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 (1:04 PM)
Mark me down as one person who thinks A-Rod is getting too long of a suspension. Let's talk waiver deals. Welcome to the chat room.
Jeff (Louisville ky)
I don't see why some cubs fans can't or don't want to see the big picture here. I can't tell the negative ones to be patient but give theo a chance here. I like what we are doing.
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
I think Cubs fans would feel better if they knew the end game. Right now it's anywhere from 2015 to 2017. When we talked to Sveum the other day, he didn't seem sure when the team would get in the free agent market for quality players. This year seems to be a better indication of what he and Hoyer wanted to do compared to the debacle of 2012.
Lots is being said about the young cubs positional prospects lately, tell me something about the best young arms in the cubs system and where/when they project in the majors.
Bruce Levine (1:06 PM)
Pierce Johnson is one. He's coming quickly through the system. Can't tell you about a lot of other great ones, but there's some quality coming from the last two drafts.
Steve Heinze-Redmond, OR [via mobile]
Why does Cub Manager bench Darwin Barney who has been getting at least a hit a game after a season beginning injury & a slump the first month of the year? Obviosly he is their best infielder & plays with great baseball smarts.
Bruce Levine (1:08 PM)
I agree with the latter. He's their best defensive p player. He's also the glue that keeps their defense together. That said, he's a below-average hitter, OBP player and runner. He'd be valued much more on a better team.
Decker, Muskeon Michigan [via mobile]
I know Olt is only batting like 0.94 since becoming a cub. Do you think the cubs throw him into the mix now rather then sept 5th with rosters gets bigger?
Bruce Levine (1:10 PM)
As long as they feel he's healthy and progressing, I think he will. If you notice they promoted Watkins who's hitting .243 at Triple-A. Normally someone hitting that low doesn't get promoted unless there's an injury. I think Epstein and Hoyer want to see how their players do with some major league experience.
Brad (Albany, NY)
Bruce! How long until you think the White Sox are back to being a legitimate contender? Do you think next season is a possibility given their quality young starting pitching and payroll flexibility?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
I think it's incumbent upon Rick Hahn to get four or five new position players. He realistically needs two outfielders, a 3B, a catcher and possibly a first baseman. That's a lot. You can bet Rios and Ramirez will be the bait he uses to try to acquire new players.
In your opinion what is the one waiver trade the Sox should try to make?
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
They should try to make a deal with Texas for Rios. That seems to be a real fit for both. It also protects Texas against the loss of Cruz who's a free agent in November. Rios under contract for one more year and an option.
Do you see the Cubs adding another contract like the one they gave to Jackson? Granderson or Choo could fit that.
Bruce Levine (1:13 PM)
It will be interesting to see what type of FA they go after this offseason. The quality of the people they pursue will give you an indication of how close they feel they are to wanting to contend.
Why do you think ALex is getting too long of a suspension Bruce? MLB has proof that Alex has been cheating his whole career. Ever since 2003. I think he deserves life for his total disrespect for the game and its rules.
Bruce Levine (1:17 PM)
I don't disagree with the premise that he should be punished. But there are people like Ryan Braun who have been suspected of allegedly doing things that are against the Joint Drug Program since college. All I'm looking for is consistency in treating individuals the proper way, 211 games is unprecedented.
Do you think the Cubs bring back both David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz next season? Or will they be traded this month?
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I think either can be had right now. And either would fit into a temporary situation like the Cubs have been in the last 2 years for next season. I would keep Schierholz.
Bruce, you were talking about Henry buying the Boston Globe on Saturday's Talkin' Baseball and noted that their beat writers may be afraid to offer their true thoughts on the Red Sox moving forward. Isn't that true of all beat writers? If they badmouth players/teams won't they lose access to interviews? Aren't all beat writers lackeys in some way?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I think everybody should show proper constraint when you badmouth anybody. But there should be editorial license to expound on why you're being critical. I believe with a direct owner of a newspaper and direct owner of a team it's too much of a conflict. The Trib owning the Cubs was different. There wasn't one owner until Sam Zell took over.
THere was an indication that Hahn was really close to a deal before the trade deadline passed. Any speculation as to what he was working on?
Bruce Levine (1:23 PM)
I believe Ramirez to either the Pirates or Cardinals. Both teams had expressed late interest.
Will the Cubs bring in a FA hitter for next year? Even with the patched up pitching staff this year, the Cubs would have a few more wins with some offense. One hitter would make the team much more entertaining and possibly a winner.
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I think the Cubs need about five new hitters. Realistically with Rizzo and Castro having poor years as far as their average goes the Cubs are in desperate need of a hitter at the top of the order who can hit close to .300.
Do you see the Cubs moving Castro over to 2B to free up space for Baez to move into his natural position at SS?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I don't think 2b is that easy to learn. How do we know how well Castro would do on the double play with his back to the runner and first baseman? My guess is next move is 3b or outfield.
