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.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.