Chat with Bruce Levine
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Baseball beat 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 (1:02 PM)
The Cubs appear to be just about finished with their offseason moves. Now they have to settle arbitration with three of their players. The White Sox appear to have only a few arbitration cases left. Otherwise, it's almost time for spring training. Let's go.
Andrew Martin (Milwaukee, WI)
Hey Bruce, do the Cubs look to go after another second baseman with a trade or do they stick with DeWitt and Baker for the time being? Is there any talent in the minors that could possibly make the roster come Opening Day?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
The only move I can see the Cubs making is signing a veteran who may have fallen through the free-agent process. Orlando Cabrera would be a nice addition.
Chris (Orland Park)
Please project out the prospects in the Garza deal that were shipped to Tampa.
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Morris a RHP who has some up-side, another tough Texan. The left-hander Graham Hicks is a very trim 6-5, 170. He had a little trouble moving up from short-season Vermont to Hagerstown. Burgess has some good power, but he's a swing-and-miss guy. Expect him to play at Class AA.
ESPNChicago.com (1:05 PM)
Editor's note: I posted the wrong question. Bruce answered one about the prospects the Cubs receieved for Gorzelanny. Now he'll answer about the prospects the Cubs sent for Garza.
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Chris Archer's upside is as a 15-game winner in the bigs. Lee will be a strong defensive player who may have trouble hitting in the majors. Guyer is probably a 4th or 5th outfielder. Chirinos looks like a guy who's going to hit first and defend second. He converted to catcher. And Fuld is a nice backup if you have a good outfield.
Bruce, the additions and subtractions the Sox have made seem to have them as the front runners for the Central. Have the Twins really lost enough to make that case, or do the Sox have to shore up the few pitching questions to make these predictions easier to buy into? Also, it doesn't seem to be a worry that the two closer candidates are second year players? Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I'll give you a better answer when Pavano finally signs with them. There's something strange about that situation. He should have signed already. You're assuming Thornton won't close, which is a bad assumption right now. Not quite sure how it will shake out. We'll know more this weekend when we talk to Ozzie at Sox Fest.
Do you expect Starlin Castro to continue where he left off last year, and what is your projected line for him? HR/RBI/OBP
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Hard to project. He's been playing winter ball in the Dominican. Never know about the sophomore jinx. He should play better shortstop with fewer errors this year.
Bruce, do the Cubs have enough to compete for the division now with Pena, Wood, Garza and possibly Reed Johnson in the fold? Seems like the team made some really solid moves this offseason. What is the biggest question mark?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
The biggest question mark is whether Zambrano comes back to the form he showed at the end of the season. If not, they'll have a difficult time competing in what appears to be a better than average NL Central.
Does the Gorz trade pretty much lock down a rotation spot for Cashner?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Cashner was ticketed to get a spot regardless. They believe he'll be a solid starter. The 5th spot remains a question mark, whether Silva will claim that or one of the young guys.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
According to pitching coach Mark Riggins, Jeff Smardzija is ticketed for the bullpen. That leaves Coleman, Russell, Silva and Wells along with Cashner fighting for 4 and 5.
Chuck (Chicago, IL)
The White Sox have easily been the most aggressive team in the AL Central this offseason. Barring any major injuries, how far can this team realistically go? I see them competing with Boston for the AL Pennant. Your thoughts?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I think the Sox made some very strong moves. They sacrificed a little bit of speed and flexibility for power. However, defensively they still should be a good team. I like their chances to win the Division.
Robert (Madison, WI)
What is the likelihood that the Sox might work out an extension with Danks?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Doesn't appear likely. He and his agent have turned down previous long-term offers from the Sox. And he's only a couple years away from free agency now. He could make as much as $6M in arbitration.
with the sox losing jenks and putz in the bullpen, who were both shaky at times last season, but still staples for the sox at the ends of games. who do you think will step up for the sox?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
They have Jesse Crain now, who's going to step into the role of Putz. And either Sale, Thornton or Santos will be the closer. Maybe you'll have a committee.
Riley (St Charles)
Is this Buerhle's last year on southside?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Contract wise it is. He'll make $14 million in the last year of his 4-year contract. It remains to be seen if he pitches after this season. He's had tough time winning games from August on the past two years.
Brad (Washington, DC)
Does the Prince Fielder talk begin already? The Milwaukee paper has linked to mlbtraderumors.com, which has the Cubs on a short list for Fielder in 2012. Do you feel Tom Ricketts would add one giant piece, perhaps at the expense of others?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
It's hard to say. Let's see how this season shakes out. The key to that is that Ramirez is under contract via option. The Cubs have a $15M option on Ramirez. That money could come off the books if they want to pursue Fielder, but it's going to be a $100M-plus deal.
