Chat with Bruce Levine
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! Baseball beat 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 (1:03 PM)
Happy holidays to everyone. The Cubs and Sox are not through. Kenny Williams is devising ways to solidify his bullpen and save a few bucks. Jim Hendry needs a starting pitcher. Welcome ...
Joe (Chicago: Pilsen)
Are the Cubs any closer to getting Garza because I would love to see him as a Cub, if not then when will Jim decide to jost move on?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
Move on to where? There arent's exactly a lot of starting pitchers available through trade. Hendry will hang in there because Garza is a differencemaker.
Bruce once Jim gets a starter, do you think he will look at fixing second base maybe trading for Kelly Johnson? or will a DeWitt-Baker platoon be at second?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Whatever money Hendry has will be geared toward a starting pitcher. If not he might approach the free agent market for another reliever or look at Toronto's Jason Frasor one more time. As of today, Cashner is in the rotation.
Are the Sox done? and will Freddy be back?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Can't tell you about Freddy. Williams in my opinion is never done. The Quentin rumors continue to float although Williams has stated that they are not shopping him.
Are we going to be stuck with Silva and Fukudome? or are there any sutiors for them.
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
There were some tentative conversations aboutFukudome but the $13 million he's making is prohibitive. The Cubs would gladly eat half. No one is looking at Silva after an injury-plagued and uninspired second half. He's also owed $11 million.
If we do trade Chirinos in a Garza deal, does that mean no more trade talk with the Rangers for Chris Davis? Because we need some power off the bench.
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
That deal may or may not be alive. The Cubs and Rangers are dealing with bigger picture stuff right now. Both continue to pursue starting pitching even after Webb signed.
Will the White Sox keep Carlos Quentin as their everyday rightfielder? Or will they trade him and get more help for the bullpen?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
That's the quandry that Williams is dealing with. Even in a bad year, Quentin supplies 25 homers and 90 RBIs. That's not an easy commodity to replace. Quentin will make around $5 million in arbitration this year.
Can the White Sox compete this year even if they can't bolster their bullpen with their minor league system? Can they find a solid closer other than Matt Thornton?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Right now Thornton would probably be their closer. The Sox still need another lefty for their pen even if Sale is out there.
tj sattler (waukesha wi)
Before I spend the money and the two hour trip to Wrigley this year. I will leave it up to you Bruce...is it going to be worth my while to make the trip?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
If winning games is your choice between coming or not, I'm not sure. Entertainment value will always be there for a trip to Wrigley. It's interesting that winning has become the main reason to go to Wrigley now. Things have changed dramatically over the past 10 years for the good.
Greg M (Chicago)
What should we expect from John Grabow this year? Is he healthy?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Talking to his agent, he says John is 100 percent and working out in Mesa. Grabow was embarrassed by his performance last year which was mostly done on one leg. I look for a rebound for him.
Is the Carmona possibility you mentioned in your article something that has been explored, or just one an idea floating around?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
If you read the article it said they had conversations.
John (Rockford il)
do you think there will be a contract extension for pena by the end of the year if his numbers increase dramatically
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Pena is not interested in an extension. The plan is that Pena and Prince Fielder, both Scott Boras clients, will be two of the major and only first baseman on the market as a part of next year's free-agent crop. If Pena has a good season, he will wait for Fielder to sign and then sign his own big bucks long-term contract.
Greg M (Chicago)
What was the difference between Wood in Cleveland (not good) and Wood in NYC (really good)? Is it as simple as going from closer to set-up man?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Not really. More that Wood was healthier at the end of the season. He missed six weeks with a bad back and as the summer months came, Wood was physically more confident to pitch.
Steve B (Northbrook)
Why can't (won't) the Sox use some of the $ they offered for Kerry Wood to try to get rafael Soriano?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I think they have kicked the tires on that but they already spent $14 million on Jesse Crain after Wood turned them down. They already have $123 million committed for next season. That's $15 million more than they have ever spent on payroll.
what is tyler colvins future with the cubs and what is the future of second base
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Colvin will be the everyday right fielder and backup first baseman as of right now. If Fukudome is on the team, there may be some sharing of time between the four outfielders includng Soriano and Byrd. Fukudome is one of the few high on-base percentage guys which will tempt Quade to lead off with him against righties.
