Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You Make the Call: March MVPs

The first month of the season (plus a smidgen of February) is history, and that means its time for our first MVP of the Month polls. This year we'll feature a pair of polls each month, one for the Most Valuable Pitcher and one for the Most Valuable Position Player. The nominees:

Team leader stats in bold

Most Valuable Pitcher:
Ian Berger: 2-2, 5.79 ERA, 9 APP, 28 IP, 28 H, 24 R, 18 ER, 10 BB, 23 SO

Brad Buehler: 1-1, 2 Saves, 2.87 ERA, 15 APP, 15.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 9 SO

Tyler Clark: 2-0, 1.32 ERA, 13 APP, 13.2 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO

Ryan Gargano: 0-0, 1.80 ERA, 10 APP, 10 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO

Kyle Gibson: 4-2, 2.63 ERA, 6 APP, 41 IP, 32 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 9 BB, 57 SO

Scooter Hicks: 1-1, 3 Saves, 5.14 ERA, 10 APP, 14 IP, 19 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 12 SO
Phil McCormick, 0-0, 3.86 ERA, 10 APP, 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO

Nick Tepesch: 1-2, 5.54 ERA, 6 APP, 37.1 IP, 48 H, 26 R, 23 ER, 7 BB, 41 SO
And lest we forget . . .

Johnny Wholestaff: 6-1, 2.18 ERA, 7 APP, 62 IP, 48 H, 18 R, 15 ER, 16 BB, 41 SO
Most Valuable Position Player:

• Trevor Coleman: .229 (22-for-96), 17 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 16 BB, 3 HBP, 1-1 SB

Greg Folgia: .290 (27-for-93), 21 R, 3 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 8 HBP, 0-3 SB

Michael Liberto: .262 (22-for-84), 12 R, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 15 BB, 7-10 SB

Ryan Lollis: .313 (31-for-99), 23 R, 6 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 12 BB, 2 HBP, 6-6 SB

Conner Mach: .316 (18-for-57), 12 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 9 BB, 2 HBP

Kyle Mach: .213 (19-for-89), 10 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 14 RBI, 9 BB, 1 HBP, 0-2 SB

Aaron Senne: .283 (26-for-92), 13 R, 7 2B, 14 RBI, 20 BB, 2 HBP, 1-2 SB
Vote for your choices in the left-hand column on this page.

MU 1, OSU 0

■ OColly.com says Cowboys lose low-scoring game to Missouri:
“It was kind of a crosswind,” Anderson said. “If you understand pitching, and you’re not afraid when you come into this park when the wind is like that, you can make the ball move all over the place. It’s a unique game. (Missouri) doesn’t have confidence in one guy; they feel like they can’t move them over more than one or two innings, they’re gonna get hit.

“They threw nine different guys; I haven’t seen that done since I coached in junior college, but I think they are 6-1 this year when they do that, and they don’t feel comfortable with one guy out there in their third game, and so it’s pretty effective.”
OSU baseball falls in Mizzou in series finale, according to the Sillwater NewsPress:
The Cowboys created several opportunities off their six hits — two of which were senior Tyrone Hambly’s — but they couldn’t find their groove among the nine MU pitchers.

“Some pitchers have similar actions and stuff, but everybody’s got their own little run or sinker or other pitches,” Hambly said. “They had two quality arms throwing (Sunday), and (Monday) they went to slow-throwing lefties, hard-throwing righties, a submarine from the left side — you don’t see that every day. It’s hard going from 92, 93 (mph) up here to 84 down here. It’s tough to change.”

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mizzou Baseball Recruits

■ The Kirksville Daily Express reports on MU Recruit Cody King's first outing of the spring:
Staff ace and Mizzou-bound Cody King surrendered eight earned runs in a 12-2
loss at Hannibal in the season opener Wednesday. In the grand scheme, this probably means very little. Kirksville's chances at winning a district title or advancing in the state playoffs will not be diminished by the defeat, but still, yikes.
FoxSports.com features MU Recruit Blake Brown of Normal West HS:

"He's got all the tools the next level is looking for," Hawkins said of the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior. "He runs really well (6.5 seconds over 60 yards) and has a lot of arm strength. He can throw 90 (mph) from the outfield. He can hit for power and hit to all fields."

While batting behind current North Carolina State freshman Harold Riggins last spring, Brown hit .440 with an Area-leading 11 home runs and 51 RBIs to earn all-state honors.

That production along with standout performances at offseason showcases led to Brown signing a national letter of intent to play at Missouri next spring.
BND.com focuses on MU Recruit Dane Opel in its preview of the Edwardsville, IL baseball season: Major league teams definitely have Opel on their radar screens as a high draft pick. Eight scouts showed up to watch him in Edwardsville’s intrasquad game last week.

“When you’ve got a player that’s going to be seen by the pro scouts, that’s a
good scenario,” Funkhouser said. “Maybe down the road he’ll have a decision to
make, whether he wants to go to Mizzou or he wants to sign. I’ve always said
he’s a potential five-tool player, and that’s something to be said for us around
That same article talks about Gregg Culp, who has yet to sign a letter of intent but has shown interest in Mizzou:

The Tigers also are celebrating the return of senior right-hander Gregg Culp, who missed much of last season with tendinitis. Culp is a Division I prospect and the brother of former Mizzou star Nathan Culp, a fourth-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres moving rapidly through their organization.

“He was on the radar of a lot of people prior to that injury,” Funkhouser said of Gregg Culp. “If you lose your No. 5 pitcher, it doesn’t affect your team as much. But when you lose your No. 1, that bumped everybody up a notch.”

Culp (3-0, 1.15 ERA, 13 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings) rested his arm throughout the summer, then pitched some in the fall before resting it during the winter.
“He looks a lot better now,” Funkhouser said. “His delivery’s smoother and he’s throwing pain-free.”

MU-OSU, 1-13, 2-6

■ KTGR.com streaming audio is down. The Okie State broadcast can be streamed HERE

■ For the strong of heart . . . Game 3 of the series is Monday at 1:00. Expect Mr. Wholestaff to get the start. I've been wondering: What happens if Johnny Wholestaff gets drafted?

Missouri baseball drops two games to Oklahoma State, says the Columbia Missourian:
Tigers’ pitcher Kyle Gibson (4-2) had the shortest outing of his career, going two innings and giving up seven runs on seven hits. The Tigers had four hits in the game. Senior Ryan Lollis collected two of the hits and scored the Tigers lone run of the game.

The second game was not much better for the Tigers. They lost 6-2, managing two hits.
■ Expert analysis and prediction on the Rivals.com board:
purkey: I think hitting is their weak link...so, now they will score 20 tomorrow.
Stripes and Seams has some thoughts to share now that he's done being distracted by MU's minor sports:
The whole Johnny Wholestaff project is interesting. It’s been fairly successful so far. I think for many Missouri fans it has to be a bad sign for the pitching prospects on the staff. What are they going to do next year when Tepesch pitches on Friday nights? Who pitches the rest of the weekend?

■ The folks on Tigerboard.com report that the live audio stream on KTGR.com was not working for the Sunday double-header. No big surprise there. I was told before the beginning of the season that this year would be different, that all the technical glitches would be smoothed out and everything would be professional and pleasing to the fans. I guess not so much. The Okie State broadcast can be streamed HERE

Saturday, March 28, 2009

MU @ OSU postponed again by storms

New schedule:
Game 1: Sunday, March 29, 2 p.m.
Game 2: Sunday, March 29, 6 p.m. (approx.)
Game 3: Monday, March 30, 1 p.m.

Friday, March 27, 2009

OSU: All Hat, No Bat

■ To repeat the important news for the weekend series: The three-game series between Missouri and Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. has been shifted to a Saturday-Monday series due to the forecast of inclement weather on Friday.

Game 1: Saturday, March 28, 2 p.m.
Game 2: Sunday, March 29, 2 p.m.
Game 3: Monday, March 30, 1 p.m.

■ The Cowpokes have only played one Big 12 series so far, losing 2 of 3 to Nebraska this past weekend, 4-11, 4-12, 6-3. In that series, three Cowboys hit quite well:

Dean Green, .545 BA, .909 Slg%
Micheal Dabbs, .545, .636 Slg %
Neil Medchill, .538, .769 Slg %
The entire remainder of their lineup was 9-for-61 for a .147 average. This compares to their overall 2009 team batting average of .319.

■ OSU's pitching sports a hefty 5.43 ERA, a number that ballooned to 7.92 against the Cornhuskers.

■ CollegeBaseball.Rivals.com has their latest field of 64 NCAA Regional projections up. Missouri does not appear in their field at all, but KU is listed as a 3-seed.

