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Vanderbilt Baseball Mail Bag #6: Answers to Your Questions

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

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Championship
No, I’m not trying to be subtle here. Reilly needs to be the #3 starter now, if not sooner.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Question from Shoogymgshoogs:

Why did Noland start at first base and why no Vaz in left? What does Casas need to do to stay in the lineup?


Question from Chasrad:

I am thinking we may see Hewitt and Casas starting soon. Hewitt is faster than I thought and should be able to cover LF if Vaz does not play there.

Question: Has Corbs finally seen enough to replace Noland at first with Casas?

From the press conference this week, it sounded like Vaz, Casas, and Little (see below for more on Little) are in the doghouse.

On the field, Casas has clearly outplayed Noland at the plate, and I see no defensive drop-off at the cold corner. I would suspect Casas just needs to brush his teeth the right way, keep up with his schoolwork, and try his hardest at practice, and he’ll be back in the lineup. He damned well better do all of that this week, as we will need all the thunder we can get in the lineup against the Chuggers.

Noland actually went 3-11 from the plate this weekend, but it was really 3-4 on Friday (all singles) bookended with some 0-fers. That’s certainly not bad, but it’s not what you want from a power position like first base.

As for Vaz vs. Hewett, well... some times you’re Wally Pipp. Though Vaz has certainly looked good most of the season thus far (especially in Hawaii), at Vanderbilt, there’s always someone on the bench that can take your spot if you open it just a crack. Silent Cal was a little bit deadly this weekend, going 3-3 with 2 RBI on Sunday. LaNeve certainly hasn’t lived up to his late season streak in 2021 thus far, and Vaz just opened the door.

Though Hewett has only gotten into 10 games (starting 1), he’s leading the team in average (.636), on base percentage (.750), and slugging (1.000). Though his batting stance and swing look, well, wrong—he dives into every pitch like he’s trying to let it hit him—the sophomore from New Hampshire has certainly done all he can in limited playing time to make Corbs think twice when he fills out the lineup card.

Question from Dinard’oh:

Is playing on the road a big deal and did it affect this series? If so, should Vandy schedule more road series in the lead-up to SEC play?

I don’t think that played into it. Remember, we had to battle jet lag and a massive time zone change when we played 4 in Hawaii. This weekend’s series was just a reminder that if you don’t bring your A game into every SEC series, you’re bound to get tagged. Obviously, the Missourah (series) reminded us you can half-ass it against Big XII teams with relatively no consequences.

Penis Park isn’t exactly the greatest home field advantage, as their park is relatively normal, save for the live chicken running around, and all the South Carolingians eating their weight in ice cream. It’s not like you’re hearing non-stop cowbells and the fans are so aggrieved, the ump fears they will be murdered heading out to the parking lot (looking at you, Clanga-Ssipppi). Nor are there a bunch of human grode jars chanting “ball four ball four ball four” until you want to strangle every last one of them. Nor are there any sub-humans chugging beer out of some neck’s mullet. Hell, there’s not even any greasy weirdos whistling you to death.

So, in short, no. I don’t think that factored in all that much.

Question from KnockingOnHeavensDore:

1) With the way Holton pitched on Saturday, should we start trying to experiment with other starters in the rotation?

2) Was the SC series something to be alarmed about, or was it just not our weekend, or both?

Pat Reilly should be in the starting rotation. Full stop. So should Carter Holton and Chris McElvain. This was true before Maldo’s oblique injury*, and it’s more true now. Corbs hinted that Holton may have been tipping his pitches, so Brownie will work with him on that. He also could have just had a bad day on the mound. He’s a freshman. That can happen. He also damn near threw two perfectos in a row this year. He’s extremely good. Stick with him.

As for question two, I’ll go with it just wasn’t our weekend, but also that I shouldn’t have let that 18 game win streak over no team of consequence get me all hyped up. I had this team pegged as a borderline top 10 team before the season started, and that’s what they are. Things could certainly break right for us, but we’re not the obvious best team in the country like we were from 2019-2021. We’re just one of the ten best after losing Kumar freaking Rocker and Jack freaking Leiter. It’s okay.

*Note: Even Corbs said as much re: Maldo, as he will have to rehab from his oblique injury, and therefore will not be stretched out enough to start when he does return. He’ll be a back end of the pen guy and hopefully our closer again come postseason play.

Question from Nova_Dore:

Second Carter Holton question. With a sparkling 47.25 ERA on Saturday. Was that poor pitching or just an abberation where hitters put balls into perfect spots? Har P. Reilly put himself into position to start a weekend series?

