Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

April 30, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine
  (1:01 PM)

Welcome to the chat room. If you're a Cubs fan, I'm sure you still don't know what to think about your team. White Sox fans, you have injuries to deal with. Whatever it is, I'm ready for you. Welcome.

Al (Downers Grove)

How long until we have an openly gay MLB player?

Bruce Levine
  (1:04 PM)

I think as a society we're way beyond all that stuff. Do you really think that other players care about who their teammates are seeing outside the ballpark? To me it's not a big deal at all. Jason Collins will help free up a lot of other people to be proud to admit who they are.

Mick (Chicago)

Hey Bruce, thanks for doing this. How are Beckham and Tank coming along? They should be back soon, right?

Bruce Levine
  (1:05 PM)

Beckham still didn't have his stitches out as of two days ago so it will still be about 5 more weeks. I assume Viciedo will be back before Beckham, but there's still no timetable for him.

Justin (chicago)

Bruce, dave sappelt is brutal. Any chance we send him down to triple A where he belongs and call up either Sweeny or Bogusevic, who are both raking down there?

Bruce Levine
  (1:06 PM)

The Cubs are a little bit heavy in left-handed hitters, so that's why they'll continue to give Sappelt opportunities.

wdd (Fort Worth)

When and where can we expect to see Albert Almora playing?

Bruce Levine
  (1:08 PM)

Almora will probably be playing this summer, but no date yet. My guess is he'll play in Boise. The Cubs philosophy is to hold back some of their high school players, just to get them assimilated in the organization, and allow their maturity to catch up to their ability.

Walter White (ABQ)

Bruce-- If the Sox stay healthy, will we have our lineup and rotation back to normal this time next month, Danks included?

Bruce Levine
  (1:10 PM)

Hard for me to project Danks because he is an injured player still rehabbing. I can't tell you if he'll be throwing 92-93 a month from now. I have been pleasantly surprised by the way Axelrod has pitched. He's been tremendously competent if not sensational. Let's see how Santiago handles starting as well. I do have concerns about Floyd though with 3 elbow flareups in about 10 months.

Jim (San Antonio)

The Cubs have been doing well on the waiver wire, but I am worried they may lose someone. Who should be sent to Iowa when Fujikawa comes back next week? Camp can't seem to get people out this year like he did last year.

Bruce Levine
  (1:11 PM)

I hate to say it but Michael Bowden has been designated for assignment before, and they were able to re-sign him. They may roll the dice again on that move.

Curt (Illinois)

Bruuuuuuuce, everyone seems to get your attention by saying your name really long. Over under on 6 current Cubs players being traded away by the deadline?

Bruce Levine
  (1:12 PM)

I would have to go under -- just a tad. I'm thinking 3-5. But it just depends on what the team is able to get back on some of these guys they have only one-year commitments to.

Alex Whitmore (Normal, IL)

Not seeing much growth in Castro this year. OBP under.300 in his 4th year in the majors.. If he doesn't get his number up this year is there a chance there will be a trade for Stanton?

Bruce Levine
  (1:14 PM)

I don't know if I want Stanton. He's starting to show more injury problems. I don't get to excited about players that get injured a lot early in their career. I'll take my chances with Castro, although I agree with you that he needs to improve in that area.

jimmy (texas)

the bullpen has been really troubling lately. Donnie Veal has come in 3 times this year to face 1 batter and then walked them. There are 2 more times when he has come in for less than an inning and walked a batter. If you are going to be the lefty specialist you absolutely cannot walk people. Is this a circumstance of not being comfortable in his role? if so, is there anyone in the minors who is?

Bruce Levine
  (1:15 PM)

I just think that Veal is still developing into the reliever they want him to be. He was a starting pitcher for a good part of his minor league career. I think you have to hang with him for a little while. Weather has been a consideration for everybody.

Zac (Elkhart, IN)

Why does Stewart automatically get a 25 man spot when he is healthy? It sounds like he will be promoted when he is ready, but he will have to earn playing time. Ransom has played well, Valbuena has been a pleasant surprise, not to mention one is right, one is left. Should just cut him lose in my opinion.

