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 pre-Cubs Convention chat room. And Sox Fest is only 12 days away. Let's hear about your wants and needs for Justin Upton for both clubs. Welcome to the chat room.
I have never attended the cubs convention and am debating whether or not it is worth it. What can I expect from the convention? Is it just a bunch of waiting in line for autographs?
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Depends how deep you are in Cubs culture, and how old you are. I would say it's a good experience, especially to see icons like Ernie, Billy, the Red Baron and those guys walking around. If you're of age, you can find a bar and hear some old time baseball stories. I think it's a worthwhile experience.
Tom S (Wauwatosa WI)
Cub Convention this week, and tickets still available. Don't believe that has happened in a long time. Is ownership/management going to read anything into that, or do they care?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
Say 101 losses slowly. That and the fact that the Cubs are still developing their core of players that fans want to see. Castro, Rizzo and some of the minor leaguers that are still developing will be there. Are you excited now?
Any chance Hahn is dangling Beckham? He seems to be one of the few tradable assets and the sox could use some left handed bats. I know his value is probably low at best
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
I do not think the Sox would have any aversion to trading Gordon Beckham for a good player in return. It's not like they're out there dangling him, but factually, they need some way of getting left-handed hitting. If a team approached them on Beckham that had a power-hitting left-handed hitter, they would have to do it.
Illini Bill (Rockville, VA)
Do you think De Asa will leading off and the White Sox opening day centerfielder!
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
If the season started today, he would. That said, if they can find a left-handed hitter that also plays the outfield, that could push De Aza to a backup role. Once De Aza got hurt last year the management seemed to sour on him a bit.
Bruce, Thanks for making this a weekly can't miss! I saw the other day that Theo has come to see Soriano as more of a clubhouse leader than he originally thought. With his clubhouse value and solid on field production, is there any chance Theo can bring a value of return anywhere near what he offers on the team; at least until July 31, 2014?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
Epstein's job is to obtain the best players possible for the future. Yes, I believe he thinks Soriano has been better than advertised before he got here. All that said, they would trade him in a minute if they got the right player back, or a team would eat the right portion of money left on his contract.
Any chance the Cubs trade for a 3rd basemen before opening day?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
They'd love to get a young third baseman like Mike Olt or Lonnie Chisenhall. Their attempts to get these type of players have come up empty so far. They will continue to look for young third basemen if and when they deal Garza.
Hi Bruce, Why not keep Garza until the trade deadline to see how the season is going, if the Cubs are out of contention they could trade him and then try to re-sign him as a free agent without worrying about losing a draft pick.
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
That's a little risky considering that Garza has had elbow and forearm injuries over the past two seasons. If you want to get optimum value for him, you trade him in spring training before he becomes any closer to free agency. At this point I don't think the Cubs are very clear on whether they want to sign him to a long-term deal. Especially with the possibility of a longer-term elbow concerns.
Ryan (St Joe, MI)
Has there been any talks about if Rizzo has a good year in 2013 that the Cubs would extend him and buy out his arbitration years and perhaps a year or two of FA? Something similar to the initial extensions of Castro, Longoria or perhaps Pedoria?
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
No doubt that Epstein and Hoyer will be proactive with their good, young players. That theory should also include Samardzija, if he has a solid 2013 season.
Hi Bruce,Are the Cubs in the discussions to trade for ARI Juston Upton?Thanks!
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
I was hoping someone would ask that. An Arizona source told me that it would take Starlin Castro in order to get a player of Upton's quality. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they are not in a position to trade their good, young players like Baez or Castro to get a player like Upton. But the two sides have talked. Kevin Towers and Epstein are long-time friends from their days with the Padres.
