*Pre-Emptive Author's Note: "Scouting Report: Something Something Burt Ward" will be a weekly column written and posted every Sunday evening throughout the 2014 baseball season. In it, the writer will second guess at least one key decision made by Coach Tim Corbin, provide a frighteningly quick recap of the week's games (I'm just giving scores, you crum bums, so if you want more, read the damn box scores your damn selves), and write up a full scouting report on one pitcher and one position player. He might think up some other features; he might not. Shut up.
Second Guesses No One Asked For:
"I don't have no trouble with you [playing] me, but I have a little problem with you NOT [playing] me."
-Ol' Dirty Bastard, possibly misquoted
I've got to admit, during this week's four wins (and last week's trolley-stomping of the city we call Long Beach), Corbin hasn't given me much fodder for exercising my inhuman ability to second guess even the minutest decision, but I'd already decided this would be a feature, so you all can pick one and suck it.
Actually, I'd originally planned to go off on an unending diatribe on Coach Corbin's decision to name Jared Miller and Tyler Ferguson the Saturday and Sunday starters, respectively, over the MOST DOMINANT PITCHER EVER (caps lock to indicate possible hyperbole on my part, though I'm sticking by it), known to us earthly beings as Carson Fulmer. However, Miller's given us 13 scoreless innings so far, and in those innings, he's yielded but 5 hits and 0 walks. You read that right. So Corbs... feel free to keep trotting him out there every Saturday.
Plus, this has allowed corbs to use Fulmer to shrink every possible game to 6 innings (prediction: he doesn't give up an earned run until SEC play, and even then, also no runs), so I should really shut up about it. As for Tyler "Turd" Ferguson (trust me, I didn't want to give him this nickname, but he wouldn't take off that comically oversized foam cowboy hat), read below (in the "Scouting Report" section, geniuses) for the scouting report.
As for my actual "Second Guess of the Week," I invite you to scroll to the top of this feature and re-read the quote attributed to the late Mr. Bastard. It's okay. I'll wait.
(Takes deep breath) HOW ARE YOU NOT GIVING MORE AT BATS TO KYLE SMITH?!?!
Let's take a quick perusal of the stats, shall we? Kyle Smith (#39)-who, by now, should clearly be our starting LF or DH every game-is a mountain of a man at 6'3", 220 lbs, and he's got the one thing few in this line-up but Xander "Crews/Awesome X/Barnaby Jones" Wiel (and to a certain extent, Rhett "The Natural" Wiseman and Bryan "Also The Natural" Reynolds) has. Power. Tree-trunk arms power. "Unleash the Awesome Power of Apples" style power. Power.
Further, let's take a little sojourn down "statistics lane," shall we? In the first seven games of the year, Mr. Smith went to the plate in just two contests, and in one of them, it was for mop-up duty. After no plate appearances at all in the first four games (not even against Lipscomb?!), on Friday, against the UIC Pilot Lights, after we were up a billion runs, Corbs gave Smith some pity ABs. What did he do with them? 2-2 with a double and 2 RBIs. Oh, that's all.
On Sunday, Corbs decided to give him a little more hot Flame action, and he went 3-4 with a double (though it was only a double in the sense that opponents at the beginnings of underdog sports movies hit doubles), 1 RBI, 4 runs scored, and his only recorded out was a productive sac fly that plated a run. Back to the bench with him? I say no.
Again, Kyle Smith is 5-6 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI on the season. He's got power, plate discipline, and the luck on his side (again, go back and watch that "double"... I'm relatively sure Tony Danza was trying to make the play well after he "used to be Mel Clark"). Give the man some PT, Corbin, con sarn it. End of rant.
Entirely too quick recap:
Wednesday: VU 5-Bisons 1 (Win. Predicted 11-0, so I feel shame)
Friday: VU 14-UIC Flames 1 (Win. Predicted 8-1, which is close enough)
Saturday: VU 2-UIC Flames 0 (Win. Predicted 7-0. Meh)
Sunday: VU 12-UIC Flames 0 (Win. Predicted 15-4. Not too shabby)
Actual runs w/ Predicted runs in parentheses:
Vandy: 33 (41)
Opponents: 2 (5)
Scouting Report: #45, RHP, Tyler "Turd" Ferguson
Again, the nickname is no indicator of his talent, which is Brendan Fraser in The Scout-esque.
