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Vanderbilt Baseball Mail Bag #13: Answers to Your Questions

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

Syndication: The Tennessean Andrew Nelles / / USA TODAY NETWORK

Question from Dinard’oh:

The VandyBoys seem to have found their mojo again. What game (or series) would you like to have another crack at this season? Could be a disappointment, a blown opportunity, or just a challenge you want to revisit.

Off the top of my head, there are three series contenders (in no particular order):

1) At The South Cackalacky Game Penises

2) Home vs. The Chuggers

3) Season opening series at home vs. The Okie Pokes

The most disappointing series loss, by far, was when we let the Penises take 2 of 3 from us. That was then, and is even more now, inexcusable. Then, the following weekend, we suffered the indignity of being swept by Tony “The Calf” Vitello and his classless, bat-cheating Chuggers.

That said, I’mma go with #3. The Okie Pokes are currently ranked in or near the top 10 in the three major rankings, and currently #14 in the RPI... but I just don’t see it. I’ve gone to a few Big XII games this year, and the level of competition is just nowhere near the SEC. Now that we’ve got a relatively stable pitching rotation and some of our stars (Bradfield, Jones, and Keegan) are playing to their capabilities, I think we would just run all over Holliday’s squad. If we’re matched up with them in either Supers or Omaha, I’d like the chance to set things straight.

Question from Vandyfan1:

With how things are going, how do you think Vandy fares in the SEC tournament?

My main hope is that we take the series this weekend against the Gumbo Bengals, and Hoover doesn’t matter to our chance at hosting a Regional. That said, it sure would be fun to enact some vengeance on The Chuggers next week.

Oh, and I’m not even sure The Chuggers are that much of a prohibitive favorite in Hoover. In addition to us, aTm, Ole Piss, and Arky are playing some good ball right now. With the chaotic nature of Hooverville, I’d take the field if it was a straight up bet.

Of course, it would be pretty crazy to bet on the SEC tourney what with all these cowards playing RPI games by cancelling mid-week matchups of late. These coaches know exactly what they will need to do to get their desired result, and once they reach it, it appears they will just shut things down. There’s a growing consensus that winning the SEC tourney could put undue stress on a pitching staff. It’s a concern neither Corbs nor I share, but again, you see what games these other SEC schools are playing (or not playing) of late.

If we play on Tuesday, we should win that one. After that, who knows. Ask again after the bracket is finalized.

Question from Chasrad:

I distinctly remember seeing Enrique caught stealing at third base early in the season (I sit on the third base side). Yet, this is not reflected in the stats. What gives, am I crazy?

Guest Response by Johnny ‘10:

If I remember correctly, it wasn’t a steal. He tried to reach on a ball in the dirt, so it does not count as a steal attempt. I’m sure Andrew will correct me if I’m wrong

You are correct, Johnny ‘10, but I like to think I’m more unpredictable than that.

Question from KnockinOnHeavensDore:

Related to a conversation on the game thread:

Who do you think is more likely to snap out of his slump: Diaz, or Young? And who would you rather play right now (assuming Bulger is catching and Noland is at 3rd)?

The answer to both questions is Davis Diaz. I would like for nothing more that for Young to return to the Mighty Carter Young we saw before his shoulder injury last year. However, you can hope in one hand, crap in the other, and see which fills up first.

Young needs a hard reset right now, and that requires time. He’s got a lot of talent, but he’s been missing balls by a solid foot time and again in the past few weeks. It could be an eyesight issue, shoulder issue, or mental issue (or a combination). He’s at .204/.330/.377 on the year, and 4-50 (.080) in the last 30 days.

Diaz, on the other hand, seems to be giving us a comparable level of defense, seems to be breaking through his freshman wall (much easier to do than breaking out of a prolonged veteran slump), and allows for Parker Noland (who has been really good of late) to stay in the lineup. I’m not sure we’ll see Young save for late inning defense for the rest of this season.

Question from VU1970:

If we play Arky in the SEC tournament, do we bring our lucky racoons?

Metal bats and lightning delays go together like _____

See those footprints in the sand? That was when Raccoon Man was carrying you.

In seriousness, no. Please stay away from raccoons. In addition to the obvious threat of rabies, raccoon scat contains parasites that can straight up eat your brain and kill you. Keep your garbage can lids secured and call animal control if there’s any sign of a trash panda. That said, I will post those pics and tweets of the Raccoon Man for good luck.

