Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

October 16, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

ESPN Chicago
  (1:05 PM)

Bruce is running a bit late. But hang tight and keep the questions coming!

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

Welcome to the offseason -- the postseason games have been great so far. Welcome to the chat!

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

When will we see the Chicago Cubs be as good enough to play in the Playoffs?

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

Not before 2014 and most likely 2015 and beyond. the reason I say that is that the Cubs need to build an entire pitching staff and that's going to take some time because they want to do it from scratch.

Hector antuna (berwyn)

would you trade alfanso soriano for alex rodriguez straight up?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

No. That would be trading a 2-year commitment for a 5-year commitment, and $38 million owed for over $100 million. Right now Soriano is a better RBI producer.

John (Justice)

Do you think Wellington Castillo is here to stay for awhile ? More importantly do you beleive he can develop into a productive player?

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

The coaching staff worked hard with him during the last two months of the season on becoming a better game general. Physical tools are there. He has a great arm and has a lot of power. Just calling a game and handling a pitching staff will be a part of what they hope is his maturation.

TONY KING (Chicago)

Will Alfonso Soriano be a Cub next year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

That is a hard question to answer. Because he is certainly someone that has shown he's still a productive player. I would like to think an American League team that has had trouble scoring runs like Tampa or Seattle may be interested in him, but that's just my conjecture at this point. The Cubs' front office tried to move him from December 2011 until now with no success. It appears that Soriano would be happy to cooperate with a trade for the first time.

Christopher ( Joliet ) [via mobile]

Do you think that the Cubs should design some new uniforms to wear for the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field and beyond the 2014 season? I just feel that it is time for a change.

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

Yes, I think it would be nice if they came out in Yankees uniforms next year, and it might change their mental approach. Seriously though, something of the 1907-08 vintage would be nice.

Tony (Dixon Il)

Scouts say one of Vitters faults is going to be a lack of power. Should the Cubs try to beef him up some ? He looks like he could gain 20-25lbs . Right now he seems much thinner than Castro.

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

You don't change a guy, he'll get naturally stronger by the time he's 25 or 26. The one thing you don't do is change his swing. He'll hit some homers, just doesn't project as a big homerun hitter. And what position he plays is still the key question.

Austin (Winnetka)

Who do you see filling out the rotation for next year after Sale, Quintana, and Danks? Someone from free agency? Someone in house? Both?

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

The question about whether the Sox pick up the option on Brett Myers is an intriguing one. Also, expect them to have Hector Santiago as part of the rotation.

Pete (Chicago)

How does our home town kid Curtis Granderson get on track? Any other Chi-town ball players to look out for in the playoffs?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

His plate discipline looks awful right now. He's swinging at everything that's even 8-10 inches off the plate. The Yanks make a big deal about their hitting coach Kevin Long, but right now he has to be squirming considering how bad they are. I do understand they are facing great pitching, but the Yankees lack of plate discipline is startling at this point and Granderson is one of the main offenders.

Joe (Monticello,in)

What r the Sox going to do with Peavy and Youk?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

There are options for both. Youkilis is at $13 million, while Peavy is at $22 million with a $4 million buyout. I think after paying the buyout the White Sox would be interested in bringing Peavy back short term. As far as Youkilis goes, I don't think he'll want a one-year deal.

Dustin (STL)

Who do you see the cubs signing during free agency? Give us hopeful cubs fans acouple names.

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

Shaun Marcum is one. Pitchers coming off injury or bad years that will take one or two year deal is probably the direction the Cubs will go.

Peter (Peoria)

How about the Cubs give Mark Prior a tryout in spring training for the bullpen? He's better than a lot of the arms we have and ended the year healthy.

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

Rick Sutcliffe is also available I believe. Actually why stop there, Greg Maddux is only a special advisor to the Rangers and can be had. I think going after injured pitchers that haven't been able to regain their skills is not the way the Cubs will go.

