Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 2, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:03 PM)

Bruce is just about ready -- keep the questions coming and we'll start the chat soon. Where are the White Sox fans? Not a lot of Sox questions sent in...

Bruce Levine
  (1:07 PM)

Welcome to the regular season, after the longest spring training in history. Maybe both teams should quit while they're ahead. Here we go...

Joe (Peoria)

How long will we have to endure Carlos in the closer role?

Bruce Levine
  (1:09 PM)

At least one more game I hope. Every year this time, fans forget to shake their football mentality. This is a 162-game season. Last I looked, the Cubs won the game. If Sveum eliminates him from the mix, what exactly are they supposed to do with him?

Chris (Purdue)

Bruce, i know its a joke that Marmol is closing games right not but it is in the best interest of the organization. We need to keep throwing him out there (even if he loses a few late for us) in order to get as much trade value out of him as possible...if theres still any left. I still dont understand turning down Haren for there a missing piece to that story we dont know? His medicals must have been catastrophic to not pull the trigger...

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

I don't know if they were 'catastrophic' but the Cubs did not like what their doctors said about him. Marmol was one of the most reliable closers in game the last 3 months of last season. I understand Cubs fans angst about getting rid of the past. I understand you want Marmol and Soriano gone. That's just not going to make you an automatic winner.,

Larry (Illinois)

My opinion about Marmol is this. He needs to perform better if he wants to be attracted to other clubs. This play good one day and bad the other day is doing the Cubs a diservice. Especially if they want a good return if he's traded.

Bruce Levine
  (1:13 PM)

I understand the Marmol anxiety. Like, "Can we please get rid of him before he's worthless?" The fact is that if he pitches well and locates his pitches, he's a very good reliever. Here's the big problem with Marmol: he's being compared with who he used to be. This Marmol has to pitch. The old Marmol dominated with a freakish slider.

Nate (Joliet)

Bruce i really need an explanation on why the Sox gave Danks that ridiculous contract.

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

Left-handed and 26 years old. Those are two pretty good reasons why they projected ahead on Danks. When he was healthy he was a pretty good left-handed pitcher with a power arm. That type of commodity doesn't come around every day. If Danks doesn't make it back the White Sox still have insurance on his contract.

Elvis (Memphis)

Having a conversation on the Marmol thread today,Is there a market out there for Marmol if he continues to struggle ? Surely someone would be willing to give the Cubs something back in return even if he does lose his closer job. Because releasing him is not an option am I right ?

Bruce Levine
  (1:16 PM)

Releasing a guy on April 2 is not an option. If you remember, Sveum and Bosio reinvented Marmol last year, by insisting that he throw a two-seam fastball. Marmol came back to being an efficient closer after adhering to the new set of boundaries.

Adam, Mishawaka, IN [via mobile]

Please please please tell me that the cubs are going to make a waiver move for a second baseman and that we wont be subjected to watching Lilibridge and Gonzalez for the next 2 weeks.

Bruce Levine
  (1:17 PM)

The reincarnation of Robbie Alomar as a young player is not an option at this point. Barney should be back within two weeks. Up until that point you'll need to live with those backups.

Jack (Oswego)

What do you consider to be the Sox' biggest hole to fill right now to compete with the Tigers in the Division?

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

They need to really solidify that 5th starters spot. Honestly, Santiago has better stuff than Axelrod. But Axelrod is the guy they'll start with because he throws strikes. It might be a two-headed monster with Axelrod and Santiago.

Bobby P (Elmhurst)

Who had a more impressive Opening Day: Chris Sale at home or Jeff Samardzija on the road?

Bruce Levine
  (1:20 PM)

Giving up no runs, you can pick either one and say it was a dominant performance. I'd probably go with Samardzija because he was on the road, but it's a toss-up. Both were dominant outings.

Ryan (Iowa)

Do you think the Cubs could work a trade with Tampa Bay for David Price without having to include Baez?

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

There's no reason for Tampa to trade Price now. The Cubs are never going to trade Baez at this point. Tampa is going for a championship with Price as the top starting pitcher in the American League, so none of that is happening. Find another guy to trade for.

Alex Mason (Paris, France)

is there even a chance they move Wrigley Field? I feel that would upset many fans

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

The Ricketts family would like you to believe they will. To me, they have way too much invested in the Wrigley area for that to happen.

Bill (Iowa)

What is your prediction on where PK will be on opening day next year? Will he retire, be with the Sox, or be with another team? Could the Sox resign him to a 2 year $15 million deal or something in that area or even a 1 year $8-9 million deal? I am really hoping he finishes his career on the South Side. Thanks.