Are the sox considering moving Viciedo to the outfield?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Not that I've heard. He doesn't run that well. Pretty sure he starts the year as 3B or 1B at Triple-A, or as part-time backup DH at the majors.
Andrew (Elkhart, IN)
If Albert Pujols goes to free agency, do the cubs have a chance since they only had a temporary fix with adding Carlos Pena?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Again, Albert will be the first $30M a year baseball player. Somewhere between7-10 years at $30M is quite a commitment, even for the best hitter in the game. I don't see him coming to the Cubs.
Mike B (Oak lawn)
Bruce how would you rate the sox offense for the upcoming season?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I think they're as good as anybody in their division. And maybe up there with the best teams in baseball, depending on whether Beckham and Ramirez have good powers numbers this year.
Brent McKenzie (florida st college in jacksonville)
With the trading of tom gorzelany, what are the cubs going to do about a solid left-handed starting pitcher? Please don't tell me james russell, from watching him last year, he doesn't seem like hes ready. Are the cubs thinking about trading for someone to fit that void or is there better prospects that can start right away?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Negative on both assumptions. Hendry somehow got all of this accomplished by adding Pena, Wood and Garza with only $5M to spend in the offseason. So it appears absolutely that if Hendry makes any more trades, it will have to be dollar for dollar. Not many LHP out there to begin with.
ESPNChicago.com (1:27 PM)
Bruce had to step away for a second to break news on White Sox signings. They avoided arbitration with Deals for Danks ($6 million), Quentin ($5.050) and Pena ($1.6 million). He'll be back in one second.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
As I stated earlier, Danks is going into his second year of arbitration. One more year left before he's a free agent. Long-term deal at this point does not look likely. Quentin also has a year left.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
It appears the Sox payroll right now is around $123M for 2011.
Eric (Roscoe Village)
Can Cashner be an effective 4th or 5th starter for the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Your guess is as good as mine. The most innings he's thrown as a starter is 100 two years ago. I think the Cubs will be cautious with him even if he does well.
Bruce, what is the chance Reed Johnson makes the team coming out of Spring Training? Thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
It's either going to be him or Fernando Perez. Cubs will have to decide whether to go with the veteran bakcup in Johnson or the guy with extra speed.
Hey Bruce, Was Gorzo's estimated $2 million salary REALLY going to break the Cubs this year? Seems like we got suspect prospects in return for a solid LH starter we very well may need this year and beyond.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
I agree with your premise, and I believe the Cubs do as well. However, it came down to Hendry having to trade Garza for Gorzelanny. They needed to count the money Hendry was going to find trading Gorzelanny.
Marc (Appleton, WI)
Bruce-I read in the Blog about the Cubs trying to increase revenue without charging the fans. One of the ways they are doing this it said is by showing more games on Comcast instead of WGN.Don't the Braves and Cubs have some of the largest nation-wide contingent of fans because of WTBS and WGN showing games?Is it naive to think that the Cubs exposure and "nationwide" appeal will eventually diminish the fanbase to the point that the Cubs actually wind up COSTING themselves money with decisions like this?The Cubs without WGN are basically the LA Clippers aren't they? Team in a huge market that is often mismanaged and doesn't win much.
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
It's an interesting premise. However, the Cubs were only on WGN 63 times last year. And they get $450K for every Comcast game. That's a lot more money than they get on WGN. That money all goes back to payroll and player development as well as paring down their debt.
Hey Bruce...I love this feature of talking baseball during winter..thanks for the opportunity..My question has to do with the Cubs minor league players. Is there a hitter down on the farm that can be considered a can't miss..a prospect like a Carlos Gonzalez. I don't think the Cubs system has ever produced someone like him. Is there any hope in our current crop?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Well, Car-Go was with Arizona and Oakland before he became a big star. How do you think those organizations are feeling right now? Have they ever produced that big of a star? Joe Carter comes to mind, although he was used in the Sutcliffe deal.
You said in your blog that the Nats trade was necessary due to payroll constraints, but was it done to fit in where the payroll is now or to allow for another small move in the future?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Another small move is not likely, although Hendry might find $1M somewhere, if a Caberar type is available. The Cubs could use a veteran backup at SS, 2B and 3B. Cabrera could fill that role nicely.
Tim (Portland, OR)
Bruce, I see people in Cub hats even out here in Oregon. My question is: why do people want to associated themselves with a losing organization? My only answer is that they are losers themselves, a lower life form. Do you agree?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Cubs lore is based on continuity from generation to generation. Up until 1945, the Cubs were the most successful organization in the majors. They won 10 pennants in 39 years. So maybe the modern generation is used to losing, but it was based on generational success.