Sell high on Chris Sale. Look to trade him straight up for Giancarlo Stanton. Both have similar service time. He's unhappy. Everyday superstud is more valuable than pitcher with injury risk. Don't need the outfielder, necessarily, but we'd find room for him. Possibly by including Viciedo who could appeal to their Cuban fan base in return for young pitching.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I'd love to see a trade like that. Not that I don't think that Sale is going to continue to be good. But Stanton could realistically hit 60 home runs with US Cellular Field as his home base. If you're looking to draw fans, he might be the second coming of Frank Thomas.
If the Cubs should ever have a player dominating at the minor league level (like Kerry Wood did) would they break their AAA experience rule or would they keep him as a man among boys in the minors instead?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I think Epstein is serious about wanting to get the one year of AAA experience for all his good, young players. If they had a marginal player who was more like a backup, I believe they would go away from theory.
deano j. (Round Lake Beach)
Any likelihood that a veteran reliever will be moved (Thornton/Crain) or infielder (Ramirez/Beckham) if "big bat" prospects/arms offered?
Bruce Levine (1:19 PM)
It seems right now that the only team that would be in that mode would be Seattle. The Mariners are desperate for some offensive pop. And a team like the White Sox could offer them some offense for some of their young studs. Right now that seems to be the only team other than Texas that has good, young players and would be willing to trade.
Haven't heard anything about Kubel to the Sox in awhile, are talks off? Any other lefty bats on the Sox radar?
Bruce Levine (1:21 PM)
The Diamondbacks are holding off trading Kubel, in order to explore the Justin Upton market. I believe they would talk to other teams about Kubel, however getting back a solid package for Upton is their no. 1 priority at this point.
Ryan (Chicago, Illinois)
Any chance the Cubs go after Brian Wilson? I know he is coming off his second tommy johns surgery but he is the type of low risk high reward player Theo and Jed like.
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
The Mets appear to be closing in on Wilson. However if the Cubs could get an economically feasible deal, I'm sure they would consider signing him. Their no. 1 priority appears to be moving Marmol before they look at signing any other bullpen guys.
Curious I know the cubs want there minor league hitters to have 400 at bats, what thresholds do they want for there pitchers?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I believe a complete year at AAA, where they've competed against better hitters than at the lower levels. The problem is they haven't had any pitchers that they are ready to promote in recent months.
Derek /LittleRock [via mobile]
John Danks was really missed last year for the stretch run-will he be ready by spring training?
Bruce Levine (1:25 PM)
The White Sox and Danks both say yes. Shoulder operations are tricky. So I believe the White Sox will be cautious with how they bring him along. Danks will need to be held back from trying to do too much too soon. That's the nature of a very aggressive young pitcher.
If the Yankees tank early, can you see them offering up Cano (to the Sox?!) for pitching and salary relief?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
The Yankees no. 1 priority should be to re-sign Cano before spring training begins. Right now he's the only legitimate superstar that they can count on for the next 4-5 years. The other guys like Jeter, ARod and even Teixeira are dealing with aging and injuries. Time for the Steinbrenners to step up.
Joe S (Omaha,Ne)
Why aren't the cubs speeding this rebuild up and spending some $$ !?! I understand the importance of building through your farm system. Yet, cutting payroll seems to be all Rickets has accomplished during is tenure as owner.
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
We saw a distinct change of philosophy by Epstein and Hoyer when they offered Anibal Sanchez $80 million for five years. So I believe that you'll see Cubs management being more aggressive on young veterans over the next couple of seasons. They realize now that they can't just do this through the farm system and Latin American free agents.
Bob G (Austin, TX)
So Justin Upton doesn't want to go to Seattle and the Mariners want an young impact bat. Would a three way trade with the Sox work? The package the Mariners were willing to give up goes to Dbacks, Upton to White Sox, and Viciedo to the Mariners?
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
I don't know if you have to get that intricate. I think the Diamondbacks would love Viciedo. But are you really trading one 30-homer guy for another? Upton has a chance to be a mega-superstar while Viciedo might be just a 30-90 guy. If I'm the White Sox, I just continue to look for a left-handed bat.
