Diving into the depths: Milwaukee Brewers

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Zack Greinke
2. Yovani Gallardo
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson
6. Manny Parra
7. Mark Rogers
8. Amaury Rivas
9. Josh Butler
10. Sam Narron
11. Cody Scarpetta

Depth is a major issue, but the Brewers have a very strong top three and a solid fourth starter. I’m skeptical that Narveson will last: he has the strikeout rate, but he struggles pitching from the stretch. Ideally, Rogers would stay healthy in Triple-A and secure the fifth spot in the rotation sometime around the All-Star break.

Bullpen
1. John Axford
2. Takashi Saito
3. Zach Braddock
4. Kameron Loe
5. LaTroy Hawkins
6. Manny Parra
7. Sean Green
8. Mike McClendon
9. Brandon Kintzler
10. Justin James
11. Mark DiFelice
12. Mitch Stetter
13. Roque Mercedes
14. Tim Dillard
15. Dan Merkinger
16. Zack Segovia
17. Pat Egan
18. Robert Hinton

The Brewers will be just fine in the pen. Parra was very good in his relief stints last season, and I like Kintzler as a sleeper to step into a setup role as the year goes on. I doubt Axford will be quite so good again in the closer’s role, but he should be able to hold on to his job.

Catcher
1. Jonathan Lucroy
2. Wil Nieves
3. George Kottaras
4. Mike Rivera
5. Shawn Riggans

First base
1. Prince Fielder
2. Casey McGehee
3. Mat Gamel

Second base
1. Rickie Weeks
2. Craig Counsell
3. Edwin Maysonet
4. Eric Farris
5. Erick Almonte

Third base
1. Casey McGehee
2. Mat Gamel
3. Craig Counsell
4. Erick Almonte
5. Taylor Green

Shortstop
1. Yuniesky Betancourt
2. Craig Counsell
3. Luis Cruz
4. Edwin Maysonet

Even though Weeks has improved to the point at which he’s just about average at second base, the Brewers are going to sport one of the game’s weakest infield defenses after swapping out Alcides Escobar and bringing in Betancourt. At least the group should be good for 90 homers or so.

Left field
1. Ryan Braun
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Brandon Boggs
4. Jeremy Reed
5. Brendan Katin

Center field
1. Carlos Gomez
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Jeremy Reed
4. Logan Schafer
5. Caleb Gindl

Right field
1. Corey Hart
2. Chris Dickerson
3. Brandon Boggs
4. Brendan Katin
5. Caleb Gindl

The Brewers need Gomez’s glove in center, so he figures to be given every opportunity to win the everyday job. I like Dickerson, but he’s inconsistent and injury-prone and he’s probably best utilized getting three starts a week as a fourth outfielder.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.