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 (1:02 PM)
Welcome to the unsure waiver period of the middle of August. Teams will still be able to claim players up until Sept. 1 and after. Welcome.
Pedr (North Side)
Bruce, when do you think the Cubs will contend with a core of Castro, Rizzo, Lake, Baez, Soler, etc.?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
You haven't named any pitchers yet. If you look around baseball you'll see the keys to contending is having a good rotation and a great bullpen. Right now, the Cubs have neither. The earliest time I can give you is 2015 and beyond.
Tom (Downers Grove)
With Junior Lake getting more starts in center field, is there a chance the Cubs go after Cuban defector Abreu and put the 1B/DH in left field? He seems to be the real deal and someone that could be another long term answer the Cubs are looking for.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
The Cubs are looking for all impact players of the future. I would think they would be just as involved as any other team in baseball. Rizzo can play the OF or so could Abreu.
pat (st charles)
What other White Sox players do you see getting moved by waiver claim?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
The only player I see being claimed possibly is Adam Dunn. Matt Lindstrom may be another one, but that's about it.
Bruce, If you were starting an All Time Iowa Cubs team who would you draft first: Corey Patterson, Brett Jackson, or Felix Pie?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
James C (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Bruce, I would like to know how many times this season has Dale Svuem tried to squeeze home a run. With this teams inability to hit with RISP why doesn't he employ this strategy more often?
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
The Cubs have an exceptionally slow team, so you can't count on below average baserunners getting good jumps. Second of all, it's a wasted play most of the time. I just believe the suicide squeeze is only good to add a run when you're ahead by 2-3.
Nathan (Minor leagues)
What types of moves should we expect to see Theo and Jed making this offseason? What positions on the ML roster will they look to upgrade through FA/trades?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I think they'll be a little more active free agent wise, but from all my conversations with the people at Wrigley, I don't think they're going after any $100 million players. If you look at their gameplan for this year, it's worked out well. They've added 9-10 young players while flipping the likes of Soriano, Feldman and Garza. That can be a big bonus when you look back at this team in the player development plan.
Dave M (Mt. Prospect, IL)
Same old question. Do you think Dunn will be in a Sox uniform next year? Thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
With what's remaining on his contract, I think the Sox will try to trade him with one year remaining. That said, the Sox have zero left-handed RBI potential in their lineup. And that might be a fatal mistake if they plan on competing.
Bruce: What are the Cubs plans for Rusin? You believe he can continue to pitch this well for remainder of 2013? Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
I believe in left-handed hitters and pitchers. You do everything you can to develop both. I would give him every opportunity to make the 2014 rotation.
Thomas Allen (Hoffman Estates)
The Sox have dropped their payroll in half for next year by 60 million. They can continue dropping salary by trading Alexei Ramirez and Adam Dunn. That would save the Sox an additional 25 million. Do you think the Sox will try to trade those two, and if so, which teams are possible trade partners?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Our numbers differ. I think they've lopped off a little over $40M, but trying to fill out your team through free agency is not ideal. I think the Sox would like to continue signing younger, more versatile position players. I believe if you trade Dunn and Ramirez you have to get major league talent back. The Sox will spend money but maybe not as much as they have the last two years.
Bruce, who received more/better talent, the Cubs for Garza or the Sox for Peavy?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Remains to be seen. Garcia can be an excellent player and a young pitcher the Sox received who the scouts are high on named Montas. That said, Edwards appears to be a star of the future, according to a lot of people I talk to. I'll reserve judgement but I'll take the Cubs trade for now.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Is Lake a flash in the pan? Or do you see him here long term?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Still don't know if he'll hit breaking ball on regular basis. Give him credit for not being afraid and making most of oppotunities so far.
What are your thoughts on the return for Rios? I understand it was more of a salary dump, but you would have thought that we could have received something more from a team who was in need of a CF?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
The scouts I talked to from the Sox and Rangers are split on Leury Garcia. They all agree he's an excellent baseball athlete, but they're not sure about the maturity of the guy or whether he'll hit a lot. Some feel he's a super utility type guy.
Al (Downers Grove)
Will we see Almora promoted at the end of the year or will he start at Kane County again next year because of the injuries?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
With the injury I doubt they'll promote him this year.
