Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

August 14, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:04 PM)

Welcome Chicago fans, to the final kick of the season. Six weeks left for you to enjoy the present and look forward to the future. Welcome to the chat!

Matt (Chicago)

One game playoff who would you want to start, Peavy or Sale?

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

Probably won't have that type of choice if it goes down to the end and you have to get a wild card spot, you may have already had to pitch them to get in. I don't mean to scare you but it could be Floyd or Humber to pitch that game. Remember back in 1998 it ended up being Steve Trachsel for the Cubs against Mark Gardner of the Giants, neither one being the ace of the staff. But to answer your question, I'll take Sale.

Rodger (Columbus)

Do you think thesox can keep AJ this offseason?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

It's going to cost them some money, and it may depend on years rather than the amount of cash that he gets. He was working on an average salary of $4 million per year. I'd say he'll be looking to at least double that, even at age 36 going on 37.

David (Va Beach)

Is Castro safe? Or do you expect plenty of trade rumors over the offseason? I'm asking as someone wanting him here longterm.

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

Obviously there are holes in his game. But the upside is much too great, I think, to consider trading him. The only reason Epstein and Hoyer would consider it is if they think he's not going to get better. And as brilliant of baseball men as they are, I doubt they can make an educated guess as to what his eventual upside is at this point.

Andrew (Chicago)

Bruce, I don't see the good that having Jackson up in the MLB level is doing? His strikeout rate is even more ridiculous at the top than it is at AAA. How can this possibly be good for his development and what are the coaches doing about it?

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

It's only three weeks before the AAA season ends, so I'm all for keeping him at the major league level. But there's no way he should be playing every day. For a hitting coach to get a player to be more selective is one of the hardest things in all of sports to do. You're trying to re-train a player's vision as compared to what he sees as to what really is happening with the baseball. He needs much more time to work on this with less pressure. Another trip to the Arizona Fall League would be a really good idea.

Jeff (Indiana)

Is it possible the Cubs brought Jackson up to show that he isn't ready?

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

I can't really understand premise. It would prove that they are inept at managing the players they have. It would be a lose-lose for the player and the management group. The reason they brought him up is they felt his other tools were big-league caliber. That includes base-running, throwing, catching the ball and baseball IQ. The rest was that they were counting on their big league coaches to help Jackson with his pitch identification.

Andy (South Holland)

Any update on Paulie?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

Konerko can slowly start to do some exercises like stationary bike and work toward doing some baseball activities by the end of the week. Although initially thought that Konerko would join the team in KC this weekend, it doesn't appear he'll be ready to play that early.

Bill (Springfield)

Do you think the sox can hold on to the division lead for the rest of the year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

I don't see why not. I haven't seen anything in the Tigers' toolbox that suggests that they will run away from the Sox at this point. The six games that they play each other at the end of August may determine who wins that division.

Erik (Merchandise Mart)

Bruce, I've seen Robin set the lineup in a way where Flowers catches and AJ will DH. If Flowers were to get hurt, who would be the emergency catcher because AJ wouldn't be able to move from the DH. Or would he?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

You can move him from DH, but then you lose the DH in the lineup. As of September 1st they'll have another catcher called up.

Zane (Chicago)

Why hasnt Starllin Castro been ables to take the next step this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

Opposing pitchers continue to expand the strike zone on him. Until he starts taking more walks they will continue to not throw strikes to him. The coaching staff has worked with him on that part of the game as much as they can. The rest is up to the individual. And some of it might just come with more experience.

David (Va Beach)

Bruce, do you think the Cubs are done trading this season? Or do you expect to see Soriano or Marmol still moved? Any idea if either has been passed thru waivers yet this month?

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

There's been rumors about both players having been looked at before and after the trade deadline. Nothing has been substantiated. If you are claimed and a trade is not made then you can not go on waivers again for 30 days.

C. Williamson (Robinson, IL)

Which one makes it to the MLB first, Baez, Soler or Almora?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

Baez seems to be on a quicker track. There's a good chance that both he and Soler will both be in the Arizona Fall League beginning in October. The hope is that within two years both players if not all three will be in the major leagues.

Dong Dong (Gilberts, IL)

Bruce, Why didn't they bring up Dan Johnson when Konerko got injured? They liked Wise better than Jordan Danks? Will Dan Johnson be called up in September?Thanks!Dong Dong

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

They don't like Wise better than Jordan Danks. They just got caught up in needing a 13th pitcher due to wear and tear on the bullpen. Unfortunately for Danks he has options left, but if they wanted to send Wise down they would have had to designate him for assignment, which would have taken seven days. So Danks got caught in the numbers crunch. Johnson is relatively one-dimensional, a left-handed bat. He could be called up on Sept. 1.

Jeff (Indiana)

Can you comment on the relationship between Sveum and Castro. How important is Soriano to Castro's development as a player and leader?

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

Soriano was instrumental in helping Castro get used to life in the United States. He originally took him into his own home when Castro was first called up. The rest now is up to Castro to learn how to have his own work habits and make his own social life schedule. I think the manager and Castro have a good working relationship. There's been at least 3 lengthy conversations between the two about what the expectations are of him. But on a daily basis, Sveum, Listach and McKay all work with the infielders on both the physical and mental approach.

