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)
Welcome to the chat room. Both teams are playing better. Let's take your questions.
Sal (Des Plaines, IL)
If Adam Dunn finishes this year strong and also has a good year next year, will the Sox try to re-sign him? Or will they move in a different direction?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
We're getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren't we? Try to settle for a very good year this year and then a consideration by management and Dunn as to what he wants to do for 2014. Maybe Dunn would want to go someplace else after this year.
If the Cubs draft Mark Appel, how fast could he make it to the majors?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
My guess is probably as quickly as Prior made it. That means a good solid half-year of Class A ball and Double-A. Possibly starting 2014 with a month or two in the minors. This guy should emerge fast. He's physically mature and should be mentally ready to get big-league hitters out.
when beckham comes back and plays 2nd, who plays 3rd? Do you leave Gillispie there cause he is producing or keppinger cause he is making the money?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Very good question. I believe Gillaspie has earned the spot at this point. Keppinger will be exactly what they hoped he would be, a super-utility player who moves around the infield and plays 3-4 times a week.
Ian Stewart was allegedly told "Josh Vitters is the Third Baseman of the Future" by Cub's management. Are they still that high on Vitters or was that a nice way of saying, "maybe you should try coaching?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I can confirm that somebody in the organization told him that. I don't think you have to be told that when you are taken off the 40-man roster while making $2 million. In some ways Stewart made his own bed. From management's side they overestimated Stewart's motivation to play. Right now it's a standoff with Stewart not playing and the Cubs hoping that he asks for his release. That's probably not going to happen. I'll give you 1.5 million reasons.
Blake (Pearl City, IL)
You have to love the job Addison Reed has done so far this year. First, where does he rate among the league's best closers? Also, the closer position is one with a very high turnover rate, so how long do you think he will hold down the job for us?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
As long as he throws 95 and has a good breaking ball. He's learning how to be a pitcher. He started that journey under Juan Nieves and Don Cooper and now he is owning his skills under one of the more dominant former closers in Bobby Thigpen, who is the Sox's bullpen coach. There are a lot of similarities between Thigpen and Reed which I will be writing about today on ESPNChicago.com.
What would you say is a realistic package for a player like David Price? Would they actually trade one of our top Shortstops (Castro or Baez)?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
I don't think so. Price is having some arm issues already. I don't think the Cubs are interested in young dominant starters who have already burnt out some of their ability. Look at Felix Hernandez. This guy was 98-100 mph up until late last season. Now he's throwing 92-93. Still very good but not as dominant. The Cubs will be very careful about who they throw their big money at when it comes to starting pitching. They aren't worried about wasting money but about being able to project talent level.
Matt (Des Plaines, IL)
Will Matt Thornton be traded be traded by the trading deadline if the Sox are out of it? Will he have any value?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
It depends on how often Thornton is used. This is a guy who has made more appearances than any reliever in the AL over the past seven years. He is a warrior but there has been some erosion as you would expect from a guy that has thrown as much as he has. They pitched him way too much last year with 74 appearances. He feels he would be most effective throwing 60-65 times.
Craig (Beloit )
Should the Cubs look into a contract extension for Feldman and Wood at this time to get some long term stability in the rotation especially if we can't resign Garza?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
No and yes. Feldman is already a veteran pitcher. The most I would offer him is a one-year extension but I would probably be more interested in getting back a good young arm for him in a trade.Wood is a young lefty who I would sign as quickly as I could. The Cubs have him under control for at least four more years. He appears to have turned the corner. Left-handed starting pitching is the top commodity in the game. I would quickly try to tie him up if they believe he is going to continue to be the pitcher we have seen this year.
mike b (oak lawn)
Bruce who is the odd man out when johnny danks returns to the rotation?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Very intriguing question because stuffwise Santiago is the superior pitcher. Axelrod is the cerebral guy who kind of pitches like a right-handed Buehrle. Axelrod doesn't excite you, but he's been a solid six-inning pitcher for them. My guess is that they have not made up their mind at this point.
Greg M (Chicago)
Bruce, assuming Garza comes back strong with no more injury setbacks (big if, i know) what kind of prospects would the Cubs get in return?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Very tough to say because he only has really two months to show a new body of work. More importantly he's a free agent in November so I don't believe the Cubs will get what they expected a year ago which was three top prospects. Best case is to sign him to a short-term extension if he would accept it. That's just me talking. That way Garza can build his resume and the Cubs can bank on him for a year or two.
John (Crown Point In)
Any early inside thoughts on what Cubs are going to do with the number 2 draft pick?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I'd say 95 percent they will take either Gray or Appel. There are a couple of third baseman who are solid players but they just about have to take a pitcher.
Ty (San Francisco)
How disappointing has Edwin Jackson been! I am a fan of a lot of moves made by the Epstein regime but here is a waste of $52M
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
You just never know what you're going to get with him. He's got a great arm, he just seems to fold up when runners get on in the middle innings. He's capable of seven dominant innings every time. Hopefully for the Cubs he will get back to that.
Are Darwin Barney's days' numbered as our starting 2nd basemen? Love the guy's defense, but you would have to be turning a blind eye to say he is anything but overmatched offensively. How soon until we see Logan Watkins or Arismendy Alcantara at 2nd? Thanks Bruce
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Not so fast. Barney is a Gold Glove second baseman who is also a calming force on the team. He solidified the defense when he came back and the Cubs have played much cleaner games. Not everybody on your team is going ot be a .300 hitter. Some have to be feisty little players like Barney. I'm a big fan of his intangibles. He only stands out because they are an erratic offensive team.
