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Too Much of a Good Thing?

With two weeks left in spring training, the Mets might ultimately be facing a decision that seemed improbable a month ago: they have too many viable candidates for the starting rotation. We know Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez will be anchoring things in the first two spots, and the young John Maine shows no inclination to give up his handle on the #3. That leaves three men competing for two starting positions, each of which has a reasonable claim to one of them.

The hope from the onset of spring training was for Chan Ho Park to pitch well in and for Pelfrey to start the year in New Orleans. Park has been pretty good, but Pelfrey has been tremendous, spring training caveats notwithstanding. The Mets may be in a pickle when it comes down to final cuts, because Pelfrey has certainly pitched well enough to earn a spot in the rotation, but Park may not accept a demotion to AAA; with the way he has pitched he could certainly start for at least a handful of teams out there. The Mets could really use the insurance of having Park around, even if it means handing him a job coming out of spring and reluctantly sending Pelfrey to the minors for a spell.

Too, with the recent re-emergence of Oliver Perez -- including his five inning, nine strikeout, zero walk performance against the Red Sox last night -- the former Pirate is one again the favorite to grab the fourth starter spot in the rotation. He is drinking the Rick Peterson Kool-Aid and he looked devastating against the meat of Boston's lineup, striking out David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez twice apiece.

Ultimately, I think it will work itself out; having too many competent starting pitchers is certainly an enviable problem, and Pelfrey is a smart enough kid to understand the numbers game and to take the "demotion" in stride; he'll be back up to stay before too long.