Chat with Bruce Levine
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Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Happy New Year to all. Let's hope Jim Hendry and Kenny Williams can add a piece or two before spring training starts. I'll be reporting from the owners meetings next week in Arizona, so we might have to change the time of the chat next week. Stay tuned. Let's go.
Jesse Gonzales (Merriontte Park,IL)
So when are the cubs going to make a move and get a real outfielder and starting pitcher, Why wont they trade Big Z and soriano
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
No-trade clauses prohibit Hendry from doing what he'd like to do. Do you actually think other GMs want to pay Soriano and Zambrano $18M a year, coming off the seasons they had?
nate (chicago )
any chance the sox look at barry bonds he is a fit lefty, play DH, old, and slow?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
It's between Bonds and Ron Kittle returning? Seriously though, the Sox are still considering the left-handed power bats. I know they'd love to make a trade for San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez.
Joe P. (Las Vegas, NV)
It is widely known certain teams employ a large number of sabermetric stat people to help the team. Teams such as the Red Sox, A's, Yankees and now the Mariners are using this "Moneyball" approach very well. Do you know if the Cubs employ much of this same method and if they do, does it take priority over the old "scout" methods?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
The Cubs have a sabermetic type in baseball administrator Chuck Wasserstrum. He's as smart and as good as any of the other sabermetric guys out there. I think Hendry likes OBP guys as much as the next GM. But he doesn't live and die with that stat.
Jim Hendry (Wrigley Field)
There are lots of rumors about me signing Ben Sheets. Do you think I am getting him or not?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Hendry talked to agent Casey Close at the Winter Meetings, and at that time, the asking price was somewhere between $7 and $8 million for a pitcher who missed the entire 2009 season and has been on the DL every year of his career. I think the Cubs would be interested in him, but the price is going to have to drop significantly for them to be able to afford them. Think Jose Contreras and John Smoltz. Those guys fit just as well as Sheets.
Ryan (Chicago, IL)
What are the cubs plans for Andres Blanco this offseason? I think he's a very good option as a backup middle infielder. Even if they traded Fontenot, which I believe they should, is there enough room for him ont he roster?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
He's a better defensive player than either Fontenot or Theriot. I'm sure he'll have a spot as a backup along with Jeff Baker. Fontenot is one of 8 Cubs players going to arbitration. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll be on the team starting April 5.
Bruce, do you think there is any chance the Cubs go after Orlando Hudson, or Felipe Lopez if they are still sitting there towards the end of the month?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Both add the element of having left-handed bats. The Cubs certainly need that. Both have flaws. Hudson lost his job to Ronny Belliard in L.A. last year. He has a tendency to fade out as the season progresses. Lopez, who had been a troublesome player in the past, seems to have straightened himself out as far as his character issues.
Biggy (Washington, NC)
Haven't made a point at all to watch the Rangers play, so I ask: how good is Marlon Byrd? Good stats, but are they for real? What can we expect?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
The Cubs are counting on hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo to keep Byrd's numbers on the uptick. Since they've gotten together, Byrd has improved every year. Ideally, on a great team, Byrd is a fourth outfielder. The Cubs at this point are not a great team.
What position are the Sox most in need for and who is there most reliable guy to sign
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
At this point they have two needs: a left-handed power bat and a long man in the bullpen. Talking to my Sox sources yesterday, they can wait as long as into the season to get the power bat they need. But they are still certainly looking at the Delgados, Blalocks, Huffs and Thomes as a possible addition. For now, rookie Daniel Hudson will be the long man in the pen.
Johnny Blaze (Morgan Park)
Why do the Cubs insist on overpaying every free agent they sign?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I would have to say in some cases that's a fair analysis. But remember it was the edict of past ownership under Sam Zell to make a big splash in free agency, so that the team can do well and sell high. Jim Hendry was only going by what he was being told to do. Some moves have worked and some haven't. I'm sure you like the way Ted Lilly and Aramis Ramirez have worked out. In the case of Byrd, defense is the key to what he brings. His addition makes center and right stronger and above average.
Chris Ireland (Chicago)
Compared to the rest of the American League...where does the Whites Sox bullpen stand and will Bobby Jenks be the closer for the WHOLE 2010 season? Thank you
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
It's hard to determine right now. He's going to make somewhere between $7 and $8 million in arbitration. That's a hefty price for the big men. Right now they like their bullpen depth with Jenks closing, Thornton and Putz setting up, Linebrink and Pena and most likely Hudson rounding out the pen. Also throw in left-hander Randy Williams.
