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)
Welcome to Chicago baseball this week. Take off your Blackhawks jersey and let's talk about a real sport! Welcome to the chat room...
mike b (oak lawn)
Bruce what can the white sox as a team do to spark a dead offense. The team is really hard to watch.
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
I think the only thing they can do is wait for Beckham to get healthy and trade Ramirez. He's your only marketable player at this particular point, other than your pitchers. You run the risk of making a below average defense worse, but you have to get some offensive pop. Ramirez is the only thing that will help bring that back for you.
More likely impact of Gray failed drug test (assuming he isn't taken #1): Concern causes Cubs to pass on him at 2 (or) Cubs sign him at a discount, allocate extra funds to later rounds?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
My thoughts are that the Cubs will draft a third baseman at #2. Bryant and Moran are two very good-looking players. The Cubs need more than one starting pitcher. But with the proper pick of a third baseman for the future, they could have their future infield complete. It would look nice with Bryant or Moran at third, Castro at SS, Baez at 2nd and Rizzo at first. You may have four all-star caliber players at those positions.
Fire sale for the Sox? Keep Sale, Viciedo, Reed, Gillaspie, Rios and get rid of everybody else. Do you agree?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
That's not the White Sox way. The White Sox way is to trade for other teams' players that have a high ceiling that may have not panned out yet. For instance, a trade of Peavy for Moustakas would get people's attention. Moustakas is having a bad year, but he has a very high ceiling. That's the type of trade that could get KC back into the mix for the playoffs and get the Sox an all-star caliber third baseman for the next 6-7 years. That's more of the type of deal that the Sox would do. Peavy, Ramirez and Crain should bring back the most for the White Sox.
Do you believe Robin Ventura would (or should) get fired if the Sox are below .400 at the All Star break?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I don't think this is a Robin Ventura problem. If we look back to a year ago, people were applauding him for his folksy, down to earth style. They were saying that the team was responding to his laid back but firm control of the team. You can't have it both ways. Are you telling me that you want a fiery guy now? I think Ventura will remove himself from the mix before the White Sox would have to pull the plug.
What will it take for Edwin Jackson to lose his rotation spot?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
Probably you signing a check for $52 million, made out to the Chicago national league ballclub. To be honest, Carlos Villanueva is more deserving of that spot right now. It's hard to imagine Jackson helping out in the bullpen. What would his role be? I think he'll get a lot more chances to succeed or fail. Personally, I'm more disappointed with his innings pitched than his record. He was supposed to be an innings-eater and work 200+ innings for a team that was having a hard time getting solid starting pitching. Jackson is averaging 5 innings per start, which is the lowest on the Cubs team. (I know 2 of his games were rain-shortened, but he was giving up a lot of runs in those games too.)
Alan (Aurora) [via mobile]
Any chance the Cubs release Carlos Marmol? No one is going to want to trade for him and he's doing nothing but losing games for what is a solid starting rotation
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
With all due respect to the coaching staff, if they keep pitching him the way they have, he'll be on the DL soon instead of them having to worry about releasing him. I know Sveum is hamstrung by not having a second lefty in his bullpen, and that's not fair to him. But they had Marmol throw 63 pitches in back-to-back outings on Saturday & Sunday, and the time frame was not even 15 hours apart. I don't envy Sveum's position because the pen has been awful. But Marmol was abused over the weekend. That's not an excuse for him pitching poorly though -- that is on him.
Gill (Mpls, MN)
Dunn has finally moved out of the heart of the batting order. Is that the last move and will it help them get going? Or at least score once and awhile?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I'm all for him being moved out of the middle of the order, but who are you going to put in there to drive in a run? Conceptually, if Dunn doesn't hit, they have no left-handed hitters that are run producers. This is the hole that was left when the team let AJ sign with Texas. I agree that it was time for Pierzynski to go, but they did not address their need for a left-handed hitter with some run production ability.
