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.

Joe Panik says he’s “100 percent” recovered from back injury

San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik follows through on a single off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg in the eighth inning of Game 1 of a baseball doubleheader Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Denver. The Giants won 10-8. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Giants second baseman Joe Panik missed nearly all of August and September last season due to a nagging back injury, but he told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com on Friday that he’s feeling “100 percent.”

Panik, who earned his first All-Star selection last season, originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to what was described as lower back inflammation. He made his return in September, but appeared in just three games before being shut down. The good news is that he was cleared by doctors in mid-December and considers himself “back to normal.”

“It was right around the time of all the signings,” he said, smiling. “I was able to fly under the radar. I got tested and everything had healed up. I got cleared and was able to have my full offseason workouts. I’m good to go. I’m happy to be feeling good and going back out on the field to show that I’m healthy. My swing feels strong.”

Panik altered his offseason workout routine and plans to spend less time in his spikes in the early part of spring training. The hope is that these changes will prevent future issues.

After a strong showing as a rookie in 2014, the 25-year-old Panik proved to be one of the best second baseman in the majors last season by batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over 100 games while playing solid defense.

Baseball America names Corey Seager as baseball’s top prospect

Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager follows through a single that scored Austin Barnes, in front of Colorado Rockies' Wilin Rosario during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Baseball America unveiled their top 100 prospect list Friday night during a special on MLB Network. It should come as no surprise that Dodgers infielder Corey Seager came in at No. 1.

This makes Seager the consensus top prospect in the game. He was also ranked first by MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was ranked second on all four lists.

Baseball America has the most aggressive ranking of Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, who checked in at No. 3. He was followed by pitching prospects Lucas Giolito from the Nationals and Julio Urias from the Dodgers to round out the top five.

You can see Baseball America’s full top 100 list here.

Jenrry Mejia: “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”

New York Mets' Jenrry Mejia reacts after getting the last out against the Milwaukee Brewers during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, July 25, 2014, in Milwaukee. The Mets won 3-2. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
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Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia was permanently suspended on Friday after testing positive for a third time for a performance-enhancing drug. The right-hander is maintaining his innocence, as ESPN’s Adam Rubin notes in quoting Dominican sports journalist Hector Gomez. Mejia said, “It is not like they say. I am sure that I did not use anything.”

Mejia has the opportunity to petition commissioner Rob Manfred in one year for reinstatement to Major League Baseball. However, he must sit out at least two years before becoming eligible to pitch in the majors again, which would mean Mejia would be 28 years old.

Over parts of five seasons, Mejia has a career 3.68 ERA with 162 strikeouts and 76 walks over 183 1/3 innings. He was once a top prospect in the Mets’ minor league system and a top-100 overall prospect heading into the 2010 and ’11 seasons.

Bryce Harper on potential $400 million contract: “Don’t sell me short.”

Bryce Harper
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is at least three years away from free agency, but people are already contemplating just how large a contract the phenom will be able to negotiate, especially after taking home the National League Most Valuable Player Award for his performance this past season.

When the likes of David Price and Zack Greinke are signing for over $200 million at the age of 30 or older, it stands to reason that Harper could draw more as a 26-year-old if he can maintain MVP-esque levels of production over the next several seasons. $400 million might not be enough for Harper, though, as MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reports. He said, “Don’t sell me short,” which is a fantastic response.

During the 2015 season, Harper led the majors with a .460 on-base percentage and a .649 slugging percentage while leading the National League with 42 home runs and 118 runs scored. He also knocked in 99 runs for good measure. Harper and Ted Williams are the only hitters in baseball history to put up an adjusted OPS of 195 or better (100 is average) at the age of 22 or younger.