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 last chatroom of the regular season. We will continue though, 52 weeks of the year, as we talk all things Cubs and White Sox baseball.
60-100 aside how would you rate the Cubs season from a rebuild standpoint, Sveum, Etc...
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
The manager and the coaching staff are excellent. Outside of the way they handled Vitters at the end, I think they did a fantastic job. They've shown to be great teachers and more importantly, organization men that understand the process of building a major league team from the ground up. It's still going to be 2-3 years until you see a competitive team.
Bruce -Imagine you had Cubs season tickets. Could you try and talk yourself into keeping the season tickets for next year? I know we all say, the future.... BUT there is zero hope of a successful 2013 and maybe not in 2014. That is a lot of wasted money. I guess my question is, if you had season tickets, would you renew your Cubs 2013 season tickets (2 seats)?
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Well, guess what -- I do have season tickets and I've been a season ticket holder for 28 years. And I have the same concerns you have. Right now the product is not worth $7500 per seat for 81 games. The Cubs front office is not oblivious to our concerns. And I do expect some across the board price reductions on tickets. Cubs know they have to reach out to the fanbase.
Marc Trotter (Ruston, Louisiana)
Once this season is over, Do you think the White Sox can look at 2012 as a success? and do you think it's possible for a team to become more balanced on offense (less focus on home runs, more focus on manufacturing runs) without making a lot of major changes to the roster??
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I think you will see some changes. I doubt if Youkilis, Peavy and Pierzynski will be back. And that is significantly changing the offense, if that occurs. That doesn't preclude the Sox from going out and obtaining other veteran players. I'm more optimistic about the pitching and the young guys like Santiago, Jones and Reed. White Sox will have some money to go after free agents if they want to.
Matt Maniscalco (Champaign, IL)
Will Robin Ventura be the Sox manager beyond 2014? His personality makes me wonder if he will walk away when his contract is up.
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
Not to many people what makes Robin tick. The fires run deep and I think he's found out that he is good at managing, but also that he likes it. That is except for talking to me every day. I think Robin can be around for some time, even past his three-year contract.
Mike (The loop )
Looking at Matt Szczur, he seems like he could be a Steve Finley type player(best case scenario that is) valid comparison?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
That might be fair. Although if he is as good as Finley at his peak, the Cubs will have a great player.
Paul (Denver, CO)
How is Garza doing right now with his rehab?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
As far as I know they believe he will be ready to go in spring training. So I imagine a light-throwing program will happen late-fall or early-winter. He's going to have to work his way back slowly. And the Cubs are going to have to monitor that.
Khris W (Highland Park)
Any chance Cubs will go after top veteran starting pitcher ($15 million or more per year) and give him a 4 or 5 year deal ?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
Unless the guy you are talking about is 25-years old, I doubt it. That type of player would fit in 2-3 years from now. The plan right now is to get some starting pitchers that have flexible contracts, similar to what the Cubs did last year with Paul Maholm. You identify a good starting pitcher and give him a year contract with an option. Then you can flip him for a great arm or two to add to the organization. It's a good plan that has worked well for Billy Beane and the A's. The difference is that the Cubs can start spending money when they want to, after the farm system starts to emerge.
Any truth to the KW to President and Rick Hahn to GM rumors? Also, what would be the first thing you do this off-season as White Sox GM?
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
Those are not rumors, they are facts. As to whether Kenny's job description is president or VP, he'll still retain a role in decision making with Rick Hahn and Jerry Reinsdorf.
Bill Wiggis (Rockville, VA)
How do the White Six get their fans to show up next year?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
That's the million dollar question, in this place a 1.95 million fans question. Honestly I don't know how much more entertaining than this year, and they were in first place for about 120 games, including every day from July 24 through September 25. I don't know the answer to that except that building up 35th street is a smart idea and working with the city to add restaurants, bars, etc.
Bruce, I know this is looking down the line a little bit, but since the Cubs have a lot of young every day players available (Rizzo, Castro, Barney, Baez, Soler, Almora and Jackson), would they possibly trade Junior Lake or Matt Szczur for pitching since there may not be room for them in a few years?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
I think after they figure out the upside of Szczur and Lake, they'll determine if they would trade them for other people's young players. There is a risk involved in trading young players, like Colvin and LeMahieu last season. That trade didn't work out.
Marc Lang (wheeling il)
Could Carlos Marmol be traded this off season or be put in a package deal with Garza for either a superstar or a package of prosepcts?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
Marmol is making $9.2 million in 2013. That's a big chunk of change. But if the Cubs got back good prospects I think they would eat a portion of it. The other side of it is that Marmol was tremendously effective from June 1st until the end of the season. You want to have some credibility for your pitching staff by having someone to close out the games. I think it could go either way.
Hey, Bruce. Is Team Theo serious about success on "parallel fronts"? One initial disastrous season is fine in rebuilding, but with only Rizzo proving to be a legit MLB level player at this point, will the Cubs go outside the system to fill not only pitching staff holes, but also for some production for 3B and an OF spot, and if so, who do you consider to be viable options? Thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I think these guys would trade with anybody if they thought it will make the Cubs better in the long run. Don't expect any short-term, band aid like deals unless the Cubs are also getting back young players. A player they showed interest in was Cleveland third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. He's the type of young player that they would trade their young players for.
Bruce, Bring back the name game. Baseball is based on its historical past and having that segment revives the memories of our youth (or stories we read before) and those players.
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Bob, I love the history of the game as much as you do. But I thought the segment was starting to be too predictable. I promise to come up with something for nostalgia buffs in the near future. Thanks for listening!