Jim (Northbrook, IL)
There've been a few reports that some in the organization might be thinking about giving Junior Lake a try at 3d base. Good idea or bad?
Bruce Levine (1:28 PM)
Sveum has talked about seeing him over there before the season is over. My gut tells me they should let him stay in outfield. He's shown some good instincts even though never played position before this year. Let him go to winter ball and play CF for 50 games.
Jake (North Side)
Is it crazy to think the White Sox could be in contention next year? They have the pitching but clearly need to overhaul their position players. Do you see any off season targets for them?
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
I think with couple more bullpen guys and 4-5 position players they could compete for the division. I think their starting pitching is good and they have at least 2-3 solid bullpen guys. Their offense is pathetic.
Mike (Ingleside )
What's the plan with Arrieta? He pitched well here and in his last few starts in Iowa (Including 11 K in 5 IP his last time out)
Bruce Levine (1:30 PM)
I think he'll be up here within the next week or two and in the rotation. Hopefully somebody claims Villanueva and that opens up a rotation spot.
Bruce man, You think the Rangers will like to buy Rios or Dunn from us? Texas has a generous schedule filled with bottom feeders and need a Cruz replacement. Dunn has also looked good lately.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
As I said earlier, I think Rios would fit nicely with the Rangers. That is not one of the six teams he has a no-trade to.
max s (hollywood fl)
With Ransom really stuggling at the dish and valbuena just hit the DL.. could that me Olt is coming up soon??
Bruce Levine (1:32 PM)
I think as soon as they feel he's 100 percent physically ok and looking like he could compete. It's a guy who suffered concussion syndrom and I'm told the Cubs want to be very careful.
Robert (Madison, WI)
It feels like the (positive) development of Quintana and Santiago has gone largely unnoticed given the failures of the team as a whole. Having such young talented starters take a step forward is huge! Have Sox fans gotten spoiled by their run of developing pitchers?
Bruce Levine (1:33 PM)
No, I just think they're not paying attention to a horrible team to watch. The pitching is underrated. Don Cooper has done his usual spectacular job of training young pitchers and giving them secondary pitches to make them better.
Jason H (Chicago IL)
Castro at 3B...the only issue might be that his bat, even when he's hitting well, doesn't play there as well as in the middle infield I mean he has played a handful of games in the minors at 2B. If the Cardinals can teach Matt Carpenter, shouldn't the Cubs be able to teach Castro?
Bruce Levine (1:34 PM)
I'm not so sure the Cubs have a better defensive SS in the system. Castro has made some strides working with David Bell. He's a much more balanced SS than he used to be. Castro is a superb baseball athlete. The question is whether his instincts are good enough to be a top-flight major league SS.
John (Indy) [via mobile]
Do you believe that Texas is desperate enough to actually make a run at Dunn or Rios? And would the Sox have to eat any of the contracts to make it happen?
Bruce Levine (1:36 PM)
They'd probably have to eat some. I don't think they'd be adverse to eating some as long as they get quality playres back. For a player like Rios or Ramirez you'd have to get really good players back. Otherwise no rush in trading now. Both under contract and can be traded anytime between now and 2014.
Jimm H (Portage, IN)
We all know the hype with A-Rod but do you think that since he has been caught cheating that MLB needs to put an (*) next to his stats as well like they did with Bonds?
Bruce Levine (1:37 PM)
To the best of my knowledge there's no asterisk for either Bonds record. So I don't think it applies if there's not one for Bonds. It's still a record.
Bruce, lets say White Sox are able to unload Ramirez, Rios, and Dunn this August or winter. With those salaries off the books and Konerko and Floyd, do you see them being players in FA market or are they likely to wait a few years, play the young guys and keep payroll down.
Bruce Levine (1:38 PM)
I think the White Sox want to compete every season. I think they would put some of their money toward new position players. The Sox are not going to do a total rebuild. That would take them 7-10 years at this point.
What does the Cubs outfield look like in the future to you? Lake is making it hard to not play him, and then obviously we have Soler and Almora too, but with Olt and Bryant competing for 3B, wouldnt you see one of them moving to OF too? Seems like its getting crowded out there. Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:39 PM)
I don't think you can have too many good players. If you have duplication in certain areas, you can use that for trading for things you don't have. If you have 3 quality SS, RFs, that's all good. Just like money in the bank.
Todd (Kouts IN.)
How many of these prospects need to get ready before they strike in free agency? There will be $ to spend. I thought Mr. Trout would look good in the ivy!
Bruce Levine (1:41 PM)
I think you're looking at 2015 at the earliest. Realistically they have 3 position players and 2-3 starting pitchers. You probably need 17-18 other players to be a contender.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Bruce don't understand why the Cubs traded for Mike Olt. He can't hit anymore and they have him at 1st base! What are the plans for him and Kris Bryant?
