Chat with Bruce Levine
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Moderator (2:02 PM)
Bruce will be with us in a moment. Thanks.
Bruce Levine (2:03 PM)
Greetings from beautiful Mesa, Ariz., where the temp is 72 degrees. Now that you all hate me, let's go.
Joe P. (Las Vegas, NV)
Great move by Hendry bringing Maddux back into the organization. I keep hearing the rumors of Maddux for eventual GM or manager. His true talent lies in pitching and he needs to be our pitching coach. Please tell me next year it will be Ryno as manager and Maddux as pitching coach?
Bruce Levine (2:05 PM)
Maddux has no interest in being anybody's pitching coach. He has too good of a baseball mind to limit himself to that. Best bet for Maddux's future is staying in this role as asst. GM for a couple of years and then become a manager. He told me he does have interest in that but not necessarily right now.
Chioke Hassan (Baltimore,Md)
Dear BruceCould you see the Cubs getting a new Stadium?
Bruce Levine (2:06 PM)
Yes, definitely. One will be built for them in either Mesa or Naples, Fla. But to answer directly, Wrigley will be refurbished before it will be demolished.
If the Cubs make a trade to fill the 4th oufielder and/or set-up needs , which of the Cubs younger players do you think may be used as the bait(Marshall, Gorzelanny, Guzman, Fontentot?)?
Bruce Levine (2:07 PM)
All of the above are possible and have been talked about. Guzman will most likely be moved to bring back either an OF or another setup man. They like Guzman but they're unsure of the stability of his arm for the future.
Biggy (Washington, NC)
What does Maddux coming in to the front office mean for the Cubs, both this year and long term?
Bruce Levine (2:07 PM)
It means they have one of the bigger baseball brains in the game. Don't think for a minute what he says won't have impact on the major and minor league levels.
What chances do you put on the Cubs landing Sheets?
Bruce Levine (2:08 PM)
About 10 percent. Unless he's going to take a cousins discount. Meaning there are a lot of Louisiana type guys on the Cubs. I doubt the Cubs will be able to spend more than $1 million plus incentives.
What will it take for teh Sox to earn some credibility? Even after a WS Championship, they are an aftertought, instead of a player.
Bruce Levine (2:10 PM)
It will take more than 2.2 million people showing up at U.S. Cellular Field. The Sox have a strong base of loyal followers, but they're about 1 million shy of Cubdom. The very best the Sox can hope to draw in their best year is 2.6 or 2.7 million.
Hi Bruce - Do the Cubs really think their rotation can compete with Randy Wells in the 4th spot and either Gorzelanny, Samardzija, or Silva in the 5th spot?
Bruce Levine (2:11 PM)
Well I don't know what the Cubs think, but I do know that their rotation appears to be second-best in the division behind the Cardinals. That doesn't mean they can't win the Central. Last year at this time we were talking about how the Cards were a distant second to the Cubs. We know how that turned out.
Jim Neveau (Aroma Park, IL)
Two Cubs pitching questions: How is Ted Lilly progressing after his shoulder surgery, and can Greg Maddux/Larry Rothschild fix Carlos Zambrano?
Bruce Levine (2:13 PM)
We'll know more about Lilly when he's in for the Cubs convention this weekend. Prognosis is still late April with him not being able to start throwing until next month. And the only one who can fix Zambrano is Zambrano. That means a better work ethic and staying away from the second and third spread at the clubhouse every day. Zambrano usually reports in pretty good shape, but his weight seems to go up during the season. He'll need to work at his conditioning all year long to have a 15-win season.
David (Southern, IL)
look forward to reading this every week!! Was hoping the cubs would try to lock D Lee up for two more years, but have not heard a peep about them wanting to do so. Are they gonna let him go after this year? If so, who plays first next year?
Bruce Levine (2:14 PM)
You're one of the first people online who hopes Lee returns. Some are concerned that his production will go back down again after a career season. I'm with you, they should tie him up for another year and an option if he's willing. That's going to have to be an ownership question, rather than a Jim Hendry question.
Charles Moon (Chicago)
What other moves do the Cubbies have in store? Are they really taking a look at Ben Sheets? What about solidfying the infield, 2nd/ss mainly?
Bruce Levine (2:16 PM)
It's been a frustrating offseason for Cubs fans and Jim Hendry alilke. You might not always agree with Hendry and the moves he makes, but he'a always been a very aggressive GM. This year because of money constraints, he's going to have be a bottom feeder. Realistically, since Oct., the only real additions have been signing Grabow as a free agent and Marlon Byrd. That's not very Hendry like, but nonetheless, the reality of the situation is a new owner has come in and has basically frozen payroll.