Dan Brennan (Milwaukee)
Hey Bruce! Realistically what do you see the Cubs record being at the end of the season this year? I'm thinking its gotta be just below .500 correct?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Well that would be optimistic. With that theory it means that Garza, Samardzija and Jackson all have good seasons, and the bullpen is able to do their part winning ballgames. The Cubs offense is still challenged. 75 wins would be an awesome improvement in 2013.
Matt S. (Chicago)
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to the Cubs acquiring Giancarolo Stanton? If it's the fact that they don't want to part with Javier Baez, it seems unbelievably stupid to me. There's no guarantee that Baez will ever pan out in the majors, and even if he does, you're getting a bona fide young slugger in return, so at worst it'll be a wash. And it's not like Stanton is 31 years old and hinders the Cubs' long-term plans -- he's only 23 (just three years older than Baez), has already had huge success in the majors, and theoretically won't even come into his PRIME for another four years or so. I don't understand why any club wouldn't part with speculative talent in order to receive a surefire young stud.
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
I believe the Marlins are going to want some good, young pitching in return for Stanton. Pitching is a way to get back to competing, much quicker than trading for position players. Stanton should bring the Marlins at least two stud pitchers.
Larry (Delray Beach Florida)
If Jackson makes the team due to reduced K levels could he be a # 2 hitter in front of Castro, or will he be near the bottom of the order.
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
Believe it or not, Jackson walks a good number of times. So if he could solve the strikeout problem, he could bat anywhere 1-5.
James Engel (Hanover Park)
Bruce, can you tell us what Brett Jackson has done in the off-season to prepare for the 2013 campaign? Dom you think he has made any strides in becoming a succesful baseball player?
Bruce Levine (1:35 PM)
The coaches had him out for a mini-camp in November and they feel they found a new mechanism for him. Hopefully this will cut down on his strikeouts. I watched him in this mini-camp, and he was driving the ball consistently. In fairness though, Dale Sveum was the pitcher. Time will tell, but he'll start the season at AAA.
Am I missing something? Isn't De Aza a left-handed hitting outfielder? How does replacing him with another left-handed hitter help the Sox hit righties better?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
Well they don't necessarily have to replace him. But they could upgrade the outfield with another lefty bat. That means De Aza could be more of a platoon player. With only Dunn and De Aza the strikeout ratio is pretty high from the left side.
It seems like last year the Cubs identified Castro, Rizzo and Barney as part of the core of the offense going forward, but this year they have done nothing to add to it, why not offer AZ a trade centered around Javier Baez for Justin Upton? I'm all for re-building, but it seems like the Cubs aren't actually interested in building anything.
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
Arizona is going to want more than the Cubs have to offer. The Cubs would have to trade 3 or 4 of their young players for Upton. That would help them at one position, but might not get them to the goal that they have for 2014 and 2015. In my opinion, I would do everything I could to get Upton. I think a change of scenery would be all that he needs to turn his career into a full superstar status.
I am a Cubs fan, but I beleive the Baseball writers would be smart to make Frank Thomas the first 100% first ballot hall of famer. If more players had the guts to speak up like Frank did we would not have had the problems that occured. What is your opinion?
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I agree with you that Frank was at the forefront for testing back in the early-2000s. I also agree with you that he should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Due to the fact that he never played in a World Series, I doubt that he'll get anywhere close to 100%. I'm hoping other BBWA members do their homework on one of the special hitters over the last 50 years.
Any chance we see Jorge Soler this year in the big leagues?....
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
Soler needs at least a year and a half in the minor leagues that would include 500 at-bats in AAA. He should come fast. Most people believe he has the talent to be a star for the Cubs.
Hey Bruce! With the Cubs convention coming up, do you expect any "surprising" or significant moves to excite the fan base for this next seaon? Rebuilding isn't sexy and doesn't sell too many tickets...
