Archive

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Trevor Bauer was drafted 3rd overall by the Diamondbacks last year. He was a pitcher for UCLA in college and got close to winning a College World Series. Since being drafted, he has been on the fast track to the big leagues. After Daniel Hudson’s possible season ending injury, the call-up of Bauer is even more important to the Diamondbacks pitching staff … as long as he’s good.

He went four innings, gave up 5 hits, 2 runs, walked 3, and struck out 3. Not exactly a stellar start, but the Diamondbacks weren’t expecting him to pitch a complete game shutout. He did what was expected of him for his first start in the Major Leagues.

When asked of Kevin Goldstein, scout and writer about prospects for ESPN and Baseball Prospectus, what his thoughts on Bauer’s first start was, he replied, “Effective, inefficient, as expected.”

I think that just about sums it up.

Advertisements

Anthony Rizzo is a top prospect in the Chicago Cubs farm system. He is probably the first basemen of the future and possibly of the World Series champions for the Cubs. He has a lot of hype surrounding him and even more hype surrounding him being called up and playing his first game for the Cubs tonight.

Most of the talk is either someone sincerely believing that Rizzo will do great things and the rest of it is people being sarcastic about the level of success that Rizzo will succeed. So which is the right one? Is Rizzo the superstar of the future for the Cubs or is he going to bust? The answer is that we don’t know and he’ll probably be somewhere in between.

Some of the hype calls Anthony Rizzo the “Savior of the Cubs”. While that might not be true referring to his talent on the field, it is true in another aspect.

Right now the Cubs are 25-48. They are 15 1/2 games out of first place in their division. They have the worst record in Major League Baseball. It’s pretty hard to keep fans interested and going to the ballpark when they lose most of their games. The media and writers who cover the Cubs have to find a way to keep fans interest, they have to search harder than most teams to find a story.

Rizzo has been that story. He has played great for the Iowa Cubs and looks like he can be really good in the future. Maybe the media is over-hyping him, but that’s how they’re keeping the interest of fans. Rizzo is a big story because it’s something Cubs fans can finally be excited about. I don’t think any Cubs fan honestly believes that he’ll turn around the Cubs season, but they do think that he’ll really help in the future. Rizzo is something to believe in, and that’s something Cubs fans really need.

The South Carolina Gamecocks won the College World Series in 2010 and 2011. They won the last College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium by coming from behind and shocking a lot of college baseball fans and writers. They won the first College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park by being the favorites and going undefeated. History and South Carolina the past few years seem to go hand-in-hand, but that was not the case tonight.

Just as they did in the opening game of the College World Series Finals, the Arizona Wildcats played great defense, had great pitching, and hit the ball really well. James Farris pitched a fantastic game and kept a struggling South Carolina offense in check. The Wildcats defense made some great plays once again to kill any South Carolina momentum and change the game. Most importantly, the Arizona offense was able to do what most college teams the past couple years were not able to do. That thing is hitting off of Michael Roth and Matthew Price.

Roth and Price have built such a legacy in the past two years of the College World Series that both of them are now in consideration for being two of the best pitchers of all-time in Omaha. Price has the most wins in College World Series history, and Roth has the most innings pitched. They’re both great parts of the dynasty that is and was South Carolina baseball.

Winning the College World Series takes more than just talent on the baseball field. Florida proved that to us this year. It takes heart and want. Heart and want doesn’t win it either. Stony Brook proved that to us this year. Winning the College World Series takes being different than every other team and having something that no other team has. Arizona was that team this year, and they were that team especially in Omaha.

Looking at South Carolina and how they win games, one might think that they are a team that’s really hard to beat. That would be a true assessment. Over the past three seasons, South Carolina has proved to college baseball fans that they are someone to fear. They started off as a team that lost the first game in the College World Series that fought back to win it all. The next year, they were the best team in college baseball and dominated teams. This year, they were the team looking for a three-peat that despite not having the same talent as the years they won somehow found a way to win games and to get as far as they got. Arizona knew all of this about them. They prepared for the Gamecocks to be a tough contestant.

Arizona did not trail once this entire College World Series in Omaha. That may not be a great thing when you’re facing one of the best teams at comeback wins, but Arizona never lost their poise and had plenty of swagger to keep their offense going despite facing some of the best pitchers in this College World Series. They proved in the game tonight that they weren’t intimidated by South Carolina’s recent history, their great pitching, or their heart and desire to win games no matter what.

It takes a lot to win the College World Series. More than talent, more than heart, and more than being the defending champion. It takes being that team. The team that was good in the regular season, but became great in the postseason. The team that had one of three things (pitching, hitting, and defense) on their side, but somehow excelled in all three during the College World Series.

Arizona was that team. They were good in the regular season, but became great in the postseason. They had one of three things (pitching, hitting, and defense) on their side, but somehow excelled in all three during the College World Series. That is why Arizona took down the two-time defending champions. That is why Arizona won the College World Series.

Winning the College World Series is a tough thing to do. It takes talent, skill, heart, and having everything be perfect on the team. After an impressive CWS before the final series and an impressive game 1 by Arizona, it looks like the Wildcats have all of those things.

Arizona went into the NCAA Tournament with a great offense, but pitching was a big question mark. That question mark disappeared as soon as Arizona arrived in Omaha. The Arizona pitching staff has been just as good, if not better, than their impressive offense during the College World Series so far.

The Wildcats had great pitching, great offense, and good defense in this game and that’s hard to beat even if you’re the two time defending NCAA Champions. There was nothing the Gamecocks could do because they couldn’t hit off of Konner Wade, the defense was too good, and their pitching couldn’t keep the Wildcats’ offense under control.