■ On a separate note, Garrett Broshuis' (02-04) latest blog is up at Baseball America: Survival is Key

My first spring training, I sprinted past all the veterans in conditioning and was abruptly chided for my actions.

"Hey Rook, you don't make a team in conditioning," the pharaohs sagely scolded.

At the time I simply excused this adage for laziness. I was at spring training to compete. Coming from college, I competed at everything. Being number one meant you had heart; you competed to be the first person on the mound during PFPs, the first person to climb to the top of a hill in conditioning, or even the first person to finish two Chipotle burritos (I think I'm still hurting from that one).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 2009 photos

MU's #1 fan, Larry Wyatt, is allowing me to share hundreds of photos he has taken this season. The photo album includes pics from the Tigers' games against Ball State, Western Illinois and Texas. Check out the album HERE. Feel free to grab and nab any you want.

And feel free to thank Larry for sharing not only his photos, but also for sharing his unbridled enthusiasm for the Tigers. He's one of the few people who have been coming to Simmons Field to cheer on the Tigers longer than I have.

In fact, I'd have to say Larry is one of the people who taught me and inspired me to be loud and proud in cheering on the Tigers and giving the visitors a hard time. Back in the early 90's, it was not uncommon for the visiting fans to outnumber and out-shout the faithful few of the home crowd. Larry has always seen the necessity of being a part of the home field advantage.

So, here's a tip of my cap to my favorite Mizzou fan. and thanks for the photos, too.

Save a horse; Beat a Cowboy

NOTE: MU @ OSU has been changed to a Saturday/Sunday/Monday series, per MUTigers.com.
Game 1: Saturday, March 28, 2 p.m.
Game 2: Sunday, March 29, 2 p.m.
Game 3: Monday, March 30, 1 p.m
■ The Oklahoma State Cowboys started their Friday night ace, Andrew Oliver, against the UNLV Rebels Tuesday night, according to Ocolly.com:

Cowboy starter Andrew Oliver was pulled after two innings and allowing a run and three hits.

Anderson said the coaching staff wanted to get Oliver a few innings against the Rebels (13-9) and pulling him early was planned.

“(Oliver) was just going to throw a couple innings to get his mental work and get him ready to throw on Friday,” Anderson said. “Thomas was really good to finish the game off, I think.”
■ The Cowboys think Wednesday's 15-1 drubbing of UNLV will help prepare them for MU, too:

Kroll’s performance served as the launching pad for the Cowboys, who after struggling early, manufactured runs almost effortlessly with sacrifice bunts and
line drives as they rounded the bases with precision, allowing the Cowboys to sit starting pitcher Lyons after three innings to rest for their series this weekend against Missouri.

Lyons said the victory was a good confidence booster as the Cowboys prepare for their home Big 12 opening series this weekend. He said games in which the team scores that many runs can sometimes be hard on a pitcher, especially when the temperature is dropping. However, the Cowboys’ ability to generate runs allowed the team to rotate several pitchers to keep its arms fresh for the weekend.

MU 12, UIC 8, etc.

MU baseball team much improved in win, reports the Columbia Missourian:

Jamieson said some credit can go to the home runs, but he also said that good hits usually come when you aren’t thinking about them.

“We started taking better swings,” Jamieson said. “Sometimes when you hit home runs, it can be a really good thing. Sometimes you can hit them and it’s not. We had a lot of guys in the lineup trying to hit the ball off that building out there until later in the game, and they started taking better swings.”
■ If it makes you feel any better about MU's loss to UIC on Tuesday, it was an "ugly day" for upsets and near upsets all around D-1 Baseball that day, including
• St. Louis U (Mizzou's opponent next Wednesday at Busch Stadium) knocking
off #11 Mississippi, 15-11
• Wright State (?) beat #6 Georgia, 8-5
• Ohio State clobbered #7 Miami, 7-1
• #13 Georgia Tech lost to Georgia State, 10-1
• Brown (3-8 on the year) absolutely clobbered #17 Pepperdine, 20-8
Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com has a few thoughts on the Big 12:
Goodness gracious the Big 12 title race is turning out to be a huge cluster of you know what. Barring a major surprise, the race is going to come down to the final week of the season. Kansas, yes, Kansas, currently leads the top of the standings with a 3-0 conference record after sweeping Texas for the first time in school history last weekend. Oklahoma follows at 2-1, while Baylor, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Missouri and Texas Tech all have conference marks of 3-3. Texas, meanwhile, is in last place. Imagine that. Well, I think the cream eventually will rise to the top, but there are three teams that I believe have major causes for concern and that's the Longhorns, Aggies and Cowboys. Texas just can't hit the baseball and has a .271 batting average after the Kansas series. That's pathetic. And by the way, Texas, the schedule is not going to get any easier after this weekend's series at home against Texas Tech. A&M, meanwhile, has a poor bullpen and strangely enough, pitching has been killing them at times. Also, the offense has been struggling lately. I still think the Aggies have the potential, based on the games I've seen, particularly against Baylor, to be a very good team. But right now, they're playing like a No. 2 seed hitting the road. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has to get better outings from ace pitchers Andy Oliver and Tyler Lyons. I said before the season the dynamic duo essentially were two auto wins for the Pokes on the weekend. Well, not anymore, and don't expect teams to be intimidated by them after what transpired up in Lincoln, Neb., over the weekend.
I'm not sure I agree with him that UT, A&M and OSU are still the teams to beat. right now the conference looks pretty much like a free-for-all. Texas Tech is the team most likely to finish #10. #9 will probably be decided on the last day of the regular season and any of the other 9 could land there.

■ Speaking of Rivals.com, I'd recommend you listen to their weekly 1-hour show about college baseball, but apparently this week they ditched the baseball show because there just wasn't enough coverage of March Madness.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MU in Spring Training

■ MLB.com says Frey (04-07) making most of stint in camp:

"These guys have been doing it for such a long time," he said of some of the D-backs veterans. "They've obviously figured out some things to help them stick around. I'm just trying to pick up whatever I can."

Ironically, there are several things his teammates could pick up from him.

The first is that he does not get overwhelmed by the moment or intimidated by the level of competition he is facing.

"He doesn't change his approach against higher competition," Hinch said. "His heart rate doesn't accelerate as the level of competition around him does."

To Frey, the reason why his approach doesn't change is a simple one.

"At the end of the day, it's the same game," Frey said. "The higher levels obviously are going to be more of a challenge, but when it comes down to it, it's just baseball."

■ Texas Rangers' Kinsler (03) won't play what-might-have-been game, according to the Dallas News:

Kinsler found consistency in his routine, and he took a confident approach into the season. As the Rangers' leadoff hitter, he could beat an opponent with the long ball, a bunt hit or on the base paths.

"It was a lot of things that came together," Kinsler said. "The last two years in the league, I felt like I was that kind of player, but there was always something missing.

UIC 6, MU 4

Wednesday game time has been moved up to 3:00, an hour earlier than previously scheduled

■ From UICFlames.com: Baseball rallies past Missouri, 6-4

■ Missourian: Tigers baseball loses game in late innings

■ The Tigerboard pundits are not happy:
in-the-mix: Tigers Baseball Team No Big Surprise. Deep down guys is this a surprise? Not really looking at what has happened over the past couple of years in recruiting. We have two Blue chip Pitchers and the rest are average players at best. Maybe Coach V should be asked why?

MizzouAstro: Back from the game. Pretty pathetic excuse for an offensive tattack. Its a shame cuz Berger looked pretty good tonight.

■ On an even less cheery note, The College Baseball Blog is hearing rumors that yet another D-1 school is considering cutting baseball after this season.
I have attended two or three UMass Baseball games over the last few seasons
and don't see a reason to keep the program going.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Quotes & Notes: UIC Flames & Gibson on Fire

As of 3:30 PM, the main rain system is moving past Columbia - 6:30 game should take place as scheduled.

■ The Flames of UI-C come into Simmons Field on a high, having whomped Cleveland State in a Sunday double-header, 15-5 and 18-2.
• They have a 6-12 record on the season, against some pretty hefty competition (0-4 at Texas, 0-4 ar Alabama, 1-3 at Vanderbilt to start the season).

• The UIC pitching staff has a 4.89 ERA . . . with only 9 pitchershaving stepped on the mound so far this season

• Offensively, the Flames are sputtering, with a .253 batting average

• From the Flames' weekly Game Notes: UIC is our preferred reference. Please refrain from using “Illinois-Chicago” or any other references since they are incorrect. Thank you for your cooperation.

