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 (1:00 PM)
Welcome to my last ESPNChicago chat room. Let's have a fun last hour. Welcome.
If you're Theo,do you fire Sveum and go after Girardi ?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
I'm two inches taller, 26 years younger and just a tad better looking. I don't know if Epstein and Girardi's philosophy's sync up. Both are outstanding baseball men who have world championships to prove it. the question is whether they think alike as far as running a baseball game and developing young players. It is definitely not as simple as Girardi wanting to return to Chicago. Sveum has a contract for next year and an option for 2015. He was hired to help develop young players while winning some games along the way. So far he hasn't been given enough young players to develop.
Adam (Loop) [via mobile]
Bruce, pretty simple question here: what should Cubs fans look for and quantify as a successful winter?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Continued development of the organization's young players, including Almora and Soler having solid AFL experiences. Also looking toward trades that bring more offensive talent. Since Soriano was traded on July 26, the Cubs have been right there with the teams that have scored the fewest runs in baseball. Hoping Rizzo, Castro and Barney get better will not be good enough for the offense to improve going toward next season.
James (Des Moines, IA)
Has Chris Rusin earned a job next season? I would hope so.
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
Rusin is one of those lefties that has to be just about perfect with his stuff in order to compete. I think he has shown the ability to change speeds and throw strikes. These are two main elements for a left-handed starting pitcher to be successful in the major leagues. If he can be somewhere between Jamie Moyer and Mark Buehrle, then the Cubs may have a solid performer for the next seven or eight years. He definitely warrants another opportunity with the rotation.
Do you see the Cubs giving up on Castro and trying to sell him in the hopes he may just need a change in location?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I think the Cubs brass will listen to offers for Castro in the offseason. There are numerous teams that need a quality young SS and I believe the Cubs can get some top young talent for him in return. The Cubs will hesitate trading a 24-year-old SS who has accomplished what he has in his first four years. They may believe that they messed him to by asking him to see too many pitches. If that is the case they can either trade him and run from what they believe is true or rehab his confidence and bring in some outside hitting instruction for him.
I read al lot about how Starlin Castro is having such a bad year which is true but why aren't the same people saying same thing about Rizzo?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
They are apples and oranges as far as the Cubs are concerned. Castro is a skill player that they are trying to turn into an on-base percentage player. Rizzo is a power hitter who they are trying to help make more contact. There is the perception that Rizzo is their guy and Castro is not. But if that was the case why would they have given Castro $60 million last year? Some way, somehow the staff has to help them improve their batting stroke.
davidg (chicago) [via mobile]
what is the sox first priority this offseason
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
They have so many. I think adding a couple of young offensive players is the No. 1 priority for them. With Garcia and Viciedo expected to be part of their run production future, the Sox need to add some left-handed hitting. Dunn is only under contract for one more year. There is really no left-handed power coming through the organization right now. But the Sox have to address two new OFs, a 3B another catcher and a right-handed rotation pitcher. Other than that Hahn doesn't have that much to do this offseason.
patrick c (chicago)
is gillapsie a stop-gap 3B or is he the future?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
He's a young player still developing. I look at him more as a utility guy. He has some power. He looks like a .260 to .280 hitter. To me he is a solid 1B/3B utility guy.
Rene (Chicago) [via mobile]
Any plans that the Front Office has made for Olt this off season? Seems it might be make or break for him in 2014, right?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
I don't know if it's that simple. Concussion syndrome can take a long time to go away. I think they will let him rest this winter and hope that his head clears up.
What will it take to keep Navarro? $4/5 M per year for two years with option for 3rd cut it?? They don't have anybody behind him
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I think that's a great question because he's had a tremendous season. I'd say at least a two-year deal between $10 million to $12 million. I know that seems like a strange amount for a backup catcher, but he's only 29 years old and he's been as good a clutch hitter as anybody on the Cubs. Forgetting that part of it, most of the pitchers love to throw to him. He should be a very popular free agent.
Matt Sczur starting the year at Triple A next year? Is he looked at as a 4th/5th OF in the industry?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I think they like his progress. But I believe that there are other outfielders in the organization that might pass him up. He's definitely a major league prospect.
