Chat with Bruce Levine
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Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Welcome to the White Sox's biggest - and perhaps last series of importance - of the year. On the North Side, new names continue to surface and old names continue to get rehashed in the managerial search. Greetings from St. Louis. Let's go.
Biggy (Washington, NC)
What do you think Aramis will do with that last year of his contract?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
He pretty much told us yesterday that he's going to pick up his option for next season. The option pays him $14.6 million and allows him another $2 million if the Cubs don't pick up the option for 2012. Under normal situations, Ramirez might have looked into free agency, but after an injury-plagued season and a poor batting average, he's staying put.
Hi Bruce. With the Cubs leading all of baseball posting a league leading 117 errors & a league leading (BY FAR) 95 unearned runs, how can they shore up the defense in 2011? First base seems to be the only unoccupied position come October
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
The outfield still has to be readjusted. CF Brett Jackson may be next year's version of Starlin Castro. He could start out in the minors and ascend toward his big-league career in May or June like Castro. Marlon Byrd is a gutty, leadership type guy, but he may be better served playing all 3 OF positions. Infield defense will be better depending on who the Cubs end up with at first.
Hi Bruce- Last year, Randy Wells was the Cubs best pitcher, this year, obviously he's taken a step back...sophomore jinx or has the league just caught up to him? If so, who, aside from ideally Cliff Lee, is on the radar for starting help outside the organization?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Lee would be a good start for anybody. I'm told among many teams, the Tigers will pursue Lee. Wells' stuff isn't all that dominant. When he's not pounding the strike zone with his sinker, he gives up runs and he seems to have a tendency to give up runs early in games. He'll get another opporutnity next year.
I know it's early, but predict who you think the starting 5 will be coming out of spring training for the 2011 Chicago Cubs? Any chance one will be Zack Greinke or Matt Garza?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I doubt the Cubs have the players to be able to trade for either one. You're not trading your best young players to get a veteran pitcher. It's just not on the Cubs' radar right now. They're going to let their young players develop and seek help through other free agents and trade. My five starters are Dempster, Zambrano, Wells, Jackson, Gorzelanny.
What have you heard about Brandon Guyer who was named the Cubs player of year?Do the Cubs believe he can be a starter or more of a 4th fielder type?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
Talked to a couple of scouts about Guyer yesterday. He has some skills, but they feel he's more of a backup player. Not being mentioned in the same breath as Brett Jackson.
The Sane Madman (Cubs Nation) [via mobile]
Sorry, Bruce. When I made mention of the young movement last week, I meant 2012 would be the year of the youth movement in full, not next season. 2013 at the latest. That's why I say Sandberg needs to at least be brought up and considered. I'm all game to trade Colvin and Marmol if possible. Colvin especially...he's a 4th OF at best. He's the swing and miss, bad OBP king.
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I believe any Cubs player in the offseason is available in the right trade. That would include Marmol and Colvin, anybody but Castro.
Is it me or do the Cubs need some more right-handed power arms out of the pen, other than Cashner & Marmol? Any chance that Caridad gets another shot next yr?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Cardidad is not being considered as a potential cure to the Cubs' 7th and 8th inning relief woes. The Cubs probably will have to go outside of the organization to find another arm or two to go along wtih Cashner, Marmol and Marshall. Although Cashner might be a starter.
Robert (Madison, WI)
Does Joe West's umpiring crew know something about the balk rule that no other umpiring crew does? Shouldn't they at least be accountable to explain why they've made the calls they did? When a crew has such a clear agenda against a team, it seems to strike directly at the integrity of the game.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Let's first of all state that it's not impossible for Buerhrle to balk. That said, he's had the same move for 10 years. So either West and his crew are correct in saying he balks more time than he doesn't, or everybody else is negligent. Clearly personal between West and his crew and the White Sox.
Any chance the Cubs bring back Kerry Wood? He would make either a nice set-up guy or even a closer, if Hendry were to boldly move Marmol at his highs. Guessing the cost wouldn't be too steep.
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
It's somethign very Cubs like that they may consider. I'm a huge Kerry Wood fan. But at some point, you do have to let the past go, don't you.
Looking ahead to 2011--White Sox outfield--what are the chances a Jordan Danks or a Jared Mitchell make the Sox? Do you think the Sox are getting a bit frustrated with Quentin and may look to move him in the offseason?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
The answer is yes to the Quentin question. Plenty of holes in his game including batting average and outfield play. It will be interesting to see if Mitchell comes back as the same type of speed player he was before the broken foot.
Will the potential reemergence of Z allow the Cubs to take some chances next yr in the rotation with the likes of Samardizja?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I'm not so sure Z isn't going to be traded. I know there are a lot of teams watching him right now and kicking the tires. The Dodgers and Mets have strong interest. However the Cubs have to consider the fact that if he's all the way back, will they really be able to replace him with anoother viable starting pitcher.