• Infielder Andy Leonard was named the Horizon League Player of the Week. He batted .500 (7-for-14) with four doubles in three games against Cleveland State to open league play this past weekend.
■ Kyle Gibson has been awarded the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week award for the 2nd straight week, according to Big12Sports.com:
For the second week in a row, Gibson posted a complete-game win as he struck
outa career-high 16 batters in the Tigers’ 3-2 victory over No. 3 Texas A&M. He gave up just two runs on five hits. Gibson’s only walk allowed on the night was an intentional pass in the eighth inning. The Greenfield, Ind. hurler retired the first 10 batters to the plate and 18 of the first 19 he faced. Gibson improves his record to 4-1 on the year and moved into MU’s top 10 career strikeouts (227) after Friday’s performance. He is currently tied for eighth place

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quotes & Notes: Rankings, Raves & Recruits

■ Texas A&M only drops from 5th to 11th in the Rivals.com rankings, from 3rd to 15th in Baseball America, and dropped completely out of the Collegiate Baseball rankings. Texas, after being swept by the Jayhawks, dropped from 2nd to 10th, from 1st to 9th and from 2nd to 17th in the same polls. Mizzou, to no one's surprise, remains unranked, as does KU.

■ Aaron Fitt of BaseballAmerica.com had some good words about Kyle Gibson in his weekly College Top 25 Chat:
Strasburg has been the best pitcher in the nation this year; he's averaging more
than 19 strikeouts per nine innings, and the NCAA record is around 16,but Gibson
and Ryan Berry aren't far behind him. Expectations were very, very high for Gibson (a first-team preseason All-American), and he's living up to them. His improved fastball command is very, very encouraging for his draft stock. he looks like a top-five overall pick to me.
■ The Columbia Tribune reports on Sunday's loss: Tigers bemoan the one that got away
“It’s a shame we lose a game when a ball hits a base runner,” Jamieson said. “… It was a great throw. It’s just a freak thing there in the ninth inning.”
■ From Pantagraph.com: Intercity baseball preview: West's Brown a standout:
Blake Brown will get his chances on the mound this season for the Normal West High School baseball team. Still, Hawkins knows full well Brown’s primary focus should fall on exhibiting and enhancing his considerable talents as a hitter and outfielder.“He’s got all the tools the next level is looking for,” Hawkins said of the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior. “He runs really well (6.5 seconds over 60 yards) and has a lot of arm strength. He can throw 90 (mph) from the outfield. He can hit for power and hit to all fields.”

“There is a possibility there is some pro interest (in Brown) this spring. That will create some atmosphere and excitement for other kids to be seen by that type of people,” Hawkins said. “But Blake is excited about playing his senior year and going to Missouri and being a Tiger for three or four years.”

■ CollegeBaseball.com has released its Louisville Slugger High School Pre-Season All-Americans, which includes some MU signees:
1st Team: OF Dane Opel of Edwardsville, IL
2nd Team: RHP Cody King, Kirksville, MO

March Madness comes to Big 12 Baseball

Big 12 Baseball in 2009 has been a tossed salad of winners and losers, upsets and surprises, and this weekend was no different:

Big 12 title race enters twilight zone, says Rivals.com:
The Big 12 title race would be a perfect place to start if anyone currently is looking to make a modern-day version of The Twilight Zone.

Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma State entered the season as heavy favorites to compete for the conference crown. But so far this weekend, all three teams are trying to stay out of the conference basement.
Unranked Kansas shocked everyone and swept #1 Texas in Lawrence this weekend. 5-4, 4-3, 4-3.

• From Rivals.com: JQKU: I was at the Friday and Saturday games and left recaps at Rock Chalk Talk. Texas simply does not look very good. Their infield defense has broken down several times, only Keyes looks good at the plate and Auggie seems afraid to use his bullpen. He left Chance Ruffin in Friday for 119 pitches and Ruffin did not look good. He was lucky to get out of the game without more damage done.

• From CollegeBaseballToday: UT made the Jayhawks look like the Braves pitching staff of the mid-90s, holding the Longhorns to 10 runs and just five multi-base hits.

• And a must-read related to this game is Nine innings of banter with John Sickels at the Kansas-Texas game: John Sickels is one of the best known baseball analysts in the country. He entered the profession as Bill James’ assistant in 1993. From 1995 to 2005 John worked at ESPN as their minor league baseball correspondent.

On scouting and evaluating college players: "I like to focus as much on performance as tools. I look for a player who combines these two characteristics ideally. A player with poor tools but who still performs well in college is not to be written off. He can still climb the ladder. A good example of this is David Eckstein. Conversely a player with good tools but who does not perform in college can still become a good professional player. So much of a player’s performance is based on environmental issues that are hard to understand or judge. In college a pitcher with good tools but with bad performance can still succeed at the next level. This is less true when it comes to position players. If a position player has good tools but can’t perform well at the college level, they probably cannot play at the professional level. Although it does happen at times. Look at Byron Wiley of Kansas State. He looked awful last year in college and is hitting very well in the Pioneer League.”

Unranked Mizzou took 2 of 3 from #3 Texas A&M

#9 Baylor won 2 of 3 over unranked Texas Tech

• From Big12Hardball.com: Baylor wins the series against Tech - no big deal, right? Except that the win by Tech is the first time since 1999 that the Bears haven't swept the Red Raiders. Kendall Volz went 5.2 innings Friday, allowing four runs, and a career-high 10 hits with three walks and six strikeouts.

#13 Oklahoma finished off a series win (KSU 91-1 Friday, OU 12-11 Saturday) against Kansas State with an incredible 29-4 thumping of the Wildcats on get-away day.

• From CollegeBaseballToday: Beyond the great 8-inning pitching performance of A.J. Morris on Friday, KSU gave up 44 hits and 15 home runs. Their 18-3 start now begins to look a little suspicious.

He goes on to point out some interesting details, including the 55 minutes it took to finish the 1st inning, OU sent 17 hitters to the plate in the 1st inning, OU hit 11 home runs. Read his summary for more tidbits.

#19 Oklahoma State took 2 of 3 from unranked Nebraska
• From Big12Hardball.com:
Mike Anderson's big move, moving Mike Nesseth to the bullpen, paid off as Nebraska took the series from the Cowboys. Cowboys pitcher Andrew Oliver was chased in only 3.2 innings, giving up nine hits and seven earned runs, while Nebraska started Casey Hauptman and six other pitchers to hold the Cowboy bats at bay.

A&M 6, MU 5 and other awkward news

MU baseball loses to Texas A&M on awkward play, reports the Columbia Missourian:
The Aggies went ahead in the top of the ninth for good when Brooks Raley stole second base and, while sliding, kicked the ball from MU shortstop Michael Liberto's glove. The ball sailed into left field and before Rex Meyr could throw home, Raley scored the winning run.

■ Aggie fans at TexAgs.com are now asking the question: How does A&M fall?

W: it's not going to be pretty on Monday. Don't see many 9-loss teams in the polls a month into the season.In fact no one in BA's last poll had more than 5 losses. the Horns are going to freefall too.

jkag89: Baseball America will probably still have us in the top 15. A couple years ago when it started Baylor high it took forever for the Bears to fall.

FirebrandAL.com has a draft scouting report on Kyle Gibson, "an ultra-projectable, tall-framed college pitcher who's built like a coat hangar":
Right now, he can be described as more of a raw project than a polished college pitcher. As he advances in competition, he will have to learn to keep the fastball down in the zone and exhibit more consistent command.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Quotes & Notes: Agonizing Aggies

Apocalypse Columbia is the title of a meltdown thread at TexAgs.com:
W: it's a must win game for the maroon-n-white tomorrow

In 3 seasons Missouri has swept A&M ---> 2000, 2005, and 2006and all 3 of those years were very bad ones. In fact the 05 & 06 sweeps at the hands of the Tigers started the downward spirals of both seasons. And woeful offense was the prime culprit.

A loss tomorrow drops A&M to 2-4 in the league (0-4 on the road) and sets up the rest of the season just trying to get to .500 in Big 12 play. And with a .278 team BA and 11 more conference road games that will be very difficult.The coaches and players have to find a way to win tomorrow whatever it takes.