If the Gamecocks want to win game 2, Roth will have to have a great start and the offense needs to get going. South Carolina cannot win this College World Series unless they start to hit the ball. They can’t keep up with the Arizona offense right now.

After South Carolina fought from the loser’s bracket once again to win three games in 36 hours, they joined Arizona as the other team to be in the final series of the College World Series. This is South Carolina’s third straight appearance in the final series. Arizona hasn’t even been in the College World Series since 2004. And yet, these teams are very evenly matched and the series could go either way.

Pitching will be easier for Arizona to handle than it will be for South Carolina which is a downside of coming out of the loser’s bracket. Pitching Roth and Montgomery on Thursday and then having to pitch Holmes on Friday means that Ray Tanner, head coach of the Gamecocks, will have to start a pitcher that isn’t one of his top three. Roth is expected to pitch the second game and Montgomery the third, if necessary.

Arizona has more flexibility when it comes to pitching because they have had plenty of rest. Heyer did  pitch against Florida State on Thursday, but could easily pitch on Sunday and if not, could pitch game 2 against Roth which would be a great duel. Being rested will be a huge advantage for Arizona compared to South Carolina.

This series is going to be a great series and I think it will come down to whichever team has the better offense. Judging by how the season has gone so far, Arizona would win out over South Carolina in a offensive battle, but anything can happen and South Carolina is known for making outstanding comebacks and being able to always find ways to win games.

This series will go three games and I’m going to predict that Arizona wins despite personally being a fan of the Gamecocks.

After Kent State was eliminated earlier today, only four teams remained. South Carolina, the defending champions, hoping to win another College World Series. Arkansas, the team that ended the streak, looking to shock some people. Arizona, the offensive power house, looking to continue their dominance. Finally, Florida State, the team with plenty of up and downs this season, is trying to keep their team playing the best baseball to give them a chance to go to the final series.

Arkansas and Arizona could both finalize the final series tonight/today if they both win. Right now Arizona is playing Florida State. If Arizona wins, they are headed to the final series. Later today, Arkansas will play South Carolina and if they win, they are also headed to the final series. If Florida State or South Carolina win, they will face off against the same team again in order to go to the final series.

Let’s take a look at all four teams and how each one of them can win the College World Series.

Arizona: They have a great offense and when their pitching is doing well, they are almost unstoppable. That’s how they’ve won both of the games they’ve played so far in this College World Series. With Heyer on the mound again today, I think they have a good chance at beating Florida State. If their pitching can be consistent and their hitting does as well as it’s done all season, they have a really good chance to win this College World Series.

Arkansas: Right now they’re playing good baseball, but there’s a reason that none of the experts picked them to win the College World Series. If their best pitcher is on the mound, they have a good chance to win, but otherwise it’s a little shaky. They have a lot of swagger and believe that they can win. Facing a team that they really want to beat, South Carolina, is a large reason why they can head to the final series if they really want to. The offense hasn’t been great, but if they can score a couple runs and their pitching takes care of the rest, they can win games. Beating the defending champs will be tougher than it seems though.

Florida State: Right now Florida State is hitting the ball well. That’s what has kept them alive in this College World Series. If they can’t hit the ball, they aren’t going to win and they’ve showed throughout the regular season that sometimes they just can’t hit the ball. If they somehow get into a lull and don’t score some runs of Heyer today, they might be leaving the College World Series today. They can beat Heyer and can beat Arizona again after that if their offense delivers and scores a lot of runs. The chances of that happening might be slim, but they can still do it. Freshman pitchers have to step up and help the team win games.

South Carolina: There was a team two years ago that came out of the loser’s bracket to win the College World Series. They did it with a pitcher named Roth and a lot of heart. That team was the South Carolina Gamecocks and they’re ready to do it again. After pitching one of the best games this College World Series, the Gamecocks advanced to face Arkansas again. The thing that the Gamecocks have to do against Arkansas is hit the ball. This is a team that always finds a win to win when they have to and with Grayson Greiner back behind the plate, I think they can do that. Fighting their way through is the only way for them to win this College World Series. Beating Arkansas twice will be a tough task, though.

R.A. Dickey has been doing some great things for the New York Mets this year. As a knuckleballer, he is on the top of his game and is fooling hitters so well that he leads the Major Leagues in Wins, ERA, Ks, and WHIP. I would venture to say that he’s the best pitcher in Major League Baseball right now.

In his last 6 starts he is 6-0 with a .018 ERA. He’s allowed just 2 runs and 21 hits in 48 2/3 innings pitched and has 63 Ks/5 BBs in that time frame. He’s been absolutely lights out recently. His last two starts have both been one-hitters.

But what is the reason behind the great pitching this season and especially in the past few weeks? The answer is that he has a wicked knuckleball. The knuckleball is such a unique pitch, because it can move in almost any direction and it moves at the last second. This makes hitters guess and recently they’ve all been guessing wrong.

Dickey’s knuckleball is slightly unique in that it is almost a slider and a knuckleball combined. It also goes over 80 MPH more recently than it was earlier in the season causing it to be an even more unreadable pitch. Hitters are struggling with this pitch right now, but it isn’t all that Dickey has in his arsenal. The trick of a knuckleball is that you always have the hitter on their toes and a simple fastball could have them fooled because of the fear of the knuckleball.

If Dickey can keep his knuckleball unreadable and over 80 MPH, he can continue to be the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. At least until Verlander gets his act together.