Friday, December 16, 2011

Tim Tebow, Pitching, and Defense

This week, there’s been a little bit of talk about the New England Patriots game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Much of it has been centered on Tim Tebow, and whether he’s a good quarterback or not. It’s the Derek Jeter argument of intangibles vs. talent. But, it’s also the argument of offense vs. pitching and defense.

You remember that mantra, right? The Sox were going to build a defensive team. It was suddenly all about run prevention. Most people weren’t buying it. And, it ended up not working out very well, for a number of reasons. But, what Tebow is showing is that there can be more than one way to skin a cat. As long as the end result is the same.

The point in any game is for your team to score more than the other team. How you do it is irrelevant. You can go 162-0 and only score 162 runs, as long as you keep the other teams scoreless every game. Or, you can go undefeated while giving up 1000 runs, as long as you score 1162. Or, something in the middle. The only thing that is important is that you score once more than the other guy. Which is why it always bugged me when I heard things like, “How could the Sox expect to make the playoffs last season with such a terrible team ERA?” Easy. They expected to score more than 4.2 runs a game. Which, they did. They scored the most runs in baseball. They just didn’t space them out as well as they needed to. But, there’s nothing wrong with planning on giving up 4 runs every game, if you’re planning on scoring 5. Just like there’s no reason you can’t win scoring 2 runs a game, if you only give up 1. Which is how the Phillies ended up with the best record in baseball, despite scoring 150 fewer runs than the Sox.

It also makes it hard during an offseason like this to figure out what you need. The answer really is, whatever you can get. If there are pitchers to be had, go for it. If there are only bats out there, get those. Either one will help you win. You can’t get too caught up in filling traditional roles. You mold the roles once you have the parts, no matter what Bill Parcells thinks. Look at the QB’s in Sunday’s game. Imagine the Pats traded Brady for Tebow tonight. Could Tebow win trying to run the Pat’s pass-happy offense? Absolutely not. Could Tom Brady win running the option like Tebow? Doubt it. But, both teams would eventually adjust their game plans to suit their strengths. Just like the Red Sox will do. They have two lead-off hitters. Ok, use that speed as a strength. They don’t have a fifth starter. Get the bats they need to cover that up. Be flexible. You can have a strong starting staff that goes 8 innings every game to eliminate the need for a middle relief. Or, you can stock up on middle relievers, and only get a starting staff that goes 6 innings. Whatever you can find out there.

There are any number of ways to win.

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