Luke the Drifter: Maybe we need Crash Davis to get us a rainout...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

MU 3, A&M 2; MU 6, A&M 2

Gibson gets 16 Ks was the story of the night Friday, as reported in the Columbia Tribune:
“It’s fun, man. It’s fun to be in a pitchers’ duel like that,” said Gibson, who again outperformed the hype surrounding him with a 16-strikeout gem. “It’s good to see guys throw like that, and when I’m able to go on the other side and throw well it makes for a fun and relatively quick game.”
Gibson does it again, according to Phil Laposa of PowerMizzou.com:
"It's big time," Gibson said. "When I am able to put up a zero, and our guys put up a couple there is not a better feeling. The other team just took all the energy out of their pitcher and their offense because they put up a zero, and then we put up two. It's just big time. There is no other big thing in baseball other than throwing the first punch and jumping on them early, and that's what we like to do here at Mizzou."
PowerMizzou adds Gibson etches his name into Tiger lore:
"I have been pretty lucky," Jamieson said. "Over the last six or seven years, I have been pretty fortunate. So Kyle just is continuing the tradition of what Aaron (Crow) did, and Max (Scherzer) did, and (Garrett) Broshuis did before him and Justin Stine. I don't even know how to even answer that because it's what I have come to expect."
■ On Saturday, Tigers jump on Aggies early, says PowerMizzou:
Head coach Tim Jamieson had toyed with the idea of using the pitching by committee method in Big 12 play, and he made it a reality on Saturday. Once again, the strategy paid off for Jamieson with his staff giving up a combined two runs. Jamieson even used first baseman Greg Folgia who gave up no runs and had two strikeouts in the inning.

"It has (worked) every game," Jamieson said. "There were a couple of nervous moments, but I think when you score five runs in the bottom of the first it takes a lot of pressure off your pitching staff, whether it be one guy or nine guys."
Who gets the win? MU has been pitching "Johnny Wholestaff" quite a bit lately, including Saturday's game where 9 pitchers each pitched 1 inning. The question then arises, how does the official scorer determine who gets credited with the win? Here's the relevant wording from the official NCAA 2009 Baseball Rulebook, Rule #10, Section 25:
If the starting pitcher does not pitch enough innings [5], the win is credited to a relief pitcher in the following manner: The winning relief pitcher shall be the one who is the pitcher of record when his team goes ahead and remains ahead throughout the remainder of the game. No pitcher may receive credit for a victory if the opposing team ties the score or goes ahead after he has left the game. Whenever the score is tied, the game becomes a new contest insofar as the winning and losing pitchers are concerned.
■ Stripes and Seams indulges in Second Guessing: Should Jamieson bunt?
Jamieson has been playing this type of ball for years so fat chance he changes
but the numbers are interesting.

■ Former Tiger team manager Paul Kruger was at the game today and spent a few minutes in the booth talking to Tex and Hudson about his upcoming plans. Apparently (I got this 2nd hand), Paul will be interning with the Texas Rangers this summer in the Dominican Republic, where he will be working with the Rangers Dominican League coach, former Tiger Jayce Tingler (00-03).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Aggies @ Simmons Field

■ Listen online: KTGR.com or RadioAggieland.com (if the home broadcast has technical problems)

■ Injured Aggies? Rivals.com's Kendall Rogers has the scoop for A&M Coach Rob Childress:

I spoke with Coach Childress very briefly this morning and he wasn't able to go into specifics, but he graciously was able to give me a little information on outfielder Kyle Colligan and infielder Brodie Greene. Details
A post on TexAgs.com has this to add:
Talked with Brodys dad and he has a cracked jaw, chipped front tooth, stitches both inside and outside. Had surgery last night his teeth were at a 90 degree angle where the ball hit him. He goes back to the Dr. on Friday to see if he has any nerve damage.
■ The Aggies come in to Simmons Field on a 3-game losing streak, 3-5 in their last 8 games. From Lobos Finish Sweep of Aggies (kbtx.com), including a video:

Head Coach Rob Childress: “We found ourselves down 4-0 before we knew what hit us, but I felt like our bullpen kept it close and gave us a chance. Kyle Thebeau found his slider tonight, and Nick Fleece and Hank Robertson had really good outings. We were playing a very good team in New Mexico, and their record is very indicative of how good a team they are, and I don’t care who they’ve played and who’s on their schedule.”

“We’re not playing very well right now, but we are competing hard, and that’s good to see. We had a much better approach tonight offensively. We’ve played five games in five days, and we’re 2-3 (on that stretch). I’d much rather be 5-0, but we’re not. That’s the way it is. And we don’t have much time to dwell on it, and that’s the great thing about baseball. We get on a plane tomorrow and play a very talented Missouri team in conference.”

Johnny Wholestaff: MU ponders staffing A&M game, says Matt Nestor of the Columbia Tribune:
But will the strategy work in a Big 12 Conference game? Against the No. 3 team
in the country?

“We’re giving it thought. We haven’t pulled the trigger yet on it,” Missouri Coach Tim Jamieson said. “We’re probably closer to doing it than we have been. I’m not sure we’re ready to do it the second series of the year, but we may also do it this weekend. It’s certainly been effective.”
■ Catch up with what the Texas A&M Aggies have done recently at AggieSports.com, the A&M page of The Eagle, the local newspaper in College Station, TX:

"We're still playing pretty much the same guys, just in a different order," Childress said. "Dylan Petrich has done an incredible job leading off innings, I think 9 of 11 [hitting in those situations], and Caleb Shofner has obviously done a great job for us and he's on base all the time and doesn't strike out."

The new lineup didn't exactly pound the ball, but it did get the key hits when needed, something that had been lacking in a few games of late.
Scout.com's AggieWebsider has analysis of the Aggies opening weekend against the Baylor Bears:

    • Rob Childress and Matt Deggs juggled the line-up to get their best bats into the game, at the potential expense of defense, and were rewarded with a weekend .320 batting average and averaging nearly nine runs per contest.

    • In their last four contests, all versus Top 10 teams, A&M has surrendered 13 runs in the ninth inning or later.
■ An interesting report on the Aggies strengths and weaknesses from an Aggie fan at TexAgs.com:

    • Weekend pitching is as good as, if not better than advertised. Unless they are
      having an off night, these guys will make us competitive in every weekend series, which bodes well for the Big 12 campaign.

    • Relief pitching is not as good as advertised. Unless T Star gets back to his previous form, relief pitching will be a little nervous at best and a liability at worst. No
      additional late inning lock down pitcher has emerged. See effect on above comment on being competitive in weekend series.

    • Week day pitching is a larger drop off from weekend pitching than expected. It’s not clear the returners are showing significant improvement from last year, and the new guys are still finding their way with no evidence yet there is a Raley or Loux in the bunch. Good start by Chad Sherman last night though, and we could see this area get a lot better as the season wears on.

    • Defense all in all is pretty good. Duran was huge at short last year, but overall the defense seems pretty comparable, with some great plays mixed in with occasional costly errors.

    • The offense doesn’t look as good as last year. Each player has shown spurts, and if they all got it together at the same time it could be very good. The hitting last year was very clutch through most of the Big 12 stretch, the capability may be there
      again but we’ll just have to wait and see. The coaches have commented on the approach by the Fullerton and New Mexico hitters – aggressive approach, but with
      two strikes, fouling off pitches for a good pitch and then putting it in play. By and large don’t see that from our hitters. Team speed also appears to be down from last year, but it’s still above average and can put pressure on opposing defenses.

    • Overall, pitching for a series is outstanding but we will need the hitting and 2nd tier pitching to come around to make a serious run past where we’ve been the last couple of years.
■ While we're on the topic of upcoming opponents, CollegeBaseballToday had an interview a while back with the head coach of MU's final opponent on the regular season schedule, Bill Kernan of Cal State Bakersfield:

Our schedule is rated at No. 29 (toughest) in the country this year. And if you look at Boyd’s rankings, you see that for non-conference games only, we have the 19th toughest. So we’re fine with that. . .

I like to say this is definitely a “college” team. There’s not any 1st round draftees out here, but that’s how my teams have always been. You know, give me my band of rugrats and let’s go out there and play hard.

MU @ Spring Training

■ T.R. Sullivan at MRBlogs.com says "Doug Mathis (05) appears to be Triple A starting depth. Just hasn't caught on fire here in the desert. "

■ The Dallas Morning News RangersBlog comments on Another strong day for Ian Kinsler (03):

He went 3-for-3 at the plate. The most important thing being his approach at the plate of driving the outside pitch the other way. Two of his three hits were on outside fastballs that he took the other way.
Phoenix.Fanster.com has an audio clip of an interview with the Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, including comments about how impressed everyone has been with Evan Frey (04-07)in Spring training and discussion of Max Scherzer's (04-06) rehab.

March Madness: Why Baseball is Better Than Basketball

Why Baseball at Simmons Field is Better than the NCAA Basketball Tournament
(this post is a repeat - with updates - from March, 2007)
  1. 3 Games in 3 Days!!! Basketball offers you 49 games this weekend. Problem is, you'll see about 5-10 minutes of each game. You can enjoy all 9 innings of every game this weekend. And, if you're lucky, they'll all go into extra innings!! (Let's play two!)

    And you won't actually be there at those basketball games. Come down to Simmons Field and you can be a part of the action. You can yell at that TV all you want, but those refs aren't listening. At the ballpark, you can tell the home plate ump that his strike zone moves up and down more than the stock market, and he'll hear you.

