Two weeks until spring training begins. I'm sure you are as excited about it as I am, especially with both teams picked to go to the World Series. We'll take a full range of questions, anything from HGH to Cubs' renovations. Welcome.
Hi Bruce, To me, Castro looked "soft" at the convention. Do you have any fear now that he's gotten paid his work ethic isn't going to be what it should be?
I would doubt it. This guy wants to be the next Derek Jeter. He also has an agent in Paul Kinzer who has nothing but aggressive players under contract. The only thing that I noticed is that Castro looked taller and a little bit stronger.
Bruce- Seems to me the White Sox have one of the best defensive middle infields but they are also among the worst offensively. If Beckham and/or Ramirez get off to slow starts at the dish, could we see changes there?
I think Ramirez is considered one of the top shortstops in the AL. His offensive inconsistency is a little difficult for White Sox management to understand. But he usually ends up with between 60-70 RBIs. The expectations for Beckham are that Manto and Ventura have found something with his swing that helped him be more consistent the last 6 weeks of the season. That must carry over for him this year. And he is without question one of the best defensive players in the game at his position.
What would it take for the Cubs to get Giancarlo Stanton? Imagine a lineup with Castro, Rizzo, Stanton (2,3,4)
If you get Stanton that means you won't have Castro. Cubs do not have enough young talent to trade to acquire Stanton. As a prime example, they missed out on Justin Upton for the same reasons.
What does the depth chart look like at 3B for the Sox right now? Do they have hopes that Morel can bounce back this season?
I know that Morel was taking some BP at the Cell last week, but I don't think the expectations are high for him. Right now Keppinger is the opening day third baseman and Angel Sanchez, who was acquired from Anaheim in the Rule 5 draft, will be the backup.
Red Sox fan here. From afar it doesn't look like your Golden Boy Theo has done much of anything. I thought he had a boatload of salary to spend? What exactly has he done so far?
Well they are up to about $90 million in payroll after signing Hairston, Jackson and Villanueva. That's still $15 million under 2012. A lot of that had to do with still paying Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Pena's contracts, which totaled $24 million. For the Cubs spending money is not the answer. Getting better young talent is.
with the addition of Hairston is Campana the likely odd man out at this point for the 25 man roster with Sappelt taking the 5th outfield spot?
One of those guys -- and I'm guessing it's Sappelt -- may be designated for assignment when they make a roster move to put Hairston on the 40-man. Campana is a guy you want to keep because he can help change games with his speed, and he gives you some protection if someone on the 25-man is injured.
Do you see the Cubs getting a TV deal similar to the one the Dodgers just received?
The Cubs and White Sox are linked together in their Comcast deals. Until 2019 the Cubs cannot put any of their games on any other cable outlet. That means that if they opt out of their WGN deal either Comcast Sports Net picks up the remainder of those games, or the Cubs take those games to another non-cable station.
Hi Bruce. Who do like as a sleeper/break out player for the cubs in 2013?
I'm hoping it's Brett Jackson, but that wouldn't be until June or July. I look at him as being on the same course that Rizzo was on last year. He has a tremendous amount of ability. And after some mid-November instruction, he may be able to change his swing and cut down on some of his strikeouts. Cubs brass has said that he will start the season at AAA.
Hey Bruce. While I love Tyler Flowers and think he can be a good catcher, I believe the Sox now have 3 automatic outs in their line-up(Beckham, Flowers, Ramirez) Do the Sox really think they have enough pitching to overcome this? With line-ups like Detriot and a very underrated K.C. and even Cleveland, I don't believe they do. Please tell me the Sox are still going o add a bat or something. Please ease my concern Bruce!!
White Sox firmly believe that with Flowers getting more at-bats he'll be more productive. I would take Ramirez any day of the week over 90% of the shortstops in baseball. Beckham is definitely going to hit for more average. I wouldn't call any of them automatic outs, but your points are well-taken.
What position will Javier Baez play when he gets to the majors
Any position he wants. And by that I mean his bat will dictate where he plays in the field. A safe projection for him would be 2015, as your opening day fill-in-the-blank: SS, 2B, LF, etc.
If Theo and Jed were honest, do you think they would prefer to finish around .500 or have the worst record in the game, so that they could get the best draft pick?
That's a very interesting question. No baseball man would admit that he wants to lose. However, the quickest way to get better is to draft high and draft well. I still wish that baseball allowed the trade up in the draft. They have talked about a limited use of that.
