Thursday, April 30, 2009

Joe Paterno is a wise wise man

 

I have to say, I do have a personal fondness for Joe Paterno. Especially when he says things like this.

Basically, he wants the Big Ten (which has 11 teams) to go ahead and add that 12th team like a normal football conference.

The question becomes…who to add? Rutgers? UConn?

There are a couple of problems of course from the outside. PSU would love to get a northeastern school so it doesn’t have to go across the country to play teams like Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana (which to PSU is probably across the country).

Secondly, adding another school is hard enough. You can’t just add a school because the Big Ten has this little thing called “academics” it likes to worry about. There are stipulations like library size, amount of research done, etc. That all go into the prestige that is the “Big Ten”.

The third, and biggest, is the small fact that most of the other Big Ten schools would want Notre Dame. Notre Dame has no reason to join the Big Ten for football. Notre Dame is fine and happy as an independent. Join the Big Ten? Say bye bye to all those sweet and lucrative NBC (yes it’s still a national network) deals. Say bye bye to a bit of the prestige and rivalries that come from playing Navy (ok still) USC (definitely) and others. Finally say ta-ta to Notre Dame’s master plan of going back to their barnstorming roots. (like the FSU game in Jacksonville, <I think that’s right>). So as much as the Big Ten wants Notre Dame (hell, it already plays Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan, and at times Penn State) Notre Dame doesn’t want the Big Ten.

So who to add? Well if you want the east its got to be Rutgers (which other Big Ten Schools would probably scoff at) or UConn (ditto). There is an outside shot of Iowa State (bleh) or maybe even poaching Virginia.

There just really isn’t a school around the Big Ten that would be feasible.

Sooner or later other conferences are going to wise up and go to the magic number of 12 teams.

Especially if the Mountain West keeps making this push to be a BCS conference.

The Sun Belt is making waves and plans to expand to 12 (South Alabama and WKU becoming full time in the future).

It all comes back to the SEC. Did we make the right move adding South Carolina and Arkansas? Personally, I don’t think so.

I would have preferred to add Georgia Tech and Tulane (two previously affiliated members). Then again, I would rather have seen Auburn in the East and Tennessee in the West (anyone who looks at map and sees just where Knoxville and Auburn are should agree)

But we have what we have. I’m happy (although I’m not happy going to East Oklahoma aka Fayetteville, Arkansas) and it’s worked so far.

So here’s to the future.

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What? A Football Post?

 

Yes. I'd like to occasionally write about football. But those times will be rare (only basketball will be rarer). But something's got to fill the void when Baseball season ends. By now, you've heard of the "Tiger Prowl". The coaching caravan that's going around the state trying to impress the recruits. I'm sure you went through the same range of emotions I went through when I heard the news. It probably looked something like this:

 

 

 

 

Ranging from Creepy/Pervy (that would be "Dateline/To Catch a Predator's  Chris Hanson, ready to ask you "Can I Ask What You're Doing here?") to downright cool. (Yes, We're talking Billy Dee Williams on the Cover of Ebony Magazine type cool).

Before I get flack for saying Billy Dee is cool, this isn't "Lando" Billy. (Well maybe pre-backstabbing Lando, but hey you know what Han deserved it. That bastard shot Greedo first </end Star Wars rant>). This is Colt 45 smooth as silk Billy Dee.

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Back on Track?

 

Well that didn't last long. Auburn used to big blow outs and big innings to snap our five game losing streak. Auburn swept Troy (can you really sweep a 2 game series?) 26-6 and 13-8.

SETTING RECORDS:

Yes we are aware that Auburn has absolutely crushed the ball this season. Currently we lead both the SEC and NCAA in team HRs. We currently sit at 97 total HRs.

That's 10 better than the previous record of 87 set in 1998.

But are we on pace to break other offensive records?

STAT CURRENTLY AU RECORD RECORD YEAR
AT BATS 1587 2428 1997
RUNS 312 613 1997
HITS 468 828 1997
RBI 332 577 1997
DOUBLES 80 165 1997
TRIPLES 11 26 1986
TOTAL BASES 868 1284 1997
STRIKEOUTS 387 416 2005
SLUGGING % .547 .539 1998

 

So, yeah, not even close. Except for team strikeouts and maybe slugging %. On interesting note, I always hear about fans complaining about the Auburn pitching and how its the reason we've been slumping since the Tom Slater took over. For a little perspective, Hal Baird coached from 1985-2000, Steve Renfroe from 2001-2004, and Tom Slater from 2005-2008.