Lynchjamm33 (Western SPrings)
Do you think the White Sox will make any more moves regarding the 5th spot in the rotation or go with the likes of Freddy Garcia after Buerhle, Peavy, Floyd and Danks?
Bruce Levine (2:17 PM)
Kenny Williams would like to get another veteran bullpen guy who could also be looked at as a quasi starter as well. Now it's Garcia at No. 5 and Daniel Hudson coming on strong, most likely pitching out of the pen to begin the season.
Johnny Blaze (Morgan Park)
I read yesterday that w/ Big Mac's admission, there are only 3 players in the last 30 years who have reached 500 HRs without being linked to steroids (Griffey, Thome and Thomas) all whom played for the sox. Any chance that Big Jim makes a comeback w/ the Sox and reaches 600?
Bruce Levine (2:18 PM)
Every time I've asked a Sox official, they continually say that Thome is under consideration. But it never sounded like a ringing endorsement. I hope Jim finds a home where he can pursue his 600th home run. You never heard Thome linked with steroids.
Iain (Cambridge, MA)
Bruce, any word on what the Cubs will do regarding their 4th outfielder job? I am surprised that I haven't heard Ryan Church's name - he bats lefty, can play all 3 spots, and like Marlon Byrd was a target of Hendry's in the past
Bruce Levine (2:19 PM)
I believe Church is ready to sign with Pittsburgh. They liked him in the past but he had a couple of down seasons.
Jeffrey Wilson (St. Johns, Antigua, West Indies)
Great teams have great defense up the middle. I didn't see good defense last year, and I don't see it this year. Where do you rank the combo of Byrd in CF, Theriot at SS, and Fontentot/Baker at 2B?
Bruce Levine (2:22 PM)
The addition of Byrd makes their defense a heck of a lot better. As far as up the middle, Soto is working hard in Puerto Rico and is committed to returning to his form of 2008. I can't sugarcoat second base and short. You don't have either range or athleticism at either position. That's not a knock on Theriot who gives you everything he has. Eventually he'll be moved to second and hopefully Castro will be the short. I wouldn't be shocked if Lou Piniella goes in that direction in spring training if Castro has a good start.
Great move with Maddux, brilliant. A Sheets and Dye signing and I think we are ready to roll. Thoughts?
Bruce Levine (2:24 PM)
Where is Dye going to play for the Cubs. Last I looked there's no DH in the NL. I'm a big Dye fan, the rest of his career will mostly likely be in the AL as a combination DH/part-time OF. As far as Sheets, Hendry would love to add him if he's healthy. The question is whether there's enough money. He's also an injury waiting to happen.
Hi Bruce, you keep writing a right handed arm is needed in the Cubs 'pin. Who is on their wish list? Also, if Ben Sheets is a real possibility, does moving Samardzija to that roll make any sense?
Bruce Levine (2:26 PM)
The Cubs are pretty well convinced Samardzija is not a pen guy for now. He'll get a legit shot to be a starting pitcher in spring training. The Cubs have talked to a few teams about trades, including Toronto, about RHP Jason Frazier. Money continues to be an issue. In order to make a trade, the Cubs will have trade similar contracts due to the fact not a lot of cash in the coffers.
Any chance that the Sox will get a new second baseman?
Bruce Levine (2:26 PM)
They already have one, his name is Gordon Beckham, who's been mandated to be the Sox 2B of the future. After playing splendidly at third last year, I question the move a little, but they know this is a wonderful baseball athlete who will be able to make the move without too much trouble.
JPinSD (San Diego)
With Frank Thomas playing in the "steroid era" will it diminish his 1st ballot HOF status?
Bruce Levine (2:28 PM)
Quite the contrary. Thomas never has been linked to steroids. And more importantly was adamant about the fact he was being cheated out of awards and numbers during that era. In my mind he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Some may question the defensive side of the game and the fact he was a DH for a good amount of time. He's the greatest hitter in Sox history and one of the greatest of his era.
What is the status on Lilly? How much time will he miss this year?
Bruce Levine (2:29 PM)
It's unknown when Lilly will be able to join the rotation. Shoulder surgery, even a modest cleanup like Lilly had, is hard to predict. The best guess is if everything works out well, he could join the rotation the second or third week of April. Keep in mind with April weather in a cold-weather city, he might be held back a bit just to be cautious.
Do you think the entire steriod situation will or should have an impact on how Tony LaRussa is viewed as a potential hall of fame manager. It seems he has benefited from several players who are known steriod abusers while appearing to turn a blind eye to their use.
Bruce Levine (2:31 PM)
A manager is only as good as the players a GM gives him. Although I'm not a fan of LaRussa personally, you must give him his due as one of the greatest managers in the history of the game. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Why aren't the Cubs looking at Jonny Gomes to platoon with Kosuke Fukudome? The splits are ideal.
