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Vanderbilt Baseball Mail Bag #10: Answers to Your Questions

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

House Passes USPS Financial Overhaul Bill Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Question from Parlagi:

Since A&M is the next opponent, any idea why their coach left TCU last year?

Money. aTm’s athletic department has been spraying money all over the place since they made the move to the SEC. See Fisher, Jimbo and Williams, Buzz. It’s really that simple.


Question from Shoogymgshoogs:

No midweek game this week, as aTm comes to town for a Thursday through Saturday set. What does that mean for Devin Futrell?

Well, you would think that might mean The Future is now for The Future, especially given the fact that Corbs has only named one of three starters for this series (McBain tonight, and that’s all) thus far, and yet I’m hearing that the plan is to give Futrell the week off as rest/precaution because, as a freshman, he’s likely never thrown this many innings before.

Say what you want, but they did this to even Jack Leiter last year, and likely needed to. Players have to keep their mitts oiled; coaches have to keep their players’ arms attached.

Of course, this could all change, as Corbs and Brownie are seemingly going with the “play it by feel” method for all pitchers past McBain this week.


Question from Vandyfan1:

Does this team seem to be getting back to its original form [what they looked like at the start of the season]?

To keep the streak going can we have the weekly Christian Little check please?

Christian Little threw 2 IP in a combined no hitter with McBain Friday against the Blue Balls.

Christian “The Answer” Little

2 IP 0 R 0 H 1 B 4 K on 27 pitches (18 strikes)

He’s 0-1, 2.45 ERA in 18 & 13 innings on the season, and it appears they want to keep him in the back end of the bullpen.

As for the first question, I honestly don’t know. This team has the best bullpen in baseball, as we pretty much never lose when we go to the pen with a lead. McBain has been up and down, whereas Carter Holton was All-World before SEC play started, and, well... not since we entered conference play.

Our bats certainly look better, but we’re still trying to find the optimal lineup. In short, whatever we are now—and we could certainly still become a really dangerous team in the postseason—is not exactly what I anticipated in the beginning of the year.


Question from Thebullypuli:

How can a team be top 8 rpi and not ranked? Is Christian Little being held as some weird card up our sleeve for post season? Dudes good.

You know I agree with you regarding Christian Little. He’s been having great success in the back end of the pen, but is that the best way to maximize his talents to help this team? I don’t know. I would love to see him get a shot in the rotation now that Maldo’s back and Schultz has established himself as the closer. We’ll see.

As for the RPI, a lot of that is we don’t have any bad losses in the eyes of the RPI. Do we have bad losses in my eyes? Yes (the series loss to the Game Penises haunts me), but no one we’ve lost to sucks hard in the RPI. I’d rank us somewhere around #25 based on what I’ve seen of this team and the rest of college baseball right now. They’re ranked in some polls, but not in others. That fits with my assessment. Beat aTm this weekend, and we’ll be ranked. Lose the series and we don’t deserve to be (high RPI or not).


Question from Dore31:

What do you think is our best starting 9?

I’ll answer this in terms of “right now,” rather than “in the long term,” as I assume that was the question’s intent. The hottest hitters right now are Bulger, Hewett, Keegan, Jones, Polk, and (this might shock you if you haven’t been paying attention) Parker Noland. Shockwave is finally off and running, and plays excellent defense. Young is slumping pretty hard, but that defense at SS is invaluable (and, really, replacing him with Vastine doesn’t help the lineup any). Tater is solid, but unspectacular at the plate, and more than solid with the glove. They’re my guys right now. Here’s my starting 9 (which, of course, could change by week’s end, and also changes when Bulger gets his one day off to keep his knees fresh and moves to DH):

CF Shockwave

C The Bulge

1B Dominator

RF Dr. Jones

LF Silent (deadly) Cal

3B Parker Noland (Can’t Lose)

2B Tater

DH Matthew “Young Hickory” Polk

SS Mighty Carter Young


Question from Dinard’oh:

I understand Corbs tinkers with the lineup a lot to see what works and give guys opportunities, which helps long term. But at what point do you need to just go Best 9 (adjusted for matchups, possibly) and give yourself your best chance to win now?

Well, the “adjusted for matchups, possibly” part is important, no? If you read my response to the former question, it might sound like that should be the every day starting 9. Well, it just can’t be, as 1) When Dom is catching, Bulger will DH, and someone has to play 1B (Noland or Casas). 2) Once Diaz returns to Diaz de los Muertos status, I want him playing every game (whether at 3rd or 2nd). Only Corbs and Co. can know when that might be, as none of us go to practice (me because I am an Allen Iverson devotee and don’t reside in Nashville; your reasons may vary). 3) In larger ballparks, I want Vaz’s bat in the lineup to play small ball. I could continue.

This team has a lot of talent, and I’m good with positions being rented this year. Is it ideal? No, but if you can accurately manage towards the hot hand, that gives you an advantage with a team this deep.

The only thing that gives me pause on the “hot hand” theory is that it’s an art, not a science, and it also requires a coach to be pretty callous. For instance, after LaNeve’s first AB in which he looked silly this weekend, I would have put in Vaz or Hewett right there. Instead, Corbs let LaNeve wear the Golden Sombrero (0-3, all Ks). If you’re going to maximize this team’s depth, you can’t be afraid to pull the trigger when you see someone just doesn’t have it that day.