Do you think the Cubs will go with a right-handed or left-handed 4th outfielder? Who are some of the candidates you're hearing(Nady, Church, Johnson, Spillboroughs,Gomes)?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Certainly I've reported Spilborghs in the trade stories I've written about. I think that deal is still on the table. The Cubs do need some left-handed pop.
Mike (tinley park ill)
Bruce, do you see the next move for the white sox being held off for at least a couple of months or maybe even during the season? and if so what move do you see them making
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
The Sox like most teams are concerned with arbitration filings between Jan. 5-15. This really dominates GM's time right now. After that period, or maybe next week at the owners meetings, GMs will have a clearer picture as to what they can add to their team.
Are the Cubs going to have any leftover money to take a flyer on Sheets? An option year wouldnt be a big deal, if he met incentives and triggers, because you could decline to re-sign Lilly if Sheets had a solid year.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
You're thinking like a GM, which is really good. If you could lend the Ricketts family a few extra million, I think your philosophy would work. Right now Sheets has to realize that his market is probably $2-$3 million, not $7-$8 million.
Bruce, Do you think the Cubs are actually going to start the season with Fontenot as the starting 2nd baseman? Are they looking at Lopez or Hudson as an option or trading for one? They need to add a basestealer and this would be the only position open that they could add some speed.
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Hudson doesn't really have speed, although he's athletic. Fontenot as a part-time player can be productive, but I don't ever see him as a full-time starter.
Josh Summers (Warrensburg, IL)
Will the Cubs pursue another vetern outfielder for a bat off the bench and for an insurance policy?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
The aformentioned Spilborghs is someone they've talked about since early Dec. He plays all three outfield positions well. The Cubs also stole Jeff Baker last year from Colorado. Spilborghs is rated 5th or 6th on the Rockies' depth chart.
Jason T. (Chicago)
Any new reports about Paul Konerko getting traded to the Angels. In return the Sox would be getting Adrian Gonzalez.
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
That would have to be a three-way trade, and I don't see that happening right now. It's hard to see what the Angels are doing for sure. I think they've fallen below possibly Seattle and Texas in the AL West.
Kevin Maldonado (Chicago)
The White Sox are only left handed power hitter away from having a pretty decent cub (well enough to win the division). Is there anyone who they can sign or trade for? And where do you rank the Sox as the best teams in the AL?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I don't rank them with Boston and New York at this point. Their starting pitching on paper may be as good, however Peavy is going to have to prove he's healthy for an entire season. Look at previous answer for free agents and other possibilities.
are the cubs the worst run franchise in baseball? granted the mets are in the running there.
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
It depends on what you mean by worst-run. They've won 2 divisions over the last 3 years and have finished over .500 in five of Hendry's 7 years as GM. By Cubs' standards, that's pretty darn good.
patrick (blue island)
Say for Jim Thome, is there anyone else still out there that kenny would go after to fill the HUGE left handed power hitting void in the lineup or will ozzie be content with kotsay in that role?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
The Sox are consistent when they say they'd like a more flexible DH position. That's Sox speak for they don't want any more slow, plodding players. Nonetheless, they might indeed fill that role with a guy like Delgado, who can play 1B. Same thing with Huff, who can play 1B, 3B and the OF. The Sox like a lot of teams are watching the free agent market bottom out before making their next move.
Benny (Quincy, MA)
Who will be playing most of the innings at 2nd base for the Cubs this year?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
My guess is that part of the equation isn't on the team at this point. If they're going to be a better club, it could Ryan Theriot. The kid shortstop Castro isn't all that far away in Cubs' management plans. So if you're going to move Theriot, you probably want to do it in spring training. Right now there is no other SS to fill that role.
Hey Bruce, is the Sheets thing for real? If so, do they like him for the whole season or just replacement for Lilly? Marshall ?ND Jeff?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
I don't believe Sheets has thrown off the mound yet in his return from elbow surgery. He certainly should be ready by spring training, but he's more of a rehab gamble than he is a for-sure thing. The Cubs do like him, however. He's another Louisiana boy.
Michael (Evansville, IN)
Carlos Zambrano's best season thus far is 2004 when he went 16-8 with a 2.75 ERA. Do you think he has another season in him that tops that?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I know he's working hard to try to get back to that type of quality production. The problem with Z is not his offseason regimen, it's the way he lets himself slip away during the season. Hard work will have to be part of his everyday routine if he's going to be able to match his expectations as well as the team's.