Bruce Levine
  (1:24 PM)

I really can't answer it because Konerko is going to decide what to do depending on what he does this year. If he's healthy and does well he'll probably come back. He should retire as a White Sox player though, considering how much he has meant to the organization, an all-star on and off the field.

rick (lombard)

Not a good Dunn yesterday. Heard he was working on hitting the other way. Did that work out and expect to see? New line up in middle makes sense.

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

He was hitting a lot of balls the other way during spring. Getting used to playing in 35-degree weather is not easy for older players. I'm not making excuses for him, but let's give him more than one game.

Greg M (Chicago)

Bruce I lived a block from Wrigley for a year and my experience was that day games caused more problems in the neighborhood than night games. Basically people would get there early, pre-game at the bars, drink at the game, then go back to the bars and end up passed out in my alley that night. So I'm always a little confused why there is such resistance to night games where people generally go home after the game. Can you shed some light on the argument against more night games?

Bruce Levine
  (1:29 PM)

I'm in agreement with you. The neighborhood is much more pristine for night games. Parking is never a problem, because people usually park miles away and take public transportation. Even the bars are quiet by around midnight after night games. But I don't think the neighborhood would want weekend night games.

Harry- Austin, TX [via mobile]

Any chance Samardzija is traded in July? For a top starting pitcher in the minors? Bundy from Baltimore?? A few years younger than Samardzija. Combine Bundy with Appel in 2015 would not cost a whole lot, then sign a bonafide ace? That looks like a darn good top 3.

Bruce Levine
  (1:31 PM)

I understand the way you're thinking, but you have three more years of control with Samardzija and he is only 28 years old. More importantly, the Cubs have paid the price for him to develop. Why would you want someone else to capitalize on his continued growth? The Cubs tried to sign him to a three-year deal in February and were told by Samardzija and his agent that he'll wait.

Greg (Chicago)

Would the White Sox consider trading Viciedo for either Price or someone young like Profar?

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

You have to ask if they are interested in trading Price, and Texas if they are interested in trading Profar. Those things need to happen first.

Dave (Lockport)

Do you believe the Ricketts will ever seriously consider building a new ballpark? Sentimental value aside, no amount of renovations can improve the Wrigley Field facilities as much as is needed, in comparison to nearly every other park in the majors (clubhouse size, seating comfort and capacity, bathrooms and vendor locations, parking, etc?)

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

Here's the thing. The Cubs will have to sacrifice some of the amenities for the automatic lure and draw of Wrigley Field. An example: if the team is in a period where they are not competing, how many fans will come out to Wrigley Field, compared to some mausoleum in the suburbs. Nobody is going out to the burbs to see them if they were to do poorly. On the other hand, Cubs will automatically draw 25k per game just because of the history and ambiance of the park.

Ross Wahoo NE [via mobile]

The Cubs 7,8,9 hitters is like 3 pitchers hitting in a row. Think that will change at all this year?

Bruce Levine
  (1:38 PM)

Yeah, you could bat them 1,2 & 3. I don't think their bottom hitters are going to be that bad. I think the lineup 1-8 is much better than it has been in the last few years, and it's much more balanced too. Run production will still be a challenge.

Joe (Iowa)

What is your prediction for Chris Sale's stats this year? I see 21-6 with a 3.02 ERA...too optimistic of me?

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

I think Sale is one of the top 4 or 5 pitchers in the American League. No reason he can't win 18 games with a good bullpen behind him.

Jacob (Crystal Lake)

This is a ways down the road, but what are the chances that the Cubs make a play for Robinson Cano in free agency next off season?

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

I don't see why the Cubs won't start going after the best free agents in baseball, and they have the resources to compete with anybody. When Epstein and Hoyer say it's time to go after the top free agents, they will. Cano at age 31 might not be where they want to throw their money at this point. But they will go after the best at some point.

Ryno (Naperville)

Is James Russell the next Left handed reliever we need to deal to try and get a decent prospect?

Bruce Levine
  (1:43 PM)

Russell is not making much money. So there's no reason to trade him. Cubs need some credibility in their pen and Russell is the only lefty in there except for Takahashi.

Robert (Madison, WI)

During a chat early last season, you predicted that Alejandro De Aza would have a breakout season for the White Sox in 2012. Any predictions for who will break out in 2013?

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

I think Viciedo is the guy with the White Sox this year. He quietly hit 25 homers last year, and I think 35 is a reasonable number for him to start shooting for. He's my pick to click.

Adel (Chicago)

Do you think this is the year Gordon Beckham breaks out of his offensive funk?