Have the sox been shopping for a left handed bat if not will they bring somebody from farm system up
They really need a left-handed hitting infielder if they can find one. To me the only way they can do that is to trade a pitcher. A desperate team that loses a starting pitcher in the spring or early part of the season will probably trade a left-handed hitter for someone like Gavin Floyd. But the White Sox are in no hurry to make a move like this due to the unknown status of John Danks.
We keep hearing the Cubs will be good by 2015. What happens if we are not that good or just average. It seems the cubs keep telling us to wait until 2015 and we'll be good. What are the repercussions if that doesn't happen?
Well Jim Hendry is still available if you need another GM. But honestly, no one believes this is just a 4-year rebuild. In order for Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod to be able to make their presence felt, they're going to need somewhere between 5-8 years to turn around the organization. I know that sounds crazy and you're probably angry reading that. But take a look at other rebuilds, like in KC. Even though the Royals have good players at almost every position, they still haven't been able to get the pitching right. Dayton Moore is going into his 7th year as GM there.
Bruce, if the Cubs aren't so great and we see lots of empty seats at Wrigley, what types of changes do you think we might see on the business side of the team in terms of personnel and strategy?
Obviously discounting tickets is something that big market teams don't want to do. But at some point if the product isn't good the Cubs are going to have to eventually get real with their ticket prices. They have lowered some tickets in certain sections of the ballpark, but their season ticket base is still paying the same high price that most of the top teams in baseball are charging.
Hey Bruce, do you see Paul Konerko as a future Hof and would you vote for him? Paulie has 3 to 4 solid yrs of baseball left. His numbers would be something like 500 plus hrs, 2,700 plus hits, and 1,600 rbi. Great numbers for a hitter that never was associated with Roids. Plus theres a ton of fringe Hof's that Paulie has out produced. The Hof needs class acts like Konerko...
I'm a bit prejudiced because I see the impact he has had on his team. So with a couple more years of solid production, I would vote for him. On the other hand, other writers from other cities might not understand the essence of him as a great teammate and great leader to go along with his numbers. I guess the final answer for that is that the further we get away from the steroid era, the better the Paul Konerkos look, who may hit a legitimate 450 homers.
Hi Bruce, any chance the Cubs open the season with three catchers? I see Clevenger can play 1st base pretty well. Might be nice to have that versatility.
It's interesting you point that out because in looking at the 25-man roster I do not see a backup first baseman. Ideally, Scott Hairston, who has some previous infield experience, may be the guy that will back up Rizzo. There's really nobody in the organization that fills in that gap if Rizzo was to miss any extended period of time.
Between Dunn, Rios and Peavy which do you think is most likely to take a step backward this year and which will have an ever better season?
I don't know they're all pretty consistent. I would have a hard time picking out someone that would fail in 2013 from that group. Peavy is two years away from his previous surgery and seems to be durable again. He'd be the only one I'd worry about as far as injury goes.
In your opinion, was the Hairston signing because they expect to trade Soriano, or simply a platoon partner for Schierholtz, and depth in case they trade pieces later?
I'm pretty torn on Soriano being traded. I know ideally they would like to deal him. But if you are going to improve, how do you replace 100 RBI? Hairston, like Schierholtz, are platoon players and I expect them to handle RF most of the season.
Any chance Sox bring back Orlando Hudson..he is a left handed infielder and would be cheap.
You're right on both counts. The third part of that is that he can't hit. So my answer to that is no.
Bruce - what exactly are you saying will take 5-8 years for the Cubs to rebuild? I believe firmly fans should hold Theo to 2015 as a significant year. That should be a 85-90 win team by then, likely playoff participant. How can you seriously compare the Cubs and Royals situations?
To build a solid infrastructure of your organization you're going to need that long. You'll need 5 drafts and some luck along the way. What the Cubs have, which KC and Pittsburgh do not, is the ability to spend big money on free agents and up the payroll another $30-40 million. When enough young players start developing into major leaguers, the Cubs will spend more money on free agents and trades.
When will we see Kerry Wood coaching for the Cubs.
Right now I think he'll be in spring training as a special adviser, but I don't see him in any full-time coaching job at this point. He's busy now making lunches and driving the minivan for his kids.
I was wondering what you think the percents on trade happening for Soriano, Garza and Marmol? Thanks
In reverse order, Marmol should be gone before opening day. He's been a tremendously durable reliever and someone will give the Cubs what they want in return. Garza would have to pitch probably into May or June before the Cubs would consider trading him, in order to get optimum value back. With Garza it could still go either way. They could trade him by the deadline or sign him to an extension. At this point, some team will have to lose one of their RBI producers before the Cubs are able to deal Soriano in a mutually satisfying trade. As far as the trades go, Marmol has 5 teams he can veto and Soriano can veto any deal because of his 10 & 5 rights.
