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Vanderbilt Baseball Mail Bag: Answers To Questions from our Readers

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Letters... we get letters... we get stacks and stacks of letters...

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This mail is not for sale. I will, of course, accept gifts and/or emoluments.
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After sweeping the entire state of Alabama, our win streak stands at 7—with a midweek game against Tennessee Tech tonight at 6:30pm CT. No better time to open up the bag like the present...


Questions from Johnny ‘10:

1. Do we have an injury update on Scott and Davis?

2. Did Jayson Gonzalez sleep with a coach’s wife? If not, why has he been exiled to the bench, and do you think Duvall is the everyday DH going forward (or at least until Cooper Davis is back)?

3.Has Raby done enough to hold down the Sunday starting role over Hickman?

4. I’ve heard a rumor that the Chuggers wear that awful orange color to prepare themselves for later in life when they will inevitably be incarcerated. Can you confirm?

These are excellent questions, and I will address them one by one:

  1. They never give us injury updates. All we can ever do is assume, infer, and refer to precedent. Scott seems more of the day-to-day ankle tweak (slid into the LF foul wall trying to make a play on Friday), as they let him hit after the injury, and then pulled him when it was time to go to the field. As we are such a deep team, there’s no real need to rush him back. As for Cooper “The Ontario Barrel-Maker” Davis, he pulled up lame on Saturday April 13th against Arkansas. When DeMarco pulled a hammy, Corbs kept him out for a month, as our OF depth made it easy to be cautious. I see the same thing happening for The Barrel-Maker, as his primary tools are speed, contact, and defensive range. No need to rush him back. I bet they’ll give him at least one week of practice after he returns to full health before we see him in the lineup. Of course, you all will know as soon as I know (which, often times, is when lineups are released, as Corbs and co. are so damned tight-lipped on injuries, suspensions, and the like).
  2. Man, I just don’t know. I was convinced—especially when people started getting injured—that Corbs was going to platoon DH Duvall and Gonzalez. It... has not turned out that way. Earlier in the season, Gonzalez seemed like the most improved sophomore, as he improved his plate discipline, and corrected for his pull-heavy tendencies. When we were still trying to figure out the infield, Gonzo figured into the rotation. Unfortunately (though fortunately regarding Martin rounding into form at the hot corner), it seems he is currently the odd man out. Here is my theory: this has nothing to do with Gonzalez and everything to do with Duvall. Philip “The Hitman” Clarke, due to his birthday, is eligible for this year’s MLB Draft, and is making a strong case to be the 2nd best college catching prospect (behind Oregon State’s Rutschman). I suspect Corbs knows it is not a lock that Clarke returns, and is doing everything he can to 1) make sure Duvall doesn’t transfer, so we have a solid catcher for next year in the event Clarke signs with an MLB team, and 2) get Duvall the requisite ABs so he’s ready to get the bulk of the playing time next year. Of course, Clarke (and DeMarco, by the way, though his injury has made him less likely to be drafted high enough) have an enviable amount of leverage, so MLB teams will likely have to overpay like they would a High School kid. Still, it’s a situation to monitor, be on top of, and be proactive about. That’s my two cents.
  3. Yes, and here’s why: Raby was given a bit of a longer leash because he has earned it. Further, he rewarded Corbs for the opportunity, as he has battled the last two weeks, with the following lines: 1) 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 8 K in 101 pitches vs. Alabama, and 2) 6.33 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 8 K in 102 pitches vs. Auburn (both wins). Hickman has more arm talent, but Raby battles, plays chess, and never gets rattled. Further, as we approach SEC Tourney and NCAA tourney play, we’re going to need 4 starters ready, so it doesn’t matter as much who pitches midweek and who pitches on Sundays. Beyond that, I am so looking forward to using Hickman against Louisville a week from today. As VandyImport would say: BRING ME MAH BARREL!
  4. There’s an old joke: “Why do UT fans wear orange? So they can go to work on Friday, go to the game on Saturday, and pick up garbage on the side of the road on Sunday.” Story checks out.

Questions from Athanatos504:

1. Can the SEC finally get 11 teams in the tournament this year?

2. When Cooper Davis returns, will there be a better outfield in college baseball?

3. Rutschman or Bleday for Golden Spikes?

Another three solid questions, and I will, once again, address them one by one:

  1. Man, this is the question every year. Similar to the basketball tourney, there are so many conference winners that you really have to be top 40 in the RPI to be in contention. With that in mind, let’s take a quick gander at Warren Nolan’s baseball-based statistical numberwang. Time for Casey Kasem to list off the SEC teams in the Top 40: #2 Vanderbilt, #3 Arky, #4 Ugga, #5 Clanga, #9 The Chuggers (still?!?!?!), #14 Auburn, #17 LSU, #19 aTM, #21 Ole Piss, #25 Mizzourah (how did this Big XII team get on this list?), and #29 The Jorts. That would make 11. (*Note: Somehow, even UK is in contention at #44, though they only have 5 conference wins.) Beyond that, there is a bit of an unwritten rule that you should probably be .500 in conference play to get in, as well. At the moment, the schools in Knoxville and Gainesville are both 9-12 in SEC play. Mizzourah is clinging on like grim death at 10-10, too. One week ago, I looked at our chances of getting a National Seed, and in that article, took a look at other SEC teams in contention. The Chuggers’ last three series are with Missourah at home, The Jorts in Jortsville, and Ole Piss at home. In other words, it is highly likely that at least one of those four teams plays their way out of contention. I currently see 8 SEC teams as locks, and The Chuggers, The Jorts, and Mizzourah on the bubble. I predict we get 10. Maybe 9 if two of those three teams completely bottom out.
  2. No.
  3. This is a really tough one. While Beavers’ catcher Adley Rutschman is a lock to go top 5 in the upcoming MLB Draft (and may even go #1 overall), Bleday is at least going to make this a race. While JJ will lead in HRs (duh), just take a quick look at the otherworldly stats Rutschman is putting up in the Pacific Northwest. Those types of offensive numbers pretty much never go with a catcher. And certainly not with the type of defensive catcher Rutschman is. It’s Adley’s to lose. I think Bleday would rather bring home a trophy in Omaha, anyway.