*Metal bats and lightning delays go together like gender reveal parties and dry forests.

Question from VandyMike:

With the emergence of explosive Doctor Jones, is he at risk for an early exit to the draft? Would he not be an awesome cold corner man in 23?

And can someone please reassure me that Shockwave is not draft eligible?

And with that failed suicide squeeze, was that the shortest bunt in record in the SEC?

Shockwave is ours through 2023. In fact, Tennesseean beat writer Aria Gerson put together a helpful tweet that will answer all questions about Diamond Dore Draft Eligibility (click on it and then click the pic to see the whole list):

“Shortest bunt ever” is not something statisticians record. I have no answer for this.

As for Dr. Jones, I am operating under the assumption he turns pro after this year. He’s just got too much talent and toolsy projection in him not to make scouts salivate. At this point, I’m expecting his name to go off the board in the first 75 or so picks, and I would not be shocked if he ends up as a first rounder. I mean, I’d take him in the first. That 3B he hit against MTSU? 113 mph exit velo. He could easily be a 30 HR guy in the pros if developed correctly. He also has exhibited the most growth I’ve ever seen from someone from one year to another. If he’s not rocketing up draft boards, someone’s getting themselves a steal. He saw Shockwave steal home and immediately thought, “Why not try that?” And with how raw he is, the sky is the limit on projections for the good doctor.

He’s a legitimate 5 tool prospect, and he’s busting through the learning curve. If we were to get him back for his senior year, he’s peak JJ Bleday next year. You have to know that’s the learning curve he’s on right now. He just needs to stop making bonehead plays in RF on pop flies.

Oh, and if he somehow doesn’t make it as a hitter, he could always try his luck as a pitcher.

Yeah... some team will talk themselves into offering him over a million. There are more reasons to do so than not.

Questions from BarnDore1950 & Dore31:

There’s a lot of baseball yet to be played this year (hopefully), but looking ahead to next year’s campaign, what draft eligible juniors do you see coming back?


Part two here but specifically what has happened to Young’s draft stock? Last I saw from ESPN he had plummeted so how likely is it that he comes back?

Just a reminder that I will put together a comprehensive Vanderbilt draft preview at the end of this season. For this question, I’ll just list the people I am all but certain will go pro and forego their senior season. In other words, these are my “don’t count on getting them back” guys, with a caveat that Dom Keegan would have been on this list last year:

Spencer Jones

Thomas Schultz

Chris McElvain

That’s it. Many many more could go, but people that would have been locks to be on this list last year—Nick Maldonado and Carter Young—have just not had the years they would have wanted. Maldo could still be drafted and signed, as could Young, but they’re definitely in “bet on myself and come back” territory given their disappointing junior seasons.

Question from YourUncleMike:

In seeing that racoons are caught (and possibly grilled) in the Arky baseball stadium stands, what animal would be caught by the fans at Hawkins field? Is there a listing for the other SEC teams?

I cannot state any more forcibly to avoid raccoons at all costs, and also not to eat them. The first google search turned up this gem:

Is Raccoon Meat Safe To Eat?

Historically, the raccoon has been a feature on a Southerner’s dinner table, but the creature hasn’t featured much in recent years. You must avoid eating any city-dwelling raccoons as they tend to carry parasites, rabies, and various other diseases due to their eating habits.

As for animals at The Hawk? I’ve never seen one. Maybe a squirrel or bird pops by from time to time?

Either way, absolutely no one in our stands is grabbing a critter and throwing it on a grill. We are not the rest of the SEC.

Now, should an ortolan fall in a bowl of armagnac and drown, the rich people who sit behind the catcher will surely have it prepared for them roasted whole by their private chefs, and cover their faces while eating to hide their shame from God. That’s why they’re so often not in their season ticket seats in the early part of the season.

...but only then.

Question from HeavyDore:

Help me get past this... I think trying to win the SEC tourney as a 5 or lower seed is detrimental to getting to Omaha. You have to play Tuesday through Sunday before possibly going into a following Friday start. Seems like a way to wear out arms before what is really important. Thoughts?

If you have a deep pitching staff, you can do it. You just can’t go with the Dave Van Horn method of bringing in Kevin Kopps in like the 3rd inning of every damned game and having him throw north of 100 pitches. We have, at least in theory, such a pitching staff to pull this off. LSU would be throwing out position players in game 4.