Chat with Bruce Levine
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox reporter Bruce Levine stops by Tuesday to chat.
Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.
Send your questions now and join the chat Tuesday at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
At both camps today. The Cubs-Rockies and Sox-WBC USA. Welcome to the chat room.
Hey Bruce, I think that Jose Quintana is a real linchpin for the Sox's success this year. He had some great outings last year and then faded (like pretty much everyone else). What is Robin and the staff expecting out of him this year?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Quintana told me he expects to throw 200 innings. They feel that he faded just like a lot of the young guys last year. the reason being he hadn't really thrown that many innings before. The Sox could end up with four lefties in the rotation at some point.
I just heard that the tigers are looking to trade for a closer, Marmol seems like a good fit in Detroit. Also, since the Cubs were interested in Rick Porcello in the past this could be a great trade for both sides right?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
The Tigers haven't loved Marmol in the past. I don't know about Porcello though. The Cubs might want someone like Castellenos instead.
Jeff. Louisville ky [via mobile]
Hi Bruce. Kind of sick of Ian Stewart already. I understand we are weak and shallow at third but cubs should just cut their losses with him.
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
They don't have a lot of options. I think they are going to have to make a decision by the middle of the month to pay just 1/6 of his contract and let him go. The Cubs are paper thin at third at this point.
Jason Fargo, ND [via mobile]
Hi Bruce! How well do you think Wellington Castillo will do this season offensively, defensively, and with his game calling? I think having a solid guy like Navarro will really help him too. I think we're much improved behind the plate compared to last season!
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Navarro is not really an old player. He's only 28. Because he is a switch hitter he might get more time than you think. They would love Castillo to catch 110-120 games. That's the goal from what I've been told.
Bruce, it looks like Castro has put on some weight. Was he in the weight room a lot this offseason? Expecting a career year from him this season
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
He came in a little pudgy. He's been working it off over the last 10 days.
Hey Bruce, when do you think Vogelbach will be ready to make his debut? That kind of power from the left side is a rare find...i say hes up at the end of next year and starts in left after Soriano is traded. He cant be that much worse defensively than Sori of a few years ago...thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
He's got a lot of power. He just has to watch his conditioning. He's a chunky guy. They really like his batthough. Let's see how he progresses through the system this year.
big fan of Adam Dunn even with all the Ks, his OBP is always top tier for a slugger albeit his wheels are about on par with the old catchers - do you keep him in lineup for 150+ games if you are the skipper
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
Absolutely. He's always a threat to drive in a run. I'd like to see him play 155 games with maybe 30-40 at first base. The one thing no one noticed last year was that his defense at first improved. That gives Ventura the luxury to give Konerko more time to DH this year.
Bruce, the Nationals, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Rays seem to get a lot of national attention for building excellent starting rotations, but in your opinion, is the White Sox opening day rotation of Sale-Peavy-Danks-Floyd-Quintana a Top 5 staff?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Yeah, I think so. The Sox get no respect. Same with Don Cooper and the pitching staff. The Sox are basing their contention on the rotation and bullpen.
Hey Bruuuuuuce!If you had to guess at the rotation for the cubs on opening day who and in what order? Also do you think the sox would have any interest in Klye Lohse...
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
No on Lohse. They don't do well with agent Scott Boras. Here's your Cubs rotation: Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva.
Kevin (Chicago, IL)
Bruce, With Garza suddenly extremely injury-prone, is there a chance the Cubs go through the entire season without being able to trade him and then just lose him to free agency?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
That's kind of the scenario that I have been throwing around in my head. The Cubs and Garza are kind of in no man's land right now. They can't even seriously consider offering him an extension and his trade value is a big red question mark. All they can do is hope he rehabs and pitches well for them.
Ben (Lincoln, NE)
Bruce, who do you expect to make it through spring training and end up in Chicago for the Sox at 3rd base. Do you expect them to bring 2 out of Keppinger, Gillaspie and Morel? Morel's looking like the odd man out to me.
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Yeah, I agree. I think Morel is the odd man out going to Triple-A and playing possibly multiple positions. The Sox still believe in him but being able to play multiple positions would help him.