With the two off days, do you think it would be wise to have Starlin Castro take the next two nights off from starting so he can have four days to clear his head? Also, how about Edwin Jackson getting skipped for the same reason?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I'm a big advocate of Castro sitting every 20 days or so. If you sat him every 20 days he would have 8 off days, but would still play in 154 games. That's not bad, and then you give him almost 30 days off during the season. MLB gives you 18 off days. I think Castro would be a more productive player and he would learn more by watching. As for Jackson, I think he needs to make better pitches, not take time off.
if the White Sox don't turn it around soon could they turn to sellers before July?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I think the Sox would trade at any time if they felt it would help their team. This is not a championship-caliber offense. They still have very good starting pitching and a decent bullpen. All I think they need is to identify some run producers.
Todd (Washington DC)
Alfonso Soriano will realistically finish his career with 400+ HRs, 2000 hits, 1200 RBIs and 300 SBs. He is the only player of the 40/40 club whose name has not been connected to PEDs. Will he have a realistic shot at the hall of fame?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I don't think so. He hasn't been a part of that many championship teams, maybe with the Yankees early in his career. Probably better suited for the Hall of the Very Good. A nice player, but not a HOFer. Also in that group are Darrell Evans, Dwight Evans and Fred McGriff.
Doesn't Garza, Shark, Wood, Feldman, and Jackson sound like a solid rotation year in and year out?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
No. Not really. You really have no long-term sample of Wood and Samardzija. What you have are two really good-looking pitchers on the way up. Feldman is a vet that should help the Cubs obtain a high-quality, young player from another organization. You would be doing yourself and him a favor by eventually making that trade. Garza is the wild card in your group. He has dominant stuff, but lately has been an injured, inconsistent pitcher. Garza could also probably help you more by being traded.
Corey (Arlington Heights)
I haven't heard a lot of positive reviews on Brett Jackson's new approach/swing in the minors. Have you seen/heard anything good about him lately? Is he still likely to get a call up around the trade deadline whether he is doing well or poor?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Unless he's being productive I doubt he'll be called up. There's also some injury issues with him.
Ray (Rainy WI)
Which Cubs' vet gets traded first, and how soon?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I don't think anyone will be traded soon. The Cubs' goal in the short term should be to help their bullpen. In the long-term, they need a lot of quality pitching in the organization. My guess though is that it will either be Feldman or DeJesus.
What about Danks? Rusty or just lost his ability?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
I can't answer part of that, but I can say that he is still rusty. Pitchers coming back from shoulder surgery sometimes must reinvent themselves. John was a power pitcher. He might have to reinvent himself in the form of a finesse pitcher. That type of change doesn't happen overnight.
phil (omaha ne)
Why is Ventura sticking with Keppinger, now that Beckham is back? Hasn't Gillaspie proven to be the better option?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
Gillaspie is a nice, complimentary player. He's not an RBI guy, or a speedster. So he's pretty much a caretaker at that position right now. That's not a knock on him. He's been a real nice breath of fresh air for the White Sox. But he's not a difference maker at difference maker's position.
I understand Vic, and Rios, but the Sox don't have a better outfielder in the minors to play center? Jared Mitchell isn't better than Wise or De Aza? Anybody else? Is it time to bring some of the young talent they have up?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
Mitchell and Thompson are striking out at record paces. It would be unfair to them to be brought up until they are making solid contact in the minors. To me, Viciedo has been surprisingly disappointing the last few weeks. When he came back a wonderful approach to hitting the ball where it was pitched. Somewhere along the line he lost that. If the White Sox are going to get back into it he has to be the guy.
Taras Bulba [via mobile]
Bruce what happens if the Cubs draft Appel and cannot sign him?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
Then Appel will probably play independent ball the rest of his career. Appel and his agent know that he has to get to the major leagues. I'm not so sure the Cubs will draft him. But if they do, he's the most finished product out there coming out of college.
Karl (Illinois) [via mobile]
Going into the year it appeared that Beckham was on a short leash and it was a make or break year for him? Do you think his job is safe since he was injured and it became evident just how key he is for the Sox defense?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
I think it did show the White Sox how valuable he was as a defender, and how cohesive he made the defense. The jury is still out on how much he will hit. But he could be your shortstop of the future.