Game line (Sunday against UIC): 5 and 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 7 K, 3 BB, 1 HBP
Season line (2 starts): 11 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 10 K, 3 BB, 3 HBP
The Good: He's just got a monster arm. His fastball is a plus pitch, as he sits in the 93-96 mph range from start to finish. His curve, while currently rating out as average, can serve as a knee-buckler if only for the drastic change in speeds. He'd have to change his mechanics for it to be a plus pitch, as currently, it's more of a slurve due to his slightly lower than ¾ arm angle. He's got the potential to be absolutely unhittable. I'm serious.
The Bad: You only need to watch an inning of him pitching to see the mechanical flaws. The good news is they appear to be fixable, but it won't be a quick fix. At the moment, his hips can fly out early, leaving his shoulder and arm lagging behind, which leads to him throwing it up and away to lefties (tailing even further away into wild pitch territory), and into the ear holes of the unfortunate righties who have to face him. I can't find any stats that track wild pitches (**please post if you find that**), but there have been a few, and 3 hit batsmen in 11 innings is... well... brutal. There's a lot of moving parts in his delivery, which makes it difficult to repeat with each pitch. He may be able to harness this and be "effectively wild" and intimidate the crap out of every rightie he faces (think Pedro Martinez), but the key will be in slowing down his delivery and focusing on his hips and shoulders. I'm sure Scott Brown's all over this, but trust me, this is what he's telling ol' Turd Ferguson in practice, warm-ups, and in the bullpen.
The Ugly: This hat.
Scouting Report: #7, 2B, Dansby "The Mansby" Swanson
Game line (Sunday against UIC): 1-4, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 SB, 2 K
Season line: .310 BA, 4 RBI, 7 R, 4 SB, 2 2B, 5 K
Simply put, he's a ball player.
Defensively: He should be our SS right now, as his plus speed and quick hands grade out better than Conde's (though I understand Corbs not wanting to move Vince again after he handled the switch from 3B to SS quite well last year). Still, don't be surprised if the two middle infielders swap spots as the season progresses.
Base Running: He gets it. Natural base running instincts. He's fast-not Tony Kemp or Ro Coleman fast, but it still grades out as a plus-and, like Anthony Gomez before him, he picks his spots to run with innate perfection. Case in point: In the first inning of today's game, he reached on an error, stole 3rd with one out, and scored on a pop fly to the first basemen. A POP FLY TO THE FIRST BASEMAN?!?! That's base running instincts, pure and simple. Side note: he should call Go-Go some time soon and pick his brain about the art of stealing home. He's got the chops to do it.
Offense: Nothing flashy, but he's exactly what you want in a lead off hitter. He'll hit a solid .300-.333, he'll hit it where it's pitched, and because of that, most of his hits will be line drives up the middle or looped over the 2B or SS's head. He should work on improving his gap-to-gap power, but he should never try to become a power hitter. As long as he takes what the pitchers give him, works counts, and wreaks havoc on the basepaths, there's nothing more we can really ask of him.
That's it for tonight.
*Post-Emptive Author's Note: Andrew VU '04 is a writer, educator, and ne-er-do-well living in the whirlpool of despair (Baton Rouge, LA) and is writing both "Scouting Report: Something Something Burt Ward" (Sunday evenings) and "Baseball, Bourbon, and Bad Decisions" (Tuesday or Wednesday Evenings, I don't know, shut up) based largely on the fact that VandyTigerPhD is a large Italian man threatening his life if he doesn't hold up his end of the bargain, and the fact that no one covers Vandy Baseball except "WhenItStrikesMe," and he, though highly informative, posts less often than computer scientists have sex they didn't have to pay for.