Joshua S (Chicago)

What do you think about the White Sox going forward with Rick Hahn as their GM? Supposedly he is more friendly towards sabremetrics than Kenny Williams, dose the change mean that a focus willl be put on building through the draft. And you could they add in FA this winter

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

Rick's philosophy combines a lot of different things. He does incorporate some sabermetrics, but he also believes in pro scouts. His influence has been there since the time he became an assistant GM. I think he'll have some more autonomy when he takes over the role.

Steve (Hoffman Estates) [via mobile]

By the looks of what transpired this season, is it really only going to take 3 more years until the Cubs are able to "contend" for the playoffs and World Series?

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

That would be ideal if the Cubs are contending from 2015 on every year. Remember, they're not trying to build for just one season. The goal here is to try and become the next Braves, Twins or Yankees organization -- one that competes for 10-15 years straight through.

Bruce Levine
  (1:26 PM)

Here are some free agent starting pitchers the Cubs might be interested in Joe Blanton, Jeff Francis from Colorado, Francisco Liriano from the White Sox, Brandon McCarthy of Oakland and Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox. That's just a general list of some short-term starting pitchers that the Cubs can go after. It's not even an educated guess at this point but the Cubs said they will go after some starters to give themselves some credibility heading into next season. The presumption here id that they want to sign some veteran pitchers to short-term contracts that they can flip by the trading deadline for other young talent.

Henry M. (Chicago)

Bruce, who do you think theo and jed will go after to play 3rd base next year? Thanks

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

Ian Stewart is still a possibility. He's under contract unless he's non-tendered. There's also the aging vets like Scott Rolen of the Reds or Eric Chavez of the Yanks. Kevin Youkilis would be intriguing if the White Sox don't pick up their option. Again these are veteran players and they would have to understand and buy into a rebuilding process before they could even be considered. One other name is Kevin Kouzmanoff who finished the season with Kansas City.

Paul (Chicago)

Bruce, what's the story on Garza? With his trade value so low due to injury, we should expect him to start the season with the Cubs, right?

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

Absolutely. He's going to have show everybody in Spring Training that he is healthy again. The Cubs will never get real value for him unless they think he's 100%.

Eric (Peoria)

The leagues fine with Matt Holliday breaking Starlin, and Marco Scutaro's knees, yet if cubs or giants pitched at him the pitcher would get fined/suspended? Whats the difference? Both are taking a part of the game, and twisting into a dangerous advantage right?

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

The slide into Scutaro was definitely a dirty slide. Some of Holliday's Cardinal teammates may feel the effects of what he's done. But again, this is postseason and every play and out counts. You might see Holliday getting hit in spring training next season or later down the road. Baseball players are like elephants in that respect. And there isn't much difference between what Holliday did and a pitcher throwing at a pitcher. It's one thing to be aggressive and it's another to take advantage of people when you are 6'4" and 230 lbs.

Jay (Lansing)

It looks like the Tigers will be the top dog of the Central for at least the next 3 years or more. So, will the Sox look to make sweeping changes this offseason and go with a youth movement or will they try to add veteran pieces to team to remain competitive?

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

From a pitching staff point of view they have already gone with a youth movement. There were at least 10 rookies that pitched for the Sox last year. Position player-wise they still have to find some better prospects. They have a young 2nd baseman and a young left fielder and a potentially young catcher in Flowers. The minor league system is not ready to replace anyone else except for maybe a few outfielders in the next couple of years.

Keith (Chicago)

Why are the White Sox so high on Morel? All I see is another Crede minus the bat, at this point.

Bruce Levine
  (1:35 PM)

No reason to be high on him. He hasn't really proved much and the injury factor is still a main concern. Having a bad back at age 24 is a bad thing. So far Morel has had one good month in the major leagues. That was in September, 2011 when he hit 8 homers. Other than that he has shown a suspect bat.

Dan Brennan (Milwaukee)

I really like the idea of signing Jeff Keppinger short term. Is there a chance that could happen. I think he would have way more upside than Stewart and would be a nice addition while Vitters continues to develop.

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

Keppinger is a nice-looking player. I bet either the White Sox or Cubs would be interested in signing him because of his ability to play numerous positions.