Do you think Konerko will turn it around? He's killing me in fantasy right now.
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
I would give it a full month from now. This is the time last year where he really got hot. On Memorial Day I believe he was hitting .399. I'm a big believer in him and his work ethic. Time will tell.
Greg M (Chicago)
Bruce, neither Jackson or Vitters are lighting the world on fire in Iowa so far this year. Are they still in the Cubs plans or could they be trade bait in some kind of package deal?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
I think the Cubs would trade anyone other than Rizzo. Maybe Samardzija would be in that realm too. When you are 2-3 years away from being a consistently competitive team you have to check your options every time an opportunity presents itself. Remember these were the guys who were not afraid to trade Hanley Ramirez when he was a young stud coming up in Boston. Epstein also traded Rizzo to San Diego so the credo for good GMs should be don't fall in love with your own players.
Greg M (Chicago)
Bruce, how happy are the Cubs with Castillo's defense at catcher so far this year? Can't be worse than Navarro's I guess, but to me it looks like he's improved a lot from last year.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I think they are very excited about the attitude that he has shown trying to improve. The staff has been working with him on calling games and some of the other mechanical things catchers have to do. As you can see he's a talented baseball athlete. Learning how to call a good game should be his priority.
Greg M (Chicago)
Bruce, what position player other than Castro and Rizzo has the most trade value? To me its got to be DeJesus right?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
He has had a fine year so far and he is in the last year of a contract. That said, you need to get something good back for him. That would mean you'd have to wait for the right time where someone is going to give up a young player they didn't want. Timing is the key for all these deals. You want to get optimum value back. You also want to have good players like DeJesus around Rizzo, Castro and Castillo so they can continue to grow and prosper in the lineup.
Bill Wiggins (Rockville, VA)
Viciedo did great in Charlotte in 2011 with a high average, great power, and lots of walks and then he get hurt. He came back and was later called up but he wasn't the same hitter. Now this year he has come back from injury, working the pitcher with great results, how come?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Maturity. After some time in the majors hitters learn about pitchers and they understand how they are being pitched to. Viciedo has developed a real nice stroke to right field. He does not get taken advantage of with the slider from right-handed pitchers. You're looking at your future third or fourth hitter.
How long before you see Soler being promoted to Double A?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
He probably still needs another month in Single-A where he would have to dominate if he is going to get moved to Double-A.
Rich M (Chicago)
Bruce, who gets sent down when Beckham returns?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
The Sox may have to figure out what to do with Casper Wells. They'd have to mix and match somehow there
Brian Powers (Madison, MS)
Why in the world are we hanging onto Camp? Bowden may not be the best reliever in the world and have a limited ceiling, BUT he's a good 10 years younger and has half the E.R.A. as Camp. PLUS, if we're "rebuilding" shouldn't we get Bowden, Dolis, or Parker some MLB experience?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
Camp was the guy that pitched his heart out for them last year. He pitched in 80 games which was a ridiculous amount and may be paying the price for it this season. Bowden has been a serviceable pitcher but he was already DFA'd last year and ended up back in their minor leagues.
Ed (Queens Village)
Who is more likely to waive there 10-5 rights Konerko or Soriano to go on playoff contender?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Soriano at this point. He made a major mistake last year by passing up a deal to the Giants. That cost the Cubs a couple of players and cost Soriano a World Series ring. I think he is ready now if another deal comes up.
Karl (Illinois) [via mobile]
Bruce, do you think there's any correlation between Konerko's offensive struggles and playing less in the field?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
We've asked him that on many occasions as late as yesterday afternoon. He said he made his adjustments beginning in March because Ventura told him he would be a 50-50 DH-1B. I don't think that's the problem for Konerko. I think warmer weather will solve some issues for him.
Are you a believer in the adjustments Dunn has made to his swing? I keep hearing Hawk yelling about this "top hand" thing. I want to know if it's for real.
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
In spring training he was working on hitting to left field more and hitting earlier in the count. He said he just canned that whole process and went back to being Adam Dunn. He's looked great over the last week. But like all power hitters, he's a streak hitter. If you're a Sox fan, accept the .210 average, 35-40 HRs and 95 RBIs.
Al (Downers Grove)
What's going on with Scott Baker when can we expect to see him?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
The latest report I heard is that he was playing catch in Mesa and he would start pitching again in June. I have not heard a solid date as to when he will start his throwing program.
Assuming the Sox are in contention at the deadline, what will they be looking to add, and what trade chips are in the minors?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Everybody wants a bullpen guy or two. By the time Aug. 1 comes around most of the bullpen guys have their tongues hanging out. The Sox could use a power-hitting left-handed hitter off the bench.
Bert (Ft Walton Beach)
Assuming Garza's healthy, and assuming he pitches up to his typical level, who do you think would be interested at the deadline, and what type of prospects do you think the Cubs could get? Profar?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
I think a lot of people will be interested in Garza if he is healthy. He needs to build up to 100 pitches and show that he was the pitcher that he was before he got hurt last July. This guy has incredibly good stuff. But for some reason has not stayed into games late over hte past year or so. He needs to show that he is much more than a six-inning pitcher.
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
Follow me on Twitter at ESPNBruceLevine and check us out on Talking Baseball on Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000. Talk to you next week.