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 the chat room. Three weeks to go. Can the Sox and Cubs break the all-time loss record (1948, 191 combined losses).
Tom (Downers Grove)
Is Travis Wood the team's opening day starter next year? Is he their number 1?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
He's pitched like a No. 1 but that's No. 1 on the Cubs. You can argue it either way. But the fact remains that he has managed to win games despite having the lowest run support of any pitcher in baseball. Still, for some reason, I still feel the ball will go to Samardzija on Opening Day.
Bob (Princeton, NJ)
What's with Nate Jones? He appears to have an above average arm but must be one of the worst two-strike pitchers in the league. Does he have head problems or just not locating his pitches when he needs to? One outing he looks great and the next I want to get rid of him.
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
There is another element to two-strike pitching. One is what the catcher asks for and the location he sets up. But you're right, the main responsibility is with the pitcher. I think he could use another offspeed pitch. When you throw 100, any type of offspeed pitch is going to complicate the process even further for the hitter.
davidg (chicago) [via mobile]
hey bruce how do u see the rotation next year... do u see sale,Quintana,danks,Santiago,rienzo or Johnston
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
I think Johnson and Rienzo will get a chance to be in the rotation. One of them could end up being used in a deal. I know it sounds blasphemous, but the Sox are well known for trading young pitchers for other team's young pitching. Remember John Danks for Brandon McCarthy, Gio Gonzalez traded twice, Daniel Hudson. That's just a sample size of how the Sox think outside the box.
Will Scott Baker be part of the Cubs next year? Will he give the cubs a discount considering they paid him 5mil to practically just rehab this year?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
With all due respect to Baker and the Cubs, some of this is smoke and mirrors. It's nice that Baker has come back from an elbow problem but to me it's just one more flippable guy going toward next July.
With the complete lack of catching in the system, do the cubs pay navarro more to stay next year as the backup or is he gone for sure? Also, if he does go who do we sign to back up Wellington?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Navarro has been a very good pickup but he's also created some problems, none of which were created by him. Some of the pitchers prefer throwing to him. I think if you are trying to develop Castillo as your everyday catcher you have to find another backup rather than create a division among the catchers and pitchers.
Castro as a 2B and Baez as the S/S?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
So your solution is to weaken two positions? I'm not a big fan of downgraded defense. There is nothing that tells me that 2B would be easier for Castro. Many infielders cannot turn the double play with their back to the runner. I think Castro and Baez are SS. I would leave it at that until the issue is forced.
Dan S (Chicago)
When do you believe the Cubs will give Baez a shot at the majors? Also, when he does come to the majors, where will he play? It's starting to look like we will have a pretty crowded infield.
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
I would say late June 2014 would be the very earliest that he makes the team. That will preclude him from becoming arbitration-eligible one year earlier. Same thing maybe for Bryant.
Jim (Westerville, OH)
Could CJ Edwards be a call up at any time next year?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Other young pitchers have progressed through other teams' systems quickly. As I've been saying since the trade, Edwards might be the best one they've made. I don't see why he can't make a quick ascension to the majors.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
What's the Future position for Kris Bryant?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
No reason to think 3B isn't it. The Cubs have plenty of other outfielders coming along. I think you leave him in the place he has been comfortable his whole career.
Is Kyle Hendricks a viable rotation guy to start the season?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
Again, the path to the majors for the Cubs is an open one. I think the process for a young pitcher to get to the major leagues can be and sometimes is much quicker than position players. Maddux at age 21 was a seasoned pitcher. Not that Edwards or Hendricks is Maddux but I think you can see their arrival much quicker than Soler and Almora.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Bruce do you see Sanardizja being moved at the deadline in '14?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I thinky anything is possible. There are a lot of team that believe Samardzija is just emerging as a top-flight pitcher in the league. From the Cubs perspective, if they can't sign him to a favorable long-term contract, they may rather trade him for other young pitching talent. Samardzija's age of 29 next year, should not be inhibiting for the Cubs or a trade partner. He seems to have very little wear and tear on his arm.
Has Junior Lake done enough to be penciled in as a starting OF in 2014?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Yeah, I think he has impressed. I would put him in LF. I know he is athletic enough to play center but his body is going to get a little bit bigger and stronger so to me that is a left or right fielder's body. He's made some nice strides considering he only played six games in the OF in the minors.
Is the Arizona Fall League Jared Mitchell's last chance to show progress?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I think he is already at his last chance. This is just a nice gesture by the Sox to try and see something that wasn't actually there. He is a nice baseball athlete who can't make consistent contact. Does the name Joe Borchard come to mind?
Tracy (West Chicago)
Bruce, how often do you get to talk to people outside of Chicago (scouts, executives, etc.) and what is their general opinion of how things are going for the Cubs and just how good they can be?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
I get a lot of questions from my front office and scouting friends about the front office. Some of it is based on curiosity, some based on the Cubs mystique and how nobody has been able to solve it. This time of year I get a lot of questions about Sveum and whether he will survive the three years plus option in his contract. A lot of it is blackbirds flying around.
Rich T (Tampa)
What can we expect this off season? Seems like the Cubs have a lot of fast tracking position players but are light on pitching.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
That's a good observation. I don't think you will see them spending any money in the free agent market on pitching in the offseason. If they plug in a free agent pitcher it will probably be a year or two from now. They could use a couple hitters along the way. Again, the Baker-type signings, Schierholtz, I think you will see that some more for at least one more season.
Rick Hahn mentioned possibly moving one of his starting pitchers for a position player. If you were Hahn, which pitcher or pitchers would you be most willing to move?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I don't know if Santiago's body of work is significant enough to bring back a top hitter. I would say Quintana is a guy who could bring back more than you think right now. The Sox are blessed with four left-handed starting pitchers. Some teams don't even have a significant starting lefty in their organization.
Does Mike Olt have a shot to be the starting 3B on Opening Day next year?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I'm sure they hope that he gets straightened out and gets healthier in the offseason. He will have every chance to win that job out of spring training. Not sure about their plans for him during the winter. I need to find that out. I would guess a few weeks of winter ball would be a good idea.
What are the chances that the Cubs bring back Sweeney next year? Does the organization view him as a piece of the puzzle going forward?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
One of the things that Epstein and Hoyer have done a nice job with is finding left-handed hitters and giving them an opportunity to play. You saw it initially with DeJesus and now Schierholtz, Sweeney and Bogusevic. This is a left-hander's game, both hitting and pitching. I believe they would like to bring back Sweeney and Bogusevic next season. Schierholtz is arbitration eligible.
George (NW side)
what does happen with the minor leaguers now that their season is over? I'm guessing the real prospects get continued coaching/games from the organization and everybody else is on their own
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
Some of them go to instructional leagues for a short period of time. Others like Soler, Baez and Almora go to the Arizona Fall League. That league runs from Oct. 8 to Nov. 22. That has become a more popular destination for teams' stars of the future.
Matt (Chicago) [via mobile]
Hahn needs to address 3b, catcher and CF for next season. Gillaspie is a nice player but don't seem as everyday player. Flowers & Phegley don't seem likely to hit enough. How likely do you think it is that Hahn can upgrade these spots in the off season?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
He's going to have to approach people with trades that make sense. If you look at De Aza's season, numbers-wise it looks pretty good. But I don't think they are that satisfied with what he's done. You're right, they need at least four new position players. Trades and free agency might be their only choice at this point to upgrade.
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Keep watching your teams and follow me on MLBBruceLevine on Twitter. Have a good week.