Al (Downers Grove)
Is this the last year for Jackson and Vitters to prove themselves? What happens if they Don't?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
Vitters is injured again. At some point you go from prospect to suspect, but he's only 23 -- still a young player. I think sometimes people get confused with young players. They want to will them into the major leagues when sometimes it takes certain players longer. The truth is that even though these guys are #1 picks, they may end up flourishing later on in a different organization.
Would the Sox consider firing Manto and maybe bring in Thomas?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
I thought you were going to say Greg Walker. I don't know if Frank Thomas is a hitting coach or whether he even wants to be. Many times the superstar players are not the best instructors. Quickly -- tell me what Hall of Fame hitters were great batting instructors?
In drafting so many position players that end up being high strikeout guys, do the Sox have an evaluation issue or a developmental issue?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I think it's a draft issue. They don't normally draft very high. They're mostly drafting in the middle of the pack, like they are this year. But you're right, they have drafted a lot of swing and miss-type players. Sometimes when you draft what you consider to be the best athlete, that's all he is. Athleticism has little to do with hitting a baseball.
Bruce - will the cubs trade Barney this year?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
I'm sure they would trade him in the right deal. The Cubs problems don't center around Darwin Barney. I do think he would do well with another team that had better hitting. His offense stands out on a team that has very little. He's a gritty, winning-type player, that has to be on the right team to be successful.
Do you think the Cubs will wait until they feel like they are a contender to improve their bullpen or do it sooner?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
I think they need to pay attention to getting some power arms. A lot of it has been toward getting starting pitching, which makes sense. But they have zero power arms in the pen right now. Rondon has a good arm, but he hasn't established himself yet. Unless you have big arms that throw strikes or trick-pitch guys you're going to have a hard time closing out games from the 6th inning forward.
Matt (Enemy Territory)
Hey Bruce, Now I'm not going to get on the ripping Castro wagon; but why is he never given a day off? He makes physical errors, mental errors, struggles hitting (.298 OBP...pretty rough) yet he still is out there playing everyday. As a young player (or anyone) a day off is good. Slow things down and let him observe the game. Everyone else is given days off. Why not him?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
I'm with you all the way. I've been on the rest Castro bandwagon since he got to the big leagues. I just believe for a young player like Castro, he learns as much from watching the game as he does playing in it. I think a mental day off once every two or three weeks would be perfect. I would bet you that after two days off this week, next weekend he'll get 6 or 7 hits.
Do you think the Cubs will draft a top position player with the second pick and then trade a Baez or Castro with prospects for a front line starter like David Price?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
I think at some point you may be right, but I don't think this year. They need to watch Baez develop and see what type of player he will be. Castro could even be the third baseman or outfielder of the future. Maybe with less responsibilities on defense he can be an even stronger force as a hitter. I'm not a Castro hater at all. I just don't think he is playing up to his offensive capability right now.
Your reasoning for the Cubs to take a 3B in the draft is beyond silly. If they have 3 all star caliber players in the IF they could put me at 3B and still be OK. The SP lacks top prospects and the current Cubs rotation is mediocre in talent. There's no way the Cubs can pass up on a top arm this year. If they draft one of the two pitchers he will become their best pitching prospect in all of the Cubs minor league system, that's not a good thing.
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
I think you're missing the point. Just because Gray and Appel are the top two pitchers in the draft does not guarantee stardom for them. Bryant may be the next great power hitter at third base. If he's available, they have to really consider taking him, although Houston might beat them to the punch. Silly is as silly does.
Mike (Rock Island)
Bruce, I know you have said before you wouldn't trade Sale for anyone in baseball. But with the Sox looking so bad and no end in sight, why not? The As and Padres traded pitchers to restock and Tampa traded Shields.
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
I don't remember saying I wouldn't trade him for anyone in baseball, but if someone were to overpay for him, I would certainly listen to that. Many major league talent evaluators are concerned about his mechanics and whether his arm will hold up.
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine. Also, Jesse Rogers, Doug Padilla and myself will go back and forth about the draft, so look for that at ESPNChicago.com. And listen to Talkin' Baseball on Saturday mornings at 9am on ESPN 1000. Thanks for all the great questions!