The whole concept of No. 2 is No. 2

Until the Mets get serious about a No. 2 starter, they will have their troubles. They didn’t spend the money for John Lackey, who pitched six shutout innings in a loss to the Yankees, but somehow they have to find a No. 2 to fall in behind Santana.

Right now, it’s too much to ask Maine to be that pitcher. Based on spring training, the right-hander should be the No. 4 or No. 5. Manuel moved him up to the two spot, dropping Mike Pelfrey to No. 4 and Oliver Perez to five.

- Kevin Kernan, N.Y. Post.

It’s almost unfathomable how much ink has been spilled analyzing the order of the Mets’ pitching rotation the first time through. Kernan’s main point — that the Mets could have massively benefited from signing a starting pitcher this offseason — is reasonable. Pointing to the order in which they’ll pitch their starters is not.

Again: It just doesn’t matter. Mike Pelfrey is not the Mets’ No. 4 starter. He is the starter pitching the fourth game of the season. If he stays healthy and effective, he will start 33 games. If he’s the second- or third-best of the guys who finish the season in the Mets’ rotation, people will label him the No. 2 or the No. 3, and that’s fine. But it will have nothing to do with when in the week he pitches.

The Mets, I’m nearly certain, pitched Maine the day after Santana and Perez the day after Pelfrey for a reason, and it had nothing to do with thinking Maine was their second-best starter. Maine and Perez, based on last year’s results, are the starters least likely to go deep in games and so most likely to tax the bullpen. Santana and, for better or worse, Pelfrey, can generally be counted on for innings.

Pitching Maine and Perez on back-to-back nights could have been damning for a bullpen already full of uncertainty.

I don’t imagine Jerry Manuel or anyone else would go on record saying as much, because doing so would be a slight to Perez and Maine. But ordering the rotation like the Mets did is actually, given the way the organization has handled minor decisions lately, a pretty clever one.

As for Lackey, he looked great last night. But I’m going to wait until at least the conclusion of Year 3 of his five-year, $81 million contract before I start saying for sure that the Mets made a mistake in not signing him. And if we’re going off samples this small, the Mets have a pretty solid case for choosing Jason Bay instead: He’s got a 1.413 OPS so far.

16 thoughts on “The whole concept of No. 2 is No. 2

  1. The instant Lackey backlash reminds me of last year when everyone killed the Mets in April for not signing Derek Lowe to a longterm deal.

  2. I’m tired of reading the Mets wouldn’t spend the money for Lackey. How does anyone know that to be true?
    It’s just as likely Lackey didn’t want to pitch for the Mets, given the fact that he signed with Boston fairly quickly w/o his agent even calling the Mets back to see if they wanted to counter the offer.

    Then again, I also can’t help thinking it would have taken a much higher offer than Boston – or an additional year – to get Lackey to sign with the Mets. And for that, I comment Omar in his restraint.

    • Good point, and I just don’t even think the Mets should have wanted to spend even that much money for Lackey, regardless of if they had it or if he wanted to come here. Pitchers are way riskier investments then hitters, and Lackey’s had injury problems. I know the Red Sox had their concerns about Bay and we’ve all got our concerns about the Mets’ medical staff, but $81 million is a lot of money to commit to a 31-year-old pitcher.

    • Overall? Yeah. His defense hasn’t looked good, and now that I’m looking for I keep thinking about that whole thing about playing to UZR. But it’s going to take a whole lot more than a couple of crappy plays and out there to overcome his offensive output. He’s awesome.

  3. Hanley is a beast offensively, but defense is so important at that position, and he’s downright awful defensively. I’m guessing he’ll be a third baseman in a couple of years. Jose is a real shortstop who is also happens to be a great offensive player. Hanley, like many modern day star shortstops, is a great offensive player who just happens to stand somewhere in between second and third while the other team is batting.

    People are beating up on DW for stealing second last night and taking the bat out of Bay’s hands. I thought it was clearly the right move to get into scoring position as the winning run because, I presume, the statistical probability of Matthews driving him in from second has to be greater (despite his suckitude) than the likelihood of Bay driving him in from first. Am I missing something here?

    • I was thinking about posting about this later actually. I’m still mulling it over to make sure I’m not missing anything, but I think you’re right — as bad as GMJ is, the chances of him hitting a single are still better than the chances of Bay getting an extra-base hit.

      • But it’s not just a single from GMJ, it’s any hit to the outfield whether a single, double, triple or HR.

        Whereas Bay could only drive him in with a deep double against a no-double defensive alignment, triple or HR.

        Just seems to be a case of people looking to find fault with the Mets’ base running, facts be damned.

  4. ‘number one i’ve got to go take a number two’ – picard.

    that was from family guy or something but i pretty much always say it to myself whenever anyone makes an allusion to #2 being a euphemism for poop.

    another swish for ted berg!

      • oh hell yeah, i think youre right. man, that makes me feel old. also ive been thinking about the same poop joke over and over for like what, 15 years now?

      • Yeah, and I’m pretty sure that Beavis was Picard and Butthead was Riker, and that they were wearing red uniforms. Great show. And it’s probably 16 or 17 years ago by now.

  5. Ted, could it be that Kernan was referring to a #2 caliber pitcher? While I agree with your sentiments regarding the hand wringing over the order of the rotation after Santana, I also agree with the popular sentiment that the pitchers in the rotation not named Santana are mid-back end of the rotation type starters.

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