Diving into the depths: Atlanta Braves

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Atlanta Braves
1. Tim Hudson
2. Jair Jurrjens
3. Derek Lowe
4. Tommy Hanson
5. Kenshin Kawakami
6. Jo-Jo Reyes
7. Kris Medlen
8. James Parr
9. Todd Redmond
10. Kyle Cofield
The Braves had one starter too many before the Javier Vazquez deal, but now they’re lacking in depth in case injuries strike. That will especially be the case if Reyes, who is out of options, fails to make the team this spring. Medlen would do well if needed, but he’ll be awfully valuable in the pen, too, and there’s not anyone trustworthy behind him.
1. Billy Wagner
2. Takashi Saito
3. Peter Moylan
4. Eric O’Flaherty
5. Kris Medlen
6. Jesse Chavez
7. Michael Dunn
8. Manny Acosta
9. Jo-Jo Reyes
10. Luis Valdez
11. Scott Proctor
12. Juan Abreu
13. Craig Kimbrel
14. Stephen Marek
15. Mariano Gomez
The top five are locks and then the next four figure to compete for two spots during spring training. Proctor underwent Tommy John surgery in May, so he’ll be behind at the start of the year. Ideally, Kimbrel would come up and make an impact in the second half.

1. Brian McCann
2. David Ross
3. Clint Sammons
First base
1. Troy Glaus
2. Eric Hinske
3. Martin Prado
4. Freddie Freeman
Second base
1. Martin Prado
2. Omar Infante
3. Brooks Conrad
4. Diory Hernandez
5. Joe Thurston
Third base
1. Chipper Jones
2. Omar Infante
3. Brooks Conrad
4. Joe Thurston
5. Eric Hinske
1. Yunel Escobar
2. Diory Hernandez
3. Brooks Conrad
4. Brandon Hicks
I like the Glaus signing for first base, and Hinske is a nice fallback in case he gets hurt. If Glaus does spend some time on the disabled list, what the Braves will likely do is use Hinske against righties and Prado against lefties, with Infante filling in at second base.
Left field
1. Matt Diaz
2. Melky Cabrera
3. Eric Hinske
4. Mitch Jones
5. Gregor Blanco
Center field
1. Nate McLouth
2. Melky Cabrera
3. Jordan Schafer
4. Gregor Blanco
Right field
1. Melky Cabrera
2. Jason Heyward
3. Eric Hinske
4. Mitch Jones
5. Brent Clevlen
The big decision here is whether or not to have Heyward open the season in right field. Ideally, the Braves would be able to send him to Triple-A for two months, just like they did Hanson last season. However, it would leave them without a lot of punch in the outfield. My guess is that they do it anyway, but it will probably come down to how Heyward performs in spring training.

Terry Francona sets Indians’ World Series rotation for first three games

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 18:  Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians throws a pitch in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during game four of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 18, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Indians manager Terry Francona has set his starting rotation for the first three games of the World Series against the Cubs. Corey Kluber will start Game One, followed by Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin for Games Two and Three, respectively.

Kluber, the ace of the staff, has had a terrific postseason. He’s made three starts with a 0.98 ERA and a 20/7 K/BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings. The Indians won two of his starts — Game Two of the ALDS and Game 1 of the ALCS.

Bauer was unable to make it out of the first inning of his ALCS Game 3 start against the Blue Jays after the stitches on his pinky opened up and caused blood to pour out. He suffered the injury repairing one of his drones, which he builds as a hobby. Bauer insists he’ll be good to go in Game Two, though he also insisted that the injury wouldn’t be an impediment against the Jays.

Tomlin has made two solid starts for the Indians, allowing a total of three runs over 10 2/3 innings. The Indians won both games he started, Game 3 of the ALDS and Game 2 of the ALCS. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes that if Bauer can’t go in Game Two, Tomlin will be moved up to start in his place.

Alex Rodriguez credits Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein with Cubs’ turnaround

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 13:  Tom Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, celebrates after the Chicago Cubs defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the National League Division Series to win the NLDS 3-1 at Wrigley Field on October 13, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Cubs defeat the St. Louis Cardinals with a score of 6 to 4.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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It isn’t difficult to see the fingerprints left by Cubs’ president Tom Ricketts and general manager Theo Epstein on the club’s remarkable 2016 season. In a piece for FOXSports.com, former Yankee Alex Rodriguez highlighted the duo’s effectiveness in liberating the Cubs from a five-year losing streak and six-year postseason drought, citing both the unrelenting work ethic and passion that Ricketts and Epstein brought to the club as major factors in their success.

Rodriguez’s first brush with sabermetric savant and all-around baseball wizard Theo Epstein came in 2003, when the then- 27-year-old All-Star was eyeing a deal with the Red Sox. The Major League Baseball Players Association eventually nixed the trade, and the Rangers’ young shortstop was sent to the Yankees shortly thereafter, but not before Rodriguez glimpsed the inner workings of Epstein’s mind.

What I remember best about that time was watching Theo furiously scribbling out the Red Sox lineup for the upcoming season on a room-service napkin. That’s when I saw Theo’s baseball mind at work. I saw he had a passion for the game, a depth of knowledge, and a thirst to be great. Theo’s passion was contagious. We were three 20-somethings convinced we were about to turn baseball upside down together. Though I never got a chance to work with Theo, I knew then that he was going to be a force.

A-Rod also referenced Ricketts’ thorough approach to rebuilding the organization. Ricketts, who purchased the franchise for $875 million in 2009, first made it his mission to transform Wrigley Field into a comfortable and enticing playing environment, then targeted top-tier management to run the show behind the scenes. With Ricketts fully backing Epstein’s transformative approaches — including an overhaul of the Cubs’ farm system, investments in international player development, and a comprehensive understanding and practical application of sabermetric advances — the Cubs’ path to a 97-win season in 2015 seemed a natural consequence of the pair’s hard work.

This year, the attention has been even more intensely focused on the Cubs’ elusive third World Series title. Rodriguez, however, believes that winning a championship is secondary to the strides Ricketts and Epstein have taken with the club.

Together, Ricketts and Epstein have built one of the greatest franchises in baseball and transformed 1060 W. Addison St. It’s a task that no one could quite get right for a hundred years. While four more wins would put a giant exclamation point on five years of focused work and determination, I won’t worry if this team doesn’t win the World Series in the next nine days.