Bruce Levine (2:33 PM)
They like Gomes. I like Gomes. You like Gomes. His agent however would like a very good deal for Gomes. So far during our chat today there's been a request for money for Sheets, Gomes and an improved bullpen. It's just not there. This is an ownership decision right now. They have every right to halt the spending at $140 million. You're entitled to do that after spending $900M to acquire the team.
Ladisa (San Diego)
Any chance Cubs trade Derek Lee and several prospects for Heath Bell and Adrian Gonzalez?
Bruce Levine (2:34 PM)
First and foremost the Padres don't want anybody making money. So that part of your equation won't work. Secondly Lee has a complete no-trade for 2010. Why he would want to go to a team like San Diego which will be rebuilding the next five year would be a long shot.
Joe (Chicago:Pilsen area)
Bruce What is next move for the Cubs. Also What is the asking price of the Rockies for Ryan Spilbourgh?
Bruce Levine (2:35 PM)
They probably want a bullpen arm back for Spillborghs. They've had some interest in Guzman. But those conversations dragged on for more than six weeks now.
Mike Sage (Chicago)
Why should I be excited about Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg? Neither can help the team win on the field.
Bruce Levine (2:36 PM)
Nobody is telling you to be excited. If you're a true Cubs fan, you have to be a little enthused about the future of the franchise bringing in baseball minds like Sandberg and Maddux who have some of the best work ethics of any player who has played.
Are the Sox really going to go into the season with Kotsay/Jones at DH, or are they just waiting to sign someone like Thome on the cheap?
Bruce Levine (2:37 PM)
I don't know where the Kotsay/Jones DH theory came from. That's just one possibility. There's goign to be times probably where Pierre, Vizquel, Konerko and A.J. DH. The Sox have consistently stated they want flexibility in the DH role, but that could change if they decide to get a left-handed bat.
Joe (West Loop)
How many games can the White expect to get out of AJ this season? Do you think they will use him as part of the rotating DH position?
Bruce Levine (2:39 PM)
He's averaged about 130 games over his career. But continuing that pace would be rough to continue and play another three or four seasons. The Sox will bring along Tyler Flowers. At this point it's unknown if he'll be catching every day at Triple A or backing up A.J. to start the season.
Ryan (Griffith, IN)
Haven't heard much on Soriano- Bounce back year or a dud?
Bruce Levine (2:40 PM)
Soriano, with five years remaining on his contract, the Cubs are monitoring his workouts and keeping their fingers crossed that he can have a bounce-back year under the tutelage of Rudy Jaramillo.
Bruce Levine (2:41 PM)
Also, Soriano at 34 should have a couple of years left with 25 homers and 85-90 RBIs. I think he'll have a good 2010 if he can stay away from the leg injuries that hampered him in the last three seasons.
Brandon (chi town)
What effect will the Holliday contract have on Pujols and the Cardinals? And more importantly how does it affect the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (2:42 PM)
It's a two-fold effect. He makes Pujols and Ludwig that much more dangerous, and more importantly, the Cubs have 16-19 head-to-head matchups with the Cards in a given season. His impact can be directly felt during those contests.
Jim Ignatowski (Chicago)
Scott Podsednick signed with KC for around 1.75 million wouldn't this be better then bringing in a new face that may or may not be able to lead off for around the same money?
Bruce Levine (2:43 PM)
I'm with you on that. I'm a Podsednik fan. But he can't play CF on an everyday basis and give you what you want defensively. He'll give you the effort, but the baseball ability isn't there to be an above-average CF. I do agree the Cubs are still hurting for a leadoff man. It appears it's going to be Fukudome and Theriot at this point.
who is the next white sox player that has the best chance to get into the hall of fame?
Bruce Levine (2:45 PM)
Frank Thomas is a no-brainer, 500 HRs, .300 average, 1,500 RBIs.
Hey Bruce...I saw Aubrey Huff signed a 1 yr deal with the Giants. Did the White Sox make a play for him at all? now that he's off the table is anyone still on their radar for a lefty bat/DH or do you think they will wait until spring training to address that issue?
Bruce Levine (2:46 PM)
The White Sox like the Cubs are maxed out in payroll. They already have $100M committed to this year's team. Mr. Reinsdorf is not about to step above that, until maybe the end of July. He's always been flexible about additions, and the Rios and Peavy pickups prove that he's no cheapskate.
Are the White Sox done making moves? Also, how likely is it that Carlos Quentin returns to form this year?
Bruce Levine (2:48 PM)
If I were foot doctor, I could give you a better analysis of Quentin. Planta fascitis is a difficult injury to return from. The Sox are starting to believe that Quentin's history of injury is something they'll either have to live with or they'll have to end up considering trading him. He along with Rios are two keys for the offense in 2010.