Bob (Tinley Park, IL)

Who is the Cubs catcher next season - Castillo, Clevenger or someone else?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

I think they'd be happy to see both of them continue to progress. Both bring different skill sets to the position. Castillo has the big arm and big power. Clevenger has more game calling aptitude at this point.

Luke (Indiana)

What potential free agents do you see the cubs going after this offseason?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

I believe they'll add to their pitching staff with veterans on one-year deals, or one-year deals with manageable options, similar to the Paul Maholm deal they did last year. The philosophy is to just buy some time for young prospects to develop as well as being a useful tool of adding more player development as trade bait for the deadline. This is a philosophy that Billy Beane has used in Oakland for over a decade.

Nick [via mobile]

Hey Bruce, I have not seen a swing change with B Jax so far. Do you see the Cubs front office working with him this winter to shorten his swing? Something similar to Rizzo?

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

I don't know if it's a shortened swing or just to get him better pitch identification. Right now pitchers are expanding the strike zone on him and he has no internal filter to stop his swing. A drill that was made successful by many old-time coaches was to just have a batter stand in the box and identify pitches without swinging.

Nizzi (Des Moines)

Bruce, is there anyway to renegotiate Soriano's contract. He is a very productive player, He just makes too much.

Bruce Levine
  (1:33 PM)

The union does not allow contract to be diminished from what their original language was. In other words, if they owe him $38 million for the next two years, they may be able to defer some of that money, if the player is willing, but they still must pay him that $38 million.

C. Williamson (Robinson, IL)

Is Darwin Barney the front runner to win the Gold Glove Award at 2B this season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

He should be but Brandon Phillips is the sexier candidate because of his bat. The Gold Glove award is a political award. Many times the top offensive player that has good offensive skills wins it. There's no way anyone has played better defense at 2nd base in the NL than Barney. Forgot about the errorless streak -- the positioning and the way he goes after popups is second to none. No pun intended.

Dave (Bucktown)

Hey, Bruce . . . I love Jeff Samardzija and his continued progress, but, why are people constantly talking about and expecting him to be the future No. 1 on the pitching staff? He's in his late 20s, with a 4.00+ era

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

27 doesn't make him late-twenties, 27 makes him relatively inexperienced due to a late start in his baseball career. The reason they think he's a possible 1 or 2 starter is that he has a power arm that is relatively fresh due to the fact he wasn't overused in high school or college. There is still plenty of room for him to develop beyond where he's at.

Steven (Northbrook)

Have you questioned any of Robin's decisions lately?

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

Like everybody, I sometimes feel that he goes too long with his starters. But some of that has to do with all the wear and tear on his bullpen at this point. As an example, on Sunday, Sale had 103 pitches going into the 7th inning. Normally for a young pitcher you are trying to protect from too many innings, he would already have been out. In the case of the White Sox, Ventura had a bullpen that was toast. So he was hoping that Sale could get a quick 8th inning with less than 15 pitches but that didn't work out. Generally I think he's left Peavy in games too long, but that's part of the status a former Cy Young award winner earns.

Don (Lindenhurst)

Will the Sox bring up any of their top prospect pitchers in September? Who can we expect to see brought up?

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

I don't know-- you better tell me. I thought we've seen them all. September won't be for experimentation for the Sox. If anything Williams may want to add a veteran pitcher off waivers before Sept. 1st. That would make the most sense to me.

Anthony (Logan Square)

Hey Bruce, I know it's early. But what do you envision the White Sox rotation being in 2013?

Bruce Levine
  (1:43 PM)

I can honestly say that's the first time someone asked me that question. But I'll Sale, Floyd, Danks if recovered, Quintana and most likely Molina. If the White Sox go deep into the playoffs or win the World Series, a reworked deal for Peavy may not be out of the question.

Kris (California)

If Theo called you and said, "I'll let you make one move/decision." What would it be?

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

It would be to ask the business side to lower ticket prices by 25% for next season. I can assure he won't ask and that will not be a consideration.

Ian Stewart (60 Day DL)

Am I one and done in Chicago? If so, who starts at the hot corner next season in my place?

Bruce Levine
  (1:45 PM)

There's a guy by the name of Josh Vitters playing there right now. And there's a perception that either Junior Lake or Javier Baez could be there in the near future. But there's no reason why Vitters shouldn't get the shot next spring.

Dale (KY)

I am one Cubs fan who is not sure that Soriano should be traded, unless they can get real prospect value in return. He has had an extremely productive season since going to the lighter bat. What is your take on him?

Bruce Levine
  (1:47 PM)

My take is that until they identify another run producer that can drive in 100 runs, they should just hold on to him for the next two years. There's a tremendous amount of upside in the way Soriano and the new coaching staff have responded to each other. Sveum and co. have found a way to get the very best out of the 36-year-old Dominican outfielder.

Bill Rockville, VA [via mobile]

Bruce, I am surprised the Sox haven't signed Mike Fontenot, how about you? I would love to have a sub or starter for 2nd or 3rd who could get on base.

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

Not really an OBP guy. Not a great defender either. At this point they probably feel that Orlando Hudson is as good as Mike Fontenot.

Bruce Levine
  (1:49 PM)

Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs for the latest on both teams. Have a great week and thanks for all the questions!