Bruce Levine (1:42 PM)
They look for guys who have exceptional tools in one area or more, both are power hitters. They prefer to project them as impact players. If Olt gets straightened out, he can play OF or 3B. Left field i NL is the DH in the AL.
I heard LA may not be able to pay Trout? Any truth to that?
Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
I doubt that. You have one of the top players in the game, and you find a way to pay him. What is true you have no flexiblity with the contracts of Hamilton and Pujols.
Paul, NJ [via mobile]
Bruce, did you think the return for Peavy was less than you expected?
Bruce Levine (1:44 PM)
No, I thought the Sox did exceptionally well. Garcia has a chance to be a very good, everday player. And there are good reports on the 2 of the 3 young players they got from Boston.
To Jimm H in Porter, IN...the only (*) ever put in the MLB record books was when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single season HR record because in Maris's time they played more games. Years later the (*) was taken out. No players currently have a (*) by their names in the record books.
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
Thanks for clarification. That is true. And the commish at the time was Ford Frick, who was a ghost writer for Babe Ruth and sportswriter before he became commissioner.
Henry A (De Land Fl)
Is time running out on Brett Jackson?
Bruce Levine (1:46 PM)
I would say there are big question marks about him in the organization.
Henry A (De Land Fl)
Do you see Sveum and Bosio really being apart of cubs future?
Bruce Levine (1:47 PM)
I think for the talent level they've been given, they've done a pretty good job. Overusing bullpen guys is the common complaint. But what can you do when some of your starters only go five innings. I think they're in it for at least a couple more years.
Jeremy (Iowa City)
Do the Cubs go after Cano in 2014?
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Doesn't fall into their area of the rest of the team being ready to compete while this player is in his prime.
Bruce Levine (1:48 PM)
Look for a player who's 27-28.
Should cub fans worry about Rizzo's struggles? It is rough to see us give two guys (rizzo, castro) long term deals just the see them flounder.
Bruce Levine (1:50 PM)
I think everybody sees they both still have tremendous ability. in some ways their struggles could be due to the rest of the lineup as well. I mean who are you afraid to pitch to in that lineup other than Rizzo and castro. With better support around them they will do better.
Ali (Homer Glen, IL)
The thinking is the Cubs don't want to move Jeimer Candelario away from 3B. If that is true then do you think Kris Bryant plays OF when promoted to Kane County, or does he skip KC and go to Daytona?
Bruce Levine (1:51 PM)
I can't answer at the moment but will look into it. Submit that question again next week.
John vacationing in Michigan [via mobile]
Bruce, If the Sox' real goal is to get top prospects in trades, why wouldn't they pay partial salaries. Not only could they receive better player returns, but it would allow smaller market teams to enter the bidding and drive up the price. In talking with brass, do you get the feeling they want to keep cash because they could make a competitive team next year with free agency?
Bruce Levine (1:52 PM)
It's their job to trade away as much of the money as possible. The ultimate goal is getting good talent and more importantly contracts under team control for a period of time. Those are keys to financial and baseball success.
In Sveum to blame for the fact we can't hit with runners in scoring position?
Bruce Levine (1:53 PM)
Sveum hasn't played in over 20 years so doubt you can blame him. Look at the quality of players and see if you can ask that again. What they have is guys who can hit some home runs. The Cubs have outhomered the Yankees 18-5 at 3b this year, but the OBP isn't good.
Ok, so say it's 2015. Is Sveum still Cubs skipper?
Bruce Levine (1:55 PM)
Cubs have an option on him for 2015. My guess is if they really liked what he's done last two years they'll pick up his option in the offseason. He needs that type of hammer going into a possible lame duck season. That would also give him more authority with the players. More credibility with the fan base.
Have the Cubs improved their debt/asset ratio? Not long ago, it had been well above the MLB-approved threshold and now they will be adding to it with renovations. Will this raise eyebrows with MLB, or do the improvements increase the asset value of Wrigley enough to offset?
Bruce Levine (1:56 PM)
I believe they won't be able to spend a great deal of money for another two years. That said they'll still be able to spend money up to a level close to this season. Remember they still have to pay Soriano's contract. They should have some flexbility but don't look for them to jump into 120M area until 2015.
How much is Ventura to blame for this season?
Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
I believe Ventura needs to take as much blame for this year as credit he took for 85 wins last year. He said yesterday the media should blame him exclusively, but of course there was some tonge in cheek. He's a stand-up guy and believes criticism should come his way. It will be intersting to see how it shakes out this offseason.
mike alioto (Oak forest)
Do you think the White sox a brighter future ot the Cubs?
Bruce Levine (1:58 PM)
Right now I'd be hard pressed to answer. Been such a rough year for both sides but the Cubs have made some strides. And hte Sox are holding firm that they enough pitching. I think the future will be ok for both.
Bruce Levine (1:59 PM)
Follow me on espnbrucelevein on twitter. Waiver deals very likely for both unless they get blocked.