Bruce Levine
  (1:17 PM)

After a certain amount of time a player will tell you he is no longer disabled, and that is his right through collective bargaining. At that point you can decide if you want to pay him off or not. The Cubs still feel that he can be a positive addition to their team this season. They are the experts, so let's let them decide and see if it works out. You reserve the right to rip them if their wrong.

Paul (Chicago)

Bruce, what is the latest on Garza? Will we see him taking the mound at any point before June?

Bruce Levine
  (1:18 PM)

I think June 1 is probably an optimistic time to project him out there. I think he needs a month of competition is what he needs having not pitched since last July.

Scott (Chicago)

Travis Wood and been a pleasant Surprise this year. If he can keep this up, would Hoyer consider trading him while his value is high plus he has some team control for a couple of years?

Bruce Levine
  (1:19 PM)

I don't think they want to trade a young, left-handed starter that they helped develop. That's contrary to their rebuilding plan. Chris Bosio has made Wood one of his special projects. It appears Wood's confidence is starting to match his overall ability.

Matt (Chicago)

I hate to say this but this Beckham experience feels like a total failure. The kid has been injured or underperformed almost his entire career. Do you think we need to let him go and call someone up from the minors as a permanent replacement?

Bruce Levine
  (1:21 PM)

They are grooming Sanchez in the minors. He will be pushing the other infielders after a little more seasoning at AAA. Gordon was hitting .300, albeit in a small sample, before he went down. And remember Gordon is also a 'TWTW' guy.

Steve (Orlando)

Why won't Sveum give Schierholtz a shot against lefties? I know Hairston hit a homer yesterday, but i'm still not impressed.

Bruce Levine
  (1:22 PM)

Good question. But managers want to keep all their players fresh, and Hairston was signed specifically because he hits lefties so well. I think you throw the first month out the window because of all the bad weather. I would project these guys more on what they do from this point on.

Joe (West Town)

Bruuuuce! Barney isn't lighting up the stat sheet offensively right now, but I'm still confident in his bat and it doesn't get any better defensively. Do you think he will be a part of this team when it's time to contend?

Bruce Levine
  (1:23 PM)

That's difficult for me to answer. I'm a big Barney fan. But his numbers are kind of difficult to quantify. There is a big part of him being a winning player that you have to put into the equation. He is a leader on the Cubs, and I know that doesn't sound that exciting to you, but they do play better when he is on the field.

Ali (Homer Glen, IL)

If DeJesus does get traded, do you see Julio Borbon as the favorite to take his spot? Gets on base and gives them a much needed speed element.

Bruce Levine
  (1:25 PM)

He is a certainly candidate to do it. But it's still unknown if he could be a good everyday player. As good as DeJesus is, I think he's more valuable for the team to keep for at least the next 2 months, then he is to trade and bring back a marginal player in return.

Karl (Illinois) [via mobile]

Why does Ventura rely on Matt Thornton so much? It seems like his over-reliance has hurt Thornton's productivity and made him less and less reliable.

Bruce Levine
  (1:27 PM)

Thornton is a tried and true product. The problem with him is that he was overused last season. I think the White Sox realize that if they hold him to about 60 appearances then he will be stronger and more valuable for them. 74 appearances is too much for a guy that's had more appearances than any pitcher in the AL the last 7 years.

Larry (Illinois)

I know Sveum said he wouldn't name a closer, but Gregg looks like the one who should be. Having said that you think Sveum would use Gregg to close games when leads are 2 or fewer and perhaps Marmol in games when the Cubs have a 3 plus run lead.

Bruce Levine
  (1:28 PM)

I don't know if he'll break it down like that. When a manager gets to the 9th inning, he's going to use the pitcher that gives him the best chance to win. Right now it appears that Gregg will be that guy, at least 3 times a week.

