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.

Rotation
1. Ryan Dempster
2. Matt Garza
3. Carlos Zambrano
4. Randy Wells
5. Carlos Silva
6. Andrew Cashner
7. Todd Wellemeyer
8. Braden Looper
9. Casey Coleman
10. Thomas Diamond
11. Jeff Samardzija
12. Jay Jackson
13. Chris Carpenter
14. Trey McNutt

The rotation should be a strength if Silva can perform like he did last year and stay healthy. There is some pretty reasonable depth around, too. Since Cashner didn’t pan out as a setup man last year, I’m guessing the Cubs will have him return to Triple-A to work as a starter. If things go well, he could be a big factor in the second half of the season.

Bullpen
1. Carlos Marmol
2. Kerry Wood
3. Sean Marshall
4. John Grabow
5. Marcos Mateo
6. Esmailin Caridad
7. James Russell
8. Andrew Cashner
9. Jeff Samardzija
10. Braden Looper
11. Angel Guzman
12. Todd Wellemeyer
13. Scott Maine
14. Thomas Diamond
15. Justin Berg
16. Jeff Stevens
17. Polin Trinidad
18. Jeff Beliveau
19. Rafael Dolis
20. John Gaub
21. Scott Rice

The Cubs decided against spending to upgrade their pen, and they only ended up with Wood because he passed up bigger offers to return to Chicago. I like Mateo’s chances of being useful, but beyond the top four, there shouldn’t be any locks for the pen. … Being out of options probably won’t help Samardzija, since his big contract would seem to guarantee that he’ll clear waivers unless he pitches well enough to earn a spot on merit.

Catcher
1. Geovany Soto
2. Koyie Hill
3. Max Ramirez
4. Welington Castillo
5. Chris Robinson

First base
1. Carlos Pena
2. Tyler Colvin
3. Bryan LaHair
4. Scott Moore

Second base
1. Blake DeWitt
2. Jeff Baker
3. Scott Moore
4. Augie Ojeda
5. Darwin Barney

Third base
1. Aramis Ramirez
2. Jeff Baker
3. Bobby Scales
4. Scott Moore
5. Augie Ojeda
6. Darwin Barney

Shortstop
1. Starlin Castro
2. Darwin Barney
3. Augie Ojeda
4. Matt Camp

Baker hit .350/.395/.550 in 140 at-bats against lefties last season, so the Cubs should go with a strict platoon at second base. … Barring an acquisition, the newly signed Ojeda will likely battle Barney for the last spot on the Cubs bench. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Cubs to grab Cristian Guzman or Julio Lugo as another middle-infield option.

Left field
1. Alfonso Soriano
2. Tyler Colvin
3. Fernando Perez
4. Reed Johnson
5. Lou Montanez

Center field
1. Marlon Byrd
2. Tyler Colvin
3. Reed Johnson
4. Fernando Perez

Right field
1. Kosuke Fukudome
2. Tyler Colvin
3. Reed Johnson
4. Brad Snyder
5. Fernando Perez

The Cubs failed to move Fukudome in an effort to free up money and playing time for Colvin, so he’ll probably start in right field against right-handers, at least early on. Colvin, who figures to get more work at first base this spring, will be the top backup at four spots. He’ll probably end up with more at-bats than Fukudome if he keeps hitting like he did last season.

Ronald Acuña batting sixth, playing left field in his Braves debut

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The Braves have made it official, announcing that they have called up top prospect Ronald Acuña. He’ll bat sixth in tonight’s game against the Reds and will start in left field.

Acuña will be wearing number 13, no doubt to honor past Braves luminaries like Adonis Garcia, Nate McLouth, Ozzie Guillen, Juan Eichelberger and Jerry Royster, all of whom have worn the fabled 1 and 3. Feel like he stands a pretty good chance of besting their exploits.

The 20-year-old Acuña was 11-for-his-last-33 with a homer, a double, four walks, and three stolen bases at Triple-A Gwinnett following a slow start. He tore it up in spring training, however, and hit .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs, 82 RBI, 44 stolen bases, and 88 runs scored in 139 games last season across three levels of the Braves’ minor league system.

The future was delayed a bit, but it’s here now for the Atlanta Braves’ phenom.