Chat with Bruce Levine
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Spring training is here, and ESPNChicago.com baseball beat reporter Bruce Levine is in Arizona. Bruce will take your questions about the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
Send your questions now and join the chat Tuesday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Greetings from Mesa. Cubs spring training is going full throttle now with the first full workout. The White sox will have theirs on Friday. Let's go.
Aaron (Aberdeen SD)
With Derrek Lee in his last year of his contract, and Josh Vitters in the minors ready to take over 3rd base, could you see any scenario where Aramis Ramirez could see action at 1st this year? He may have to move there next year if Lee does indeed leave via Free Agency.
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Never. Ramirez talked today about trying to win his first Gold Glove. Kepp in mind that Ramirez has a short window in November where he can declare free agency as well. Look for Vitters to be looked at as a possible first baseman.
What has Soriano been doing this whole off season? How can he not know where his knee is at? He had it cleaned up 6 months ago! He did not have reconstructive surgery! Do we need to prepare for the same old Alfanso?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Needless to say Cubs hierarchy was not pleased to hear the comments stated the way they were when Soriano arrived in camp. They were under the impression that he was strong and ready to go. Actually, they have had their medical staff follow up on the surgery all winter and there have been no reports of a setback.
will andruw jones end up getting more playing time than we think?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
If you want to believe what he thinks, the answer is yes. Physically, Jones looks as good as he has in the last six years. He has lost that Pillsbury Dough Boy look that made him look like he was going to explode. I believe Alex Rios has been warned at this point by Jones' comments that he wants to be the centerfielder.
Bruuuuce! We hear all the talk about Starlin Castro being ready and Theriot moving to second base. What, percentage wise, do you think is the chance that Starlin Castro is our Opening Day SS, and if he isn't, when do you think he will be? Seems like if he's ready that's a great thing, because I think there is a big hole at second base.
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
The chances are aboput 20 percent that he is the Opening Day SS. Realistically, we're talking about a kid who has only 31 games at any level above Single A. The most likely scenario is that he gets a lot of playing time in spring training and sarts the season at Triple A. He could come quickly after that.
Who do you think will make the team,millar or tracy?? or both?? and why??
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I don't know if there is enough room on the roster for both. They are duplications except for the fact that Millar is right-handed and Tracy is left-handed. The Cubs are left-handed hitting poor. That part would give the edge to Tracy. As far as the chemistry that Millar brings the team, that would give him the edge. Lou Piniella talked Monday about having some tough choices to make on the backup position players.
Joe (Fulton River District)
Which number will be higher?Omar Vizquel's games played or Soriano's home runs + RBIs?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
That's a good bet you can have with your Cubs or Sox friend. I would say Vizquel's game played. He should get in between 50 and 70 games.
How do you see the Cubs middle relief shaking out?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
You use an operative word in there: shaky right now. With the injuries to Jeff Gray and Angel Guzman, the bullpen seems to be paper-thin at this point. The Cubs will be looking for a veteran bullpen pitcher when spring training games begin. We've talked a lot about Luke Gregerson and Jason Frasor. Cubs scouts will be sure to watch a lot of their outings.
How has Soto looked thus far behind and at the plate? I would imagine he is more mobile catching, but does he still have some pop in his bat?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
He already had one day where he hit 8 balls out the park against the Cubs coaching staff, although that's not an indicator of quality at-bats, it is an indicator that he had bat speed and strength. He looks like a different player than last year. The only question is whether he has lost too much weight due to the fact that catcher usually lose 10-15 pounds during the season because of all the work they get in in hot weather.
Jose Alvarez (Chicago)
Hey bruce, what are some of the bad things you have heard about Felipe Lopez? I feel if the Cubs sign him he can play 2nd, SS, and 3rd and some of the guys in the locker room can help him. I was lookin at his teams last year and I notice that with the D'Backs and Brewers they're was not that much latin players on the team so maybe if he signed with the Cubs A-Ram, Geo, and Big Z can provide the latin leadership that will make him feel comfortable.
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
The Cubs have no money to spend on players at this point so what you see is what you get unless they make a trade.
how come the sox aren't pursueing Hank Blalock? They need some left-sided power...Don't you think?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Blalock is not considered a good fielder for the White Sox to add into the mix. The key with Damon was that he would be able to play a position 3-4 days a week if they needed him to. That would allow Guillen to use the DH for other guys to rest and still keep their bats in the lineup.