Whats the eta on Courtney Hawkins? How good do the whitesox project him to be?
They feel he is on a fast track. Late-2014 or 2015 seems realistic.
Any chance the Cubs would be interested in Bourn on a short-term deal?
That means they would have to give up a high draft pick in the second round, so that's probably not going to happen unless Bourn signs a series of three, one-year deals. The Cubs would have to retain the ability to trade him if they signed him.
Is there any possible scenario where the cubs could get price next offseason without having to empty the farm?
Again, Price falls into the area of a guy that the Cubs really don't have the players to trade for right now. It makes no sense to empty the farm system to trade for Price, who will be 30 when he becomes a free agent.
If Frank Thomas goes to the Hall fame next year he will go in as a DH.Becasue Frank Thomas was not that great of a first basemen.
Make no mistake, Frank Thomas was a great hitter regardless whether he wad a first baseman or a DH. To me he's a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Do you think rizzo could hit 30hrs this year?
I would say he has a good chance at it. A sample size of his season last year indicates that he is a projected 25-30 home run guy and 85-100 RBIs, but that's easier said than done. Let's remember he still hasn't played a full season in the bigs yet.
If paulie is gone nxt year after we win the world series this yr...do you see viceado taking over 1st base to open up an outfeild slot?
Yes, absolutely, especially with Viciedo's background as an infielder. I will say he improved defensively except for everything that was hit right over his head. But he'll never be mistaken for a Barry Bonds in his defensive prime.
Do you think the sox bullpen will be the best in the majors as Bobby Thigpen believes?
There's a thing called the sophomore jinx, and until a pitcher or player proves themselves in the second year, I always hold back predictions. There's 2 things to consider: one is that a pitcher is more confident and knows the hitters better in year 2, but the other is that the hitters know them better as well.
what do you think about the crosstown classic only being 4 games this year?
The only thing I believe is that it's 3 games too long now. I've always disliked the games between the Cubs and White Sox because of the circus atmosphere they've taken on. Ultimately when those games start though, they are still good games.
What kind of return is Theo looking for on Marmol?
Pitching is the number one need for the Cubs, and third baseman is 1A. So you can bet that he'll be asking for any combination of young pitchers and/or third base prospects.
To be a championship team the Cubs are going to need at least one truly elite starting pitcher. Those guys generally aren't available, and when they are they cost either a ton of prospects, or a ton of money+years. So basically they are going to have to draft one. Do any guys like that fit the bill at #2 in this June's draft?
Just maybe Appel. The general consensus is that this particular draft may not be all that strong.
Bruce, Santiago looked great his last start of the season, even if Danks comes back, will he get a shot?
I think they'd like to extend Santiago out. Teams have always taken their young relievers and let them pitch a little bit longer in spring training for the dual purpose of getting more innings in and showcasing themselves as starters. The only downside is that they already have three left-handed starting pitchers in Danks, Sale and Quintana.
I know it would be a multi-million dollar endeavour, but have the Cubs ever given thought to buying the buildings on both Sheffield and Waveland? They can sell the rooftop expierence much like Boston sells the Green Monster seats expierence, creating an additonal revenue stream and also eliminating the headaches caused by frequent spats with the current rooftop owners.
Quit stealing my ideas. I put out a similar perspective this weekend on Talkin' Baseball. The sad part is the Tribune Co. could have bought those building for cheap back in the 1980s, but they failed to have the vision for the future. I believe that a Jumbotron somewhere outside the ballpark makes the most sense for both the Cubs and the rooftop owners when it comes to advertising. Ugly signs on buildings or all the way across the ballpark is not something I would look forward to. But maybe I'm not a very progressive person.
I'm looking forward to the Kane County Cougars now being the Cubs single A affiliate. Any chance I will get to see any of Baez, Almora, or Soler this summer, or maybe even all of them?
I think there's a really good chance you'll get to see at least 2 of the 3. I'm pretty sure Soler will start the season there. Baez will probably start at Daytona. My guess is Almora and Soler are real possibilities.
Back in Arizona to catch Cubs and Sox players coming to camp early. Look for my reports on ESPNChicago.com, as well as on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine. And listen to Talkin' Baseball Saturdays from 10am-12pm CST. Thanks for all the questions!