  2. Get some Exercise!!! Get off your seats and on your feet!!!

    Going to the ballpark is a great way to shed those extra pounds you added during the recent Global-Warming Deep Freeze of Winter. If you sit at home (or at your local non-smoking bar) watching basketball, the most exercise you'll get is getting up to go to the bathroom.

    Instead, you could be at Taylor Stadium getting a real workout:

    - Park down at Reactor Field and climb the long hill up to "Johnny Hi"

    - Stand up and heckle the visiting Aggies. Do it often do it loud, do it long - a great aerobic workout.

    - The 7th inning stretch: Don't just stand there and listen to the the greatest song in the world as it plays. Sing along, and do some real stretching (we used to have some Soccer girls who would do some real stretching during the 7th inning break -- worth the price of admission).

    - Chase foul balls: Run up and down the stadium stairs, dodge cars in the parking lot, beat out the Tiger redshirts that have been sent chasing balls.

  3. It's America's Pastime!!! 5 Reasons why Baseball is just better than Basketball:

    (1) 208-121-2. That's MU Baseball's all-time record against Kansas.
    94-167: MU Basketball vs. the Jayhawks

    (2) Better seats. At Taylor Stadium, I can afford to sit as close to the field as I want - the equivalent of the high-rollers' seats at the Mizzou Arena. And it's certainly a better view than you'll get on the TV this weekend during the NCAA Tourney.

    (3) Tiger Crew vs. Cheerleaders. The Tiger Crew (we still think of them as the Diamond Darlings) don't just bounce around and look good. These girls work (and look good)! They're bat and ball girls, they help the ground screw before the game and during breaks, they help with in-the-stands activities. "Hey, bat girl!"

    (4) Baseball is a harder game to play. It must be. Look what happens to the top draft picks in each sport. Top draftees in basketball go straight to the NBA. Top baseball picks work their way up through the minors in order to prove themselves good enough to play in The Show.

    (5) Better Uniforms. Sorry, but those baggy drawers on the basketball players just can't compete with the classic style of baseball uniforms. Take your girlfriend to the ballpark and ask her what she thinks of those tight pants the players are wearing.

  4. Fill out your bracket It's Fill-in-your-Brackets time for College Basketball fans. Since I really know very little about College Basketball, I fulfill my annual manly responsibility by filling in the March Madness bracket based on two guiding principles:

    1) I always pick Mizzou to win their first two games. After that, I try to leave
    sentiment behind - sort of

    2) I decide each bracket matchup based on how those two teams would fare against each other in BASEBALL, not basketball.
    This provides some interesting matchups this year, especially considering that North Carolina and LSU - two highly ranked baseball teams - will likely meet in the 2nd round this weekend in basketball. I've posted my picks on the Bracket contest at Tigerboard.com, and at this point I show Boston College, Missouri, Texas and North Carolina in the final Four, with UNC edging out MU for the championship.

Tigers 4, Eds 1

Everyone pitches in in Tigers' win, according to the Columbia Missourian (we won't blame the author for the clunky headline):
Missouri baseball coach Tim Jamieson sometimes looks like Yosemite Sam with two
pistols pulled while he fires pitcher after pitcher at the opposing team.

For the fourth time this season Wednesday night, Jamieson used at least eight pitchers to complete a game.

"It's a staff night and it's all trying to get guys innings before the weekend," said reliever Brad Buehler, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save. "It brings us closer together."

■ A quote at the end of that Missourian article caught my attention:
But while Jamieson used almost his entire pitching staff, he wasn't worried about running out of bullets.

"I've never had to pitch a position player in my career," Jamieson said with a grin.
Sorry, Coach, but some of us have been around for a very long time. And I clearly remember Columbia homeboy, outfielder Wes Fewell toeing the rubber against Texas once in his career as a Tiger.

■ Were you wondering about the enthusiasm of a pair of young female fans sitting behind the home dugout last night? Andrew Dewitt has the answer in Broken hearts lead to one wild night at Stripes and Seams:
The sports hacks in the press box noticed these girls pretty early in the game. The went wild, danced to bad songs from the 1990s and tried to out-do ultimate MU baseball fan Larry Wyatt. (Match made in heaven?) They even disappeared in between innings
PowerMizzou covered the game as well, in Lollis hit leads to victory:
"It was the hit and run," Lollis said. "They were just trying to get me on base again I think. I haven't been on in like a long time, but it was the hit and run, so I was just trying to get the ball on the ground, but I guess I just hit it over his head which is pretty cool."

Did they take the bunt sign off?

"Yeah, they did. I could not get it down," he continued laughing.
■ And what's the fun of having your own blog if you can't indulge in some self-serving grumbling occasionally. Arriving at the ballpark last night, I was told by the Event Staff at the gate that they would need to check my bag before I entered, that there are rules of what you can and cannot carry into any MU athletic facility.

I pointed out to them that this would be the first time since I began coming regularly to Simmons Field in 1991 that anyone would demand to check my carry-in bag, and added that this would be the first game of several this season that anyone would suggest that this practice had changed.

They ended up letting me carry in my thermos of decaf, and all was hunky-dory. We'll see whether this was an aberration or indeed a new application of policy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MU in the Minors & Majors

Nathan Culp (04-06)was "extremely sharp in his first taste of throwing to batters", according to MadFriars.com

First, his warm-up showed terrific movement on his fastball and bottoming out with his changeup. When he got in against the competition, Culp had very few balls hit hard.
Kurt Calvert (04-07) is projected to begin the 2009 season in Peoria, according to The Cub Reporter.

Evan Frey (05-07) is doing well in the Diamondbacks Major League camp this spring, sporting a .314 batting average and a .543 slugging percentage. He is expected to be sent down to the minor leagues by the beginning of the season, but he may be earning himself a higher assignment with his good performance so far. According to MLB.com, Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin has taken notice of Frey :

Because of the World Baseball Classic, Spring Training is a little longer this year, so it gives me the opportunity to see guys at length more than a typical spring. . . Getting a chance to see outfielder Evan Frey, who has really jumped out to me
Hunter Mense (04-06) posts a rare update on his own blog, The Life and Times of Aitch, with lots of news on what's up with him:

After six months of not seeing live pitching I stepped back into the batters box with the same confidence that I had towards the end of last year. When I get in the box I look at it as a one on one battle, and no matter who you’re facing you have to think that you’re better than that other guy. It felt just like riding a bike for me. The first pitch I saw I fouled off and the following pitch I drove to the warning track in right center. The feeling of hitting a baseball on the sweet spot of a wood bat is absolutely priceless. When you hit a ball good you can’t even feel it and the sound that it makes is just as good.
Purple Row had a detailed scouting report on Max Scherzer (04-06):

It can certainly be disappointing when a live arm gets relegated to the bullpen when he could have contributed over 200 innings as a starter. For that reason, Arizona fans hope Scherzer's arm can carry a starter's load, but I would suspect (as Lingo did) that he will eventually find his home in the bullpen. The probability of injury due to his still atypical motion and injury history is one part of it, but his repertoire as a flamethrower with increasingly developing secondary pitches and good control profiles very well for a closer.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Quotes & Notes: The Mighty Edwards

■ MU's Wednesday night opponent, SIU-Edwardsville, is 2-9 in its inaugural Division I season. Boyd's World gives them an RPI of .376, good enough for 279th (out of 300 D-I schools), and that's with a Strength of Schedule ranked 247th. So, to summarize, they've played lousy against lousy competition.

The Eds have won twice, against Lehigh and Long Island, and have lost 9 games to teams like USC Upstate (?), Wofford, George Mason, Arkansas State, St. Bonaventure, Pittsburgh, Saint Joseph's and Ohio State. Looks like a line-up of Mid-Major teams on the bubble for the NIT.
■ The weather looks a little dicey for Wednesday night's game. According to Weather.com, there is a 40% chance of rain and thunderstorms beginning at about 3PM today, and extending throughout the evening and night.

■ Looking at the official SIU-Ed Cougars website, the first thing I saw was a headline: "SIUE's Bugger Named to GLVC Hall of Fame", which was about as disturbing as some of the sights I saw last week on my vacation in Redneck Vegas (aka Branson, MO).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quotes & Notes: POW, POD

■ Kyle Gibson has been named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week, according to Big12Sports.com:

Gibson recorded his first career nine-inning shutout as MU defeated No. 1 Texas, 2-0, last Saturday in the opener of the three-game series in Austin. He struck out 11 batters and gave up six hits, improving to 3-1 on the year. Prior to last weekend's triumph, Gibson has had two seven-inning complete games in his career. Gibson has an ERA of 0.90 on the year, striking out 38 batters in 30.0 innings pitched.
■ Gibson also was named the National Player of the Week by the NCBWA

■ Everyone's favorite fan, Larry Wyatt, has taken several photos so far this season, including shots from the first 5 home games, plus from the UT series. He has posted them in his photo album on Facebook. So if you're on Facebook, look him up, make him a "friend" (Larry is every MU Baseball fan's friend) and you'll be able to access his pictures

■ A Longhorn Fan on Tigerboard.com has a few observations from the MU-UT series just concluded:

Let's face it, a big 12 team probably isn't going to win many 3-game series
scoring only 9 runs. But it is doable if the competition only scores 5.
■ The Longhorns are still the darling of Baseball America, hanging onto their #1 ranking in spite of losing a game to Missouri. The fact that the guys at BA think mighty highly of the Tigers' Kyle Gibson probably explains that a lot.