Does the signing of Ohman mean that the Sox at least plan to try Sale at SP in the desert? Any other 5s out there that would be both decent and willing to come here knowing that he will likely move to the pen in May? (seems Garcia is holding out for a full-time starters role)... or will the Sox only use an internal candidate to fill-in until Peavy is ready?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I'm guessing internal with the chance Sale also is in the rotation. The Sox are pretty well maxed out payroll wise, although Jerry has shown a propensity to spend a lot of money this year.
How long do you believe it will take for Jay Jackson to find a spot in the starting rotation?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
Not right away, unless there are multiple injuries. He's well liked in the organization.
Have the Cubs agreed to arb with Garza yet? If so how much?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
SI is reporting he agreed to $5.95 one-year deal. Not confirmed yet.
Sam W. (Michigan Ave)
Do you still feel the Cubs should deal Marmol while his value is at its peak? If so, what kind of player(s) would they demand in return?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
I don't feel that way due to the fact they solidifed the rest of their team in the offseason. My initial point on Marmol was if they were rebuilding for the future, the could get 3 outstanding prospects for him. That doesn't appear to be the case in 2011.
Eric T. (Oak Lawn)
im confused to why the cubs only gave geo soto a one year deal. it seems like it would make sense to offer a 2 or 3 yr deal in case he has another good season and the price tag goes up?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Soto really only had one good year since his rookie season. Still some concern about his RBI potential. Plenty of time to sign him to to a longer contract.
Pete (Chicago )
Bruce, if the Cubs get $450K a game from Comcast, what do the Sox get?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Any word on whos the favorite to replace the late great Ron Santo in the radio booth?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
The Cubs were said to have done an interview over the weekend at the Cubs convention. Candidates are presumed to be Gary Matthews, Doug Glanville, Dave Otto and Keith Moreland. My gut is Otto is the favorite.
John (Rockford IL)
How come the cubs keep getting outfield prospects when they need so much help in the infield particularly 2nd base
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
They need help in other areas as well. The outfield is still hard to predict as far as run production. Soriano has been on a downward slide. Byrd doesn't hit for much power and Colvin is still unknown at this point. The production of Fukudome is sporadic at best.
Who you got...Packers or Bears?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
I like the Packers to win and the Bears to cover.
With Ramirez's contract coming off the books next year for the Cubs and if they don't resign him, what free agent third basemen will be available next season to replace him?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Good question. Haven't looked that far down the line yet. Try to do some homework for you for next week.
What are the chances of a long-term deal for marmol
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I think good. I don't know about long-term, but maybe at least 2 years. However doesn't make much sense for the Cubs if the don't sign him through his first free-agent year.
You mentioned payroll for the Sox is at $123 MM. People were reporting that payroll was more likely to be close to $130 MM.Any chance of Sox signing some more?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Don't believe everything you read. The $130 was an estimate. Mine is based on actual dollars they spent so far. I've got it at $123M.
When do you think we'll see Brett Jackson with the major league club? Maybe this year?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
Depends on how well he's playing and how well the team plays. Injuries could be another factor in getting him to the big leagues.
Rob (Oldtown, Chicago)
In the grand scheme of things 450K seems low and ridiculous the Sox would get the same the Cubs being the Cubs fan base is much larger. Why don't the Cubs have a TV network like the other big teams?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
They're working on it. That was an old marketing term that Andy MacPhail used.
Do the Cubs value on base percentage less than other organizations?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
I don't think they value it less. They've been stuck with a group of circumstances of low OBP guys.
Any updates on Peavy, will he be ready by opening day? who fills in the sox final bullpen spot?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
Some Sox people feel April is a possibility. Others have said June. They're going to be cautious with this veteran who has had numerous arm trauma. Right now, it's hard to say whether the Sox will have 11-12 pitchers.
The only reason Soto's "RBI potential" is concerning is because he's got players like Tyler Colvin (.316 OBP) and Alfonso Soriano (.322) hitting in front of him.
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
Point well taken. But Soto showed a sign of some passive resistance early in the 2010 season where he got the majority of his walks. OBP is a good thing, but not from a guy who hits down in the lineup doesn't run very well.
Can't for the life of me figure out why Crane Kenney is still employed with the Cubs...
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
People are mostly concerned about Crane's idea about business. Somebody has to be the bad guy, but his intent is to improve the organization, make it a winner and creat new revenue streams.
do you think morel can be a productive starting 3B this early in his career?
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
All I know is defensively they're convinced he'll be able to do the job. Offensively, your guess is good as mine right now.
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
It's been a busy week. Expect some fun times at Sox Fest this weekend. You all should join me out there. Cubs fans, there's still a chance you'll get an extra guy or two along the way. See you next week.