John H (Chicago)
With Leury Garcia being assigned to AAA, how will the Sox handle defensive responsibilities considering Marcus Semien is already playing SS there and Carlos Sanchez is in the mix too? Also, when considering the aforementioned players and other SS prospects in the system like Tyler Saladino and recent draft pick Tim Anderson, is Alexei as good as gone? I wish StL was interested in Alexei due to their great farm, but my guess is they stick with Kozma? but how about Ramirez to the Yankees (time for Jeter to DH?) for AA catcher Gary Sanchez?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I said there's a good chance Ramirez will be traded. He's much more highly thought of outside of Chicago than he is here. He's had a rough season from a personal standpoint due to the death of his father in law, and I think they can get a lot for him in the offseason. Semien has played decent baseball. Also Beckham can be moved over there starting next spring.
Vitters started playing again last night at Iowa...at 3b. Olt is playing elsewhere, mostly 1b and DH. Two questions, does Olt have an injured/sore arm? and while I know you think Vitters future is elsewhere, he is in fact putting up better numbers ( .294/.381/506, in 100 plus at bats), than Olt ever has, and would be a major upgrade to the Cubs, could he simply have needed to mature both physically and mentally? He is still younger than Olt after all.
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
A lot of people still like Vitters, but not necessarily in the Cubs organization. He's hit pretty well at every level. Not a great defender. Cubs are pretty much writing off this season for Olt, and hoping he'll come back a refreshed player in the spring.
I was wondering with the apparent log jam developing at 3rd with all the potential prospects. Will we see the Cubs trade one or two of them for maybe some high end pitching prospects?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Let's slow down, nobody has done a lot over there yet. From what I see they still need a 3b in the majors. I think Olt will get a great oppotunity to be that guy next season.
You think the Cubs will go after Cano this offseason??
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
No. He's 30 and doesn't fit into their plan for winning at this point.
Frank (Arlington Heights)
Sure wish we would have included Trey McNutt in the Garza trade instead of Chris Archer. Hindsight is 20/20, right Bruce?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
Garza was a pretty good pitcher for the Cubs and gave you some high-quality starts. That's what a good trade is, you get quality and end up giving quality back. I think you'll be pleased with Edwards.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Let me clarify, you can have 1b who can play OF. Do I know if Rizzo would be a good one? No. Do I know Abreau would be good? No. I would bet either would be as good as Carlos Lee. Plus left field is the DH of the NL.
Henry A (Deland Fl)
Is Arodys Vizcaino ever going to pay off? Seems hurt all the time...
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
I don't have the answer to that. The Cubs still believe he will be an impact pitcher when he's healthy.
Will the struggles of EJax make the Cubs hesitant to make major FA moves this offseason. Let's be honest, he is brutal.
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I don't believe the signing was a poor decision. I think the signing of him for four years was a poor decision. His market was three years, not four but the cubs were desperate for a young veteran pitcher who could give them innings. Ironically he has averaged the fewest innings of any of their starting pitchers.
Ramon (Des Plaines)
What is wrong with Brett Jackson? Does he simply need a fresh start next year along with Olt? High OBP, lousy average.
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
He's kind of a poor man's Adam Dunn. He doesn't have the big power of Dunn but he is a very good baseball athlete. Contact has been a major issue and we saw a lot of that last season when he was called up. He may have to go to another organization to prosper.
Henry A (Deland Fl)
With all these prospects that can hit.. Can Lake, Bryant, Geiger, Almora, Szczur, Baez, or Villanueva learn 2nd base?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
The answer is probably no. You see the conversion the other way many times. But you rarely see OFs becoming infielders. There were rare exceptions in the Dodgers organization in the 70s when they made Bill Russell and Davey Lopes infielders.
Michael (San Francisco)
Do you think the NL implements the DH in the next five years?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
There's been a lot of rumors about it. I've always been against the DH. However with steroids out of the game mostly, games have become predictably boring, especially in the NL. That may influence NL owners to add a hitter.
David (Vinicennes, IN)
Do you see Arismendy Alcantara being a September call up and/or challenging Darwin Barney for a starting spot next year?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
He has had a nice season in the minors. I think a September call-up is possible. I think Barney is in for a challenge considering his batting woes this season.
Paul (St Louis)
Are the Cubs kicking the tires on Mark Reynolds at all? I thought they had some interest last off season.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I thought the same thing when I saw that he was released. But his high strikeout ratio is tough to swallow. Not exactly the Epstein-Hoyer type player.
