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 postseason, and offseason for your Cubs and White Sox. Let's start looking forward to 2013 and I'll also take your 2012 playoff quesyions.
John Snakenborg (Oak Park)
One of the most painful situations to watch this year with the Sox was when both Dunn and Konerko were on base at the same time when Rios would single and no one would score. How can the Sox jump start their running game with these two sloths clogging up the bases?
Bruce Levine (1:03 PM)
First of all, Rios should have been batting third all year in my opinion. That would have solved a contact and speed issue, which would have likely meant more run production at the top of the order. Robin was adamant about Dunn batting third and it's hard to argue with 40 homers and 100 RBI. That said, with 222 Ks there's not a lot of runners advancing.
Any chance the Cube could sign Dan Haren? He was much better in the NL.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Just depends on what Haren and his agent want. He is an ideal guy to sign to a one-year deal with an option, or a two-year deal and flip his contract either in July 2013 or 2014. One thing Epstein and Hoyer always insist upon is flexibility, meaning they don't offer no-trade clauses to players.
Bruce, any chance the White Sox pick up the option on Brett Myers and turn him back into a starting pitcher next season? $10 million for a reliever is probably too much, but as a starter it is more reasonable and he could replace Peavy in the rotation.
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
That's something the White Sox have been talking about. Pitching coach Don Cooper brought that up at the end of the year. There is a risk involved and that's whether or not Myers can give you 6 or 7 innings per start.
Any chance the White Sox sign a big name free agent starting pitcher or try signing David Wright in the off-season?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
I doubt that they Sox will go after any big time free agents. That said, every time I've said that in the past they've gone out and got guys like Peavy and Rios. Also, keep in mind that White Sox payroll should be somewhere around $30 million less in 2013 if they don't sign their own free agents. That, along with an increase in the MLB TV contract gives all the teams $20-$30 million more per season.
Chaz (Glen Ellyn)
AJ Pierzynski - 2 years at 16M back on the southside?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
I don't know if they envision AJ as a starting catcher for two more years. Offensively he's certainly up to the task. Defensively, the last two months of the season were a challenge for him, especially blocking balls. I can see him back for one, but definitely not 2.
What does your gut (or sources) tell you about Soriano and Barney starting the season with the Cubs? Are they gone before opening day?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
Not so fast on Barney. There's no reason to move him at this point. He's not arbitration eligible yet. Soriano is definitely still on the trade market, and has been since Epstein and Hoyer took over the team. Again, finding a match for Soriano should be a bit easier this year after he hit 30 homers and drove in 108.
Are the Cubs contenders for Hamilton? Could we see soriano going somewhere like the Rays to DH, and Hamilton brought in to create a buzz in Chicago? I know Epstein doesnt like long contracts. Is there a potential match there?
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
There's absolutely no match between the Cubs and Hamilton. At 32, Hamilton does not fit into the Cubs' long range plans of competing. I doubt that they'll get into any long-term free agent contracts for at least another two years. The only free agents that make sense for the Cubs are the guys that are 27 and younger, and those are almost impossible to find. Because very few players start their careers at age 20 or 21.
Tony (Dixon Il)
What are the chances the Cubs can adjust Bret Jackson's swing enough to at least make him an average hitter with great defence in centerfield? He looked totally lost at the plate in the Majors.
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
Adjustments are something he will have to make. The Cubs feel it's a mechanical issue. Jackson has trouble repeating his proper mechanics. I think a month in winter ball would do him some good.
Bobby Oak Lawn IL [via mobile]
With Theo and Co. will we ever see a guy make the jump to the majors as young as Castro did or will everyone have to have 500 triple A at bats?
Bruce Levine (1:15 PM)
They say that's their rule. So, we'll find out if they stick to that or whether there will be exceptions.
Joe L, Plainfield IL [via mobile]
Should the white sox make a play at Grienke? If we can strike a deal with peavy we could have a rotation of 1)Sale 2)Grienke 3)Peavy 4)Danks 5)Quintana. That looks good to me!!
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I know that Kenny Williams did his very best to trade for Greinke before the deadline. I would never say never when it comes to the White Sox thinking outside of the box. All that said, the Sox do have to adjust for a shrinking fanbase and their payroll will probably reflect that.
Do you see the cubs trying to pursue Randall Delgado again? He didn't put up good numbers last year however he is only 22. I could see him being much better come 2014-2015
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
At this point I don't think they have all that much that interests the Braves. If they get another veteran pitcher that they flip in July, than teams like Braves might be interested in trading younger players again.
Pick us up off the floor, Bruce! What should Cubs fans be most excited about right now?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
I think you should be very excited about the offseason. In fact the Cubs have not lost a game since October 3! Seriously, it's probably going to be another tough year in 2013. The heavy lifting is not yet finished for Epstein and Hoyer. I think people should be encouraged with some of the young players they have brought into the organization.
Bruce, why do you suggest the White Sox have a shrinking fanbase? simply on attendance?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
There's no other way to really gauge fan interest other than looking at how a team draws. Does that mean that White Sox fans are becoming Cubs fans? No, but what it does mean, to me, is that they become disinterested in their own team. I heard very little complaining about the end of the season from White Sox fans. To me that means that a lot of them never bought into the season to begin with. To me that is a fanbase problem.
