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July 3, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:01 PM)

Welcome to Rizzo-mania on the North Side and the Great Pierzynski Debate on the South Side. Welcome.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What Chicago Baseball Team do you think has the best shot of playing in the Playoffs in 2012?

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

Right now you'd have to say the White Sox, but it's going to take two additions by Kenny to get it done. They need another starter and relief pitcher.

Streator, Illinois [via mobile]

Is the Ryan Dempster to the Dodgers trade talk still brewing and was he throwning off the mound showing that hes fine.

Bruce Levine
  (1:04 PM)

The Dodgers were the first and most interested team in Dempster 5 weeks ago. I believe they're still interseted but they have some other areas to shore up in the way of offense. Don't think the NYY or Red Sox and 2 or 3 other contenders won't be in on him as well.

Al (Homer Glen)

Who do you see as the better prospect...Brett Jackson or Matt Szczur?

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

Both are tremendously athletic outfielder, in Sczur's case he has a lot of baseball to make up for because of his football career. Jackson is starting to get it together at Triple-A, making more consistent hard contact. But he needs to stay there for the rest of the minor league season. Szczur is an interesting prospect who might take a couple more years to develop.

Trey (Arkansas)

Where is Dillon Maples? Is he not one of the few good pitching prospects we have but i dont see him listed in the minor leagues?

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

I believe there was an injury. I'll research and try to get more info in the next chat room.

Bill (Livingroom)

Bruce are the tigers a team that would go for Garza? And would Jacob Turner be involved in that deal???? And maybe Castellanos????

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

The Tigers had their top evaluator, Bruce Tanner, watching the Cubs last week. Adding either Garza or Dempster would not be a shock. The key to a lot of trade possibilities for the Cubs are the prospects they get back.

Bruce (Chicago)

Hey Bruce, I was wondering if there were any vetern relife pitchers that the White Sox can trade for?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

There's one on the North Side who would help immensely and that's Shawn Camp. It's not a sexy name, he's not a greatly accomplished pitcher, but he was the Cubs most important reliever for the first half of the season. His rubber arm would be a huge benefit for the Sox or any contender.

Micah (Illinois)

Knowing Kenny Williams, is there any chance he makes a BIG move and goes after Greinke or Hamels??? If so, what or who would they have to give up??

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

Knowing Kenny Williams he's always thinking of a big move. The problem is giving up more young pitching to try to win this year. The White Sox have always done that, but they've paid the price with prospects like Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Hudson going elsewhere and being successful. The Sox are hoping to start building their team through the draft and international scouting.

brad (illinois )

what is probability of not dealing garza and building pitching around him and jeff samardjia

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

I think that's a very minimal chance. The reason I say that is Garza like any good pitcher gets frustrated with losing close games. After two years of no offensive support, I see a frustrated support. And a frustrated pitcher is not one you want around for a long period of time.

Henry (St. Petersburg)

Who is the best pitcher in the Cubs minor league system?

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

Difficult to say right now. I haven't heard about anyone they're thrilled about in the minors, that's why they drafted 10 pitchers among their first 12 picks.

ZK (Singapore)

Will Youk get a chance to make as much of a mark in the Windy City as he did in Boston, or do the White Sox only see him as a short-term guy?

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

At age 33 it's really hard to tell what the Sox are going to do as far as Youkilis' free-agent status. There is a buy-out on a $14M contract, but I think you can pretty much assume that's been taken care of, meaning they're not goign to pick that up. That doesn't mean they wouldn't sign him to a two-year deal for lesser money.

Bob (Princeton, NJ)

I like what Jake Peavy brings to the Sox now that he's healthy. Any chance the Sox resign him?

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

There's a $22M option and $4M buyout. Again, like I said about Youkilis, if you get through the season 100 percent healthy, I'm sure the Sox would want to bring him back, but figuring a right price is difficult.

evander,tx [via mobile]

is clevenger and soto in a straight platoon for the rest of the season

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

Unless one gets traded. There were teams last year at the deadline that wanted Soto badly. Jim Hendry turned down a trade of Soto to the Pirates last July. Soto has to pick up his batting average for people to have some faith.

charlie (DC)

Any news on the July 2nd international free agent signing front?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

The Cubs and Sox don't necessarily announce their signings unless they're on a 40-man roster, so both may have signed some international players before July 2 without us knowing about it.

Bill (Chicago)

How much longer does Marmol have to pitch at this new improved level before we can get something decent in return?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

Probably another 2 weeks. He just has to show he has regained his fastball consistently and his slider is back to being what it was. If he does I think the Cubs have a shot at trading him.

Eric (Schaumburg)

What are the Cubs long term plans for 2nd base? Do you think Darwin Barney is the answer?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

Barney is one of those underrated players that every organzation needs to have. You always need the grinder/overachiever type. I'm not sure the oragnization is happy about keepign him around considering he has a poor OBP. He doesn't walk and this group of execs loves the type of player who gives you a OBP of at least 350.