Bruce Levine
  (1:46 PM)

I don't know if he's breaking out of it, he's just never proven he's a .300 hitter, so I don't know what kind of level he's trying to attain. I do believe that he will be an improved hitter this year, but I can't give you any quantitative figure.

Jon (Indiana)

If you had to pick one who would you rather have, Sale or Samarzdga? yes sale is younger and left handed but he has to be an injury risk where Samarzdga is proven durable.

Bruce Levine
  (1:47 PM)

Sale. Because he is younger and left-handed. But I love them both.

Cameron (Chicago)

Who will end up with more wins at the end of the year, Floyd or Danks?

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

Just from a health standpoint you have to say Floyd. There is no way to project Danks pitching in the major leagues for at least another month.

Justin (McAllen, TX)

Bruce, I am getting kind of annoyed with people saying that there is an injury risk with Sale. I understand that he has an odd delivery but he hasn't gotten hurt yet, has he? I've always heard the best predictor for future injury is past injuries...

Bruce Levine
  (1:49 PM)

All he had was that sore elbow for about 10 days last spring. He never really missed any time because of it. They changed his work habits immediately when he the soreness started. He's had no trouble since.

Paul (Chicago)

Bruce, are the Cubs going to roll their starting 5 this week, or are they going to skip the #5 because of the off day? Trying to figure out who will be starting our home opener. Should be Jackson as long as they don't skip any spots.

Bruce Levine
  (1:50 PM)

I think that's what the plan is, to have Jackson start the home opener. They won't skip yet.

Jon (Indiana)

With a few more dominating starts like yesterday, will Jeff Samardzga finally gain some national attention as a top tier pitcher?

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

Slow your roll. Jeff has improved greatly, but let's not give him the Cy Young just yet. That said, I expect him to have an outstanding year, especially if he can get some bullpen help.

Jim (Westerville, OH)

I just looked at Aramis Ramirez' 2012 stats and it was a typical A-Ram year - .300, 27 HR, 100 RBI. Valbuena. Yeah. How big of a blunder was this let an all-star go with no compensation and have the kind of hole we have there now?

Bruce Levine
  (1:53 PM)

The Cubs were trying to dump salary and change culture. There was a feeling among executive that Ramirez didn't always give his best effort. But still you can't argue with the All-Star quality play.

Scott (Chicago)

Bruce, yesterday with one swing, Flowers made us forget about AJ for the moment. Does Flowers have enough tools, that the fans won't be calling for AJ to come back?

Bruce Levine
  (1:56 PM)

Two different players. Very different. AJ was a top-flight player and performer. Flowers is just now trying to become a top-flight player. He's not seeking out any drama or flair. A great year for Flowers would be 18 65 .250. More importantly handling the pitching staff the way the Sox want it to be handled.

Jeff Reith (Northlake,il)

Bruce, how is it that every year it seems to me hte Cubs have a day off after thier opener while the majority plays again the following day? Ive noticed this for years now with the Cubs. Thanks

Bruce Levine
  (1:57 PM)

It's consideration of bad weather in the Midwest. You have to leave the second day in case of a rainout, or even too much snow or cold. That's the main purpose of it.

Bob V. (Joliet)

Everyone is talking about Marmol. Another glaring need I saw yesterday was 3rd base. Valbuena was hit-less. Granted it is one game but who do you think the Cubs can get to plug into 3rd?

Bruce Levine
  (1:58 PM)

They cannot find anybody. They tried trading for Lonnie Chisenhall and Mike Olt in the offseason. Neither Cleveland or Texas would budge.

Steve (Rosemont)

Why can't MLB figure out a way to have the first two weeks of the season played primarily in warm weather locations and/or domed stadiums?

Bruce Levine
  (2:00 PM)

Because of the balance of home games and road games for each team. As an example, Arizona or LA would not like to play 30 home games in April and be on the road in the primary months of August and September. It's a matter of fairness in the schedule and the balance of home and away games.

Bob (Saint Charles, IL)

Let's be honest, the city of Chicago has taken the Cubbies for granted for 100 years. They are milking the 12% tax off of the ball park. What is the likely hood that there is an agreement made on the renovations? I would not be opposed to relocating the Cubs to a suburb.

Bruce Levine
  (2:01 PM)

Milking teams for an amusement tax is one way to look at it. I believe the Cubs will get an agreement with the city sometime soon. Somebody has to blink. Whether it's the rooftop owners or the Cubs.

Bruce Levine
  (2:03 PM)

It's great that the season has started. This is my favorite time of year. Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine, and listen to Talkin' Baseball on ESPN 1000, Saturdays at 9am.