Fitz (my cube)
Bruce,anyword on what Delgado is looking for contract wise? 1 year 4-5 million? What is your opinion on a 1 year flyer on him if he is healthy? Anyword from winter ball if he is?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Delgado had some of his first at-bats yesterday in Puerto Rico. I'm sure the Sox like a lot of teams are watching reports on him. I think Delgado's upside is huge, especially as a DH and part-time 1B in a very small ballpark that he can take advantage of.
Deano Machino (Chicago)
Bruce, can you shed any light on if Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin have been involved in any offseason workouts to prepare them better for the coming season?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
Part of Quentin's rehab was to rest and make sure his plantar fascitis has settled down. Rios' problems seem more above the shoulders than below. He never impressed me as a guy who wasn't physically prepared to play.
What trades is Hendry working on and when do you think the next move will come
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
Just drove by your house on RT 24, returning from Peoria. Hendry definitely wants to add to his bullpen and add another starter if he can. A backup OF is a must, I'm not sure if any of that will take place before the Cubs Convention.
Hey Bruce, Happy New Year! I wanted to get your thoughts on the Marlon Byrd signing. Do you think he will benefit from a reunion w/ Rudy Jaramillo. For that matter, what kind of impact do you think a guy like Jaramillo will have on the offense this season?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Jaramillo is being paid $850K per year to have an impact on all the hitters. I think he'll be a great addition to the team. And Happy New Year to you too.
Rob (St. Charles, IL)
What will the Opening Day lineup be for the White Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I'll take a shot: Pierre LF, Beckham 2B, Quentin RF, Konerko 1B, Rios CF, Pierzynski C, Ramirez SS, Teahen 3B, Kotsay or Jones DH.
Any cheap free agent starters the Cubs can look at to fill in for Lilly?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Depends on what you mean by cheap. Contreras is someone they've talked to. Garland, the former Cubs No.1 pick, is someone they would consider. Money isn't something the Cubs have a lot of at this point. Hopefully Mr. Ricketts will find a few extra $$ for Mr. Hendry to add depth.
Ken (Arlington Heights)
There's been some talk about trading for Jason Frasor from the Blue Jays. Who would the cubs have to give up for him, and what is his current contract?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I reported that possibility late last week. Frasor has a good power arm, seems to have something left at age 32. He's a free agent after next season and arbitration eligible. Toronto would want pitching in return. They've expressed some interest in Angel Guzman.
Who in your opinion was the most offensively challenged White Sox player of the past decade? My vote is for Andy Gonzalez or Royce Clayton
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
I thought Nick Swisher was a big failure even though he hit 24 home runs. Hitting .211 is an extreme failure and is something that got him traded.
Adam (San Diego)
I think the Sox have to be the early favorite in the AL Central. What do you think?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
You never discount the Twins. You look at their starting pitchers and start scratching your head. The next thing you know they've won the division. If you like on-paper winners, the Sox surely should be that in the Central.
I am somewhat confused at why every Cubs fan on the planet wants Soriano and Zambrano gone. Even if we could trade them that basically means packing it in with this team and waiting 3-5 years on prospects and new free agents. Does everyone think it's a coincidence that Soriano signed here and we won 2 division titles? Or that in a bad year Z posted a 3.77 ERA? Players have bad seasons and if the Cubs are likely to be right with the Cardinals next year if both guys rebound.
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Your responses is an intelligent one. Unfortunately we live in a world where people want instant changes. That means fire the GM, fire the manager and get rid of players who had bad years. Thats' not a realistic function of sports in 2010.
Mike (Grayslake, IL)
With the inconsistant play at shortstop by Alexi last year, would it have not made more sense to move Wonderboy to his natural position instead of 2nd base, and move Lexi back? Do you think that the shuffling of Gordon will have any effect on his play...3 positions in 2 years?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
I think that's a fair question. Alexei had a very substantial August and September. I still think he's a 20-80 guy with above average defense at short. His concentration was not good at the beginning of the year, but much better at the end. Beckham is a special baseball athlete who should handle the move back into the middle infield in a seamless fashion. His only difficulty may be making the double play pivot at 2B. That's what spring training will be for.
Dan m (Chicago)
Bruce if the white sox seeked a trade to get adrian gonzalez, who would they have to give up?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Plenty. A lot. More than they want to. Conversations begin and end with Gordon Beckham. Since the Sox won't part with him, they'd have to trade three of their top prospects to even get a sniff. San Diego does not want any players back who are making money. Therefore, you can start with the Viciedos and Daniel Hudsons as part of any package. Probably have to throw in Jordan Danks as well.
are there any free agent relief pitchers on the white sox radar?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
There doesn't appear to be at this point. They would like to add a veteran pitcher, but more likely through trades than free agency.
