Talk baseball with Bruce Levine
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Send your questions now and join the chat Tuesday at Noon CT/1:00 p.m. ET!
ESPNChicago.com (12:52 PM)
Hey, everybody. Bruce will be here soon so keep the questions coming.
Bruce Levine (1:00 PM)
Greetings. Welcome to the Tuesday baseball chat room. We'll be doing this throughout the year and maybe into the season depending on response.
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Both are legitimate rumors. And both have been talked about between the Cubs and those respective teams. It was obvious at the end of the season that Detroit needs more offense. The switch-hitting Bradley in a smaller market may indeed be productive again. The conversations with Tampa have continued but it creates a problem for the Cubs if they are able to make that deal. Burrell is a below average leftfielder just like Soriano. There's no chance either could play right field therefore one of the two would have to be repackaged elsewhere. P.S. Burrell is making $9 million with one year left on his contract. Soriano has five years left.
Brian Kaminski (Mokena, IL)
What is the status in regards to a Milton Bradley trade? have heard many rumors, 1 being sending him to Detroit for Jeremy Bonderman and 2 being the Tampa Bay deal for Pat Burrell, curious to know what could possibly be in the works
Brian Kaminski (Mokena, Il)
What moves do you expect the Cubs to make other than trying to get Rudy Jaramillo as the hitting coach? Chone Figgins? what about Bobby Abreu, has he priced himself out of range and is there any interest from both parties?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
The first piece of business for the cubs is to unload some of their nonproductive long-term contracts. Bradley would be one. Soriano is another possibility and of course there is even talk that the Cubs will listen to offers for Carlos Zambrano if they are able to get another top-quality starting pitcher either in that deal or another blockbuster type trade.
Brian Kaminski (Mokena, IL)
Wondering your thoughts on the shortstop prospect Castro? Should we believe in the hype or is this another Cory Patterson, Felix Pie situation?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Winston Castro is considered a future top shortstop in Major League Baseball. Those sentiments are held by scouts in other organizations that I have talked to about the Cub minor-leaguer. Other teams have called the Cubs and already asked about the availability of Castro in different trade scenarios. He seems to be the real deal. As to making the majors at age 19, it is highly unlikely that the Cubs will bring him to the majors before he has refined some of his offensive skills. They have made that mistake in the past and it has burned them. I know Cubs.com said that he might compete for a job in spring training. I don't believe he is quite ready.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Which players do you think that the Chicago White Sox should get rid of because they were absolutely terrible in 2009?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
It is clear that the White Sox may cut ties with outfielder Jermaine Dye and reliever Octavio Dotel. Dotel is a free agent whom the Cubs have some interest in. Dye has an player option and a team option in his 2010 contract. The White Sox can pay him $1 million to opt out which they most likely will do.
Ted Foust (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Will Jim Hendry and Lou Pinella be back next year with the new ownership?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
According to everybody I talk to, Jim Hendry, who has three years left on his contract, and Piniella, who will be working on the last year of his, are both expected to return. Before each prospective ownership group got into the final deliberations to but the team, they all signed off on Hendry getting a four-year deal which occurred last November.
Tony (Decatur, IL)
Is Mark DeRosa seriously in the plans for the Cubs? The Cardinals have said that David Freese is the starting 3B, so are they going to be interested? Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
The Cardinals will be interested in bring back DeRosa but keep in mind, the 34-year-old is having wrist surgery which will be a determining factor in where he signs and for how long. DeRosa's career was positively impacted by Rudy Jaramillo who most likely will be named the new Cubs hitting coach before the week is over with. DeRosa continued to call Jaramillo when he would go into hitting slumps or was working on his offseason regimen after he left the Rangers.
Rudy to the Cubs? Will it happen?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Jaramillo should be named hitting coach of the Cubs sometime this week if the players sources I talk to are correct. Don't be surprised if he becomes the highest paid coach in baseball, getting a three-year or four-year contract for over $750,000 a year. The only known coach who is making more than that is Dave Duncan, the pitching coach of the Cardinals. He is making somewhere around $$850,000.
how do you feel about the white sox as a serious contender next year?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I believe if Buehrle doesn't start to break down and Peavy pitches anywhere close to the way he pitched at the end of the season, the White Sox should be the favorite in the AL Central. A couple other reasons stand out: the second year for Beckham, Ramirez and Getz at their respective positions. It won't be long before Beckham is an MVP candidate every season. The bullpen concerns me a little if the Sox do trade Bobby Jenks that means Thornton will be the closer and two or three major setup roles will have to be filled.