What is the chance the White Sox come away with a sweep against the twins and possibly catch the twins in the following 15 games?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
If you have a reverse mortgage on your home, you're probably in better shape than betting the Sox are going to catch the Twins. Even if they sweep, they're 3 games out with 16 left to play. That's a lot for this time of year. Anything less than a sweep virtualy eliminates the Sox. They have to go 16-3 while the Twins go 9-10 just to tie.
Kevin (Rogers Park)
Where will Konerko finish in the MVP voting?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
He has to be in the top two. Most people think Hamilton is going to win. But no one has had a more impactful year on a team winning games than Konerko. He deserves the MVP.
Hi Bruce: Who is the favorite for the Cubs Manager in 2011 in your opinion. Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Right now, Hendry is taking applications. If you have a chance, email him one. Seriously though, if Girardi becomes available, he's right there with Sandberg and Quade as the top choice. Quade has done nothign to hurt his chances.
With all of the well-documented attempts to find a left-handed hitting right fielder over the years, why in the world would the Cubs consider pulling Colvin from that position when he has more than proven his ability to play that position?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
The jury is still out on Colvin. Subtract his home runs and then tell me what you see of him as a player. He's an average OF at best right now, with a tendency to strike out 1 out of every 4 at-bats. That's not the worst thing in the world, but he still needs to make major adjustments on hitting breaking balls and hanging in with left-handed pitchers. I'm not sure whether he's a good everyday RF or a fourth OF. YOu have to be objective regardless of how ;long the Cubs have been looking for the next Billy Williams.
andy (cedar falls)
though the cubs continue to interview candidates with MLB experience, I feel like none of them have a great track record. Yes, eric wedge had a few good years in Cleveland, but why go after these smaller name guys? I think we should either keep mike quade or go with ryne.
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Tell me who the Cubs players are and again I'll tell you who the best manager choice is. Ricketts' comments abuot production on the field, rather than having a well-known manager was probably the best thing he's said since he bought the team. That's right on. Worry about the players the team puts on the field next year. That's more improtant than who Hendry hires as amanager.
Hi Bruce:I love your talkin baseball show on Sat. Please bring that back for the 2011 season. Your insights are awesome especially with the Cubs. What do you think the Cubs need to add in 2011? I know a lefthanded bat. Anything else? Who is your pick in the NL for the World Series. Thanks Ray
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I have long thoughts about the Cubs starting rotation. Dempster is a nice 2 or 3. After that, who do you count on to win more than 10 or 11 games in the group they have. Gorzelanny is ok, Wells is marginally ok. Zambrano still is a great unknown. That should be their biggest concern, shoring up starting pitching and getting another RBi bat in the lineup.
Scott (Downers Grove)
Hey Bruce. What do your scout contacts think of Jeff Samardzija? He looks to be little more than a #5 starter with only 1 plus pitch.
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
That one plus pitch was really his third best pitch last night. His sinking FB against right-handers is a decent pitch. But his regular four-seam FB is extremely flat and hittable. Give him credit for working hard on developing the slider and refining his split finger pitch. he had some luck in last night's game but he gutted itout.
Please take Tony Larussa! Thanks, Cardinal Nation
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
If LaRussa lands anywhere, the rumors have him going to the South Side of Chicago or Los Angeles. It should be an intriguing offseason with between 10-12 manager moves possible.
Is Bob Melvin a serious candidate?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Bob Melvin was interviewed before Dusty Baker was hired. He has a good reputation, did a nice job with the Diamondbacks after failing to get much done with the Mariners. Scouting sources say he has a great shot at the Mets job when Manuel is let go after the season.
Derek (Country Club Hills)
Hey bruce, what have you thought of manny ramirez performances as a whitesox ball player? do you think the lack of power is because he isnt taking any banned substances anymore? or is it he's just that out of rhythm he isnt hitting with power?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I think a combination of being out of rhythm and the fact that at age 39 the legs are starting to go. Which means he's using mostly his upper body in his approach, therefore singles rather than doubles and homers.
The Cubs go from 2008 where they have the best record in the National League to the dumpster in 2010. Have you ever seen a team fall so fast? With a few key additions/subtractions, do you see any chance of the Cubs competing in 2011?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
It's the National League. I repeat, the National League, where a team like San Diego, with just a couple of good pitchign additions, can become a dominant team. All the Cubs have to do is make a few right moves and hope that some of their vetersans can rebound. Ramirez has to stay healthy and hit more than .240 for their offense to be productive.
Bruce - I've enjoyed watching some of the younger players recently, but what's going on with the organization's teaching/philosiphy on OBP...it's the only way to consistently score runs and the younger guys (Colvin, Barney, even if you look at Vitters' numbers) are horrible when it comes to OBP.
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
OBP isn't something you teach, plate discipline is something you teach. And that would be where hitting instructors need to work with some of hte minor-league players. You can't teach a guy how to walk, but you can teach him to bemore discipline din his approach, therefore hitting in a more favorable count. You're right though, Barney has one walk in his 45 or so plate appearances at the MLB level.
Bruce...any idea what the projected attendence is for tonight's ALC tilt? If there was ever a time for Sox fans to get out and support their team...but I just don't see it happening.