Both on Holton (he both had a bad day, stuff wise, and they rocked him). Yes on Reilly (I mean, come on).

Question from JesseCuster44:

Will the Vandy Boys have to wear that stupid new V on their caps next year, or will they be allowed to stick with what’s been working?

[grumble grumble]

Yes. Maybe. I hope not.

[grumble grumble]

Question from PhillipVU94:

How can Vanderbilt apply its four fundamental beliefs to recover from a disappointing series?

For those who may have forgotten, the four beliefs are:

Belonging: Once you’re chosen, you belong.

Self Direction: Choose your own path, and go all in.

Collaboration: Teams challenge and support each other.

Growth: We never stop growing and achieving.


It feels like two are obviously relevant to team sports and two are a little more of a stretch. But it’s not like we can just be half of who we are, right?

In other words... With the logo/rebranding talk this week there’s been some tangential talk about an old chestnut, how VU can most fully integrate intercollegiate sports into the university as a whole. How would we assess that strength of connection for one program, say, baseball? Do Vanderbilt know what its desired end state would look like?

Dear God, these branding/marketing idiots...

I’ll yield my time to Lucille Bluth:

Question from Vandyfan1:

What happened in the [last] 2 games [of the series]?

Friday was one of those games where the starter just doesn’t have his stuff and gets rocked. Corbs thinks Holton might have been tipping his pitches, and the Penises caught it in the film room. That can be fixed. Oh, and Corbs should take a good chunk of the blame for that game, as well, as he easily could have pulled Holton down 4-0 and given the team a chance. With Saturday, Cunningham looked good in the first 3 innings, and then was tagged for a 2 run bomb by Wimmer in the 4th. Not bad for someone who did not expect to start. Then Hunter Owen came in and proved that you just don’t throw lefties against this Penis lineup, as he gave up 4 ER in 1 IP, and three of them on one swing from Wimmer.

Also, we had many chances to break the game wide open and put it away early on Saturday, but killed potential rallies time and again. I’m looking at you, Shockwave, Young, and Noland...

Had Christian Little been available (see below), or we capitalize on the many 1st and 2nd, no out opportunities, maybe this goes differently.

Question from VU1970:

Do you think the team is being offered enough purple foods at the training table?

I’m so confused. What is this in reference to?

Sports nutrition. And superstition. And the value of doing something completely off-the-wall crazy to break the cycle.

One of Vandy’s football coaches (back when freshmen had their own teams and played a separate season) used to make all the players players rub some “lucky chestnuts.” Yes, I’m sure there was some eye-rolling, but they all had to do it.

Baseball players are way more superstitious than football players.

Whenever Sun Ra’s band hit a dry spell, he told the members of his Arkestra they needed to eat more purple food. I figure if it worked on Saturn it might work at the Hawk.

I’m not less confused now.

Question from PhillipVU94:

Sometime in the next 8 days, Coach K is going to finally retire at age 75 which has everyone thinking about how you succeed a GOAT. Meanwhile the greatest active baseball coach is 60.

1. Over/under: 15 more years for Corbs?

2. No one at Vandy would admit to having a succession wish list. But they really have a list, right?

3. Who’s on it?

I’m not the best at speculating. I’ll just say Corbs will be allowed to Mike Martin it at Vandy if that’s what he wants. If that’s not what he wants, Brownie would take over. He’s turned down many a top head coaching jerb to stay at Vandy.

Oh, and let’s be honest... baseball managing is probably the least stressful of the major college sports head coaching jerbs. You can let your pitching coach (Brownie) pretty much handle that side of things, and your hitting coach (Astronaut Mike Baxter) handle hitting and crootin’.

All you need to do is fill out the lineup card correctly and make good decisions during the game. It’s not shocking that many MLB managers are geriatric. You’re basically a season ticket holder who gets to impact the game. It’s like if retirement became a job.

Question from Dinard’oh:

Why isn’t there a question about Christian Little yet?

Though the question was an obvious nod to this year’s Mail Bag feature “The Weekly Christian Little Update” running joke, there actually seems to be something of substance to say about Little not pitching in this week’s series loss to the South Cackalacky Game Penises:

So... that’s not ideal.

The only thing I’ll add is that Austin Martin once wasn’t doing his best work in the classroom, and Corbs had a frank conversation with him about either stepping up or transferring to find a school that was a better fit, academically. A-Mart chose to shop smart, shop S-Mart from there on out. Not to speculate, but that may well have been what happened. Christian Little needs to hold up his end of the bargain. Corbs will make sure he knows that.

That, or he didn’t brush his teeth properly. Corbs is a stickler for proper oral hygiene.