I have a sinking feeling the Cubs are content with their roster. Bruce is there any reason to believe this club will improve especially without Lilly(most consistent SP) for the first half?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Part of evaluating what the Cubs are going to do would include a quick look at the Cardinals. If the Cards add Holliday back to their mix, a lot of the so-called experts will pick St. Louis again. I feel the Cubs' talent can pass St. Louis if people like Soto and Soriano return to form.
Will the cubs look to add a veteran reliever? They could seemingly use a RH setup man who could close in the event Marmol has sustained control issues.
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
You're thinking along with the Cubs. After missing out on Matt Capps, they certainly want to add another RH pitcher to the pen. Toronto is one team they've been talking to. That's one of Hendry's priorities.
Who's leading off for the Cubs opening day?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
If it's a RHP, it's probalby Fukudome, he had a .375 OBP. I know, I know he strikes out too much. But Marlon Byrd is not a top-of-the-order hitter. He brings a .329 OBP.
as the roster stands today what are yur expectations for the White Sox this year, can their starting pitching carry them?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
If you believe Kenny Williams, he says they're a team of pitching and defense. That's a departure from other years, when they were known as a team of pitching and offense. However this team could be a surprise as far as power numbers. You have the potential of 20-plus home runs from CF, RF, 2B, SS, 1B, C and DH. If everybody is firing on all cylinders, this could be a 200-homer team.
Do you see any young players from the minors getting a legitimate shot outside of Spring Training?? What are you hearing about Jared Mitchell??
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
Mitchell needs some time to hone his skills. Right now he's more of an athlete who would like to be more of a finished baseball player. He was two-sport players in college - football. But the skill level is there. Consistent contact will be the challenge. Jordan Danks is probably the only other position player to get a look to make the young, veteran team.
Why do the White Sox continue to bring in all these old farts? Last year they welcome back Scotty Pods, this year they have already signed Andruw Jones and Omar Visquel, and I'm hearing talks about Delgado and Thome? Why do they do this?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
The Sox are not a big-market team. Certainly they play in a big market, but their payroll is more reflective of a middle-market club. That being said, Kenny Williams must bottom-feed with certain areas of his team. He has proved in the past he's most comfortable with his veteran stars who are on their way down but continue to bring strong character to a team.
Bruce, any chance the white sox sign Johnny Damon? I think a 1-2 of pierre, damon would be lethal.
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
It would be a nice addition, but he's no longer a lead-off man. I doubt that agent Scott Boras would be accepting $2 or $3 million for him.
Shane (Philadelphia )
Are the Phillies done with their free agency? I'd like to think they are going to try to stick another solid starter in there because I am not comfortable with Moyer and Blanton at the end of the rotation. I think they are set to return to the world series again, but I think they would have the same pitching issues in the world series against the Yankees, Red Sox, and now maybe even Seattle.
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
GM Ruben Amarro, like Kenny Williams and Jim Hendry, are always looking to improve their clubs. Don't count them out from further deals before the season begins.
After signing Byrd, do the Cubs make anymore moves...or should I say have anything left to make anymore moves?
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
I thinkt the latter, money, seems to be the real issue. How much the Ricketts family allows Hendry to spend is still up in the air.
Ryan (Downers Grove, IL)
Hey Bruce, do you think Jordan Danks might be the White Sox answer to the center field issue over the last few years or does he still need some work in the minors.
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
His swing is a little long according to the scouts I talk to in the Ariz. Fall League. However the Sox feel he's not that far away. He could be your CF or RF of the future, depending on what they do with Rios and Quentin.
with the Cubs signing Marlon Byrd (right handed middle-to-bottom half of the order hitter much like DeRosa) are they essentially admitting that their "need" to get more left handed after 2008 was a mistake or are we waiting to hear about how we're too right handed again this year everytime we lose to a righty?
Bruce Levine (2:02 PM)
I think the key is being able to hit - period. Byrd hit .281 against righties last year. No one asked anybody whether Derrek Lee hit lefties or righties last season. You do need more balance on a championship team. The Cubs would need to add balance during the year.
Clay (Belmar, NJ)
Have the Cubs considered Brad Snyder for the backup OF bench spot?
Bruce Levine (2:03 PM)
Snyder has made a big impression on the Cubs. They feel his major-league career is not that far away.
Bruce Levine (2:03 PM)
I'll be reporting next week from the owners meetings in Phoenix. Every GM in the game will be there. That's something that's never occured in the past. I'm hoping they'll rekindle some trade talks among the Cubs and White Sox.