Lou Piniella wants an "RBI guy". What are some of the names you are hearing to fill this void?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
The Cubs still desperately need left-handed hitting. Look at all the playoff teams and the impact players they have in their lineups. All of these teams have three or four if not more guys who can rake from the left side. Carl Crawford will not be available. Abreu is a nice name although at age 37, a multi-year deal is questionable. He is still a very productive player. The ideal situation for the Cubs would be to get a left-handed hitting centerfielder so they can move Fukudome back to right field where he is an above average right fielder. In center field, he is certainly below average.
Whitesox will need to bulk up their bullpen who do you think will be doing that? Do you think that they will acquire a big left handed bat to fill Thomes role?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
White Sox bullpen is a major concern, but it the team does indeed trade closer Bobby Jenks, they will be getting either a left-handed power bat back in return, or some young veteran relievers to go in the set-up role. Just a couple of names of free-agent releivers are Houston's LaTroy Hawkins, Brandon Lyon of Detroit, and right-hander Danys Baez, just to name a few of the free agents out there.
Galen (Tinley Park)
any chance the Cubs go after a starting pitcher? will they offer anything to Harden?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Rich Harden will be allowed to become a free agent. The Cubs thank him for his contributions, but feel they need someone who can start at least 30-plus games for them. Harden has not been up to that workload in the last couple of years. I think the Cubs would like to add to their rotation. Toronto's Roy Halladay is still going to be shopped by the Blue Jays this offseason. The Cubs do not have money to bring in Halladay at this point, but some other moves along the way could make that a possibility.
Matt (Crown Point, IN)
Presuming Bobby Jenks moves on, who would be some names to look out for to back up Matt Thornton in the bullpen? Also, what is the latest regarding Jim Thome? Presuming Thome does not return to the Sox, are there any names on the open market that could fill the DH void?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
There are some left-handed hitters who are free agents that the White Sox would like to have. Bobby Abreu of the Angels would be a nice fit. St Louis center fielder Rick Ankiel is also a free agent. The Rangers' Hank Blalock would be a designated hitter from the left side that could do some real damage at U.S. Cellular field. According to one source, the White Sox have some interest in Brewers' outfielder Corey Hart. He is right-handed and not a free agent, but someone that the Brewers would probably move for some young pitching.
Alex Hopkins (Orland Park, Il)
Is the pressure of "winning it all" and the stigma surrounding the Cubbies year in and year out (with being a cub fan now the "cool thing to do") holding this team back from its full potential? Is the curse in a way real with the storm its created in Wrigleyville.. or will the Northside be singing in the streets come next year?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I think that is a very good question. There seems to be too much pressure on all big-market teams to win every year. It would be more prudent if teams tried to build their franchises the way the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves have done with theirs. You must build through your farm system, that means you must have outstanding scouts and very good player development people. The Cubs and Sox both have good people, but their player development until recently has been poor. Buddy Bell coming in to run the White Sox minor-league system, has been a big bonus for the South Siders. There will probably be a lot of singing in the streets, but it might not necessarily be around a Cubs' World Series celebration. The team has a lot of work to do, and they're checking out many trade situations right now.
Will the Sox resign Pods or will they be content moving Getz to leadoff?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Another good question. The White Sox are unsure of what Podsednik expects in free agency. If the veteran outfielder will take a year and an option at maybe a $1.5 million per year, the Sox will probably roll the dice and bring him back as either their leadoff man, or a solid veteran backup in case some of their other plans, like Getz leading off, doesn't work out.
Who do you see the Cubs going after in the off-season to fill in for Bradley? If we get rid of him that is.
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
That's dependent on who the cubs get back in the Bradley trade. Not only are they trying to move Bradley, but his $20 million owed to him is a consideration for other moves that they want to make this offseason. Moving salaries and getting back players who can help them in 2010 is not an easy matter. You're trying to do two things at once and sometimes you end up accomplishing one of those goals when you're put in that situation. The player or players who replace Bradley in the outfield most likely will be directly or indirectly related to the trade itself, which might elicit another trade.
is beckam going to win rookie of the year?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
Most likely not. Detroit's Rick Porcello is the front-runner after winning 14 games and pitching extremely well in the play-in game against Minnesota, which Detroit eventually lost.
do you forC any changes in the whitesox either coaching staff or front office in the next few years?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Assistant general manager Rick Hahn has been looked at by a lot of other teams as their future general manager. I do not expect Rick to be with the Sox too much longer, but it doesn't appear that there's a GM job that fits for him this offseason. The coaching staff should return intact.