Cubs are a lock to tender Garza a contract, so they will at least get a 1st round pick when he signs somewhere, or he stays for 1 more year, and the Cubs try again to trade him, right?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Not necessarily. If he has an injured year you are going to have to offer the free agent median salary which was $13 million last year. So you'd have to offer a guaranteed deal of $13 million by Nov. 5 to get compensation, a $4 million raise. And if you're unsure about his health that might not do it.
Bruce, is Junior Lake a mid-season 3B option? Or maybe 3B/LF in the event Sori is moved?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
They like what they've seen of Lake. I think they sare hoping that he and Brett Jackson have a strong first three months of the season at Iowa. If they do then your scenario is possible.
What can we expect from Rick in the GM role. Obviously hasn't done a whole lot of anything this off season. Presuming the Sox put on a stellar first half can we expect Rick to spend Jerry's money at the trade deadline or will he be like Kenny, in going after over the hill players with potential?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I think Hahn has different ideas than Williams. I think his goal is to compete on a yearly basis with a stronger overview of the future. Kenny was always looking to compete every year but doing that some top prospects got away.
Bruce, Considering the post Adam Dunn years, any idea whether Hahn prefers employing a DH on the roster or if he prefers to rotate his regulars through the DH spot?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
They are locked into Dunn for one more year after this. After that their philosophy might change. I think ideally you leave that spot a little bit flexible. If you look at a player like Viciedo, he can be a 1B/DH type in the future.
Bruce, what's the latest with Sori anyway? Obviously we're willing to eat a bunch of his contract...any movement with NYY? And have you watched Soler in person? He seems to be making quite the noise.
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Soler has had some days where he has been able to show off his arm and power bat. I'll be interested in seeing him compete in his first year of pro ball. As for Soriano, the Yankees are not interested. Money is not the issue because the Cubs will eat most of the money when they move him. Soriano will be important in protecting Rizzo, Castro and others hitting in front of him. His 108 RBIs is nothing to frown on just to move a contract.
Any chance Nestor Molina is in the sox rotation in the future?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Possibly, but I don't see him this year unless there are injuries.
Will Dylan Axelrod ever be good?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
He is a professional pitcher who will probably pitch in the majors for 4-5 teams before it's all said and done. The nice thing about him is he throws strikes. He's not afraid to get hit. Somedays it works out, some days it doesn't.
If the Sox were willing to trade Viciedo, think they could pry Profar from the Rangers?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I don't think you'll get Profar from the Rangers. I wouldn't be so quick to trade Viciedo. I think he's oin the cusp of hitting 30 homers and 100 RBIs every year. Finding legit home run hitters in this post-steroid era is more difficult than you might think.
Dolis and Bowden are out of options. Both are locks for the bullpen right, with Rendon taking the other spot? That means only 1 lefty in the pen, but the Cubs don't even have another lefty reliever in camp.
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
I don't think there are any guarantees for the guys you're talking about. Remember, the Cubs designated Bowden for assignment last year. There are a good 2-3 spots that are wide open right now in the pen due to the fact that Wood and Villanueva are going to start in the rotation.
Your best guess at the starting 3B for the Cubs in two years?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I would say Junior Lake.
What's the deal with Darnell McDonald? Potential to be a useful 25th guy?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
He's been pretty impressive in camp so far. I think it's between him and Sappelt for the fifth OF job although Lillibridge is going to have to fit in there somewhere.
How does Brett Jackson look so far this spring?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
He looks great. He was fantastic last spring training. I think we can look at him against better pitching the last two weeks of spring to determine if he's improved his contact. Regardless he's starting at Triple-A. Hopefully for him a midseason call up is in his future.
Bruce, how short of a leash does Gordon Beckham have before Carlos Sanchez/Angel Sanchez take over?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Carlos yes, Angel no. Beckham is going to have to raise his average to .270 to .280 this year. If he can do that then there is a chance that Sanchez is converted into a 3B.
What are the Cubs saying about Nick Struck? He is not on the top prospects list, despite a very good year in the minors last year, a super K/BB ratio, and he looked pretty good against the Angels very good lineup.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
They like him so far. I think he will be on the backburner for guys they will call up if they have injuries during the season.