Do the Sox trade Sale this Winter? Maybe to the Braves for some of their vast young group of pitchers?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
No, you really can't trade one of the best young left-handed starters in baseball. You build your rotation around him. Sale has a lot more things going for him than just dominant pitching every fifth day. He has very similar leadership qualities to former White Sox ace Jack McDowell. This is the type of guy you hold on to for as long as you can.
tom hickory hills il. [via mobile]
Regarding white sox pitching next year, they seem to have an abundance of left handed starters and right handed relievers, and a shortage vice versa. Do you see Santiago as more valuable as the 4/5 starter or as the setup lefty reliever, ala Matt Thornton?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I think it would be interesting to see Santiago and Nate Jones reverse roles. Jones has been extremely durable and the type of power pitcher they could probably need in their rotation. I know it's a stretch at this point but those would be two moves I think would make sense. All that said, the Sox are probably going to trade a left-handed pitcher in the offseason who would help fill their needs in other areas.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
What pitchers will the Cubs look to sign this off season?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
I think the Cubs are feeling good about developing their own pitching staff right now. Maybe an addition of a reliever or two along the way as well as floating the idea of Scott Baker and a couple of other veterans coming back from injury or a bad season. The Cubs are still in the rebuilding mode but their young pitching staff is starting to get better.
Nic (Des Moines)
What is going on with Trey McNutt? He seems to be stuck at double a. Injury, move to the bullpen, etc. Is he working his way off the 40-man?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
McNutt was a star on the rise three years ago. Injuries and some trouble with blisters have taken some of the luster off his future. Nobody is projecting an imminent rise to the big leagues for him. Ironically the Cubs offered either him or Chris Archer to the Rays for Garza. It appears Tampa picked wisely.
Hey, Bruce . . . you say the Cubs need to add an offensive player or two for the coming year (I actually like what we've got going forward with pitching), so what positions do you see as openings?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Right now third base until Bryant gets there. Center field, second base are all areas they could improve on with regular offensive contributions. I would not be shocked if Barney is traded in the offseason. Right now the Cubs are a couple of years from Almora and Soler or at least one year away. My guess is that they feel they will get some help from Baez and Bryant at the major league level next year.
Ted Kankakee Il [via mobile]
Bruce will Jr. Lake be here when the Cubs get good?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
That's hard to say. He's been able to maintain a high batting average. I also think he has made a nice transition to the OF after never having played there before mid-summer. There is a swing and miss factor they are concerned about. But if he hits .290 and strikes out 25 percent of the time I don't think they should be upset about it.
Marino (Rincon PR)
With Kevin Gregg looking to be out,,,will the Cubs hand Strop the closers job?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
It appears that way. This is not a second guess but a first guess that I made five weeks ago. Strop should have been sharing the closers role with Gregg from Aug. 1 on. Gregg has had a wonderful year for them and deserves kudos but he doesn't really play any role in this team's future. It was a mistake not to get Strop more closing time.
Tom [via mobile]
Do you see Baez moving to 2nd? Or is Castro traded?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Talking to some of the minor league people for the Cubs, they feel that Baez could play at 2B with a very easy transition. Baez told me when I asked him last Saturday that he will play anywhere they tell him to. His only goal is to get to the major leagues.
If the Sox are going to trade a left-handed SP, and it's not Sale (keeper) or Danks (not tradeable given contract), then it's down to Quintana and Santiago. Obviously Quintana has the most value, but trading him scares the heck out of me. Is he the one you had in mind when you said the Sox would likely trade one of their lefty SPs this offseason?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I would certainly hope not but to get quality back you have to trade quality. Like you I believe that Quintana in some ways has probably had as good of a year or better than Sale. He has 17 no-decisions this year which is a Sox record. I would not trade him but then again I don't know how much you get back for Santiago.
Tracy (West Chicago)
What are the chances that we actually see Wriglye Field completely renovated by 2020?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
That's starting to appear to be the most realistic time. The Cubs have said they are not going to do any major renovations this offseason. That means probably the earliest end game to this is 2019.