Robert (Madison, WI)
I heard Rick Hahn on the radio say that the financial flexibility might allow them to trade for a player who has a large contract with another team. I was reminded how the Sox did that before 2006 with Jim Thome (with the Phillies picking up a chunk of his salary). Are there any players you believe the Sox could target that are in a similar situation?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
If you're a Ryan Howard fan would you roll the dice on him? The Sox need left-handed power. In fact they need power from any side of the plate right now. And they are looking for better defense for the future.
big dave (plainfield)
will dale sweum be around when the cubs contend?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
That's a good question. I believe Sveum and his coaches have done the best job possible under some very tough situations the past two years. I would expect the Cubs to pick up his 2015 option sometime before the 2014 season. I don't know if I have answered your question but that's the best I've got for you.
Vogelbach and Bryant both got promoted last night. Do either of them have a shot to see the majors next year?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
Yeah, I think Bryant has a chance to be up by next summer sometime. There's no reason to not promote him if he continues to light up the minor leagues. I owlud say Bryant faster than Vogelbach.
Deanojay (Round Lake Beach)
Any chance the Sox deviate from the softball slugger type teams to the speedy Cardinal teams of Whitey Herzog? Do you envision Beckham going back to 3B with so many middle infielders appearing on the horizon (Garcia, Sanchez, Micah Johnson, etc...). Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
No I expect Beckham to go to SS. If he does they should tell him in September to get ready over the winter. At the Cell you always have to have home run hitters but they can be the more athletic type. Rios was that type of player. So are guys like Cespedes and Puig.
what are the real percentages of any "can't miss" minor league guy becoming an everyday player, let alone a star? Isn't it like only 15% become everyday guys and less than 1% all stars?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Drafting a player is a shot in the dark. In any given draft if you get two or three major leaguers out of it of any quality you've probably done really well.
What ever happened to Jake Fox? The prospect everyone was super excited about. That was going to be the savior.
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
I haven't heard his name this year so not sure if he is retired or not.
Thomas Allen (Hoffman Estates)
Does Robin Ventura have enough managerial experience to develop young talent? He was brought in to manage a veteran team, and now the Sox are retooling.... would serve the Sox and Robin to have some other manager take over the duties?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
I guess that's a fair question considering the Sox's record this season. I believe management thinks Ventura and his staff are good teachers. Obviously because of the results people's credentials come under fire. Nobody was barking up this tree when they won 85 games last year. We shall see if there are changes on the staff.
Travis Wood has been great this year, but his peripherals suggest he has been lucky. His FIP is 0.70 above his ERA and his xFIP is 1.40 above. Any chance the Cubs try to cash in on his success in 2013 by dealing him this winter?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
Epstein and Hoyer are in the listening business. Outside of Rizzo, Castillo and maybe Samardzija and Castro, I don't think the Cubs are locked into anyone on the 25-man roster.
jim (iowa) [via mobile]
do you think the Cubs will go after Jacoby Ellsbury?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
He doesn't seem to fit the plan for me. You would think someone coming from a playoff contender would want to play for a team that has a chance to go to a World Series sometime soon. The only thing working for the Cubs is their relationship with him from the past.
Bruce do you think the cubs bullpen woes will be fixed anytime in the near future?
Bruce Levine (1:54 PM)
Stropp is a good-looking young pitcher. And Cabrera will come up from the minors soon. So the Cubs are inching toward the power arms that they are going to need to compete as far as future relievers go. They certainly aren't there yet.
jeff (oaklawn, il.)
bruce, tampa bay still owes our sox compensation for jesse crain i wonder if jesse performs well, could rick seek someone like enny romero or jeff ames? 2 nice additions if possible
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
The level of prospect depends on how Crain performs.
It seems like the return for Rios was not spectacular - am I not seeing it correctly?
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
You could definitely say they did not hit a home run on that. The Rangers scout I talked to is very high on Leury Garcia. He feels Garcia can be an everyday SS in the majors. When this scout talks about SS I listen because he's the one who recommended the trade that brought Elvis Andrus from the Braves. Hopefully the money they've saved on the Rios deal they can put toward another All-Star-quality player.
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
Follow me on Twitter and I'll talk to you next week.