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 (1:01 PM)
It's Rizzo-Mania! And Youkilis-Nation all rolled into one! Saviors abound in Chicago. Welcome...
I'm a little concerned about the Youkilis trade because it seems like such a steal. What's wrong with Youkilis if the Red Sox gave him up for a bad pitcher and a versatile, but lightly hitting, utility guy?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
He's getting old. And there's an injury factor involved as well. Those are tell-tale signs as to why teams get rid of veteran players. More importantly they have a young third baseman that is ready to take over at the position.
Please tell me Sveum wont be benching Rizzo in his, "I demand on losing to lefties; play the whole bench" lineups.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Rizzo has hit lefties very well this year, and Sveum is on record as saying that Rizzo will play every day. That has been Epstein and Hoyer's plan from the beginning-- that when Rizzo comes up he will play every day. Cubs fans are going to be surprised at how good he is defensively, because the concentration has been on his OPS.
With LaHair and DeJesus both being lefties in the outfield what do you think the future plans for Campana are?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Cardenas goes back to the minors today and Campana is a late-inning, offensive, one-run game option. Pinch-runner, pinch-hitter, overall threat to tie or win a ballgame. The Cubs are a little bit too left-handed in the outfield, especially if Soriano is eventually moved.
Bruce, do you think there was there any suspicion of Byrd using PEDs in the Cubs clubhouse? His last year with the Rangers was his best. Do you think his use may have been limited to contract years? Do you buy what he's selling in his statement released?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
Knowing Marlon he always was extremely careful about the supplements that he took. I used to talk to him about supplements that he used that were totally legal, but he was a guy that was always trying to make himself physically and mentally better for the game. I totally believe him when he said he slipped up and that he didn't do anything intentionally.
Tyler (South Carolina)
do you think that moving beckham down to the 9 spot will affect his performance and do you think youkilis should be in the 5 spot instead?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I like Beckham batting #2. He was really starting to come around. He had raised his average almost 100 points there. Youkilis to me is a 5 or 6 hitter. But I think the biggest problem is Dunn batting 3rd - he also should be lower in the lineup. You have to have your best hitter as your three hitter. Dunn belongs at 5 or 6.
Hey Bruce, do you see Junior Lake getting called up this season straight from double-A like Castro did a few years back? Also when can we anticipate B-Jax in Chicago?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
No chance on Junior Lake. He needs at least another year in the minors. He also had missed some time with an injury. Jackson is just starting to get it going in AAA. He's had three home runs in his last five games. But his strikeout/at-bat ratio is not good. I'd say September call-up is the earliest you will see him.
What are the chances that Soriano is moved? I think he would thrive in Baltimore if we can match up with them on a deal.
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
There's a couple of things involved: one is about $47 million dollars. The other is if Baltimore thinks he'll hit American League pitching on a regular basis. The Cubs will eat close to 100% of his contract. But at some point if you're not getting a good prospect back, why even bother? Brett Jackson is not ready to play and you need some protection for Rizzo and Castro in the lineup.
Any chance Kenny Williams gets fired this offseason if the Sox get eliminated from the playoffs? Also, would the team have enough money to go after a top free agent after Peavy's contract is up at the end of the year?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
The White Sox direction is more of finding young players and player development for the future. I don't see them signing a $15 million per year free agent. The White Sox have really good young pitching in their organization. They always say that if you have good pitching that you can trade for your other needs. As for Kenny, I don't see him getting fired. Although Tony LaRussa says he wants to be involved on a regular basis with some team in the future, and LaRussa and Reinsdorf are close friends. But I'll repeat: Kenny's job does not appear to be in danger.
Al (Homer Glen)
Do you think Junior Lake gets moved to third base any time soon to prepare him for the big leagues?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
It would probably be a good idea. Although athletically he can handle shortstop. He's a big body and maybe eventually a third baseman or left fielder.
In Iowa, Rizzo had called Cardenas, "The best hitter on the team". Right move sending him back to Iowa, but Sveum never really gave Adrian a chance to establish himself did he??
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
No he did not. I would have liked to see him get some time at third base. That position has been a black hole for the Cubs, as well as the White Sox. People like to talk about how the White Sox suffer from a lack of production at third base, but the Cubs' has been just as bad.
Greg M (Chicago, IL)
Realistically, what would be considered a good offensive MLB production for Rizzo for the rest of the season? I'm thinking .280/.330 with 15 HRs/40 RBI....sound about right?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
There's about 88 games left. So, 12-15 homers would be outstanding. 40-50 RBIs would be ideal. Really not that concerned about the batting average.