Seth A (Scranton)

When the Cubs are good, they create more buzz, attendance, and revenue than just about anyone in the league. Basically any decent sized move sends Cubs fans into a frenzy of merchandise buying (See Garciaparra and Fukudome). So I don't buy this whole notion that they are keeping the payroll down in order to build from the bottom up and renovate Wrigley. If they would spend some money, bring in good players all while developing the farm system, they could create a lot more revenue. With the market and fanbase the Cubs have, there is absolutely NO reason to have a season like last season. I'm not saying jack the payroll up another 100 Million, but let's at least get some players that can make us competitive in the worst division in baseball.

Bruce Levine
  (1:40 PM)

I think they want to be more competitive. But it has to be the type of players that can be interchangeable that the Cubs can readily trade somewhere else. You look at a player like Melky Cabrera, for example. Here was a guy that was going to sign a $50-60 million contract before his suspension. Now he's going to be a one-year with an option type player because basically GMs won't know what they are getting. But if the Cubs were to trade Soriano, Cabrera could be a guy they would sign. Again though, that's just me looking at the board and give you an idea of what they are trying to do. The Cubs are going to predominantly spend their money on free agents from Latin America and the Pacific Rim as well as the June draft. But they do have money to spend at the big league level if they want to.

Brian (Woodridge, IL)

Do you see Baez being a September 2013 call up for another 100 loss Cubs team? They going to move him to 3B with Castro entrenched at SS?

Bruce Levine
  (1:42 PM)

Just depends how soon they want to start his major league clock. This organization wants 500 class AAA at-bats for their players. It's something that Epstein and Hoyer have been adamant about since they came here. So Baez is going to have to through the minor league system quickly in order to get the major league level in 2013. The skill set is supposedly off the chart.

Dan (Chicago)

Bruce, A 2-part, 2-side of town question... Do you think Gavin Floyd returns to the White Sox next season? If not do you think the Cubs might pursue him?He's still relatively young, has had past success, & a pretty good GB% could would benefit him in Wrigley. Not to mention a move away from one of the top HR hitting friendly ballparks in US Cellular.

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

Floyd is an intriguing pitcher. He pitched very well at the end of the season after his elbow problems were behind him. The Sox hold an option on him for 2013. They can either look at him as good insurance for their young pitching staff or good trade bait to a team like the Cubs. I believe he may a bit too pricey, but he's the type of workhorse teams are always looking for to fill their rotations. I believe his option is for $9.5 million for next season.

Dave (Bucktown)

Hey, Bruce. If I'm a good pitcher with options, why am I signing with the Cubs next year knowing that their main goal is to flip me?

Bruce Levine
  (1:46 PM)

Because you'll have an opportunity to pitch every 5 days and be able to show people you're healthier and better than you were the year before. Not everybody is going to take a chance on guys like that but the Cubs could venture into that area with 2 or 3 guys.

Viewer from afar (not IL)

Who is Alex Rios? The 2011 version and 2012 version look nothing alike on paper. Seems he's an off then on then off again type of player- what can we expect in 2013? Off again?

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

I think he really enjoys playing right field, he's very comfortable out there. Playing for Robin Ventura was something he enjoyed, which isn't a knock on Ozzie, who has a much different style. But it's more about what Rios responds to. I think he'll continue to be a good player.

John (Chicago)

Any chance the Sox keep Wise, stick him in CF, move DeAza to LF and Viciedo to 3B?

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

That was kind of brought up at the end of last year. A brief history lesson: Kenny Williams was an outfielder moved to 3rd base in 1987. He struggled mightily at that position and was sent to the minors and never fully regained his batting stroke after that. I think that type of thinking by Williams might prevent the Sox from experimenting with Viciedo going back to third. The difference here though is that Viciedo does have some experience at third base, whereas Williams did not. Still, an intriguing question.

Bruce Levine
  (1:53 PM)

Sorry for being a bit late today -- thanks for great participation. Keep the questions coming next week. Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs. And don't forget to listen to Talkin' Baseball on Saturday mornings at 9am!