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 chat room
Justin K. (Chicago, IL)
Why would the Cubs continue running James Russel out there so much? I know someone has to pitch these innings, but it seems like it is not worth it to overuse him this way. Thanks for your time.
Bruce Levine (1:04 PM)
Imagine that you are the manager of the Cubs and you are in a one-run game just like the Cubs have been 75 times this year. You have the other teams' best left-handed hitters coming up in the seventh or eighth and your starter is already out of the game and you have one lefty in the pen. That is what Sveum has been faced with for almost five months. I do agree that he is overused but Sveum's job is to try to win games. At some point Russell should probably just be shut down.
I would imagine the Sox would look to add a lefty bat over the winter. Do you think they'd consider bringing back Pierzynski on a one year deal, or are they committed to letting Phegley and Flowers fight for the job?
Bruce Levine (1:05 PM)
It's not a bad idea but a better idea might be signing Brian McCann. He is a proven power hitter and a good receiver. If you can't sign him I would consider bringing AJ back for another year while you are developing another catcher.
Tom (Downers Grove)
Where do you see Baez playing when he eventually moves up to the big club? SS? 3rd? 2nd? Outfield?
Bruce Levine (1:07 PM)
I think that's an important question to answer relatively soon. The Cubs need to figure out whether Baez is their next SS and if he is what to do with Castro. Some in the organization feel that Baez is already ready to be in the major leagues. That said, he either changes positions now or do you move Castro to another position or trade him in the offseason.
Chad (Whiting, IN)
Bruce, in your opinion how much will the Cubs be affected next year by going so far over their international allotment this year considering the penalites they had to pay? Do they not believe that next years' group not be as talented as this year's group?
Bruce Levine (1:09 PM)
They will not concern themselves with paying more penalties if they have to. If they feel that there is good young international talent they will pay the price of an extra tariff. Their major concern is losing other players which is also a part of penalties for going over your budget. The Cubs will continue to use the international market as a main way to build for the future.
Brandon (Jupiter, FL) [via mobile]
Hey Bruce. With the rumors of the Cubs going after Choo or Ellsbury this offseason, it seems that there are going to be a lot of players contending for OF spots in the next year or two (Soler, Lake, Choo/Ellsbury, Almora, Bryant/Olt). Do you think some of these prospects get traded for quality pitching?
Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)
First, I'm not sure they will get either Choo or Ellsbury. Both will demand top dollar and to go to a team with a losing record the only way they would b interested is if those teams overpay. And we're getting ahead of ourselves as far as the Cubs OF of the future. Although they are a talented group, they still have a lot to prove before they make the next step to the major leagues. I see Baez and Bryant making it before any of the others.
Austin (Springfield) [via mobile]
Once one of the younger guys takes over at 2nd, do you think Barney could stick around as a backup infielder? Thanks
Bruce Levine (1:12 PM)
Barney wouldn't help anyone as a backup. He's a guy that needs to play every day. I think he will hit more than .220 next year. I would not be shocked if someone makes a trade for him. The Cubs can't afford the luxury of his great defense.
Dakota (St Louis)
is wellington the cubs catcher of the future, even if we can pick up a better one through FA
Bruce Levine (1:14 PM)
They've spent a lot of time grooming him. Mike Bozello is the catching instructor and he is one of the best catching coaches in the game. He helped Posada become an All-Star catcher and when he came up he was a butcher behind the plate. The Cubs are counting on Castillo to learn to handle a game better and better.
Raj (Durham, NC)
Hey Bruce! Great work this season! As a Duke student, I haven't had much time to watch the cubs recently. What are your impressions of Starlin's approach recently? Has it improved, or are we gonna have to wait til next year to see any sort of growth? Also, do you have a Mike Olt update?
Bruce Levine (1:16 PM)
Castro seems to be more aggressive and more confident in his approach right now. I believe you are right though that you won't see any real results until 2014. At that point he could be playing for someone else. I still think Castro is a .290 hitter who will hit for more power. But the Cubs are going to have an even greater weapon in Baez if he remains at SS. I would not move Castro to another position. If he's not your SS you need to trade him.