MIKE Alioto (Oak forest )
Do you think the White soxs are going to make a trade for some SP'S
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
Don't know if first of all if there are any other teams interested in trading starting pitchers other than Cubs and Brewers. Zach Greinke would be a nice addition. Just don't know how much the Sox are willing to give up as far as their prospects are concerned.
Bruce, from what you've heard through scouts, execs, etc. what makes them believe Rizzo will be better this time around in the majors? According to the AAA manager hes still having trouble with the inside fastball and breaking balls.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Nobody hits 1.000. So you would expect that in the majors advance scouts will find holes in his swing. However the key was pointed out to me by Casey Coleman, who said that Rizzo has lowered his hands in his stance from a year ago. This mechanical change allows him to avoid going after high pitches out of the zone. So plate discipline has improved for Rizzo since then. I think we should just let him play and not try to over-analyze what he's doing.
Joe (West Loop)
What will happen first? Sale wins 18 games in a season, Rizzo hits 30 HRs in a season or Castro will have fewer than 18 errors in a season?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I guess we can throw out 2012 for the last one. I like Rizzo hitting 30 home runs first. Winning 18 games is a team stat. And I think Castro will continue to make 15-20 errors even when he's refined defensively.
C. Williamson (Robinson,IL)
Any updates on Jorge Soler?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
No. Still not in the states as I understand. We'll update the story later today.
Let's say the White Sox are in first come July 31st.. Could we see a SP, say Zach Greinke (assuming he's still with Milwaukee) or Cole Hamels (again, assuming he's still with Philadelphia), make their way to the south side to assuredly put the race out of reach for Detroit and Cleveland? I know money is tight (that's an understatement), but that would give the Sox close to, if not the best rotation in the majors. Not to mention, Kenny always finds a way to make some kind of noise.. #SOUTHSIDE4LIFE
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
A lot of presumption in your question, but at that point the White Sox should be getting John Danks back, so in their minds they will be getting a fresh pitcher that should be able to throw a lot of innings in the last quarter of the season. If that's the case then they will not go out in the trade market for a starting pitcher.
Any chance the Cubs try and pick up Cole Hamels?
JT (Alliance, NE) [via mobile]
Bruce, how dou you honestly feel about trading Garza? I understand he should bring a pretty good prospect package, but the Cubs barely have anyone serviceable to replace him? Agree?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
On Hamels: You mean the White Sox, right? The Cubs are a few light years away from wanting a veteran pitcher that will want $100 million dollars on their next contract. They have to figure out what to do with Garza before they add more pitching.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I think Garza should be traded for the best package available. Garza is an outstanding pitcher. But losing these last two years has taken a toll like it would on any good pitcher. So in the best interest of Garza and the Cubs, he should be moved.
john (south beloit) [via mobile]
What are the odds that soto gets dealt before the deadline. He seems like he needs a change of scenery and really has been a dissappointment the last couple seasons. Also where would his best fit be/who would be interested
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
A number of teams would be interested in an everyday catcher. The problem is that Soto has had injuries to deal with as well as lack of production. I don't think you should just trade him to get him off the roster.
Greg M (Chicago, IL)
Bruce, who do you think Theo/Jed see as the 3B of the future for the Cubs? Vitters is probably Plan A, but is Plan B moving Castro there and plugging in Junior Lake or Baez in at SS in a couple years?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
You can play around with any of those scenarios: Baez, Castro, Lake. According to some scouts that have seen Vitters, he still needs more time in the minor leagues. Maybe he'll be a run producer, maybe not.
Ken (Tinley Park)
Bruce, how many wins will it take to win the AL Central? I say 88
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
It could be anywhere from 85-88. Detroit needs to make a move or two if they are going to step on the pedal and move away from the Sox and Indians. The Tigers are going to continue to lose a lot of games because of their shaky defense. It appears that won't change.
Jay (Iowa City)
Now that Rizzo is in the hizzo, who can we harp on the Cubs to bring up?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
Everyone will be looking for Brett Jackson next. Cubs front office is pretty adamant about him getting 500 ABs at AAA. That would mean a call-up after Iowa's season ends. One thing about Epstein and Hoyer, they don't appear to be interested in rushing any prospects.
Ryan (Glenview, IL)
With LaHair moving to RF will DeJesus and Campana split time in center? Or will LaHair be platooned against lefties with Campana moving back to CF and David playing RF?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I believe DeJesus will play most of the time in center field. You'll see some realignment toward the end of the game, when Sveum tries to put out a better defense. Campana and Johnson will get in on double switches.