Mike (Chicago)

has there been any news lately on the renovations on Wrigley, to go along with that is there an update on the spring training complex?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

In my opinion, renovations stories are on hold until after the presidential elections in November.

Al (Homer Glen)

If Rizzo made the team out of spring training how close to .500 would the Cubs be?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

Probably no different if you consider the bullpen was not very good in the first half. The starters might have won a few more games.

Bill (Chicago)

Will AJ be back next year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

Knowing the affinity the Chairman has for him, I would think it would be a strong conversation if he's willing to take a one-year deal with an option. A.J. is pretty bright guy too and would love to be a Sox broadcaster when his career his over and he has no stronger supporter than Hawk Harrelson.

jseiber (Omaha,NE)

After winning four straight, the team appears to be feeding off eachother. If they could get hot,and win 15 of 19 or so, wouldn't they be back in this thing? Especially with two extra playoff spots and weak central?

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

I love Cubs fans. They always believe there's a chance. This group of execs is not about this season. It's about 2014 and beyond. So veterans will be traded and you'll continue to see younger, more talented players come through Clark and Addison over the next 3 or 4 years.

Ryan (Boston)

With Danks on the mend, and guys like Humber and Floyd still questionable at best, are there any starting pitchers that could be available the Sox have a realistic shot at landing?

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

I think the Sox have a shot at landing any of the top FAs who only have this year remaining on their contracts, and that's Hamels, Greinke and Dempster. The only question is how many young prospects are the Sox willing to give up. Hopefully Kenny Williams will be able to answer that today.

Jason M (Chicago)

Do you think the All star nod will help pull Lahair out of his recent funk or do you think he is coming back down to earth? Secondly, the lineup the cubs throw out there against Left Handed pitching is simply pathetic, do you think they eventually start throwing Lahair back into the mix?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

I don't see why not, you can do any worse than what the others have done. It must infuriate LaHair not to bat against left-handed hitting when he sees Rizzo come up and Sveum says he'll bat against all types of pitching. Admittedly Sveum is going off LaHair's track record against left-handed pitching. Even one big hit in every 5 at-bats would be better than what they run out there.

Michael (San Francisco)

Bruce, on paper the Cardinals look like a great trade partner for the Cubs starters (Carpenter and Garcia hurt, Lynn creeping up on innings max). Considering this Cubs team is so far away from meaningful contention, do you see the front office being more amenable to intra-division trades?

Bruce Levine
  (1:27 PM)

I think these guys would trade with anybody as long as they get the prospects they want. Nobody expects the Cubs to win, so helping a team in their division would be of no consequence.

charlie (DC)

Bruce, now that Stewart is out for an extended amount of time do you expect to see Josh Vitters up before September?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

No. I think Epstein and Hoyer will stick to their credo, which is they want their young players to have at least 500 at-bats at Triple-A and show some success before being moved up. That means a full season for Vitters in the minors.

Bob (Princeton, NJ)

Why do you think the Sox hitting is so erratic? They can be hot as hades and then get shut out a couple games.

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

I think they live and die by the home run. The Konerko, Pierzynski, Dunn HR factor is a big part of Sox winning. So manufacturing a run is a little better for the Sox because of De Aza and Beckham hitting better, but not quite there yet.

Adam (Loop) [via mobile]

Bruce - I know it's a small sample size, but Valbuena has been very solid. I think the Cubs should maximize value, move him to 2nd base and trade Barney. Between Vitters, Lake, and Baez, a 3rd base solution will be here shortly and with a few contenders looking for infield help (Detroit, Tampa Bay, Cleveland) Barney could bring back some young pitching.

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

Teams have already asked about Barney, the Cubs haven't heard the right offer back yet. Detroit was the latest, 10 days ago. The Cubs aren't going to just give Barney away. He and Castro have started to form a pretty good double play combination. Valbuena has to prove himself. He's bene inconsistent where he's gone before.

AmPhotog (Chicago)

Brenly said it best last night, "there are no style points in baseball" after Castro's showboating play where he posed on a routine grounder allowing Uggla to beat the throw to first. I wonder why there is no accountability or ramifications on Castro's lax attitude toward his defensive play by the Cubs organization.

Bruce Levine
  (1:33 PM)

There are ramifications. I think he gets calle dinto the principal's office on numerous occasions. Then it's up to assistant principal Pat Listach to work out the kinks on the field. If it were Bobby Cox managing, he might have been pulled out of a few games.

Robert (Madison, WI)

Have you been surprised by the amount of contributions the Sox have gotten from rookies this year? This was supposed to be a team that had a completely empty farm system.