Bruce, what are your thoughts on the possibility of Chone Figgins to finally put an end to the Cubs problems at the top of the order. Theriot stikes out too much and Fukudome doesn't have the speed to jump start an offense.
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
Figgins is a nice dream for both the Cubs and the White Sox. At age 32, it appeared his speed is starting to go in the other direction. Although he stole 42 bases in 2009, he was thrown out attempting to steal a major-league high 17 times. Nonetheless, Figgins is an impact player, at the top of the order, both scoring runs and being versatile to the point of playing mulitple infield and outfield positions.
Assuming Jaramillio signs with the Cubs, what are Bradley's chances of staying with the team since he had one of his best years under the hitting coach's tutelage?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Very astute observation on your part. Jaramillo has that type of impact with a lot of players, even the troubled Milton Bradley. The PR spin to bring back Bradley would probably be too difficult at this point. However, there will be a lot of things written and said about this over the next week or 10 days after Jaramillo signs with the North Siders, which is what we expect at this point.
SteveFitz (Cicero, IL)
Bruce, surprise bat that no one expected that could pop up on the Cubs radar?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Marlon Byrd is a free agent center fielder that the Cubs tried to trade for a couple of years ago. He's coming off of a solid offensive season and could be that surprise type player the Cubs pursue.
Brian (West Chicago)
Hi BruceWhat's your opinion about how Jeff Baker fits in on the Cubs? Will he and Fontenot platoon in 2010? Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
I do not expect Fontenot back with the Cubs. His 2009 season was an extreme disappointment to the Cub managment group, not to mention Lou Piniella and his staff. I look for Baker to be a solid backup at second and third base, but not to be looked at as a starter for 2010. Tampa's Akinori Iwamura may be come a free agent if the Rays buy out his contract for 2010 ($250,000). He's a pretty good looking player and he hits left-handed. He might be a nice fit for the Cubs.
Do you believe the White Sox should go after a major free agent to fill their outfield/2nd base needs? And is it worth giving Thome another chance? He could be a valuable lefty in the heart of the order and he may be had for $5 million or less.
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
The amount of money it will cost to bring Thome back should not be the White Sox's main concern. Their due diligence should center around getting the most productive left-handed hitter they can find to balance a right-handed heavy lineup. The Sox do have left-handed hitters, but as you said, no one with the pop of Thome. The White Sox will not have a lot of money to spend in free agency, so if indeed they feel Thome is still a viable hitter, they may revisit that in the offseason.
Bruce, what is the chance that Tony Larussa and Dave Duncan might come to the Cubs... doesn't Ricketts want to avoid starting his ownership without a lame duck manager?
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
A lame-duck manager is never a good thing, but after having talked to Piniella when the season was coming to an end, he told me that being in the last year of his contract won't faze him or affect the way he communicates with his players. Piniella is strong enough a baseball man to handle some malcontents who might try to take advantage of him just because he's in the last season of his deal. LaRussa and Duncan may possibly sit out a year and wait for the likes of Piniella, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre to retire. All three future Hall-of-Fame managers have said that 2010 will most likely be their last season.
Brad (Steger, il)
will fox be apart of the 2010 cubs roster
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
Fox would be an OK 25th man for the cubs. The cubs management group is split in their thoughts about Fox. Some would like to see him stay, others feel he would be more valuable used in a trade to bring back a more versatile player from an American League team.
Who will be the opening starting catcher for the cubs? Is there any trade value in Soto? Could the Cubs live with Hill?
Bruce Levine (2:01 PM)
At this particular point, it appears Soto will be given another opportunity to be the Cubs' everyday catcher. the Cubs might look for a stronger offensive player to back up Soto in 2010, although Koyie Hill did a great job defensiviely handling the pitching staff.
How close are Danks, Viciedo and Mitchell to the majors?
Bruce Levine (2:03 PM)
Jordan Danks is closest to making the major leagues sometime in 2010. Viciedo probably needs at least one more year in the minors. Mitchell has to cut down on his strikeouts and play at least one year in the minor leagues.
ESPNChicago.com (2:03 PM)
Thanks for taking part in our baseball chatroom. Keep listening to ESPN1000 and ESPNChicago.com for breaking baseball news. See you next Tuesday.