What is the outlook for Jor Danks this year?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
He looked pretty good yesterday. They will look for his arm strength and velocity to increase over the next three weeks. They feel he will be ready for the rotation the first week of April.
Bruce, which injury should we be most concerned about this spring. Castro or Garza? They are being up front with Garza being DL'd to start the year, but they just keep saying Castro is fine, but holding him out longer and longer.
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
They are being extra cautious with Castro because he is an everyday player. They want him to be 100 percent for a week before he plays, not just one day. He is taking ground balls and he is in the batting cage so it's not like his skills are going dormant.
what are the chances the cubs kick the tires on ted lilly?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I don't see the purpose at this point. They need to be starting to develop some of their own players now, guys like Cabrera and Loux. Those are the guys they should watch at Triple-A.
We have not heard one word of a team interested in Zambrano. Whats wrong?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
How about he can't get anybody out? If he could convince himself that he is a relief pitcher maybe someone would sign him. That arm has too many innings in it to be a starter anymore.
Any chance we lock up Rios long term?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
He's signed through 2015 so that's long term. That's three more years so he will be 35 at the end of that contract. I think that's about as far as you want to project it.
Have you seen Vizcaino throw at all?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
No, I haven't seen him yet.
Any idea who will be on playing in Kane County to begin the year? Soler? Johnson? Almora?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I would say there is a strong chance that Soler and Almora start there. Not sure about johnson
Will the Cubs be reluctant to move a guy like DeJesus this year because of his veteran presence and teaching his ethic/approach to the young guys or is that facet over-emphasized?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
All things being equal he is a July trade target with this being the last year of his contract. He's a valuable guy but the Cubs are hoping Jackson is playing CF in the second half.
Any chance Logan Morrison can be a option for Sox 1b?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
I haven't heard anything like that.
Do Chris Russin & Brooks Raley have a future with cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
They are both left-handed so you always have a future somewhere. One of them might make it in the bullpen as the second lefty if Takahashi isn't the choice.
Chris (Rogers Park)
Bruce, what kind of trade value does Sale have around the league? Is he a big enough piece for a Stanton trade? Profar? Just wondering if Sox wanted to rebuild lineup
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Nobody in baseball would trade a stud left-handed starter for anything else. That is probably the rarest commodity in baseball: a lefthanded starter who throws 95-98 and has an idea about how to pitch. I wouldn't trade Sale for anybody in baseball.
If Tyler Flowers doesn't produce do certain standards, do you see the Sox trying to make a move at any point in the season?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
They might but I would think a nice backup for them would be Steve Clevenger, a young left-handed hitter who makes contact and throws well.
How has Fujikawa looked so far? Do you think he'll be closing games at some point this year?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
I think he will be the closer by April. I'm convinced Marmol will be traded before Opening Day.
Adam (Crown Point)
Bruce, with what I've heard about Jared Mitchell lately, I would expect his average to be up this year. Do you see that? Do you also see that for Keenyn Walker? I would love to see these guys develop.
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
I don't know about Walker but Mitchell has to make more contact. He struck out 40 percent of the time and that's not going to get you to the major leagues. But he's had a good camp so far.
Ross Wahoo [via mobile]
How does Svem, Theo & Co feel about Rizzo in WBC playing for a bad Italy team?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
They think it's a nice opportunity for him to play some international competition. The likelihood of him getting hurt is no less or greater than if he was playing for the cubs. If you're a pitcher it's a different story. You want your people to handle your pitchers throughout the spring.
Which Cub have you enjoyed watching the most this spring? Who have you enjoyed covering the most (with no Dempster to keep you entertained)?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
I think Barney has taken over the role as media jester. He knows how to dish it out and take it too. The most impressive player so far has been Soler just because I've never seen his skills on display before and Baez is 1A on my list. If they can hit breaking balls they will be fun players to watch over the next 10 years.
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
I'll be going back between Cubs and Sox everyday. Watch for an update on Matt Thornton as he has his first spring outing today. Follow me on Twitter. Talk to you next week.