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
I think the only surprises right now would be Soriano and or Marmol being traded. Cubs are hoping to get some good, young players back and free up their positions for younger talent.
Trading Baez for upton or trading for upton period is non sense the guy isnt as good as advertised, is there any chance of trading for trumbo now with hamiliton being a angel?
Bruce Levine (1:45 PM)
Well maybe Trumbo isn't as good as advertised. Would you trade Baez for Trumbo? We can go around and around on all of this. I do believe that Epstein and Hoyer will trade their young people for other young players if they believe in the talent of the players they are bringing in.
Marseilles [via mobile]
With the sox having a little flexibility on the payroll why gave they been so quiet this offseason even in adding a veteran reliever?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
They do not have flexibility in their payroll. Factually they are maxed out right now. The Sox payroll will be somewhere between $112-114 million if they go to war with the 25-man roster they have right now. That's roughly $10 million higher than their opening day payroll in 2012.
Is Soriano really a good clubhouse presence or is Epstein just posturing to achieve higher return on a potential trade?
Bruce Levine (1:49 PM)
Both are true. Soriano is well-loved by all of his teammates. However the Cubs would like nothing better than to move him in a proper deal. That deal would mean someone ate a portion of the $38 million owed to him and the Cubs got back a young pitcher or outfielder that is ready to compete at the major league level.
If John Danks ends up being healthy coming out of spring training, will the Sox look to trade Floyd? What type of package could they even get for him?
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
Start with a left-handed hitter. That is a must if they move a quality starting pitcher like Floyd. Floyd is a free agent to be, but he is a 200-inning pitcher. Those guys do not grow on trees. See Edwin Jackson's new contract for confirmation.
Besides the Garza and Soriano trade speculation, what do you think the top story for the Cubs heading into Spring Training?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
The growth of Samardzija and Garza's health.
The Sox lead the division for most of 2012 and didn't draw well. What do they have to do in 2013 to draw better?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
That's a tough question to answer because they were an exciting team to watch for 23 weeks last year before they hit the wall. I don't know if there is an answer to that other than good solid play and good weather.
Brian (35th St. )
Does anyone in the Sox farm system have a good chance to make the big show this year?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
Carlos Sanchez has a chance to be a starter by June. Keppinger's production as well as Beckham's will determine how early Sanchez makes his MLB debut. Tracye Thompson is also considered the team's second or third top prospect and may make his way to 35th and Shields in 2013.
Bruce, if the Cubs were to make another FA acquisition in the $5 - 8 million range, where do you see them going...reliever, infielder, or outfielder?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
Even though they have good young outfielders in their minor league system, they need outfield help. They could use a solid, right-handed hitter to augment Schierholtz and DeJesus, who are line drive, left-handed hitters.
Bruuuuuuce,It sounds like teams are looking for shortstops if they wanna make a trade. Is there any way the cubs with IMO a surplus of ss's make a trade to get a no.2 starter or a very legit cf/lf? I'll hangup and listen..
Bruce Levine (2:00 PM)
Baez is the only minor leaguer that would bring back quality players as of right now. He made a strong impression during his time in the Arizona Fall League. He is going to hit with power and he's going to strikeout, but the Cubs still consider him a shortstop, and so do other major league clubs.
I don't know if Rick Hahn has a pulse...can you give us a name (or two) for who the Sox have expressed interest?
Bruce Levine (2:02 PM)
I think they were interested in Swisher. Hahn always liked Swisher, but the money seemed to be a bit out of line. The White Sox always play it close to the vest. But you can bet that Gavin Floyd and/or Crain or Thornton would be moved in the right deals. The health of John Danks will determine the next big move by Hahn.
Bruce Levine (2:03 PM)
Cubs Convention this week. Be looking for tweets and stories by me @ESPNBruceLevine and Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs starting on Wednesday. Also, tune into Talkin' Baseball Saturday mornings at 10am til noon on ESPN Chicago. Thanks for all your questions!