those are all good ideas, however quantifying young players and developing them are two different things.

jaybeedoubleyou (chicago)

Sveum looks more and more like he is just Theo's Mike Quade. A stopgap solution, just like most to the players on this roster. But when this team actually has a chance at being competetive 2 or 3 years down the road, Tito Francona will be the guy right?

Bruce Levine
  (12:36 PM)

It's hard to say. Sveum needs to establish himself as a manager which is hard to do when you don't have a lot of talent. Many managers are brought in to do the heavy lifting and are not around when the team is ready to compete for a championship.

Elvis (Memphis)

Bruce, Do you think the Byrd trade to the Bo Sox had anything to do with the compensation (or lack thereof) involving Theo ? Obviously it's over and done with but do you think there was more to it because of Carpenters injury ?

Bruce Levine
  (12:37 PM)

It's hard to tell, really. Both organizations keep things close to the vest when they make a trade. My guess is that this was a desperate situation for the Red Sox and an opportunity for the Cubs to clear out a veteran player that wasn't helping the team.

JoeC (Illinois)

Do you think we'll see Javier Baez in Peoria this season? If yes, any idea on an ETA?

Bruce Levine
  (12:38 PM)

Don't know but he is considered among the best hitting prospects in the organization. He should ascend quickly.

Tony (Hillsboro)

When is Soriano going to lose some playing time for Mather?

Bruce Levine
  (12:40 PM)

The problem is when you put Soriano on the bench, what do you do with him? How many run producers do you really have in that lineup? It's not like Joe Mather has this great body of work where he's going to drive in 100 runs. Also keep in mind that Soriano is under contract for 2 more years after this season.

Paul (Denver,CO) [via mobile]

Who might the Cubs send down next to the Minors? Dolis, Maine, or Castillo?

Bruce Levine
  (12:42 PM)

No plans to send anybody out at the moment. Bowden is the 7th inning man now. One of the others will have to fill the long man role left behind by Rodrigo Lopez.

Nate (Chicago)

Any chance other teams will see value in Rios and Peavy in terms of trade acquisitions?

Bruce Levine
  (12:43 PM)

The question to me is why would you trade them if they are helping you compete? Maybe if it's around the trading deadline it will be a different story. But no one is trading for guys making $12 or $13 million off of two weeks work.

jeff z (indiana)

with A.J. having such a great start, do the sox bring him back next year, or way to early to think about such things? is Flowers going to be an everyday catcher?

Bruce Levine
  (12:44 PM)

Right now will ride the hot hand of AJ. The other things have a way of taking care of themselves as the season progresses. Pierzynski would love to stay with the White Sox, but not if they are not contending.

Jon (LA)

"Quantifying young players and developing them are two different things." I have much more confidence in this regime completing this than the past regime who was made fun of by other execultives for being totally clueless...agree?

Bruce Levine
  (12:46 PM)

I agree that player development was a slow process under the Hendry regime. However, if you look on the present team there's probably 8-10 guys that came through the farm system. That includes your shortstop, catcher and second baseman. Developing top talent takes years. Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays, who are now considered one of the top organizations in baseball.

Jason (Bmore)

I read a report that said Santiago can't grip the MLB baseball the same way, and it impedes his ability to throw the screwball. Have you heard or spoken to him about this?

Bruce Levine
  (12:47 PM)

I'm more concerned with him getting some movement on his fastball. To me, the balls that have been hit the hardest have come off his 95 MPH fastball that lacks movement.

Marty (Nashville)

Assuming the plan works, who on the current roster, besides Castro, is starting for the Cubs when they are a world series contender in 2 or 3 years?

Bruce Levine
  (12:48 PM)

Right now, possibly Barney but I don't see anyone else on the 25-man roster.

Nick K. (Sebastian, FL)

How long do you think the Cubs brass will put up with the mediocrity and smaller crowds before bringing up the kids?

Bruce Levine
  (12:49 PM)

They won't bring the kids up just to appease the fans. The Cubs will sell somewhere between 2.8 and 3 million regardless of who's filling out the uniforms. Until Rizzo and Jackson are ready to play every day in the majors, they will not be brought up.

Kevin (Chicago)

Can the Cubs finally accept that Shawn Camp is not a major league pitcher and cut ties with him already. I would rather get a young arm some major league experience

Bruce Levine
  (12:50 PM)

They have to have people to fill certain roles right now. I think the bullpen will be evolving all season long. Give it some time. It's not all doom and gloom. Let Bowden, Castillo and Dolis try to find their way in the bigs.

Alfonso Soriano (La La Land)

I don't have a single extra base hit the ENTIRE season. I'm leading the team in strike-outs and I'm hitting under .200. I'm going to make around 17M dollars this year. Bruce, whats next for me?

Bruce Levine
  (12:51 PM)

Ultimately your unconditional release. But Soriano has always been a streaky hitter, and the Cubs are hoping that hot streak begins soon.

Bruce Levine
  (12:52 PM)

Follow me on Twitter @ ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla @ ESPNChiCubs. Thanks for all your questions!