Question from AspenVU:

Good we won series - but any decent team sweeps UK.

Any decent team beats UK. Any great team sweeps them. There’s a difference there.

Also, this is a statement, not a question.

Still, I don’t exactly disagree with you here. Kentucky was just not a good team and that 3-2 Saturday loss just should not have happened. If the season ended today, we would be a #2 seed (one that no one wants in their Regional, of course, but that’s a disappointing year in the Corbs era) because of games like that.


Question from no one, as this was a request to revisit something from last week:

Mail bag is open for one more question (unless you guys just want me to revisit the “who will not qualify for the SEC Tourney” question from last time, given a week more information.

If you want me to revisit that topic, just green this up.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was green’d up. Here we go (broken into tiers):

The “Thanks for Trying” Tier

#14. Missourah (spits) Tigers: 5-13 SEC; 22-16 overall. Swept by the Gumbo Bengals. On the plus side, all were relatively close games, and one went to extras. Thanks for trying.

#13. The South Cackalacky Game Penises: 6-12 SEC; 19-20 overall. Swept by the War Tigers. Haven’t won an SEC game since April 14th against... Ole Piss.

#12. The Kentucky Blue Balls: 6-12 SEC; 23-18 overall. Lost the series 2 games to 1 to the Diamond Dores (and yes, that loss still irks me).

The “Believe Me, This is Killing Them” and “The Bottom May Well Completely Fall Out at Any Moment” Tier

#11. Ole Piss: 6-12 SEC; 23-17 overall. *See commentary on Clanga below, as though in my mind, Ole Piss split a 4 game series with Clanga, the SEC only counts the weekend games towards their conference record. Technically, they lost the series 2 games to 1. Don’t think about it too hard.

#10. The Jorts: 6-12 SEC; 23-17 overall. Swept by the Chuggers last week. Join the club.

The “Thank Jebus We Beat Ole Piss” Tier

#9. Clanga: 8-10 SEC; 24-18 overall. In fact, this tier should probably not exist, but every other SEC team is at .500 or better in conference play, so we still need to attach The Stone of Shame to Clanga. Barring an absolute collapse, Clanga will be in Hooverville. For now. Interestingly enough, the Egg Base-Bowl game Clanga and Ole Piss played Tuesday doesn’t count as a conference game, or Clanga would actually be 8-11 in conference. In my mind, they just split a 4 game series. In the minds of the SEC decision makers, Clanga won the series 2-1, and lost a non-counter on Tuesday. Again, this is unnecessarily weird and irrational, just like the state of Mississippi.


Question from SuicideDores:

Four series left, all against NCAA-T teams. What’s a reasonable expectation down the stretch? Can this team get above 500 in league play or is 15-15 more about the ceiling with what lies ahead. What’s the easiest and toughest set of the four?

Excellent question. Let’s take a look.

We close against a hot aTm team at The Hawk, travel to a perfectly cromulent Ugga, stay on the road against a super talented (but beatable if you play your best ball) Arky squad, and against the thunderous lineup (and non-existent arms) of the LSU Gumbo Bengals in Hawkins Field.

Yeah... realistically, .500 is a good outcome. I’d say Yellow Shoe at home in the final series is the easiest, followed by aTm this weekend. Arky’s the toughest.

I’ll put it this way: I wouldn’t wager on a sweep (on the winning or losing end) in any of these four series.

As such, I’ll put the best case scenario at 2-1 series wins over all four, and the worst case scenario at 1-2 series losses to all four.

I’ll set the line at 6-6 and take the over. I say we’ll win three of them 2 games to 1, and lose one series 1 game to 2. This prediction will self-destruct if we don’t take 2 against the Aggies this weekend.


Question from KnockinOnHeavensDore:

1) Is there any particular reason that we haven’t seen Casas (injuries, etc.) or has Corbs just decided not to play him, and if so why?

2) Our remaining schedule: Weekend series against Automated Teller Machine, Ugga, Arky, and the Gumbo Bengals, with midweek games including Louisville, India State, and MTSU. What must happen in order for Vandy to host a regional? What must happen in order for Vandy to be a Top 8 seed? And what is your confidence level that we will get a barrel?

3) Why are we doing the SEC-Big XII challenge in baseball, and why are we doing it twice this season?

1) I’d say at least part of why we haven’t seen Casas is that Corbs has decided to give the lion’s share of catching starts to The Bulge, which has Dom at the cold corner for 2 out of 3 weekend games.

Beyond that, Parker Noland has quietly been pretty good in SEC play (.303/.395/.576 in conference play). On the flip side, Casas—who has appeared in 10 conference games, starting 6—has not had success in that admittedly small sample size (.136/.222/.136 in conference play).

Aside from that, I really don’t have an answer. I like Casas’s bat, and would like him to get some more chances. Tough to crack this lineup, of course.

2) I think the ship for Top 8 National Seed chances has sailed, barring sweeping through our remaining games, which, come on. As for hosting a Regional, I’d say we need to win each of our remaining series (or at least win 23 of each remaining conference games to have an overall SEC record of 17-13). A 16-14 conference record might do it, but that’s a reach. With Futrell on the mound, we get that Barrel and shave Larry Bird’s Ridiculous moustache.

3) I’ll be deep in the cold cold ground before I recognize Missourah (spits).