Diving into the depths: Los Angeles Dodgers

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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. Clayton Kershaw
2. Chad Billingsley
3. Ted Lilly
4. Hiroki Kuroda
5. Jon Garland
6. Vicente Padilla
7. John Ely
8. Blake Hawksworth
9. Carlos Monasterios
10. Dana Eveland
11. Tim Redding
12. Chris Withrow

I realize I like the top five more than most, but this is the obvious strength of the Dodgers, and they even have plenty of depth here even though most of their prospects took step backwards last season. Padilla is probably the game’s best sixth starter, and Ely is another nice arm to have in reserve.

Bullpen
1. Jonathan Broxton
2. Hong-Chih Kuo
3. Matt Guerrier
4. Kenley Jansen
5. Ramon Troncoso
6. Vicente Padilla
7. Blake Hawksworth
8. Travis Schlichting
9. Ronald Belisario
10. Carlos Monasterios
11. Scott Elbert
12. Josh Lindblom
13. Jon Link
14. Tim Redding
15. Oscar Villarreal
16. Roman Colon
17. Jon Huber

The bullpen should also be very good, though it’d help plenty if Broxton returned to 2009 form. If that doesn’t happen, they’re going to need Kuo to stay healthy again and take over the closer’s role. … Belisario, who was so effective in posting a 2.04 ERA in 70 2/3 innings as a rookie in 2009, seems unlikely to make the team and could be part of a trade this spring.

Catcher
1. Rod Barajas
2. Dioner Navarro
3. A.J. Ellis
4. Hector Gimenez
5. J.D. Closser

First base
1. James Loney
2. Jay Gibbons
3. John Lindsey
4. Marcus Thames

Second base
1. Juan Uribe
2. Jamey Carroll
3. Ivan DeJesus
4. Justin Sellers

Third base
1. Casey Blake
2. Jamey Carroll
3. Juan Uribe
4. Russ Mitchell
5. Justin Sellers

Shortstop
1. Rafael Furcal
2. Juan Uribe
3. Jamey Carroll
4. Ivan DeJesus
5. Juan Castro

Given that it’s always easy to find a cheap second baseman, it looks like the Dodgers really blew it by spending big on Uribe over the winter. Only Furcal from this group projects as anything more than an average regular and he’s missed big chunks of two of the last three seasons. Uribe is supposed to offer help there, since he can slide to shortstop if Furcal gets hurt. However, he’s not much of a defender there these days.

Left field
1. Jay Gibbons
2. Marcus Thames
3. Tony Gwynn Jr.
4. Xavier Paul
5. Gabe Kapler
6. Jamie Hoffmann
7. Trent Oeltjen
8. Eugenio Velez

Center field
1. Matt Kemp
2. Tony Gwynn Jr.
3. Eugenio Velez
4. Trayvon Robinson

Right field
1. Andre Ethier
2. Xavier Paul
3. Gabe Kapler
4. Jamie Hoffmann
5. Trent Oeltjen
6. Tony Gwynn Jr.
7. Eugenio Velez

The Dodgers have given themselves plenty of options in left field, but none of them are very attractive at all. If Gibbons can post an 800 OPS against right-handers, then a platoon of him and Thames wouldn’t be too bad. However, putting those two in left would leave the Dodgers with one of the game’s worst defensive outfields. Ideally, Paul would step up and win the job. If not, the team might just be better off sticking Gwynn in center and putting defense first.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.