Mike (Hoffman Estates)
When are the cubs getting their own channel, with other teams getting big bucks from tv don't you think its time they jump in? Also any word on the Wrigley renovations?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
Have not heard anything about major Wrigley renovations, due to the fact that the mayor is still upset about the Ricketts family's involvement in the presidential race. The Cubs' first opportunity to get their own channel will be 2014 when they can opt out of their WGN contract. Their own cable station is a possibility, as well as another big TV corporation coming in and making a bid.
Andy (South Holland)
Does Morel get another shot next season?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
Kenny Williams said on the last day of the season that Morel is still an option for the future. He has to remain healthy for a long stretch though, in order to have a good chance of making it back to bigs.
Hack Wilson (Boulder, CO)
Bruce - I'm just as concerned about improving an abysmal offense this winter, as I am about improving the rotation. Assuming Brett Jackson starts the season in AAA as he should, who do the Cubs add to the outfield? And assuming Stewart is gone, who do the Cubs get for third base? Pretend you are the GM. Pretend you don't want to lose a hundred games again.
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
If I was the GM I would know I'm going to lose 100 games again next year, because there is no semblance of starting pitching. Outside of Samardzija and Wood, there's no one to project for 150+ innings, because we don't know how Garza will return from the elbow injury. Jed Hoyer said they will be signing free agents in the offseason, and my assumption is that he means starting pitching -- just not the long-term type.
Paul (Denver, CO)
What are the chances Youkilis, Peavy, and AJ all get new deals to stay with the White Sox?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Probably about as much as me and my consortium buying the Sox in the offseason. Honestly, I don't see Youk coming back. At age 33, he's going to be looking for a 3-year contract from somebody. The same thing can be said for Peavy, who at age 32 will be looking for his last long-term deal. Neither fit in the Sox' plans, at least that's my thought.
Mike (The loop )
Do you see the cubs pursuing a guy like Brandon McCarthy?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
As long as McCarthy would be willing to take a short-term deal. Stuff-wise he is a good call. But injury-wise it's been difficult for his over the last few years. But that would be the type of pitcher they would go after.
How about Adam Dunn for Mark Buehrle? Yes, Sox have to take on 1 more year for Buehrle but Marlins would bite? Would Rick Hahn be willing to do this?
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
White Sox are not interested in a 35-year old pitcher at this point, even though they love Mark Buehrle. Plus, someone would have to pick up the 100 RBI that Dunn would take with him. I think you'll see the rotation continue to get younger in 2013.
Tom (Chicago )
Was Vitters simply brought up too soon? Or is he a bust? I don't know if he's really gotten a fair chance by Sveum I hate to see a kid ruined so early in his career. Especaily a number 1 draft pick.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
Every scout that I have talked to from other organizations believes Vitters is going to hit. The real question is what position he plays, and if he will ever hit for power. He might end up being a nice backup throughout his career.
Africa (San Diego)
Where does Brenly end up next season? Arizona or back in Chicago?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
To the best of my knowledge he's negotiating a long-term deal with the Cubs right now. There's no doubt Arizona has interest, but they can't afford the salary that WGN can. Brenly is the highest-paid MLB color commentator on local TV.
The question was asked to Theo about ticket prices. He said that the Wrigley experience merits such high ticket prices. With the current state of the team, the only reason to go to Wrigley is for the pre and post game festivities in the neighborhood. Isn't it an awful lot to ask myself and fellow Cubs fans to keep supporting this garbage. Building the farm is great, but what if this next group of players doesn't pan out? Then does 4 years turn to 8?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
The product is not worth the price of the ticket right now. Within a week the Cubs will send out their new prices to season ticket holders. I would expect at the very least some moderate cuts in ticket prices.
Do you think the Sox would entertain the idea of shopping Paulie this winter? Maybe he would be interested in going to AZ and AZ could send a few solid prospects back.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
Keep in mind that as a 10 & 5 player Konerko has total control over any trades. So if he wants to end his career with the Sox he has that prerogative. I expect him to finish the last year of his contract with the Sox.
Tony Campana (Wrigley Field)
Bruce, Am I in the Cubs long term plans?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Well, maybe more than I thought before since the White Sox tried to trade for you and were told you were not available.
Andy (South Holland)
What is the deal with Steve Stone? Is he coming back? Do him and Hawk not get along?
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I'll have more on that later in a blog post today.
Steve (Orland Park)
Odds that Vitters and/or Jackson get packaged in various deals sometime this winter?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I don't think the Cubs would hesitate to send Vitters in a deal. The word is that they don't necessarily believe that he is their third baseman of the future. But there are a lot of other teams that like his bat.
Ty (Chicago )
Burce I am a little concerned with the huge Ego's Theo and Jed have. Sure they want to win, but do they only want to win with the players they bring in? Are they going to play favorites with "Theo players" and ignore players already in the system?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I believe that Epstein and Hoyer are smart enough to identify good players that were already in the system. After all, they did give Starlin Castro a $60 million deal. That said, I believe they would trade anyone in the farm system if they thought it would improve the organization. I think ultimately these guys were brought in to bring in players and formulate how to field a team that will compete and win over the next 10 years. At this point they deserve a little time to prove themselves.
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Follow me on Twitter @ESPNBruceLevine and Doug Padilla @ESPNChiCubs for the latest offseason info. And don't forget Talkin' Baseball on ESPN 1000, every Saturday morning from 9am - 12pm.