Kevin (Sheboygan, WI)
Any word on Aramis Ramirez? Haven't read a word on his outlook for 2010. I'm worried about the residual effects of his injuries over the past few years.
Bruce Levine (2:50 PM)
His agent Paul Kinzer told me he's working hard on his conditioning and strengthening the muscles around the area where the shoulder was dislocated. He's one of only 3 Cubs players not to be attending the Cubs convention.
Paul (Longmont, CO)
How come Neal Cotts didn't re-sign with the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (2:50 PM)
Neal was going to be offered a minor-league contract, but at this point in his career, he felt he'd have a better opportunity to make the Pirates out of spring training.
What is the Back up Catching Situation?? Geo is no lock to bounce back.
Bruce Levine (2:51 PM)
Koyie Hill is your backup. He proved to Piniella and Rothschild last year that he could call a good game and throw out would-be base stealers. I believe he led the league in throwouts by a catcher.
Are the Cubs in the market for anyone else? And how likely is it if this season goes poorly that there will be a "fire sale" on guys with value- Rameriz, Lee, Zambrano, Wells, etc.
Bruce Levine (2:52 PM)
Ramirez and Lee are would-be free agents, so if things don't go well for the 2010 Cubs, they might pull the plug on their own stays with the Cubs. The team's main free agents after 2010 are Lee, Ramirez and Lilly.
why no orlando hudson?
Bruce Levine (2:53 PM)
It appears not too many teams are interested in Hudson at this point. There's some thought out there that he's a guy who fades rather quickly in Aug. and Sept. Hudson is also not a guy who runs very well.
Bob (Right Field Bleachers)
How much would Ben Sheets actually help the Cubs if they do sign him? What are the chances of him actually staying healthy?
Bruce Levine (2:55 PM)
If Cubs fans would love to revisit the days of Wood and Prior when they were starting pitchers, then Sheets is your guy. Again, he's one of those guys who fits the gutsy Cajun role, but somehow manages to end up on the DL at least 30 days every summer. I would be cautious spending money on him. I would prefer to spend the dough on a veteran like Jon Garland or John Smoltz.
Cubs have a lot of work to do still. Do you see them picking up a guy like Felipe Lopez at 2B? I don't want to see Mike Fontenot there again.
Bruce Levine (2:56 PM)
I asked that question yesterday and I was told by a Cubs source that there's no interest in Lopez. Keep in mind the Cubs will end up with 3 second basemen when Castro becomes the starting SS.
Which is more likely in terms of the Sox DH situation: Kenny pulls of a blockbuster trade, Kenny signs a free agent to DH, or Kotsay and Jones platoon
Bruce Levine (2:57 PM)
I still think there's an outside chance that they'll sign a guy like Delgado who's playing Winter ball in Puerto Rico. I know the Sox are watching. He also plays a position, which is something they would prefer. Although he's not an outstanding 1b by an stretch, he could play there 25-30 times.
Bruce, is the addition of Marlon Byrd coupled with the hope for improved team health enough to turn the Cubs back into a championship contender........or even a pennant contender?
Bruce Levine (2:58 PM)
If you could tell me what type of seasons Lilly, Soto and Soriano will have, I'd be better equipped to answer your question. If they all do well, the Cubs are a 90-win team and in contention for the playoffs.
Jay (Chicago, IL)
What are the chances Andruw Jones gets back to a some-what All-Star form?
Bruce Levine (2:59 PM)
I wouldn't count on it. He had a good beginning to 2009 with Texas, but fell back into his old habits at swinging at everything. Rudy Jaramillo did the best he could to resuscitate his career, but that only worked for two months. It's Greg Walker's job now.
Scott (St. Louis)
Bruce, what happens if, God forbid, Starlin doesn't start out well enough this year to be the shortstop? I mean, Theriot would look great at second, but not so much at short.
Bruce Levine (3:00 PM)
Agreed, and if Hendry had more money, he probably would have added a veteran SS type like Cabrera. Unfortunately that is not the case. He'll have to make due with Theriot at short.
Have you heard anything about Greg Walker working with Rios on his mechanics at all? I know he's used that batting stance his whole career and had success with it in the past, but it seems like it's not the most sound in terms of mechanics. Do the Sox plan to tweak that at all or do you think it's better to just leave it alone rather than try to change him and make him even less effective?
Bruce Levine (3:01 PM)
Thanks for the tip. That's my next piece of business today, calling Walker and Rios' agent to see what he's up to. Thanks for the push.
Bruce Levine (3:02 PM)
Watch for my blogging from the owners meetings here in Phoenix over the next few days. All 30 GMs are here, and when you get them together for 24 or 36 hours, things are liable to happen. Thanks and have a good day.