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.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.