Has the organization given up on Trey McNutt? Last I read, he was moved to the bullpen...disappointing for a guy who looked to have a bright future as a starter.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
McNutt wouldn't be the first guy to go to the bullpen after starting and be successful. The organization still believes he has a really good arm. If you notice, the game of baseball now is about six-inning starters and dominant relievers. So going to the bullpen these days is not necessarily a promotion.
Its obvious the White Sox are not a champsionship caliber team. Forgetting about the collapse, what things need fixing for the White Sox.
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
The White Sox need to identify some type of offensive players that can help manufacture runs. They can use a legit leadoff man that has some speed and a third baseman like Youkilis that's not going to be playing at age 34.
do you think the Sox look for an opportunity to move beckham this off season?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
It's possible. He's going to go to his first year of salary arbitration. But defensively he's going to be hard to replace. I know they say good fielders are a dime a dozen but he has the flexibility to move back to shortstop if something happened to Ramirez or they traded Alexei. He's going to go on a strength and conditioning regimen in the off-season to try and get a little stronger.
Jay Sportster (Chicago)
There is so much the Cubs need to improve upon: 3rd base, catcher, starting and relieving pitching, bench players. I think the biggest factor is fundamentals of the game. Where and who in the Cubs system is Epstein going to go to to teach the fundamentals so that when players are major league ready, they know how to play the game
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
Both he and Jason McLeod have been changing some of the minor league instructors over the last 12 months. Their concern is the same as yours. The old adage is scouting is one area but player developmental is just as essential. So I believe they are addressing those issues.
Justin Upton's trade stock could not be lower right now, especially considering the D-backs lost all leverage in saying they will trade him this winter. Any chance cubs make a offer?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
He would be the type of player they would take a shot on at age 25. He fits into their developmental plan. He's the type of tools player they would take a chance on. Here's an easy way to keep up witht he Cubs management group: look for guys that are 25 and younger, that are multi-tools players, who in the eyes of Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod have not yet developed into the players that they should be. Those are the types of players the Cubs will be going after.
What will be the main difference between Rick Hahn as GM when compared to Kenny Williams as GM? Thanks.
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
I think there is a subtle difference between their philosophies that Rick will establish when he gets into the office. Generally I think Rick is more of a quantitative scouting guy and Kenny goes more by his gut. Nonetheless, they proved to be a very good working tandem.
Seth A (Scranton)
I understand the Cubs are terrible. Jayson Stark had Bryce Harper as a no doubt NL MVP. His line is .270 Avg., 22HR, 59RBI, .340 OBP in 137 games. Rizzo's is .288, 15HR, 48RBI, .346OBP in just 86 games, not to mention gold glove defense at 1st, but doesn't even get a mention in the category. Is this due to the Cubs being terrible, or did Rizzo just get called up to late? Or is it just a snub.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
If you mean Rookie of the Year, I think it's a bit of a snub because the Cubs have been ignored by most people due to their lousy season. I agree with you that voting for ROY I had Rizzo ahead of Harper. But there wasn't much national attention on Rizzo this season, and to be fair, Harper helped his team get into the playoffs.
when do think almora and soler will get the call up?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Call up to where? If you're talking majors, no time before 2014. They both need solid 2013 seasons if not more in the minors.
Tom (Chicago )
Bruce is the real reason Sandberg got passed over for the Cubs job 'cause he's not the yes man that Sveum is? What is your opinion on this? Thank you!
Bruce Levine (1:40 PM)
He didn't get passed over. Epstein said flat out that he wouldn't hire someone without major league coaching experience. But I think Sandberg is well-qualified to manage in the bigs. But he should also try to get on a big league coaching staff to add that to his resume.
Who gets traded from the Cubs this off-season?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
Garza would be a candidate except that teams will need to see him pitch in the spring first. He's going to be a free agent after 2013. So unless the Cubs decide to give him a long-term deal, they need to trade him early in the 2013 season. That's where I would start.
Tony (Dixon Il)
Bruce, I know you said the Cubs were not thrilled with Ian Stewerts work ethic, are there any reports on how is recovery from wrist surgery is going? Seems they would have only money to lose if they brought him back for spring training.
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
There were some reports that he and his agent would take less money to return to the Cubs next year. I don't know how that would benefit the player or the team at this point.
Bruce, do you think that Paulie's loose bone fragment in his hand had any effect on his hitting, especially his power towards the end of the year?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
From what he told me, when he was out there playing it wasn't bothering him. He would be the last one to use that as an excuse. I assume some of the games he missed the fragment might have been been the reason. But remember he's had this for three years. And during that time he's put up some of his best numbers.
Tyler (Chicago )
Bruce you mentioned earlier the Cubs mishandled Josh Vitters. Its extremely frustrating to me to see a year which players are to be developed and yet Vitters didn't see enough playing time to get a fair evaluation. Bruce what is the future for this kid with the Cubs? I hate to see them give away another #1 pick before they see what he can actually do. (See Tyler Colvin trade) worst in modern day Cub history.
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
When I say mishandled, I mean that if he wasn't ready to come up to the major leagues than they shouldn't have brought him up. I think Sveum and his coaches believe he has a lot of work to do before he's an everyday player in the bigs. So from that perspective I think just because they are in a big league uniform that they aren't necessarily big leaguers. Their philospohy was to not let him get overmatched every day because that may stunt his development.
What is going to be done with Bryan Lahair
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Bryan will probably go in a trade somewhere, or go to Japan. He can still be a viable player but needs to face left-handed pitching every day to get over the hump.
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
ESPN Chicago and ESPN 1000 is the place to come to for all you baseball fans. We will continue to write baseball every day and report all the offseason moves. Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs. Also listen to Talkin' Baseball every Saturday from 9am-12pm on ESPN 1000!