Dan (Lemont, IL)
Do you think that Ryne Sandberg has a shot at the permanent job in Philly?
Bruce Levine (1:18 PM)
I pretty much think it's a done deal that he will get a two- or three-year deal at the end of the season. Sandberg has done a good job so far but the real challenge will be to handle aging vets like Rollins, Utley and Howard as they deal with diminished skills and a team that is probably not going to win for awhile.
Given the Cub record, why push a young guy like Wood for so many innings (also why push Hendricks for 160+ innings in the minors) - thanks
Bruce Levine (1:20 PM)
I think that is an interesting question and one I will write about today. There is a tendency to baby some of these starters in the minors. If they hold him to 140 innings how are they expected to get their arms to pitch another 60 when they get to the majors? I think this is a real dilemma in baseball right now. It's important for Wood and Samardzija to throw 200 innings because that's an expected plateau for an accomplished pitcher. The problem for these guys is they've spent six or seven years throwing a lot less innings and it become a struggle the last month of the season. A very good question
Bruce, I know your thoughts on the idea of Sox trading Sale, but what about Quintana? What kind of return would Sox get if they put him on the market?
Bruce Levine (1:22 PM)
I just don't see any upside in trading a young lefty who is not making a lot of money. Quintana has more no-decisions than any pitcher in baseball. That's a product with a bad offense with the Sox and Quintana building himself up to being a 7- or 8-inning pitcher. In my world you don't trade left-handed pitchers or hitters. Not the ones with upside.
Bob (Austin, TX)
For the past few years the White Sox have walked the fence between contending now at all costs and major rebuild, with Kenny leaning more to the contend now side and Hahn leaning a bit more to the rebuild through the minors side. If that is true, is it likely that Rick will be busier this winter trading veterans with value for prospects? Or will he still be pursuing big money free agents?
Bruce Levine (1:24 PM)
First I don't buy your original premise. I think the Sox have always obtained other young players from other organizations with the idea of contending every year. I just don't see that changing. Hahn believes that he has a quality young pitching staff. If that is true what they need is a starting centerfielder, third baseman and catcher. That's a tall order but that's what it will take for this team to be a contender again.
With Rizzo looking like a bust, any chance the Cubs get involved with Jose Abreu the Cuban 1B superstar?
Bruce Levine (1:26 PM)
I talked to a Cubc official about that and he believes the bidding will begin and end most likely with the Dodgers. They already have an All-Star first baseman in Gonzalez but with all the TV money they have they will continue to sign and trade for the best talent. Don't be shocked if Abreu gets $60 million-&70 million.
Tom Chicago [via mobile]
Bruce do you see Theo and Co. staying here beyond the original five year deal?
Bruce Levine (1:27 PM)
I think it's not only important it's essential that they stay. There's not such thing as a five-year rebuild for an entire organization. You look at what's going on in KC and Pittsburgh. Just to have the players in place it takes 6-8 years. I think Epstein will get a new contract in the third or fourth year. Ricketts might as well make it a 10-year deal if he wants Epstein and Hoyer to see this through.
Bill W (Rockville, VA)
Do you think the Sox will bring back back DeAsa in left and Viciedo at 1st/DH or try to peddle them to anyone. Viciedo would make Dunn look like a pretty good fielder.
Bruce Levine (1:29 PM)
Don't forget that Vicideo was a 3B coming up. And he has soft hands and his feet are quick enough for 1B. Secondly, you need to improve defense in CF and LF. The Sox are split on De Aza's value. Some believe that his offense has been essential and should be kept. Others believe his lack of confidence playing CF means he should be dealt elsewhere. He has had some brutal times in the OF and on the bases this year.
Following up on Matt's question, do you see Rizzo as a bust ?
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
I don't see him as a bust. I see him as a work in progress. He definitely has the skillset to be an impact player in the league. Continuing to adjust to the inside pitch and having his hands set in the proper hitting position will determine whether he is an All-Star or just the next Russell Branyan.
Bruce Levine (1:31 PM)
Follow me on my new Twitter handle on MLBBruceLevine. Have a great week