Bruce, how can LaHair have any success against LHP when he so rarely faces them? Do you think he should be more of an everyday player? Are the Cubs showcasing him in the best light possible for trade value?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Hard to really have a lot of trade value when you have 28 RBIs. LaHair is going to have toget some chances to hit against lefties if the Cubs are going to put him in a trade. The thing I don't understand is that Ian Stewart had a chance to hit against lefties quite a bit but had nothing to show for hit, but LaHair was automatically benched.
Mike R. (Arizona)
Have you noticed or heard any reason for Travis Wood pitching so much better.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
They changed some of his pitching by taking away some dependency on the cut fastball. He's also getting his breaking ball over for a strike now, which is a big part of his success.
Kyle Calumet City, IL [via mobile]
Being that the Cubs are planning to "sell" by the trade deadline, does bringing up Rizzo make LaHair potential "trade bait" or he is best suited for RF? Also, do you believe Dempster's stock has decreased due to his current health status?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
I know Dempster is working out fanatically to stay in top shape. I think teams are going to actually feel they are getting a fresher pitcher than the ones that was throwing two weeks ago. So I don't think that will affect his trade value. With no commitment toward a high salary, it makes more sense for the Cubs to hang on to LaHair. It's always good to have offensive power in the lineup behind Castro, Rizzo and Soriano.
Joe (Chicago) [via mobile]
Any chance of Porcello ending up with the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Doesn't fit for me. Cubs are looking for guys not approaching arbitration or free agency.
C. Williamson (Robinson,IL)
How much do you think the Cubs will have to pay to keep Albert Almora from going to college?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
$3.25 million. That is the maximum for his slot in the draft. He will sign July 12th at midnight.
Dunn is been in a slump the last few weeks. Any concern with the organization that we could see another unproductive 2nd half?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
I would just be concerned about the here and now with Dunn. He's in as bad a funk as he's ever been in over his last 10 games.
Greg - Lincoln Park [via mobile]
Bruce, what teams would be interested in Marmol (if any) at the trade deadline?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
The New York Mets, for one, if he can get straightened out. The Mets need one or two relievers. The Mets have outstanding starting pitching and a questionable bullpen. Marmol still has to prove that he is back to kind of pitcher he was a few years ago.
Al (Homer Glen)
Do you see Detroit willing to trade Jacob Turner for Garza and would the Cubs do that straight up?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
I don't know if the Cubs will trade Garza for anyone straight up, as his value to contending teams is very high. The Cubs are going to need three outstanding prospects for Garza.
I'm a Cubs fan, but why in the world is Paulie hitting 4th? Dunn and him should be switched at the very least!
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Paulie would be getting walked a lot right now if Dunn was hitting behind him. Ideally Rios and Beckham should be in the top 5 slots. Dunn should be 5th or 6th right now.
Greg House (zion)
Why doesn't Ventura give dunn a day off, have konerko Dh and Youk play first
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
That's a good idea, not necessarily a panacea for the lineup though. Ventura still has many hitters in his lineup that he trouble identifying a batting slot for. There's very few prototypical 2,3 and 4 hitters in the Sox lineup outside of Konerko.
The Sox say they love their young pitching, but scouts don't think it is very good. Whom should we believe on the talent evaluation?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
I listen to scouts from other organizations, not people within the organization itself. Two of my friends that are scouts believe that the White Sox have very good young pitching in both Class A and AA. Baseball 101 is never count on what a person within an organization tells you about their own talent. It's not that they would lie but favoritism always comes through.
Can Chris Sale win the Cy Young?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Probably won't be able to throw enough innings. It will be interesting to see how they juggle his starts and innings in the second half. The rule of thumb is shutting down young pitchers in their first season after 150 innings.
evander tx [via mobile]
when ian stewart and dempster come back who will be sent down?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Not sure. There's a number of candidates not to mention other trade possibilities. Valbuena has options left for when Stewart comes back.
Tanner (Omaha, Nebraska)
Chance that the Cubs sign Yasel Puig?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
The Cubs have already shown to be tremendously proactive in the Cuban market. From what I've able to dig up, they have already signed 10 Cuban players. The Cubs do not send out notification of signing free agents unless they go on the 40-man roster.
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
All set for Rizzo-Mania tonight. Sources tell me that the Rizzo statue ceremony will be some time in September (of course I'm kidding). Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs for all the Rizzo and Youkilis mania!