If you mention the glory days of the Big East Conference, everyone discusses Georgetown and Syracuse and St. John’s and Villanova. And for sure all those schools had great moments. But one school that it seemed never got its due was Boston College, which employed a style that I absolutely loved. The Eagles under Gary Williams employed a full-court press for the entire game, with multiple pressing defenses. For reasons hard to decipher, the names John Garris, Michael Adams and Jay Murphy still roll off the tongue – 35 or so years later – for a school that holds no special place for me.
So, it was a really nice thing that my N.C. State Wolfpack now uses that same style, going 10 deep and causing havoc all over the court. We’ve seen it work as State has destroyed some of the cupcakes on its schedule here in the early going. Can it work against the higher caliber schools in the ACC? Time will tell. Although it should be noted that the relatively unheralded Eagles went 12-4 in the Big East back in ’82-’83, finishing in a three-way tie for the regular season championship.
It’s fun to see your team utilize a system or a style that you find appealing.
But it appears that it will be the opposite end of the spectrum for me following the Mets, especially here in the offseason. I detest the “make a splash” mentality, where it’s more important to win the back page headlines than it is to win actual games. Where chasing name players is more important than actually identifying what the strengths and weaknesses of your team actually are. And the idea that it’s worthwhile to trade for a 36-year-old second baseman with five years left on his contract.
College basketball better be fun because the hot stove season in baseball is shaping up to be a disaster.
Brodie Van Wagenen identified second base as a “primary need,” thus the trade for the ancient Mariner Robinson Cano. Meanwhile, here are the Mets’ by position wRC+ numbers last year:
C – 79
1B – 94
2B – 116
3B – 74
SS – 78
LF – 110
CF – 122
RF – 120
Maybe the new GM views McNeil as a third baseman but that would be a departure from the old administration and if so, couldn’t they have signed Mike Moustakas for considerably fewer dollars and left McNeil at second?
Speaking of the old administration, it seems like Van Wagenen is a polar opposite from Alderson, which is a bit odd, since the two did so many deals together over the years. Alderson was cold and calculating while Van Wagenen is apparently much warmer and much more willing to pull the trigger. My criticisms of Alderson were three-fold:
1. Preference for old guys
2. Moves made perfect sense in isolation but seemed to lack cohesion in the larger picture
3. Didn’t make enough moves
As much of a preference for older guys that Alderson had, never did he bring in a 36 year old on a five-year deal. So, at least he had that going for him. But defenders of Van Wagenen say that you can’t judge the Cano deal until you see the other moves that he makes. Which in a best-case scenario is asking us to believe that he has a big picture vision that Alderson seemingly didn’t. Which, if true, would be a point in his favor.
But the only way to view the Cano deal as allowing other moves to be made is if you allocate all of the $20 million received from Seattle to be applied in the first two years. The Mets sent out $22.5 million in 2019 contracts while Cano makes $24 million next year. If you allocate it evenly over five years, that’s $4 million per year or just an extra $1.5 million for 2019. In that case, acquiring Cano was unnecessary, at best.
And if you do heavily front-load the money received, then you’re essentially taking the savings from when Yoenis Cespedes comes off the books and applying it to a guy in his age 38-40 seasons, rather than someone who, you know, will be good and worthwhile. Like the pitchers that they should be looking to extend.
It means you better win in 2019.
Which in turn means that there’s more pressure to trade for someone like J.T. Realmuto. Now, catcher is definitely a position that you could argue needed an upgrade. But why trade assets for Realmuto when you can sign a reasonable facsimile on the free agent market? Because with dollars in short supply, Realmuto is a relative bargain in his two pre-free agency years. As long as you ignore the cost in talent to acquire him. In other words, it would be a penny-wise and pound-foolish type of transaction.
And if you have to trade a Brandon Nimmo to get the next upgrade, then you’re in the free agent market trying to get someone like A.J. Pollock and gamble that he can top 115 games for just the second time in the last six years. Yeah, it would be a lot of moves. But in this case more doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Now, all of this wheeling-dealing could result in a playoff team. But would it be a 95-win team because of the additions or because Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler stayed healthy and dominated all year long? Or because Michael Conforto did the same? Or because Amed Rosario made the leap and brought Peter Alonso with him?
So, while I take great pride in watching NCSU with my preferred style of press and run and using their entire team to defeat opponents, the baseball offseason will be comprised of holding my breath and hoping that there aren’t more big transactions like the first one, where sound and fury are more important than anything else.