YEAR TEAM STRIKEOUTS ALL TIME RANK
2003 409 3
2004 416 1
2005 416 1
2007 394 6
2008 386 7
2009 387 *

Seems like, for this decade, Strikeouts have been our Achilles heel.

SO WHERE ARE WE NOW?

When it comes to an NCAA Bid, our bubble seems to be bursting. After last weeks sweep, Rivals has somewhat given up hope, listing us as one of their losers for the week:

Auburn: The Tigers may have another year to wait for an NCAA regional berth. Even earlier this week, the Tigers appeared to be in good shape to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA postseason. However, finishing 0-4 and getting swept on the road by LSU derailed their postseason plans… for now. The Tigers still have a good RPI but are now 8-13 in the SEC. That’s not going to get you an NCAA bid.

And today, Rivals listed Auburn as one of the "next fifteen" (meaning on the outside looking in) in their latest NCAA Projections.

However, the precedent is there for Auburn to make the NCAA and not the SEC tournament. Look not further than 2005. When Auburn finished 13-17 in the SEC and made the field.

Still, it still rests all on Auburn. This weekend is key for Auburn. Beat Ole Miss. Beat a team projected to get a host seed in the NCAA. A team with a better RPI. Beat a better team. Just. Beat. Ole. Miss.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Heartbreaking and Cliff Hanging

 

To put it simply: the weekend sucked. Auburn lost 7-3, 7-6, and 7-6 over the weekend. This was probably a worst case scenario for Auburn. The losses puts Auburn into a 5 game tailspin (it's worst losing streak of the season) and give us an 8-13 conference record. It also sets up what Auburn didn't want to be in: Facing Must Win Series with Ole Miss and Kentucky.

Some quick notes. 1 of my two predictions came true. Dexter Price became the Sunday starter (4.1 IP, 4er, 2K, 2BB, ND). However, Wes Gilmer and not Dan Gamache got the spot at 3B in Joe Sanders absence.

SO WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Here are the current SEC Standings:

POSITION TEAM SEC Record
1 UGA 14-7
1 LSU 14-7
3 Arkansas 13-7
4 Ole Miss 13-8
4 Florida 13-8
6 Alabama 12-9
7 Vanderbilt 10-10
8 South Carolina 9-12
9 Auburn 8-13
10 Kentucky 7-14
11 Tennessee 6-15
12 Mississippi State 6-15

 

So, as it sits now, Auburn is on the outside looking in. If the season ended today, we'd just miss the tournament.

BRING ON THE SUNSHINE

However, remarkably, we still ain't out of it. We are currently 6 Games out of first in the West with 9 games left. (That's a stretch for that to happen).

THE COMPETITION

Really, it's still anybody's game and no SEC Team is completely out of the tournament picture yet. Realistically though, Auburn is competing with 3 other teams for those last two spots into the Tourney: Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Kentucky. That's not to discount UT and MSU and it's not to say that a late slide by Alabama couldn't put them into the "outside looking in" mix.

Also, with Vandy pulling off the sweep against MSU this past weekend, they have a bit of breathing room and almost a 3 game lead Auburn. So let's look at what's left. We'll include Bama in the mix because they can be caught and Auburn can still meet up with them head to head.

TEAM SEC Record Against Auburn Remaining Series
Alabama 12-9 TBD MSU/Ark/AU
Vanderbilt 10-10 1-2 USC/UGA/UT
South Carolina 9-12 2-1 Vandy/UT/UGA
Kentucky 7-14 TBD UT/AU/UF

 

So we still control out own fate, and we need a couple of things to fall our way so we can get breathing room. We need UGA to take care of business against Vandy and USC. We need UT to pull off an upset against either UK or Vandy.

We also need Vandy to beat South Carolina this weekend. So if that plays out how would we end up?

TEAM SEC Record Remaining Series Best for AU? Final SEC Record
Alabama 12-9 MSU/Ark/AU MSU (2-1)/Ark (1-2)/AU (1-2) 16-14
Vanderbilt 10-10 USC/UGA/UT USC (2-1)/UGA (1-2)/UT (1-2) 14-15
So. Car 9-12 Vandy/UT/UGA Vandy (1-2)/UT (2-1)/UGA (1-2) 13-17
Kentucky 7-14 UT/AU/UF UT (1-2)/AU (1-2)/UF (1-2) 10-20

 

Let's play the Hypotheticals with Auburn. Say we win our final 3 Series but don't sweep (going 6-3). That puts us at 14-16. Meaning we'd probably be the final team in. Just barely

Say we lose (but don't get swept in one of those series, and it's not the UK series). That puts us at 13-17. Meaning we'd miss the Tournament (just barely) because we'd lose the Tiebreaker to South Carolina.