How good of a spring training does Brett Jackson need to have to make the opening day roster?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
He will not. Circumstances will dictate when Jackson starts his career with the major league team. Depending on production and health in the OF, Jackson could make it to the majors much like Castro did last year, in the second or third month.
What is the plan to replace A. Jones and Kotsay as bench players?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
At some point Jordan Danks is going to be with the White Sox. Williams calls him the best defensive OF in the organization although hitting-wise he took a step back last year.
What are the chances Castro ends up batting second most of the year? I don't think he's ready to bat 3rd or lead off yet, but deserves to be at the top of the line-up
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
Second seems to be a good spot for him. Just having some speed and seeing more fastballs when the first guy in the lineup is on base will make him a more productive player. Hitting .300 last year might be a difficult act for him to follow in 2011 but he should hit with more power.
What is your projecting for Samardzija? Makes the team as a starter, as a reliever or hits waivers?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
Those are the three questions. As you staed he is out of options. Best guess is that he vyes for the fifth starter spot. And that's a crowded group right now.
Rob (Lake Forest)
With the lack of starting pitching, does it not make sense to move Beuhrle before the season, when teams like the Cubs will overpay for him?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
The Cubs would not be interested in adding $14 million to their payroll. They are broke. Buehrle has five and 10 rights which allow him to veto any trade. A deal anywhere but St. Louis would be unlikely. But my gut tells me the Sox are not interested in trading him. It's still 200 innings.
I heard talk of the Angels being interested in A-Ram? Any chance he waives his no trade clause? Will he hit 3rd or 4th this year? I'm thinking Ramirez hitting 3rd would also benefit Castro hitting in front of Ramirez.
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Zero. Ramirez is going to play out most of this season with the Cubs, who have a 2012 option on his services at $15 million. He may get traded late in the summer if the Cubs are out of contention.
Hey why not go after orlando hudson if your the cubs
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
He's already signed with San Diego.
Ryan (Fort Wayne)
With the Brewers' recent acquisitions, are the Cubs and Cardinals now the third and fourth best teams on paper in the division?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
The Cardinals are still the team to beat. Their rotation is solid, they have two of the best power hitters in the game. The Brewers, Reds and Cardinals are the upper echelon of the division at this point.
Wes (Los Angeles)
Around the trade deadline, you reported that the Cubs had shown some interest in Kelly Johnson, and that, "the Diamondbacks [had] asked for Ryan Theriot and left-handed pitcher James Russell." What happened? Why'd the deal fall through?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Theriot, as you remember, was traded in a much bigger deal to the Dodgers. Arizona wanted younger players back, not Theriot.
Hi Bruce, what kind of ceiling can we possibly see from Castro, can he become a 25-30 homer type guy or will he be more in the 15-20 range with a solid batting average?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
No one has any idea. Some people like to comapre him to Hanley Ramirez. Nobody saw his big-time power coming. He has worlds of potential and still has not grown into his body at age 20. It should be fun to watch him grow.
Bruce - if the Cubs are shopping Gorzellany as has been reported, what's the plan for left handed pitching in the starting rotation? Which team says no to a Soriano for Zito swap?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
The Cubs' theory is they would rather have fiver outstanding starters who are right-handed if they can. In their mind, Gorzelanny is a fifth starter. It's tough for them to project what they will get from Gorzelanny over a full season therefore he remains avalable in the right deal.
Who do you see as Pat Hughes play-by-play guy? How about Rick Sutcliffe or Mark Grace?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
The latest scoop is that it could be Dan Plesac or Keith Moreland. Both would probably be decent choices, although Plesac has the big personality and is from the Northwest Indiana area.
Wsoxfan (Chattanooga TN)
Do you believe the white sox plans now are to wait how the free agent market ends to fill up the rest of the roster or do you believe we will fill those spots within the organization?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
Not sure which spots you are speaking of. There's been rumors about trading for Heath Bell of San Diego but that would add another $7-$ million to the payroll which the Sox really don't have.
