Diving into the depths: Toronto Blue Jays

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Toronto Blue Jays
1. Shaun Marcum
2. Ricky Romero
3. Brandon Morrow
4. Mark Rzepczynski
5. Brett Cecil
6. Scott Richmond
7. Brian Tallet
8. David Purcey
9. Dustin McGowan
10. Robert Ray
11. Brad Mills
12. Kyle Drabek
13. Zach Jackson
14. Zach Stewart
15. Lance Broadway
16. Reidier Gonzalez
Of course, they’re not all serious threats for the rotation, but the Jays always manage to go through some pitchers. They’ll enter spring with three spots pretty much set, and Rzepczynski should be the clear favorite for the fourth.
McGowan is supposed to be ready to pitch this spring after missing most of the last two years, but odds are that he’ll begin the year rehabbing in the minors. Drabek should be a factor come June or July, and Jesse Litsch, who is on the way back from Tommy John surgery, could join the rotation after the All-Star break.
1. Jason Frasor
2. Scott Downs
3. Casey Janssen
4. Brian Tallet
5. Jeremy Accardo
6. Jesse Carlson
7. Shawn Camp
8. Josh Roenicke
9. Dick Hayhurst
10. Zech Zinicola
11. Zach Jackson
12. Luis Perez
13. Sean Henn
14. Willie Collazo
Everyone in the top nine here is a holdover from last year. The Jays have relief depth to part with in trade if they want to go that route. As is, they wouldn’t seem to have room for Roenicke or Hayhurst unless Tallet finds himself back in the rotation. Frasor and Downs, though, are both free agents after the season, and Accardo, who wanted to be non-tendered last month, would still like to move on to a team that would grant him a bigger role.

1. John Buck
2. Raul Chavez
3. J.P. Arencibia
4. Kyle Phillips
5. Brian Jeroloman
First base
1. Lyle Overbay
2. Adam Lind
3. Brett Wallace
4. Brian Dopirak
Second base
1. Aaron Hill
2. John McDonald
3. Jarrett Hoffpauir
4. Mike McCoy
Third base
1. Edwin Encarnacion
2. Jose Bautista
3. John McDonald
4. Mike McCoy
5. Brett Wallace
1. Alex Gonzalez
2. John McDonald
3. Brian Bocock
The Jays have filled two of the three holes in their lineup, but Buck and Gonzalez aren’t more than stopgaps. Worse, they’re not just filling in for a year while younger talents develop. Arencibia has been a bust since being drafted 21st overall in 2007, and the Jays’ best catching prospect now is likely Travis D’Arnaud, a 20-year-old picked up in the Roy Halladay deal. At shortstop, Toronto has to hold out hope that Justin Jackson will learn to hit. Neither D’Arnaud nor Jackson figures to be a factor until 2012.
Left field
1. Travis Snider
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Jose Bautista
4. Joey Gathright
5. Chris Lubanski
Center field
1. Vernon Wells
2. Joey Gathright
3. Jose Bautista
4. Jorge Padilla
Right field
1. Jose Bautista
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Joey Gathright
4. Jorge Padilla
Designated hitter
1. Adam Lind
2. Randy Ruiz
3. Brett Wallace
4. Brian Dopirak
The thinking earlier this winter was that Overbay would be traded and Lind would be tried at first base. That doesn’t seem likely to materialize now, and the Jays might just keep Lind in the DH role in preparation for eventually turning first base over to Wallace.
Right field is the biggest remaining question mark. I wouldn’t mind seeing Encarnacion out there, with Bautista or a free agent at third. However, there’s been nothing to suggest it might happen. The Jays will probably sign a cheap veteran (Rick Ankiel?) and push Bautista back into a bench role.
Since the Jays haven’t addressed their outfield at all, it does look like Snider is safe. The Jays wanted to force him to win the job in spring training, but it looks like the competition will be less than stellar.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.