Jason B. (Chicago)
What are the chances that Lou is done managing after this year. Do you think Bob Brenly has a shot? Sandberg seems to be a fan favorite, but not the most logical choice for a team that needs to win now.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I don't think there's a preconceived manager of the future in the mind of the Cubs front office. The 2010 season is really all abotu getting it done with Piniella, and Hendry still on top as GM. A lot of things could change after this year but that would be up to new ownership.
How has byrd looked? what kind of numbers do you expect him to put up this year??
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
He looks healthy and stronger than I remember him in the past. Depending on where Piniella bats him, he could rival his 2009 stats of 89 RBIs.
cubs fan (springfield MO)
does derrick lee have a no trade clause?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
Absolutely, he has throughout the life of his contract. The Cubs approached him after the 2008 season and asked him if he wanted to be considered on a trade list if other teams called. At that time, Lee told the Cubs that he wanted to stay in Chicago.
Scott (St. Louis)
Bruce, speaking of Theriot, are there any lingering hurt feelings about the arbitration proceedings? Or is everything hunky dorey?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
It's hard to tell. I'm not so sure that the relationship will ever be as lovey-dovey as it was in the past. But that's the business of baseball.
do you think Greg Maddux will make a nice impact on the pitching staff? I see his side session regimen has already been mentioned to some of the pitchers.
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
He's more a guy that will talk to you mentally about the game and then show you a few grips on the baseball. But during camp's furst week, I've already seen him talk to a lot of the young pitchers one on one. He should be nothing but a wealth of resource for anybody that wants to absorb his baseball acumen.
Frank (Elmhurst, Il)
Bruce,We know the Cubs scalp their own tickets on StubHub, but so do the Giants and many other clubs. With StubHub being an official sponsor of MLB, how prevalent is this practice? and why does MLB allow this to happen?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
MLB does not get involved with what teams charge for their tickets. These guys are independent owners with rights to run their business the way they see fit.
Jim (Westerville OH)
What one player is indispensable to the Cub's success this year?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Zambrano. He must return to the form of 15-20 wins, especially with Lilly starting the season on the DL.
What do you think of Ozzie Guillen's plan to have a DH by committee?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
I think it's a plan that will play itself out. Guillen wants the flexibility to mix and match on a daily basis. Doing that they sacrifice some power on the left side. Will they miss Thome and Dye? We'll have to see.
Bruce, do you see Andres Blanco making the club as a back-up middle IF? If not, who do you foresee backing up at SS? What are Fuld's chances of being the 5th OF and how many pitchers will Lou break camp with?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Fuld has a good chance to make the team because of his speed and left-handed bat. Also defensively, he is better than anyone they have. On the other side, Fuld doesn't have much pop and Piniella doesn't like players like that much. Blanco has a great chance to be the backup SS/2B. Right now it looks like Baker and Fontento will compete for the everyday 2B job but Blanco is the only pure SS to back up Theriot.
How much playing time will Nady get this year in the corner outfield spots?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
Depends if he starts the season on the DL. The Cubs are going to take it easy on his throwing program and make sure he doesn't blow out that surgigcally-repaired elbow a third time.
Do you think soriano, will make a impact, on the up coming season?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Talking about his knee not being 100 percent is not a good start. I know he has worked hard to strengthen the knee over the winter. However it's hard to tell what he is going to bring to the party this early in the spring.
Mason (Myrtle Beach, SC)
I know the Cubs are considering several people for the 5th spot in the rotation. Samardjiza believes he's got the stuff, and from what I've read his pitches are looking a lot more accurate, but do you think he's really got the stuff for a regular starter?Every 5th game I'm nervous no matter who it is -- Marshall, Gorzellany, Samarj...I just don't really trust any of them.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Samardzija is just as interested in finding that out. He told me in the locker room this morning that it's going to be good to throw to live hitting for the first time since he left winter ball in Mexico. The Cubs are going to need a fourth and fifth starter with Lilly being behind. So Gorzelanny and Samardzija scould be in the rotation to start the season.
Danny Martinez (Rockford, IL)
How much time will Lou give Marmol if he has some shaky outings in the closer role? There are stretches of weeks when he doesn't have his best control
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
You're probably going to have to tell me what his option is. Other than Grabow there is really not a veteran in sight to take over as closer. That's why the team will try to trade for a veteran reliever during the Cactus League season.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
We'll see all of you on Friday. That's the first day the Sox position players report and work out. Keep checking my blogs for updates on both teams and listen to my live hits on ESPN 1000 on "Waddle & Silvy" and "The Afternoon Saloon."