■ Baseball America's Aaron Fitt had this to say about Mizzou in the weekly Top 25 Chat:

The most significant thing to come out of this weekend for Missouri is that Nick Tepesch was very good again in Sunday's loss. Missouri will win most series withGibson and Tepesch throwing the way they did this weekend.

MU 3, UT 4

• The Missourian sums it up: Tigers bullpen blow late lead against Longhorns

• Donald Broyles of The College Baseball Blog was at the game again, and posts his comments:
This is exactly how I thought this series would play out. Missouri was much better than their record indicated as Nick Tepesch kept the Longhorn hitters off balance for his eight innings of work.
Boyd's World has updated its statistical rankings:
MU's Pseudo-RPI is now 0.529, ranked 107th, which is actually UP from 0.497 /151st a week ago. Winning 1 of 3 from a highly ranked team actually provides a nice bump up. Just imagine what winning 2 of 3 would have done.

MU's ISR is 103.7, ranked 119th, compared to 102.6 /117th last week (their rating rose slightly, but their ranking dipped slightly)

MU's Strength of Schedule, after 3 games against Texas, is now ranked 48th, a huge jump from 80th. The SoS will take another leap after this coming weekend's series against Texas A&M.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

MU-UT DH split: 2-0, 0-5

• The Austin American-Statesman reports that UT splits doubleheader against Missouri:
"Man, you want to talk about a good pitcher, that guy is no joke," Texas first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He spots up on every pitch. You go up there looking for a fastball and you get it, and he still gets it past you. Then that's it. He's good. He's the best we've seen this year."
• The College Baseball Blog's Donald Broyles was at the games, and posts several photos from each game, as well as a quote from UT Coach Augie Garrido after Game 1:
"I think that their pitcher was absolutely brilliant."
• Kendall Rogers at CollegeBaseball.Rivals.com says Missouri's Gibson comes into his own:
The talented right-hander is commanding his fastball, still is locating his off speed pitches well, and his velocity continues to climb, topping out around 93 mph against Texas.

"There certainly are a lot of things I'm doing better this season, but one thing that stands out to me is the fact that I am throwing inside with more accuracy and consistency," Gibson said. "If you're able to control the inside part of the plate, that really opens up the slider and change up well. That also allows me to get more ground balls, which in turn, usually leads to more outs."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tigers take game 1 against UT, 2-0

■ Kyle Gibson dominated for 9 innings and scattered 6 hits as the Tigers took the first half of a double-header today, 2-0.

■ UT's radio play-by-play announcer, after the game:
"A most impressive performance from right-hander Kyle Gibson . .
■ Aaron Fitt writes about MU vs. UT on Baseball America, and in a featured piece on ESPNU.com:
Tim Jamieson on Kyle Gibson: "I think the stuff is a little firmer, a little later," Jamieson said. "I think he's still in the 89-93 range with his fastball, the mid-80s with his slider, but it just seems like there's a little more deception, a little more life, and also he's had better command with his fastball. He's been able to come inside against lefthanded hitters. If you've got a righty that can come in on a good lefthanded hitter, it's a sign of maturity and experience. He's been able to pitch out of some situations. In the past, teams would sit slider, because they knew it was his go-to pitch."
■ The Columbia Daily Tribune previewed the series with Steady Lollis leads Tigers to Texas:
Using the same consistent approach he’s had since Day One, the senior from Houston is Missouri’s top hitter so far this year. Lollis is hitting .340 on the season and has at least one base hit in 12 of the 14 games he’s played. Repeating Missouri’s situational hitting approach, Lollis is just as adept at pushing runners around the bases as he is at reaching. He’s already had a pair of three-hit, three-RBI games this year and has driven in a team-high 15.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday MU @ UT cancelled

The official Texas Longhorns website says the Friday game has already been called off due to rain. There will be a double-header Saturday beginning at 1:00 PM, with 2 9-inning games planned.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Double-header at UT???

■ The Horn fans at hornfans.com seem pretty sure that Friday's game will not actually take place until sometime Saturday or even Sunday as part of a double-header:

ElginHotSausage: It's my worthless opinion that Friday's game should be postponed and play 2 on Sunday when the weather will be great. Tell Mizzou not to get on the plane today.

accuratehorn: It appears very likely that your opinion may not be worthless, as rain the temperature won't rise over 42 until Saturday, and rain is likely through Saturday morning. The game Friday is in doubt, and who knows about Saturday, but hopefully it will happen.
Boyd'sWorld.com has begun calculating and posting their RPI and ISR numbers for 2009.

Texas ISR: #6, 125.3

Missouri ISR: #117, 102.6

Texas Strength of Schedule: 82nd

Missouri Strength of Schedule: 80th

Texas RPI: 20th, 0.612

Missouri RPI: 151st, 0.497

My intent is to post MU's weekly updated ISR, RPI and SoS from Boyd'sWorld in the Polls & Rankings feature in the left column here at SimmonsField.com.

■ A blogger at 40acres takes a look at the Longhorns' pluses and minuses:

Pitching continues to be the anchor for this year’s team. The Longhorns have five legitimate weekend starters with only three slots open. Through 13 games Texas sits
at 12-1 with a team ERA of 1.35. Each starter is capable of going seven innings plus, and with closer Austin Wood manning the back end of tight games the Texas bullpen has been untested thus far.

Texas is also receiving great play from their defense. Errors were the Achilles’ heel of last year’s ball club, and so far the work the team put into the offseason has paid
off in spades. With the pitching staff on such a role it is imperative opponents aren’t given free base runners because of poor plays in the field.

The weak link so far has been at the plate. Texas is only hitting .296 with five homeruns through 13 games. Texas is going old school with their approach at the plate. The Longhorns will look to manufacture runs throughout the season because the lineup just doesn’t have anybody who is going to strike fear in opponent’s hearts.
Stripes & Seams is of the opinion that Conner Mach has earned the right to be in the lineup every day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mizzou invited to houston 2010 College Classic

According to Baseball America, MU will be participating in the 2010 Houston College Classic in 2010.
The host Astros announced today that Missouri, Texas, Texas Christian and and Texas Tech will join annual participants Houston and Rice in the 10th annual event at Minute Maid Park. It will take place from March 5-7 next year.
This annual tournament is considered one of the premier early-season tournaments in D-1 Baseball.

MU 18, Western Illinois 4

■ Missouri shivers to victory, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune:

“I don’t care where you’re from, this is cold,” said Missouri right fielder
Senne, a native of Rochester, Minn. “It was not comfortable one bit.”

Tim Jamieson, in his 15th season coaching the Tigers, said last night’s game ranked in the bottom 10 of his tenure on the comfort index.

“We’ve played in worse,” he said, “but not much worse.”

PowerMizzou.com highlights a great play early in the game by OF Aaron Senne:
The Tigers started sophomore Tyler Clark who allowed an early hit. Leatherneck third baseman Drew Laidig stepped to the plate and belted a ball down the right field line only to be robbed by a diving Aaron Senne. Senne proceeded to double off the runner at first and ended any scoring possibility Western Illinois had.

"I saw it and knew with the wind it was going to be tailing towards the line," Senne said. "I had to stay behind it because it was blowing out, so I just tracked it down and got close enough that I could lay out for it and thank God it stuck in my glove. I didn't know if it was going to. It was so cold."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Garrett Broshuis to write for Baseball America

Garrett Broshuis (02-04) is getting a bit of a career promotion this season - from the Sporting News to Baseball America. For a few years now, Brosh has been writing a player's blog for Sporting News, and has distinguished himself with his humor, insight and writing ability.

Apparently the folks at Baseball America agree, as they have picked up Garrett's writing contract for 2009. Not sure if they still owe Sporting News a copy-boy to be named later.

Brosh's first entry as a "Prospect Diarist" asks and answers the ubiquitous question: Are you ready for the season?

I had a good season last year, and feel that I am closer than ever to reaching this goal. Snared in a tar pit called Double A the last few years, I may have finally scratched and clawed myself out of this trap. Hope and eternal optimism still drive me.