Chris (Purdue)

Bruce, what type of potential do you see in Villanueva? Hes been pretty solid lately...can he be a solid #3, 4 starter or is he bound to come back to earth and head back to the bullpen? He doesnt have electric stuff but doesnt try to do too much and understands his limitations.

Bruce Levine
  (1:30 PM)

I think he can be a solid pitcher, but as the weather heats up, some of those flyballs he gives up are going to be leaving the ballpark. You have to like what you've seen from him so far though.

Taurus Bulba Chicagoan [via mobile]

Bruce now that Sanberg has major league coaching experience can we expect Theo to give him a shot at mgr. when Sveum gets fired?

Bruce Levine
  (1:32 PM)

He's more likely to end up as manager of the Phillies before that time comes. Whenever Philadelphia or Charlie Manuel decides to end their relationship, Sandberg is the obvious choice.

Ray (Same avatar WI)

Is Castro the long-term SS or will it be Baez?

Bruce Levine
  (1:33 PM)

TBD. You have two guys that can really hit. Maybe one is a third baseman and maybe one is a center fielder. Either way it should be a pleasant problem to have.

Andrew (Springfield)

I admit it is early but Edwin Jackson is 0-3 with 4.76 ERA. Signed to a 4 year contract worth $52 million, did management over reach? He is an average pitcher with about a .500 record. Can you talk me off the ledge?

Bruce Levine
  (1:34 PM)

You identified exactly what he is. He is a .500 pitcher that gives you 200 innings a year and that is it. Why would anyone expect him to be anyone else? What the Cubs were trying to do was add a consistent 200-inning pitcher into a rotation that had very few others that could project for that many innings.

Joseph_Cub (Rep. Dom.)

Do you think the Cubs will take one of Gray or Appel? hard to pass up that two gys if one of them is avalible....

Bruce Levine
  (1:37 PM)

They may surprise you. Kris Bryant, a third baseman, is also a consideration. As badly as the Cubs need a franchise-type pitcher, they are in need of a franchise third baseman as well. My guess is though they will go for Appel or Gray.

Scott Fort Wayne [via mobile]

When do you believe Baez and Soler will be with the Cubs? This year? Next Year? Longer?

Bruce Levine
  (1:38 PM)

Soler may be at least a year. My guess is Baez will make it to the bigs before Soler. Next June is a possibility.

Mike (Maine)

How concerned should the Sox be that all four of their minor league "stud" OFs (Mitchell, Thompson, Walker, and Hawkins) are hitting under .215? I know it's early, but it's not like there is much else in the system at any level.

Bruce Levine
  (1:39 PM)

I'd be more concerned about Mitchell. I think the clock is ticking on him as far as being a prospect or a suspect. The others have some time.

Ali (Homer Glen, IL)

Do you think David Price being close to free agency takes the Cubs out of the running to get him? Would the Cubs rather get someone with a little more team control before having to give out that huge contract?

Bruce Levine
  (1:41 PM)

I don't think the Cubs have the players to get David Price. Tampa is going to want a package of pitching back, and they would be asking for Baez first in a deal like that. As a Cubs fan, are you willing to do that?

Mick (South Bend, IN)

In your opinion what are Robin's major strengths and weaknesses as a manager?

Bruce Levine
  (1:44 PM)

I think his major strength is leadership and the ability to give and get respect. It's a very underrated quality. There's also a hidden intimidation line that players know they can't cross. Adam Dunn says Robin is an easy guy to play for. But unless you bust your butt I don't think that statement would be true. As for weaknesses, he's had to learn how to handle pitching, and he's made some nice adjustments there. He's not overusing his bullpen and he's not leaving veteran pitchers like Peavy in there for too long. He and Cooper left Peavy in games way too long last year.

Tracy (West Chicago)

If Barney isn't considered a core player, why isn't second base ever mentioned as a destination for Castro? (R. Cano anybody...?)