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
I've heard there are tickets available. But you'd have to hope somewhere between 32,000 and 35,000 show up. This is the season for the Sox, these next three games. It's win or go home. that should be compelling enough for Sox fans.
Awful lot of cub questions, must be next year already. How do you see the Sox's 2011 rotation looking? Freddy is probably gone and Peavy will be coming back from injury. So far i have Buehrle, Danks, Floyd, Jackson, Sale/Peavy
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I really like the Sox rotation. It's still young enough even without Peavy to be projected as a contender right now. It just depends on whether the Sox convert Sale back to the rotation, and they have some real question marks in the bullpen with Jenks going into his free-agent year and Putz being a free agent after the season.
If Jackson is that close, why not move Byrd for a SP?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I think they would consider trading Byrd, but he's the top of player you like to rally around. He has a lot of leadership qualities. He plays hard and he plays hurt. Those are the types of thigns you nee din the clubhous eif you're going to win.
Is it safe to assume that the payroll will not be increasing? If it doesn't move up don't they just sit on their hands and wait for Fukodome and ARam's money to come off the books instead of spending more money. Really using 2011 as a year to evaluate internal options and then look to hit free agent market hard in 2011 with contracts that expired last year and next season
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
It's difficult for the Cubs to conceptualize a developmental year because of their big market and because of the fact that ownership wants to continue to have a high-profile season ticket. The only way you can accomplish your economic goals is to put out a competitive product. I'm in agreement with you that for this team to step backwards it would be a step forward, but I'm not sure the Cubs are willing to do that.
Derek (Country Club Hills)
Who is the sox closer for next year? in your prediction?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Bobby Jenks. Although he is a free agent after 2011, he has been as good as almost any closer this side of Rivera over the last five years. Without him in the pen, you could be looking at Santos or Thornton as closer next season.
Do you think the Royals will ever spend the money to put a winning team on the field? Im not buying the small market talk. If they put a winning team on the field the fans will come.
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
The Royals have made a lot of mistakes. The next move should be to trade Zack Greinke. Ownership should make a commitment to winning there. The last two plans haven't worked out.
GO SMOKIES!!! The best team the Cubs have.. although Iowa and Daytona had very good years too. I say put the Smokies on the field for the final 20 games... probably have a better chance at winning!!!
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
They have some good players there, no doubt. You'll be seeing Archer and Jackson at Wrigley Field within the next year or 1 1/2 years. They may be impact players.
Victor A (Temecula, Ca)
Hi Bruce: At the beginning of the year a lot of talk was made of Rudy Jaramillo as the hitting coach but some players actually regressed. Do you blame this on Jaramillo?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
I believe Jaramillo's system is not that easy for a lot of the players to comprehend initially. Also Jaramillo is not a pushy guy. If you're not going to work with him, he's not going to beg you to. Ramirez and Lee would fall under that category. Just remember it takes a coach and players a period of time to get to know each other and trust each other.
Any estimate for when Garcia can pitch again?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
The epidural is still taking its effect. He's not penciled in as of yet. But the Sox season certainly hinges on the next three days. If they're anything more than 3 games out, they're toast.
Victor A (Temecula, Ca)
Is DeWitt a fixture at second base for next year or just a plug in for the rest of this year
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
I don't think he's proven he's necessarily an everyday player. He may be a real good backup at 2b and 3b if the team improves some of its position players over the winter. He's a left-handed bat but doesn't have much speed or power.
A few weeks back you said Geo Soto was too slow to bat 3rd or 4th, despite the fact that he is maybe our best offensive player of 2010. Since when did ARam get so fast?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
I don't know if I ever said fast. I don't think you need to be fast, but you need to be a run producer. Until the last 5 or 6 weeks, Soto was not driving in runs. Right now, he's hititng as well as he has since his ROY season. Definitely not a No. 3 hitter.
Wells is ok? Come on, this is the real Wells, last season was a fluke. Why do the Cubs never see this coming? Have they ever heard of FIP, BABIP, any peripheral statistic that would have shown Wells in 2009 would not repeat?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Numbers are nice to rely on. The fact he won 12 as a rookie and the Cubs had no real extra money to go after pitching was part of their hopes and wishes for a repeat season. Career wise, Wells' numbers are unimpressive.
who in your mind will be the cubs starting 2cd baseman next year?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
What is going on with the white sox. They have been well off the pace since the All-Star break. What are some reasons for that.
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
I think their bullpen contrition has contributed to that. The injuries to Thornton and Putz have hurt them. They've still been a good team. It's just that Minnesota has had the best record in all of baseball since hthe break. They're 4 games better than any team since that time. So it's more about what the Twins have done right. Also the Sox head-to-head record vs. Minn is 5-10. That speaks volumes.
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
The Sox season is here. It's win or go home over these next three days. Should be some real compelling basebal on the South Side. On the North Side, Cubs games are not easy to watch. But looking toward the future is only 3 weeks away. See you next week.