Joseph (Hammond, IN)
Bruce,I feel that Samardzija is overrated, do you agree or do you really feel he is a legit #1 ?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
There are two numbers that give you pause in saying he is a No. 1. The first is 200 innings and second in 200 strikeouts. The 200 strikeouts mark is about an average of seven per game. That means 30 percent of the time the ball is not being put into play if he's pitching a nine-inning game. That is a big factor when trying to evaluate a young pitcher's worth. He is not a finished product but plenty of other teams would like him if he becomes available on the trade market.
BRUCE! In an earlier chat you said that you believe TANAKA is the cubs #1 priority this off season. I'm with you that you go get top pitching when its available, but Theo's remarks recently have made it seem as though the money is just not there, and Tanaka would be quite expensive. Is he gaming the blind posting process, pretending to have less money, or what?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Theo is very smart. He is certainly not going to bid up the process by telling the world they have extreme interest in Tanaka. As to whether the Dodgers with all their TV money simply outbid everyone is an unknown at this point. The posting fee will probably be between $30 million-$40 million just to be able to negotiate. So you are probably looking at an $80 million investment. The Cubs can come up with that money if they want to. The business department will have to help Epstein and Hoyer get that done.
Bruce, I recently had a dream that either Carlos Gonzalez or Mike Stanton were manning the outfield ... pinch me or is this a legitimate possibility?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I don't know that the Cubs are going to be able to trade for either. Stanton is an injured player. He seems to be overly muscular and prone to muscle pulls. I would stay away from that. Cargo would be a nice addition to any team, but I don't think the Cubs are trading Soler and Baez.
Szczur, Ha, Jackson, Vitters, and Christian Villanueva. Who makes the biggest impact next year for the cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
Jason McLeod ,the VP of scouting, is extremely high on Villanueva. I'm going with him as having an outside chance to make the team by 2014. Vitters and Jackson don't appear to be in the Cubs' plans.
What does Danks have to do to be a success next season? Obvious pitch better other than that?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
More consistency with his pitches. I think an offseason of rest will be very good for him. He told me his plan is to start playing catch in late November, keeping the arm moving but not starting to pitch again until early 2014. To me Danks' season has been a success. He's only one of two pitchers to ever have the type of shoulder surgery he had. By going to the post 30 times I thought was the No. 1 aspect of his rehab. Next season will give you all the answers you need to know about him.
Karl (Wesetrn Springs)
In your opinion, do you believe that DeAza will be gone as well as Ramirez? I would love to see a clean slate for next year and have a new leadoff guy. Dunn can leave too.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
From my investigating into the De Aza situation, management seems split on what he contributes. To me this is the best time to be able to trade him. His overall numbers are good but his outfield play and base-running skills are below-average. I would think other teams might not know how deficient he is in the latter two areas.
Bruce, How much concern is there over the Cubs poor hitting and regression of some of the key hitters under Sveum and his staff especially in light of the offensive prospects in the system?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
If you're asking me whether Sveum and his staff can coach these guys up to better performances, my answer is probably going to leave you hanging a bit. Hitting-wise there's been some improvement for Castillo, Schierholtz and a few of the platoon left-handed hitters. Donnie Murphy is a nice story. But overall Cubs hitters have gone backwards this year. I'm sure Epstein and Hoyer will consider this part of the evaluation of Sveum and his staff when the season closes. Personally I can't tell you if a new hitting coach would make Rizzo better. I can't tell you if it would make Castro or Barney better. What I can tell you is all three have hit for higher averages in the past.
Rob (Lime Rock, CT)
How about trading Reed for pieces they need offensively and making Jones the closer?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
They could do that but you automatically weaken your bullpen which as two big power arms in it now. What you miss most is Jones appearing in 65-70 games, stopping late rallies. Those most of the time are the true saves of the game.
Karl (Western Springs)
Ventura back next year?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
I believe he is. He has one more year left on the contract., He seems enthused about playing the young players over the past three or four weeks. As a matter of fact he has had some hard discussions with some veterans about them not playing full time the rest of the season. To me that is all about a manager looking forward to seeing these players in spring training and hoping the Semiens and Phegleys are part of a winning combination next spring.
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
As I said in the open, this is my last chat on ESPN Chicago. I want to thank everyone who has participated. It's been a lot of fun getting your questions. Follow me on Twitter at @MLBBruceLevine.