Bruce Levine
  (1:46 PM)

Second base is just as much a skill position as shortstop, and not an easy transition. Just imagine some of Castro's throws with his back to first base on double plays. That's a whole new area for a shortstop to learn, something that took Barney a year and half to become proficient at. If Castro doesn't make it as a shortstop, my guess is he is a center fielder.

Mark (Chicago)

The Sox may be banged up, but I don't see a lot to like or build around going forward. What can they do to return to being competitive in the division in the next year or two?

Bruce Levine
  (1:47 PM)

Continue to develop starting pitching. I like some of their bullpen guys. Now they have to hope that Sale and Quintana are joined by pitchers like Santiago and Axelrod as quality starters.

JT (Alliance, NE) [via mobile]

Bruce! Are the Cubs still combing through the FA wire to possibly shore up the bullpen? Maybe another lefty or a Brian Wilson type?

Bruce Levine
  (1:48 PM)

I think the Cubs will continue to be as proactive as any team on waivers over the next few years. When you're a second division team, the reality is that some of the players let go by better teams might be better than the ones you currently have.

David (Libertyville)

Why is matt szczur not being hyped more than brett jackson?He is younger and seems to be a much more complete player.

Bruce Levine
  (1:50 PM)

The swing and miss factor is the problem for Jackson, everything else is good. Szczur is just a different type of player than Jackson. Szczur is more of a top-of-the-order hitter, whereas Jackson is more of a HR-RBI hitter.

Ray (Backwards hat WI)

Any scouts watching Cub players for trades?

Bruce Levine
  (1:51 PM)

I'm sure every scout that comes into town on their normal coverage is looking at the Cubs. There are probably no more than 2 or 3 players that the Cubs would not consider trading. Every GM in the game knows that.

Evan (Indy)

Bruce, please talk me out of being excited that the Cubs have won 4 of 5. Another summer spent watching them lose 100 games won't be good for my marriage.

Bruce Levine
  (1:53 PM)

If the bullpen continues to pitch well -- a big if -- then they should be a competitive team. Not a team that wins the division, but a team that can win between 70 & 80 games. Their starting pitching has been excellent so far. In the NL if you have good starting pitching and a solid bullpen, you'll win a lot of games regardless of how bad your offense might be.

Chris (Chicago)

Do you see the Cubs being major players in free agency in November?

Bruce Levine
  (1:55 PM)

It's all up to the baseball business department of the Cubs. Mr. Kenney and Mr. Ricketts have to turn Epstein and Hoyer loose before their able to procure top, young free agents. At this point it doesn't appear that Epstein has $120-130 million payroll to look forward to. This could be the difference in 2 or 3 high-profile free agents.

Scott (Chicago)

Bruce, Rios has been a bright spot on the Sox were there really are none even with the pitching as well. We are not looking to head to the roof just yet, but what will it take for the pitching and hitting to come around and be consistent?

Bruce Levine
  (1:56 PM)

Two variables: good health and good weather. I'm a big believer that the White Sox have enough talent to compete. However, they cannot sustain any more major injuries. Right now their rotation is hanging by a thread.

Soxfan asking Cub question (chitown)

I know the Cubs say they are commited to Castro, but any chance they trade him next year for young pitching and move Baez into SS?

Bruce Levine
  (1:57 PM)

I think anything is possible there. Epstein and Hoyer have retained flexibility of trading any of their players due to the fact they will not give no-trade clauses in their contracts.

Brian (Chicago)

During these few years, which are obviously rebuilding years... should cubs fans want them to with 80 games?

Bruce Levine
  (1:59 PM)

I think that's a good question. I believe that Cubs would like to draft high, but they also want to show some signs of improvement for their long-suffering and forgiving fanbase. If I'm a Cubs fan I would want another year with a really high draft pick. I know it's painful to pay full-price for a sub-par product, but let's see what Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod can do with a couple more high draft picks.

Bruce Levine
  (2:01 PM)

Have a great week of baseball, and it is actually baseball weather now so go out to the park and enjoy some games. Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and listen to Talkin' Baseball on ESPN 1000, Saturday mornings at 9am.