Restoring the rosters: No. 20 – New York (NL)

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
The second third of the rankings kicks off with the Mets, a team with two superstars and a cast of mediocrity. At least they do still have the superstars on their current squad. Most of the other quality players signed by the team were shipped off long before without ever having a chance to make a mark.
Rotation
A.J. Burnett
Scott Kazmir
Brian Bannister
Mike Pelfrey
Jon Niese
Bullpen
Heath Bell
Octavio Dotel
Matt Lindstrom
Bobby Parnell
Aaron Heilman
Guillermo Mota
Joe Smith
Of the 12 pitchers above, Pelfrey has the most wins as a Met, with 26. Heilman is next with 22. No one else is in double figures. Mota, who was originally signed as a position player in 1990, won five games for the team between 2006 and ’07.
The top three starters were traded for Al Leiter, Victor Zambrano and Ambiorix Burgos.
It is a pretty solid pitching staff, though. Obviously, it’d be better if Kazmir still had the same stuff he did a couple of years ago, but Bannister is more than holding his own in the AL and Niese appeared to be on the verge of becoming a possible No. 3 starter before getting hurt earlier this month. The bullpen has some big-time arms, but it is missing a lefty. The best options there are Billy Traber and Lenny DiNardo. Fortunately, Heilman and Mota have usually been pretty good at retiring southpaws.
Lineup
SS Jose Reyes
3B David Wright
RF Nelson Cruz
1B Mike Jacobs
C Jesus Flores
2B Kaz Matsui
CF Carlos Gomez
LF Daniel Murphy
Bench
INF Ty Wigginton
OF Angel Pagan
OF Jay Payton
OF Lastings Milledge
C Raul Casanova
If you want, you can stick one of those lesser hitters in between Reyes and Wright in the order. I wouldn’t. Also, if the team absolutely has to include a true utilityman, it’s going to have to be Double-A shortstop Ruben Tejada. Reyes isn’t going to get any days off either way.
The lineup is definitely OBP challenged apart from Reyes and Wright, but there’s still some nice power in the middle and speed at the end. Wigginton and Payton should start over Jacobs and Murphy against left-handers. If Milledge ever comes around, then Jacobs and Murphy can battle for playing time at first base.
Summary
The Mets’ lack of patience with prospects has been a problem, but as one can plainly see, the team hasn’t produced a whole lot of talent through the years. Part of the problem is that the team has given away first-round picks recently, but even after accounting for that, GM Omar Minaya’s drafts have been disappointing. A recent influx of Latin American talent should help — players like Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores, Jenrry Mejia and Tejada could all play key roles in a couple of years — but it remains to be seen whether Minaya will be around to see it happen.

Chapman has trouble remembering convo with Cubs management about off-field behavior

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CHICAGO — Star closer Aroldis Chapman joined the Cubs on Tuesday, arriving to a mixed reaction in Chicago and saying he couldn’t remember what management told him about off-field expectations and behavior.

After Chapman’s awkward introductory news conference, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein insisted Chapman understands what the Cubs expect of him after an offseason domestic violence incident.

When the Cubs announced the trade with the New York Yankees on Monday, the team released a statement from Chairman Tom Ricketts saying they were aware of his 29-game suspension to begin the season under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy.

Ricketts said he and Epstein talked by phone with Chapman before the deal was completed and “shared with him the high expectations we set for our players,” adding that Chapman was “comfortable” with them.

But when asked repeatedly about that phone conversation before Tuesday’s game against the crosstown White Sox, Chapman said through an interpreter that he couldn’t recall details because he was taking a nap at the time the call came in.

The question was asked several more times. A Cubs spokesman once asked the question himself to the interpreter, coach Henry Blanco.

“It’s been a long day,” Chapman said. “Trying to remember.”

Asked again several minutes later during the group interview if he could now remember what Ricketts said, Chapman shook his head.

“I still don’t remember,” he said in Spanish.

Epstein called it a misunderstanding and that Chapman was “pretty nervous” as he faced seven cameras and more than two dozen reporters.

“I was on the call, Tom was on the call, Aroldis was on the call and Barry Praver, his agent, was on the call. It happened and it was real,” Epstein said before the Cubs’ 3-0 loss to the White Sox.

Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots in the garage of a Florida home in October. The woman later changed her story and no charges were filed.

“You learn from the mistakes that you make,” Chapman said.

The case caused the Los Angeles Dodgers to back out of an offseason trade for Chapman. Cincinnati eventually traded him to the Yankees, and after his suspension, the 28-year-old Cuban converted 20 of 21 save chances for New York.

The Cubs have long boasted of stocking their roster with high-character players, helping earn the “lovable losers” label they’ve carried for decades since their last World Series title in 1908.

But the Cubs (59-40) have retooled their roster under Epstein and have the best record in the major leagues despite Tuesday’s loss in which Chapman didn’t pitch. Chapman, who threw a 105 mph fastball last week, fills perhaps the team’s largest hole as he replaces Hector Rondon as closer.

The Cubs sent four players to the Yankees, including shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, to get one of the game’s top relievers. Epstein said they wouldn’t have made the deal if not for the phone call he and Ricketts had with Chapman.

“Tom laid out the exact same standards that he lays out to everyone in spring training,” Epstein said. “He said, extremely clearly, `Look, Aroldis, I tell all the players this in spring training and it’s important you hear it and I need to hear from you on this. We expect our players to behave. We hold our players to a very high standard for their behavior off the field. And we need to know you can meet that standard.’

“Aroldis said `I understand. Absolutely, I can.'”

The Cubs activated Chapman before Tuesday’s game and designated left-hander Clayton Richard for assignment.

Reaction to Chapman’s acquisition in Chicago has been tepid. While there were supportive fans on talk radio, the Chicago Tribune carried a front-page column Tuesday criticizing the move. The back of the Chicago Sun-Times tabloid read “Spin City” over a picture of Epstein.

Chapman said he expected a “good reaction” from Cubs fans. He was also asked during the 20-minute meeting with reporters in the visiting dugout at U.S. Cellular Field if we would consider working with organizations looking to prevent domestic violence. Chapman said no.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon defended Chapman.

“He did do a suspension, he has talked about it, he’s shown remorse,” Maddon said. “Everybody else has the right to judge him as a good or bad person. That’s your right.

I want to get to know Aroldis. I think he could be a very significant member and he’s got the potential, yes, to throw the last out of the World Series. And if he does, I promise you I will embrace him.”

Report: Padres working on trading Andrew Cashner

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 21: Starter Derek Norris #3 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network reports that the Padres are working to trade starter Andrew Cashner. He notes that a deal may be consummated before he takes the hill for Tuesday’s start in Toronto against the Blue Jays. The Marlins, Orioles, and Rangers have had reported interest in Cashner.

Cashner is 4-7 with a 4.79 ERA and a 61/27 K/BB ratio in 73 1/3 innings. He missed over three weeks between June 11 and July 2 due to a strained neck.

The right-hander is earning $9.625 million this season and will be eligible for free agency after the season.