Diving into the depths: Chicago Cubs

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Chicago Cubs
Rotation
1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Ted Lilly
4. Randy Wells
5. Tom Gorzelanny
6. Carlos Silva
7. Sean Marshall
8. Jeff Samardzija
9. Mike Parisi
10. Andrew Cashner
11. Mitch Atkins
12. Jay Jackson
13. Chris Carpenter
Lilly hasn’t been ruled out for Opening Day just yet, but all signs point to him missing the first month after shoulder surgery. That could leave room for both Gorzy or Silva in the rotation, but it’s also possible that the Cubs will go out and sign Ben Sheets or another starter.
With a healthy Lilly, I think they’d still have adequate depth, but that’s largely because I’m fonder of Gorzy and Marshall than most.
Bullpen
1. Carlos Marmol
2. Angel Guzman
3. John Grabow
4. Sean Marshall
5. Jeff Gray
6. Carlos Silva
7. Esmailin Caridad
8. Jeff Samardzija
9. David Patton
10. Justin Berg
11. Mike Parisi
12. Jeff Stevens
13. Scott Maine
14. John Gaub
15. Jeff Kennard
Kiko Calero would look pretty good in between Grabow and Marshall. The Cubs have plenty of options, but no one beyond the front four qualifies as trustworthy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Caridad, Stevens and Maine emerge as decent choices this year, but I wouldn’t want to have to count on any of them on Opening Day.


Catcher
1. Geovany Soto
2. Koyie Hill
3. Chris Robinson
First base
1. Derrek Lee
2. Micah Hoffpauir
3. Jeff Baker
4. Bryan LaHair
Second base
1. Jeff Baker
2. Mike Fontenot
3. Andres Blanco
Third base
1. Aramis Ramirez
2. Jeff Baker
3. Bobby Scales
4. Mike Fontenot
Shortstop
1. Ryan Theriot
2. Andres Blanco
3. Starlin Castro
The price tags only figure to keep falling, so the Cubs may yet wind up with Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez at second base. Landing either would provide a big boost. Baker can hit, but he’d be a liability defensively in the process. Ideally, he’d return to a reserve role.
Left field
1. Alfonso Soriano
2. Sam Fuld
3. Micah Hoffpauir
4. Bobby Scales
5. Brad Snyder
Center field
1. Marlon Byrd
2. Sam Fuld
3. Kosuke Fukudome
4. James Adduci
Right field
1. Kosuke Fukudome
2. Sam Fuld
3. Micah Hoffpauir
4. Tyler Colvin
5. Bobby Scales
If the Cubs sign a second baseman, then Baker will become another option in the outfield and a nice complement to Fuld as a backup in the corners. If not, then the Cubs need to go get themselves a fourth outfielder with some pop, particularly since manager Lou Piniella doesn’t trust Hoffpauir anywhere other than first base.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.