Jason Bay, David Wright

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.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.