Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

September 25, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:02 PM)

Welcome to the last 10 days of the season. For White Sox fans it can't get much more exciting and for you Cubs fans, avoiding 100 losses seems like the goal. Welcome.

Justin (McAllen, TX)

Hey Bruce! Unbelievable win last night but I'm still worried about the offense not quite clicking yet. Do you have any idea what is going on with Konerko? I feel like he's had a rough few months leading up to this playoff push.

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

If you notice he's probably 4th on the team in home runs, and could end up 5th or 6th on the team in RBIs this season. Physical problems have taken a toll on him, but his importance in the lineup remains the same. Expect one of the other big hitters to get hot over the next week now they Dunn did it, as Robin said.

Ben (Indianapolis)

If Konerko and Youk keep struggling at the plate during the rest of the series against the Tribe, do you think Ventura shakes up the lineup for the Tampa series?

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

I do not. I believe Ventura stays with his guys where they are. As he said, 'these are the guys', meaning, it's not like I have 25 other guys to use.

Jim (Chicago)

Are the Sox playing not to lose? In other words, are the all tightly wound right now?

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

I don't see anything like that. I did see a bunch a guys that are tired and giving it everything they have, which is what's happening for the other 29 teams. The wear and tear of the 162-game season is significantly worse now over the past three years due to the fact that there is no more amphetamine use. So there is a big difference in performance in the last month of the season.

Rob (Downtown Chicago)

If the Sox make the playoffs who do you think starts game 3 after Sale and Peavy?

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

Just depends how far down the line they have to go to win next week. If they have to go down to the wire to win there's no telling who starts. Remember also that if they are tied there is a one-game playoff next Thursday in Detroit.

Africa (San Diego)

Could you see Youk taking a one year deal with his his former boss on the North side? Or do you see the White Sox picking up his $13mil option?

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

I don't really see why the Cubs would want him for one year. This is a guy that has to go somewhere to play on a contending team for the last few years of his career. I'm sure the White Sox will make some type of offer but they will not pick up the option.

Tony (Iowa)

Who wins comeback player of the year? It has to be someone from the Sox, right? I think you have to give it to Adam.

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

You might say that but if you look at Rios' numbers they are even more impressive. That said, Dunn is coming back from the worst season in major league history, so he probably wins.

Paul (Denver, CO)

Bruce, of the following, which Cubs players are most likely going to get new contracts for 2013: Camp, Mather, Travis Wood, Valbuena and Corpas?

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

Wood and Valbuena are likely to be back next season out of those 5.

Tony (Dixon Il)

Any chance the Cubs try Junior Lake In center next year at AAA ? With his size , speed and arm it seems to fit.

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

He's not a bad shortstop. Middle infielders are hard to come by. I think switching to 3rd base is ultimately the right move if you think Castro is the shortstop of the future. The Cubs paid him $60 million but it doesn't mean he will play at short.

David from Westmont [via mobile]

Can the Whitesox win the division if their only offense is the long ball. It seems to me they can't win games unless they hit home runs.

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

You're leaving out of the equation that the pitching has been good and the bullpen the last few weeks has been off the chart. This is a feisty bunch of players. They may not be the most talented but they come to beat you every day.

Philip (Corona)

It appears Veal is great against lefties but last night was the first time in a while Ventura left him in past one batter. What will his role be if the Sox make the playoffs?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

Left-handed hitters in late-inning situations. He definitely makes the playoff roster if that's what your question is.

B Dewhurst (El Dorado Hills, CA)

Do you think Darwin Barney has been the best defensive 2B this year? If so what are his chances of winning a Gold Glove?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

Brandon Phillips is a tough obstacle to get over. Barney makes all the plays, but Phillips make spectacular-looking plays. But for my money Barney has been the best in the NL and Beckham has been the best in the AL.

Phelps (Milwaukee)

Any chance the Cubs deal Barney in the off-season, if he wins a Gold Glove? His value appears to be at its highest (and he has the ability to play SS on another team) - and the Cubs have plenty of MIF talent in the minors?

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

barney has some intangibles that management likes, and he has good leadership ability. His OBP is way short of what this group of executives want from an every-day player. However, no player is perfect. So I guess my answer is they would consider trading him if they got something really good in return.

Crystal (Oak Park, IL)

With the Cubs in obvious rebuilding mode do you think we will see less of the high dynamic ticket pricingnext year and more of the value priced game including more game day promotion give aways? Who wants to pay $100 for a marquee box seat to see this product even if its a game vs. the Cardinals, White Sox, or Texas when the same ticket for their bronze games cost $40?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

You bring up some good points but Cubs business executives may have a different viewpoint of their "marquee" games. Expect some ticket prices to be lowered next season.