There are enough pitchers in minor league camp to fill a small rock quarry. Most are younger, only a handful are older. Some of the young guys I have never even met. Many will not even survive the spring. All of them I'll be competing against, but I'll be doing so with a smile on my face. They're all my teammates, and I love every one of them.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Quotes & Notes: Weekend highlights, photos, opinions

■ The Maneater has a great story on Pitchers learn from Cy Young winner:
During Missouri's nine-game road trip in Arizona, the Tigers pitchers and catchers had a chance to meet with Rick Sutcliffe, who pitched 18 years in the major leagues and won the 1984 National League Cy Young Award while with the Chicago Cubs.

"After a practice, he came to the stands where all the pitchers and catchers were sitting and he talked about his career and how he got to where he was," Berger said. "He talked about throwing the first punch and getting ahead of hitters. He said when he went inside, he made sure it was the hardest pitch he threw."

■ Conner Mach's first career home run leads Tigers, according to the Columbia Missourian:
David Mach offered the boys a ball of his own, $3 and autographs after the game,
and the deal was done.

Speaking of Mini-Mach, InsideMizzou.com has an audio interview with Conner. InsideMizzou also has audio with Tim Jamieson, a report on the win Sunday, and more fantastic pics in the photo gallery

■ From the Columbia Daily Tribune: Tigers hope Sunday wins become trend:

A series-closing Sunday game can make or break a college baseball team’s weekend. Missouri Coach Tim Jamieson likes to emphasize that point.

Although yesterday’s 7-6 series-winning victory over Ball State on Simmons Field won’t carry quite the same weight as a Big 12 Conference series win, the Tigers took a lot of positives out of beating a surprisingly scrappy Cardinals team.

■ Michael Liberto gets some love on Tigerboard:
TigerNation25: He's been very good so far this year. Over .300 and only 5 strikeouts. He has handled the bat way better than most of us were probably expecting. What about giving him a shot at the leadoff spot?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

MU, Ball State: 5-14, 18-4, 7-6

■ Missouri gets mad, gets even, says Matt Nestor of the Columbia Daily Tribune:
The same Ball State offense that shelled eight Missouri pitchers for 23 hits in a 14-5 victory in the opening game was all but silenced by a suddenly potent Ian Berger in Game 2.

Missouri’s struggling offense — which had just two multi-run innings in the first two games of the series — finally strung some hits together, scoring multiple runs in five innings in an 18-4 victory in the nightcap.

Even Coach Tim Jamieson got into the act. After arguing a missed call in the top of the fourth, Jamieson had a heated exchange with plate umpire Tom Brahan in the middle of the inning with everyone in the home dugout cheering him on.

Folgia does it all, according to the Columbia Missourian:

Meet Mr. Do-it all for the MU baseball team. Junior Greg Folgia stands 5-foot-11, weighs 194 pounds and has floppy hair. He holds down five jobs for the Missouri baseball team.

Folgia's responsibilities include lead-off hitter, relief pitcher, starting left fielder, spark plug and pitch-taker.

■ Tim Jamieson post-game on KTGR: "We gotta be tougher at the plate . . . we certainly haven't peaked yet, that's for darn sure."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

InsideMizzou.com photo gallery

InsideMizzou.com has a few pictures in a photo gallery from Friday night's game, including a shot of Ryan Lollis either in mid-stride or displaying his dancing style.

MU 4, Ball State 1

■ Gibson strikes out 13 to lead Tigers to win, says The NEW InsideMizzou.com:

Attendance was great for the first Friday home game of the season. 1,090 fans were out at Taylor Stadium to support their Tigers, and the team noticed.

“70-something degrees, that helps tremendously. But, it’s a good sign, and hopefully they come back tomorrow

■ The Columbia Daily Tribune extols Gibson's lucky 13:
The junior from Greenfield, Ind., orchestrated a 13-strikeout gem in Missouri’s 4-1 victory over Ball State last night on Simmons Field, after which he said part of his pitching philosophy is “letting them know who you are.”

■ The Columbia Missourian focuses on offense with Gebhardt's hit sparks Tigers in win over Ball State:
"The coaches always tell you to battle with two (because) you have one left," Gebhart said. "I didn't think I was down; I just remembered what they said."

■ The Trib's Matt Nestor also has the day's Take Two column, commenting on the early appearance of the 1,00+ crowd this season:
Missouri hasn’t seen a crowd this big this early since Max Scherzer’s home debut in 2006, when a crowd of 1,028 filled the stands for a March 3 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A quick glance over the past few years shows that it generally takes a Scherzer or a Big 12 rival to draw that kind of response.

Stripes and Seams has the first of many weekly podcasts up for the Ball State series:
Tepesch: "One scout on Sunday said he hit 98 on the radar gun"

■ From Tigerboard.com, some impressions from a fan at the game:
TigerNation25: Gibson was just fabulous tonight. Very impressive(obviously). Offensively we just have problems right now. The strikeouts were down tonight. Which is good. The team only struck out 3 times all night, but still left 14 runners on. It was good to see Steve Gray get a hit toward the end of the ballgame. He has to be good if this offense is going to accomplish anything in my opinion.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Alternate perspectives on MU vs Ball State

■ I'm sitting at a table at Panera Bread in Branson, soft classical music wafting in the background, a large chocolate chip cookie at my left hand, and a tall cup of coffee at my right, listening by wi-fi on my laptop to the game. And in the background behind the ever-present voices of Tex and Huddy, I hear the usual Friday night rowdies making lots of noise at the ball park. Certainly a different way to follow the game. Pardon me, i need to refill my coffee cup . . .

■ The Ball State Daily News says Ball State looks to knock off preseason top 25 team:

Despite Missouri's struggles, coach Greg Beals said he expects a strong test for Ball State in its four-game series beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

"I'm expecting to see a very good baseball team," Beals said. "They got off to a tough start, but playing against great competition. We're expecting the same team that was picked in the preseason to be in the top 25."

■ The Greenfield Daily Reporter is excited to report that two of its home town baseball stars are facing off this weekend at Simmons Field: Former Cougar teammates face off on college diamond:

Former Cougar stars Kyle Gibson and Aaron Hammons will be reunited when Missouri hosts Ball State in a four-game series starting Friday.

Hammons, a junior relief pitcher for the Cardinals, said he expects a large crowd from Greenfield to make the trip to Columbia, Mo. Gibson said he’s heard that number could be well over 100 when he takes the mound for the Tigers on Friday night.

“I just think it’s neat that so many people are going to make the six-hour trip to see
Aaron and I play,” said Gibson, Missouri’s junior ace. “We’re probably going to have more fans there than everybody else combined, so it should be pretty cool.”

The Fighting Lettermen. heh

■ By the way, I took a tour through Springfield on my way to Branson today, wanted to see the Missouri State ballpark. Nice stadium. Too bad it sits in a city that looks like the armpit of Missouri.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Quotes & Notes: Ball State, ESPN, Vacation

■ Ball State CF Jeremy Hazelbaker (whose photo makes him look about 14) was named the MAC West Player of the Week:

Hazelbaker is the second straight Cardinal to earn MAC weekly honors as freshman
first baseman Ian [Floyd] Nielsen (La Porte, Ind./La Porte) earned the honors last week.
■ InsideMizzou.com says Mizzou baseball team happy to be home:
Senior pitcher Ian Berger, who had struggled in his performances last week, got
the start for the Tigers and showed improvement on the mound, not allowing any
runs and no hits retiring the Leather Necks in order.

“I was proud for Ian,” Coach Jamieson said. “He definitely pitched better tonight; we need for him to continue to get better every game.”

Aaron Senne and Trevor Coleman have dropped off the list of Rivals.com's Power Rankings. Did someone leave the box of Kryptonite open again?

Cody Ehlers (01-04) will be playing in the Independent Leagues this summer, according to Baby-Bombers.com:
Former Staten Island Yankee first baseman Cody Ehlers was released during the tail end of the 2008 season after he batted just .200 with the Trenton Thunder in the Eastern League. In five minor league seasons in the Yankees organization he had a career .253 batting average with 289 RBIs and 47 homeruns across four levels. Now he will be manning first for the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern League.
■ ESPN has released its schedule for its comprehensive, no-holds-barred coverage of college baseball in 2009. There are no regular season games on ESPN or ESPN2, but there are games on ESPNU. Of course, none of these includes Mizzou - or any other Big 12 team. Baseball America gives us the schedule in its entirety:

April 3: UC Irvine at Cal State Fullerton (10 p.m. ET)
April 5: Louisville at Cincinnati (2 p.m. ET)
April 5: San Diego at Santa Clara (6:30 p.m. ET)
May 1: Liberty at Coastal Carolina (6 p.m. ET)
May 2: Delaware State at Bethune-Cookman (3 p.m. ET)
May 22: Long Beach State at Cal State Fullerton (10 p.m. ET)
May 23: Big East Championship (1 p.m. ET)

■ Believe it or not, I will not be at the Ball State series this weekend. My wife and I will be on a vacation for a week. Yes, there are some things in my life more important than Mizzou Baseball. I will have a laptop and wi-fi, so I'll be listening to Tex and Hud online, and will be posting here at SimmonsField.com.

