Big East basketball, style of play and the 2019 Mets

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.

21 comments for “Big East basketball, style of play and the 2019 Mets

  1. December 5, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Hate the Cano deal and I think possibly trading Nimmo + for Realmuto would be insanity. Nimmo is the better hitter with similar value and Nimmo has four years of control vs two for Realmuto. As far as the catchers Nido and Lobaton really dragged the catchers wRC+ down while Plawecki was okay.

    • December 5, 2018 at 10:36 am

      Rosario was also mentioned as a headliner in a Realmuto deal. To me, this would be the type of non-traditional deal that might be worth exploring. Maybe the Mets aren’t in a position right now to trade Rosario. But if you thought Rosario was not a future star at SS, now would be the time to deal him.

      • December 5, 2018 at 11:17 am

        I wouldn’t do that either he has five years of control, and has lots of tools and Reyes struggled offensively like Rosario has back in 2004-2005 and broke out in ‘06. It also took Didi a while to break out.

        • December 5, 2018 at 12:10 pm

          I don’t disagree with you.

          But to me, this is the type of aggressiveness that I would find acceptable from the GM. Not trading for Cano.

      • Eric Bloom
        December 5, 2018 at 11:48 am

        If trading Rosario (and keeping Nimmo) lands you Realmuto and means they sign Machado then totally in favor. Would be easier and cheaper though to just sign Grandal and Pollock and keep Rosario.

        Bench: lagares, tj, darnaud or plawecki, Guillorme, Frazier

        • JimO
          December 5, 2018 at 12:15 pm

          SNY had a short note about d’Arnaud possibly being a utility player. Eesh…I hope we don’t deal Rosario and Andres Gimenez…..

          • Eric Bloom
            December 5, 2018 at 12:25 pm

            Well if Kyle schwarber can play LF Travis can. (Schwarber cant though really right)

  2. Chris F
    December 5, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Its like Freaky Friday in here…Its like a post I would write 🙂

    A couple things come to mind here, although I think most fans and those in the industry agree with your appraisal of the trade.

    1. This team needed energy from the plodding, lifeless, confused, and wholly unimaginative Alderson regime. We definitely have an FO that is unapologetic and not afraid to get what it wants (so far).

    2. While this trade is confounding, I am certain it is part of a bigger plan. I am a believer in the “ends justify the means”. This is an organization with tons of moving parts. When we see the plan in place 1 April, we should see if BVW made Mozart or Frankenstein.

    3. I dont believe that BVW is a winning the back pages guy. Jeffy is, and so this spalsh got him a week of nonstop MLBtv MLBradio and news coverage while the Yankees failed to get Corbin. The shelf life is 15 seconds, and BVW knows that.

    4. On MLBradio Round Trip last night BVW was pressed hard by Memolo and Bowden. Was interesting conversation. He viewed Kelenic as 5 years from impact, and quite frankly as of this moment that is a matter down the line from the next couple-few. We were afraid he didnt know his team…I am relieved to think thats false, if not concerned that there is some reckless instead. He wanted Diaz and did not want to face him regularly on another NLE team. The Ms wanted Kelenic from the draft and made it a requirement.

    5. Whats coming? Excitement, sadness, thrill, anxiety, action…hey if we were a 77 win team for a decade under Alderson’s molasses-like presence, even if we stay at 77 wins it’ll be more exciting!

    • IDRAFT
      December 5, 2018 at 1:34 pm


    • Mike Walczak
      December 5, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      I agree with you 100 percent. I like the fact that he is turning over the apple cart with his plan. I would much rather trade Rosario than Nimmo for Realmuto. Plus, we also have Giminez.

      I love the gun slinging. I understand and respect all of the metrics, but that is science versus guts and guile. I already feel better about the direction of the team. I am excited to see what additional moves Van Wag will make. It’s a lot more fun than watching Alderson plod along with his crappy moves.

      I would also be very happy if we could ditch Vargas too.

    • TexasGusCC
      December 7, 2018 at 1:42 am

      Chris, you’re DiPoto. You have a problem in Cano. If I tell you: give me Cano and his entire deal and Diaz so you can get out of that albatross contract, is Kelenic still a requirement? Would Cano and Diaz for Dunn and Bruce interest you? You save $92MM and add a prospect. What do you say?

    December 5, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    As a college basketball geek, loved watching Williams teams and I go all the way back to seeing him coach American University. I’m with you on Williams.

    You did lose me, however, on the analogy. Alderson was the Henry Iba of GMs, walk the ball up and hold the ball as long as possible. BVW sure seems much more like Williams. When you press and run you have more turnovers, the hope is that you create more than you incur. That sure seems to fit BVW more than the man he replaced.

    Whether BVW can do that I do not know, that will reveal itself over time.

    • December 5, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      The analogy for me was limited to solely what you like, not trying to reach for anything more than that. I like full-court basketball. I like baseball trades where you don’t take on huge contracts for senior citizens.

      I didn’t really start watching college basketball until all of the hoopla around Larry Bird in the ’79 NCAA Tournament so I was unaware of American University when Williams was there. Certainly I was aware of David Thompson and Bobby Knight’s undefeated teams but basketball in the 70s for me was much more about the Knicks, Celtics and Sixers.

    December 5, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Cano and Diaz combined age – 61
    Bruce and Swarzak combined age – 65

    This is not the same as signing a guy like Bruce and only adding age, we were able to dump two guys who needed to be off the roster. Older guys who were injured and non productive (actually detrimental) last year.

    I’ve got my own doubts about this trade, but only the price given up, I don’t see how we aged the roster.

    • December 5, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      This is akin to a playoff game that the Bulls played and Scott Williams said the UNC guys did pretty good when Michael Jordan scored like 50 points and Williams scored 2.

      You can’t seriously combine the ages and say that this is a wash. Swarzak would be off the team after this year and Bruce the year after. And the Mets will still have Cano for his age 38, 39 and 40 seasons after those guys would have been gone.

  5. Eraff
    December 5, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    I don’t like the move and I don’t like the specific rumors of other moves. I will need to wait until the soup is done….or until all the soup is spilled to cry about it

  6. Eraff
    December 5, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Here’s what I want…as long as we’re now and all-in:

    Sign Pollock,,,,, trade Rosario and Nimmo for Realmuto…… Sign Machado…

    Machado 35
    Realmuto 6?
    Pollock 14

    55 million addition

  7. Eric Bloom
    December 5, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Can we just sign Grandal and Pollock and keep Rosario and Nimmo?

  8. Steevy
    December 5, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Sign Pollock and between him and Lagares you might get a combined full season…

    • December 5, 2018 at 10:54 pm

      Eh, I’d still take the under!

  9. Steevy
    December 5, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    I don’t want to trade Nimmo for anyone and I do not thing Realmuto is worth what they are asking.

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