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

I'm shocked. All we knew about these young pitchers was that they had good arms. But their success is a testament to Don Cooper and Juan Nieves, who are tireless workers and instill a great amount of confidence.

Eric (Peoria)

Travis Wood has been on fire. Legitimate adjustments, or bound to fall?

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

Legit. As Sveum said, he's learned how to command pitches on both sides of the plate. This is huge when you want to be able to throw inside and get left-handers out. Also his fastball picked up about 3-4 MPH from spring training. Besides Samardzija he may be most athletic player on team.

Andy (K-Town)

Bruuuuce!!!!! Can you please tell me when the Cubs are going to start pulling the trigger on trades? I have work to do and can't quit checking espn.com for news!!

Bruce Levine
  (1:36 PM)

That's what we're here for to inform you, come to out site 10 x a day. I guarantee it's worthwhile.

Paul (Denver, CO)

Do you see the White Sox trading for anyone else?

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

I do. I really think they need another bullpen guy at least. The reason I say that is during championship months of Aug and Sept you need a veteran who has been through it before to help the other guys out. Right now you only have a healthy Matt Thornton.

Dave (PHX)

What's Soler up to? Is he playing in rookie league games yet?

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

The first phase was being checked out by medical people of the Cubs. They also want to come up with a good socialization process as well, meaning proper interpreters, dieticians, and overall comfortability level for him in AZ. At some point he'll get sent out probably to Single-A, maybe in 2-3 weeks. That's my guess. It would be nice if he goes to Peoria so people from Chicago could go and watch.

Andy (South Holland)

How come Dunn doesn't do the HR derby?

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

It might ruin his swing and he might strike out 130 times. Oh wait, he already does that. Personalyl, Adam is not a big ego type guy. He just doesn't like to make a big deal out of what he does as a baseball player. He's very modest, so to portray himself as a HR king in and exhibition probably does not appeal to him.

Paul (St. Louis)

Bruce, I have read some rumors that said Tampa would be a good fit for Soriano. Do you think he would accept a trade to the Rays?

Bruce Levine
  (1:42 PM)

I think he would accept a trade to anywhere he'd have a chance to win. He also told me if they had an inclination to trade him, he wouldn't want to stay. Something else to consider however, he may be protection for Rizzo and Castro in the lineup.

jackson tx [via mobile]

im confused..... paul maholom had one good start against the astros and now hes in trade rumors

Bruce Levine
  (1:43 PM)

He's a lefty and his contract is reasonable, some fo the contenders are a little needy when it comes to being able to put new players into what they can afford. Not everyone can afford a 7-10M contract, so a team like the Cards or Pirates, the team he came from, would have to consier a guy like that as a benefit.

Paul (MIchigan)

Bruce, if Sox are 3 games out the week before the trade deadline and headed in the wrong direction do you think Kenny would be a big seller? Looks now like it will be a sellers market come the deadline.

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

I don't see that with the Sox this year, I think they're in it all the way. Everything says to me they'll add players rather than subtract.

Jason H (Chicago IL)

Of course, RE the showboating last night by Castro, Rizzo went to Sveum and took the blame for that play. He had asked Castro to take his time so he could get back to the back. Apparently he wasn't used to playing so far off the bag?

Bruce Levine
  (1:45 PM)

That's just Rizzo being a good teammate.

Bill (Chicago)

If AJ returns does it make Peavy leaving more likely?

Bruce Levine
  (1:46 PM)

I don't think one has to do with the other. Peavy's contract is 22M. AJ's is 6. If AJ wanted a one-year deal with an option it probalby would be in the 3-4M area. Peavy will want big money if he's coming off a season where he's the comeback player of the year.

Tom (Chicago )

Bruce you mentioned Pittsburgh had an eye on Soto last year. They have drafted a tremendous amount of good young pitching, can the Cubs get a top ten talented pitcher in their organization for Soto?

Bruce Levine
  (1:47 PM)

I believe Pitt might be OK with their catching right now. Soto's a year away from free agency and so if they trade for him, they'll have to feel like he's there for the long term.

Michael (Valpo) [via mobile]

You've said the Sox need another starter, why not Dempster?

Bruce Levine
  (1:49 PM)

I think that's a possibility, just depends on how much money the Sox are willing to eat. The Cubs are looking to get from 6-8 young pitching prospects. That's one way to build their minor league system.

Ryan (Cedar Rapids)

Are the Cubs giving Marmol more save opportunities to showcase him to other teams?

Bruce Levine
  (1:50 PM)

I think it's two-fold. They didn't have a pitcher who could fit the role of a closer other than Marmol, and if teams are interested, they would trade him in the right deal.

Bruce Levine
  (1:50 PM)

Should be a fun week. Follow all my reports from the All-Star game at ESPNChicago.com, ESPN 1000 and @ESPNBruceLevine.