Running down the rosters: New York Mets

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As depressing as all things Mets have been lately, the team on the field still finished a respectable 77-85 last season. Unfortunately, it seems likely that things will get worse before they get better.

Rotation
Johan Santana – L
R.A. Dickey – R
Mike Pelfrey – R
Jon Niese – L
Dillon Gee – R

Bullpen
Frank Francisco – R
Jon Rauch – R
Bobby Parnell – R
Ramon Ramirez – R
Manny Acosta – R
Tim Byrdak – L
D.J. Carrasco – R

SP next in line: Jeremy Hefner (R), Chris Schwinden (R), Miguel Batista (R), Matt Harvey (R)
RP next in line: Daniel Herrera (L), Batista, Pedro Beato (R), Chuck James (L)

Instead of going all out — or even making a legitimate bid — to re-sign free agent Jose Reyes over the winter, the Mets dedicated their limited resources to upgrading the pen. Of course, the pitchers they saw as upgrades were the same two the Blue Jays were trying to upgrade from. Francisco should be effective, but he’ll be good for a DL stint or two. How much Rauch has left is unclear. The cheaper pitchers should be pretty good, though. Parnell may have struggled in his first go at closing, but it’d be no surprise if he outperforms both Francisco and Rauch this year.

The rotation looks a lot better with Santana at the top, but there’s no telling what the Mets will get from him this year. Depth is a problem right now, but with Harvey, Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Zack Wheeler on the way, the rotation picture will be awfully interesting a year from now.

Lineup
CF Andres Torres – S
2B Daniel Murphy – L
3B David Wright – R
1B Ike Davis – L
LF Jason Bay – R
RF Lucas Duda – L
C Josh Thole – L
SS Ruben Tejada – R

Bench
C Mike Nickeas – R
INF Ronny Cedeno – R
2B-3B Justin Turner – R
OF Scott Hairston – R
OF Mike Baxter – L

Next in line: C Rob Johnson (R), 1B Val Pascucci (R), 1B Josh Satin (R), 2B Reese Havens (L), 2B Jordany Valdespin (L),  3B Zach Lutz (R),  INF Omar Quintanilla (L), OF Adam Loewen (L), OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (L)

I’m not quite sure why the Mets are picking the guy with the .312 OBP last year as their leadoff hitter and ruling out the guy who finished at .360 in Tejada. But that’s what they’re doing.

If the lineup gets a bounce-back season from Bay, who did manage to finish strong in 2011, then the offense shouldn’t be bad. I don’t expect a whole lot from Torres and I’m not as high on Duda as some, but the middle of the lineup is fine and the guys at the bottom should be a little better than most National League No. 7 and No. 8 hitters.

Defense, on the other hand, is going to be an issue. Fortunately, Torres is one of the game’s most underrated glovemen, and he should be able to pick up a bit of the slack from the weak corners. Murphy at second base could range anywhere from below average to major liability, and Turner, the fallback there, isn’t a whole lot better.

The NL East appears much improved this year after the additions made by Miami and Washington, so I don’t expect the Mets to approach .500 again. They’re not nearly as bad as some like to think, but they’re a ways away from being good.

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.