Ben (Arlington Heights)

Of the "tryout" starters we've seen pitch for the Cubs at the end of the season (ie Germano, Rusin, etc.), who can you see sticking in the rotation next year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

It depends on what Epstein and Hoyer do in terms of signing veteran pitchers. My guess is they will sign two veteran starters to flexible one or two year contracts. Cubs will retain the option to be able to trade whoever they sign. Epstein does not give no-trade clauses in his contracts. This way he can have veteran pitchers for the first few months and then trade them by the deadline, enabling them to acquire more young talent.

John (Justice,Il)

What is the 3b option for next year? Vitters has been awful and Valbuena isn't a consistent hitter. These are one of many problems for the Cubs but i see another unproductive year at this position..

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

It depends what free agents come out there or what young players they can use to trade, with the possibility of using Vitters in a deal. Remember this is a 22-year old player that hit .300 in AAA. One small sample size of experience is not going to deter other teams from being interested.

David (Minnesota)

With Kenny williams being promoted does Rick Hahn change the look of the team in his own image or stick to Kenny's plan.

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

The Sox are run by Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn and Jerry Reinsdorf. The 3 share decision-making on the team, including what players are signed and acquired via trade. The three have a great working relationship and that won't change despite title changes.

Eric (Chicago)

I'm sure part of Theo's plan is look out to see which free agents might be available when the Cubs are at that place where it makes sense (2014-2015). Any ideas on who those could be?

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

Depending on how the young players in the system develop the Cubs may start plugging in some free agent pitchers. Some of them that are available at that point, like Halladay, may be a bit too long in the tooth at that point. Lincecum is an interesting name if he returns to form in 2013.

Tommy (Chicago)

With the elbow injury is Garza tradeable in the offseson? The Cubs may have to bring him back just to show he's healthy? Do the Cubs sign him? Or just get what they can for him?

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

Garza has one year left in arbitration, and he can become a free agent in 2014. He's untradeable until at least spring training when he can show other teams his elbow trouble is behind him.

Rich (San Pedro, CA)

Ian Stewart tweeted a few weeks back (to his agent's dismay) that he'd be willing to come back for a minimum of 1/$1.5M. Any chance the Cubs take him up on that? Worth taking a shot on him having a good 1st half with a healthy wrist and possibly dealing him at the break?

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

It's doubtful in my opinion. He didn't really show that much with the Cubs this season. In the opinion of some Cubs people he was a lethargic player.

Caps (Miami, FL)

Hey Bruce, do you think the Cubs should pick a College player in the 1st round that could move quickly through the farm over HS players?

Bruce Levine
  (1:33 PM)

I think the Cubs have the luxury of drafting the best talent available. So they won't be afraid of drafting 18-year olds with huge upsides. The Cubs executives are looking to build this thing for the next 10 years and therefore will not just draft college players because they might be closer to the big leagues.

Eric (Missouri)

whats the deal with Paulie? He can only hit weak ground balls and is probably the last guy i want to see up in a big situation. is he just getting old or he is injured?

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

He's older, he's playing with injuries and it's 150 games into the season. Those are all reasons he may not be playing to his peak performance. This has not been a great year for him other than batting average-wise. Not the run production that he would prefer.

Tim (Chicago)

Bruce with the Cubs picking second of third in the draft do you see them going after Appel? He didn't sign with Pittsburgh what do that do to his market value? Thanks and keep up the good work!

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

It depends as he is a Scott Boras client. Like everyone else the Cubs will monitor what he does in his last year of college. You can bet that there top choice will be a pitcher.

Dustin C (Champaign, IL)

You think the White Sox have it to get into the playoffs? If they do, how far do you think they can go?

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

I think if they get in the playoffs they will be a tougher team than people are projecting. They haven't had more than a 3 1/2 game lead all season. That's a good thing because they are used to scratching and clawing their way to victory. The White Sox have never had a chance to take any of their leads for granted, which have kept them aggressive and hungry all year long.

Asher (Maryland)

Do you see Dave Sappelt being a starting outfielder next year for the Cubs?

Bruce Levine
  (1:38 PM)

Doesn't look like a starting major league player to me. Looks like a 4th or 5th outfielder. he has some ability but I don't see him as a starter. That said, if Soriano is traded there will be a spot open in the Cubs outfield.

Justin (McAllen, TX)

Bruce - what do you think about the rotation coming down the stretch? Do you think we'll see any adjustments or is that based on what Detroit is doing?

Bruce Levine
  (1:40 PM)

White Sox will pitch who they think can help them win until they clinch. The adjustments begin tomorrow with Santiago throwing tomorrow instead of Peavy. That allows the regular rotation guys an extra day of rest. Ventura has not said who his pitchers will be after the weekend.

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs. We'll be talking playoff baseball on Saturday with Tony LaRussa and Jim Bowden on Talkin' Baseball from 9am-12pm.