Do the Cubs have a backup plan for who they'll sign if they're not able to pull off the trade for Matt Garza?
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
The backup plan appears to be Cashner going into the rotation. And the possibility of Chris Carpenter and Chris Archer joining him sometime during the season. I know that is not a very exciting beginning of the season plan. But the Cubs are strapped economically and being held back by a dirth of pitching in the free agent and trade makret. Developing their own pitching seems like a good idea to them. Maybe not exciting to you.
MIKE (TINLEY PARK)
Bruce- I was wondering your thoughts on the white sox rotation...if peavy isnt ready to go will the sox use sale in the rotation or will they attempt to bring back garcia and leave sale in the bullpen?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I haven't heard any talk about Garcia at this point. Ozzie said at the Winter Meetings that Sale might have to stay in the bullpen. The White Sox higher-ups want Sale to start.
Gergs (Gergland Park)
Can we trade Viciedo? He is a decent player - but where does he fit in?
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
The White Sox still hope that he and catcher Tyler Flowers are a part of their near future.
Bruce - you stated a few times Ricketts is investing in the minor league system, what exactly does that mean? More scouts, better scouts, upgraded facilities?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
He's taken major league payroll and trasnferred it to the minor league side of the business statement. In other words, more money to sign free agents out of the Latin American countries and Pacific Rim as well as fattening up the budget for the June draft. Tom feels the team has to build from within to be a strong organization in the future. Very few people disagree with that theory. However with one of the highest tickets prices in baseball, you have to stay comeptitive in order to keep the paying public interested.
Is Bonderman a viable choice for the Sox 5th starter until Peavy is ready?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I haven't heard any talk about Bonderman.
When the Cubs signed Kerry Wood that put their 40 man roster at 41. Why has no corresponding move been made?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
You can't have a roster at 41. Their roster is at 40.
Can Juan P. repeat this past year? Also, I think the number 2 hole will be vital to the sox getting their big bats going this year, who fills that hole?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
I think it's Beckham's time to step up. Batting ninth was just to get his confidence back last year. I look for him to do a lot of damage in that spot next season.
Bruce I'm curious how the Sox are going to handle the Peavy rehab. Have you heard about any other pitchers recovering from an injury like his?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
No, I haven't. But they are confident he is going to be healthy enough to pitch at some time in late spring. However their plan is to bring him along slowly which could mean that he doesn't pitch the first month of the season.
Does the Dunn K total hurt the Sox this year?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Not really. Dunn is a high on-base percentage guy, normally at .400 which means that his outs do not impact him getting on base.
Bruce, any chance the cubs move soto for pitching help?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
I don't think so. They are expecting Soto to continue his trek back to being the player he was in 2008. Offensively he was OK last year. Defensively he still needs to be more consistent, blocking balls and throwing people out.
Is it fair to think Dunn can hit 50 HR's this year considering he hit 38 in DC?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
He averages 40. That would be very acceptable for the Sox. Forty and 100 RBIs would help the Sox wein a lot of games. Remember he played in small park in Cincy and still hit 40. But U.S. Cellular Field should be a plus for him with 45-50 not unrealistic.
Bruce, I'm in the minority, but I'm excited to see the young guys play - especially Castro. Outside of him, who are you excited to watch?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
I'm going to be interested to watch Colvin and see how much he grows from his rookie year. Also, Cashner and Russell are going to be two keys for the Cubs. Can Cashner be a solid rotation pitcher.
If the Sox do move Quentin, what should we expect back? Have you heard any names?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
The Sox would be looking for pitching and bullpen pitching is No. 1 although it would be important to get back some kind of hitter to replace Quentin.
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
Everyone have a wonderful New Year. Here's the good news: 47 days until spring training begins. That doesn't sound too long does it? Thanks for contributing to a great 2010 baseball season here at ESPNChicago.com. We appreciate the fact you have made us as popular as we are. Tune in to Talking Baseball from 10-noon on Saturday on ESPN 1000.