■ Speaking of vacations, Simmonsfield.com regulars may remember that I went on a "vacation" to Villa Union, Mexico in January. This was a mission trip with the Mizzou Christian Campus House.

I just today received pictures of the progress on one of the buildings we worked on. The photo at right shows the roof that has been added since we left. One of our projects was to frame and and erect the 2nd floor walls and to paint this building. All 35 of us slept on the floor on the 1st floor. I just thought some of you would be interested to see what it was that dragged me all the way to Mexico.

MU 8, WIU 0

■ From PowerMizzou, Lollis shines in home opener:
Lollis was introduced over the loud speaker tonight to the background music of
rapper Lil Wayne. Lil Wayne is known as the "fireman", and Lollis definitely sparked the fire behind the Tigers tonight. When Missouri scored, it seemed as if the senior was always involved. Lollis put the Tigers up 1-0 in the first inning after a wild pitch, and he blew the game open with a bases loaded two-run single in the 8th.
Mizzou shuts out Western Illinois, 8-0.
Mizzou (3-7) used nine pitchers in the game, with each turning in one inning of
work. Sophomore Kelly Fick was credited with the win, his first of the season. He pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

Senior Ryan Lollis extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the
bottom of the first inning.
■ The Western Courier had a preview of the WIU-MU game that looks a bit optimistic in hindsight:
Missouri follows Wednesday's game with a four-game series against Ball State, whereas Western doesn't compete again until the teams meet next Tuesday. This
means that the 'Necks can throw everything they have, while the Tigers will have
to conserve themselves for a week packed full of games. This will not only let Western throw its best pitchers, but according to Hyman, it means Missouri ace
junior starting pitcher Kyle Gibson isn't scheduled to pitch against the 'Necks
■ The Columbia Tribune says Tigers at a loss to explain woeful road trip:
Through nine games, just one player — Lollis, the senior outfielder who is riding a six-game hitting streak — has reached double digits in hits. Four Tigers have double-digit strikeout totals. The runners that do get on rarely get in. Missouri has left 74 runners on base.
PowerMizzou kicks off what it promises will be increased MU Baseball coverage with Tigers looking to rebound:
Trevor Coleman: "To lose seven of our first nine is tough. This team has been
resilient throughout the fall and in early spring with practice and stuff. The coaches have challenged us, and it's something we are accustomed to, and we are going to keep working hard."
■ InsideMizzou has an audio clip with Nick Tepesch

■ The Columbia Missourian reminds us that Taylor Stadium gets ready for a makeover:
The first phase will be constructed down the third base line. MU plans to build a brand new clubhouse which will be roughly 40 to 50 percent bigger than the current clubhouse. In addition to the club house, the team will build an indoor/outdoor batting cage facility and expand the bullpen. Also, the team offices will move from under the first base grandstand to the new facility.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Parking for tonight's game

A good question was asked at Tigerboard.com about the availability of parking for tonight's games, since there is also a pretty big basketball game going on this evening across the street. I called the baseball office and was told the lots at the top of the hill will of course be available for Baseball. They also said they were "pretty sure" there would be a shuttle (golf cart) from the gravel lot down at Reactor Field up to the ballpark. So, if they are correct, sounds like everything is normal

Home Opener, Wednesday March 4, 6:30 PM

■ The Western Illinois Leathernecks are 0-5 so far. As a team they are batting .264 and their pitching staff has an abysmal 13.50 ERA. In those 5 games they've been outscored 67-23. On their opening weekend they were slaughtered by the Oklahoma Sooners, 21-9, 15-4, 6-1 and 17-2.

This past weekend their series with Arkansas was shortened by the weather. But in the Friday game, the Leathernecks took the Razorbacks to extra innings, losing 8-7 in the 10th.

InsideMizzou.com has an audio interview with Tim Jamieson, with more interviews promised for later today:
Q:What do you think of passing John Simmons as the second winningest
coach? Does it mean anything to you or ...?

TJ: Oh, I thought perhaps that he was not allowing us to win. I don't care about me, but I thought, if he's holding the team back, but it seemed like some kind of a curse."
■ From Stripes & Seams, Five things you didn't know about Westrn Illinois:
Notable Alumni of Western Illinois include . . . Frank Winters (Brett Favre touched his butt)
■ Something else you probably don't know: Leatherneck Tyler Metcalf was a teammate of MU's Austin Holt at Barton Community College.

■ Weather forecast for Taylor Stadium: The weather forecasters have been wrong more than usual in Columbia over the past week (I'm still digging out from under the big snowfall that never arrived). But weather.com says the high Wednesday should be 54 degrees, with the temperature around 51 at game time, dropping to 46 by 10:00. 0% chance of precipitation, with 11 mph winds out of the SSE (blowing out to left field).

And if this is your first time going to a game at SimmonsField, you ought to know what the rest of us learned a long time ago: You can expect that it will be 5-10 degrees colder inside the ballpark than outside the ballpark. Bundle up, folks.

■ Questions about going to the game? Check out our SimmonsField.com FAQs:

· FAQ: Going to the Game: Directions, where to park, where to sit, what you can take in

· FAQ: Tickets

· FAQ: Where to eat, what to do in Columbia

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Quotes & Notes

■ Baseball America has a scouting report on Trevor Coleman and on Kyle Gibson, based on their weekend at Arizona State:

Coleman: The bottom line is that both of these guys should be among the first five college catchers taken in the 2009 draft. Neither Coleman nor Ortiz projects as a first- or second-round choice, and tools-wise they fit better in the third- or fourth-round range. However, catchers have a tendency to get over-drafted because of the premium position that they play and the overall lack of depth generally at that position.

Gibson: Gibson’s performance was that of a mid-first-rounder.
Jacob Priday (05-08) was placed on the restricted list by the Houston Astros organization.

"A player who fails to report or fails to sign a contract with the Club to which the player is reserved may be placed on the Restricted List. There is no minimum number of days the player must remain on the Restricted List before the player can be reinstated to the Active List. A player on the Restricted List does not count against a Club’s Active List limits or its Reserve List limits."
■ SI hypes up Max Scherzer (04-06), according to stripesandseams.com:

“He throws hard, he locates pretty well and his changeup is pretty nasty,” says right-hander Brandon Webb. “You don’t really get that from a younger guy. When he’s out there, it doesn’t look like he thinks; he just takes the ball and throws — kind of like me.”
■ Something you don't see everyday: The Baylor Bears turned a tripleplay on Friday night against UCLA. Video on YouTube

Monday, March 2, 2009

Road Trip After-thoughts (or is that an after-taste?)

■ Baseball America's John Manuel has some thoughts on Arizona State's Josh Spence: Man At Work Keeps Winning Admirers:
But the Jamie Moyer of college baseball wants to lull hitters to sleep. He wants them to feel comfortable in the box. He wants them to be looking for a certain pitch, in a certain spot, at a certain speed. Because one thing that is for certain, is that the hitter rarely gets it. If the hitter is looking soft away, as he’s thrown the two prior pitches, zip . . . 86 on the hands.
■ And BA's Aaron Fitt had a few comments about Missouri's struggles in Arizona:
Very tough early-season road trip to Arizona, and their young arms struggled. I think they'll be fine now that the schedule eases up, putting less strain on the pitching. The Tepesch you saw yesterday needs to keep it going for them to have a real shot to make a deep postseason run. I still believe in the Tigers.
■ Kendall Rogers, in a live chat on CollegeBaseball.Rivals.com, was asked about Kansas State's early success, and he brought up the Tigers as well:
Kansas State is off to a great start, but the Big 12 is so loaded this year they may not make it into the tournament. KSU obviously has to make some noise in the conference race, but right now, the Wildcats are in place of Missouri in my eyes. What a disappointment the Tigers have been so far.
RockMNation points out the possibility is there for MU to be back up to .500 by the time the Big 12 schedule begins:
Next up: the home opener against Western Illinois on Wednesday and four home games against Ball State over the weekend (and then another bout with WIU next Tuesday). Sweep those, and you're back to .500...but then again, it's pretty hard to sweep anybody over a 4-game series.
■ And lastly, to repeat a definitive statement by Andre DeWitt in Good news for MU baseball:
It's no longer February.