So, it's simple. Win and your in. Just playing the hypotheticals, we MUST WIN our next two series at the least. We get swept by Ole Miss this weekend and we are pretty much done.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Panic Mode

 

Is it time to Panic?  I'm not sure but we are desperately creeping close to panic mode.

Auburn is starting to spin its wheels a little a bit and at a very in opportune time. But should we be worried?

YES?

-Last Night we lost to Samford. A team Auburn beat 18-7 earlier in the season (in a game where the Bulldogs trotted out 8 different pitchers)

-In that loss, Auburn had only 2 hits, (solo Home Runs). However, that's 2 hits. At home. To Samford.

-With the loss to South Carolina on Sunday, Auburn has now lost its last 2 SEC series. We are sitting at a cool 8-10, good enough for 8th place in the league

-Joseph Sanders, one of our top hitters (some might argue our best hitter), is now gone for at least 3 weeks after getting nailed by a pitch Tuesday, cracking his jaw.

-Statistically, we are spiraling in the wrong direction. Here's a quick snap shot of where Auburn was statistically in the SEC, before heading into the Vandy Series and compared to where we are now:

STAT PRE VANDY RANK TODAY CHANGE
AVG 7 10 -3
ERA 11 12 -1
Slugging 2 2 E
On-Base 6 10 -4
Hits 3 9 -6
RBI 4 5 -1
HRs 2 1 +1
StrikeOuts 1 2 +1
Stolen Bases 12 12 E
SB Attempts 12 11 +1
Ground in DP 5 5 E
Opponent BA 12 12 E
Batters KOd 5 9 -4
Walks Allowed 10 10 E
Doubles Allowed 12 12 E
Errors 2 4 +2
       

So we've dropped in Batting Average, now have the worst team ERA, On Base has dropped, and we aren't getting as many hits (the biggest drop from 3rd in the SEC to 9th). We're not fooling anybody anymore either, our Batter's Kd have dropped from 5th to 9th.

-All of our Starting PItchers have ERAs howing around the 5.00 mark. Grant Dayton (4.81); Dexter Price (5.03); Jon Luke Jacobs (5.79), Paul Burnside (6.69) and Taylor Thompson (8.64). That doesn't even include guys who have been moved to bullpen roles and have made spot starts: Ty Kelley (5.78), Chris O'Neal (6.50). Woof.

-Our remaining SEC Series (LSU, UK, Ole Miss, and Alabama) is pretty much a murderers row, with three of those teams ranked in the Top 25 and also some of the top hitting teams in both the SEC and the NCAA.

NO.

Honestly, as much as I personally would like to panic, we can't and we really don't have any reason to panic, yet.

-Yes, our pitching is terrible. But we knew that since the FSU series and when we heard Corey Luckie wouldn't be back thanks to injuries.

-Even with those pitching problems, we're still 8-10 and 25-15 overall. We have 15 games to go. Realistically, we need to just win 7 of those. That would put us at 32-23 overall. Reaching our magic number of 30 wins.

-Further expanding on that 7 win magic number. We have only 3 non-cons left (2 against Troy, 1 against GA Southern). Let's say hypothetically we win those three. Then all we need to do is take 1 of the remaining series against Ole Miss, UK, LSU, and Alabama and avoid getting swept in the others. That would give us those 4 remaining wins. Which is definitely doable.

-Continuing with that hypothetical. That would give us a 13-17 SEC record. Will it be good enough to make the Tournament? Probably

-Remarkably, Auburn is in good shape, still, to make the SEC Tournament. We currently sit 8th in the League. And own head to head tie breakers with the 3 of the 4 teams below us (Vand, Miss State, Tenn) and if we take the UK series that would give us the H2H with all 4.

-Yes the offense will take a hit without Joseph Sanders. However, and I might get flack for this, our defense should improve. With Sanders out of the lineup, what will also be missing will be his 10 errors.

-The biggest thing? Auburn controls its own destiny. Essentially, win and your are in. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is.

SO WHAT NOW?

-There seems to be two problems facing Auburn for the final stretch of the season: Replacing Joseph Sanders and finding some stability in the Pitching.

-Replacing Joseph Sanders isn't going to be easy. The best solution, to me, would be to insert Dan Gamache into the lineup. His natural position (or maybe its better to say, his High School position) is Short Stop. When he's seen playing time it's normally been at 2B (1 game) and at DH (3 games). Then again, no other player has played 3B this year (Sanders started all 41 games we've played)

-Last night Wes Gilmer took Sanders place when he went down. However, that could also be because Gamache was already in game playing 2B.

-Gamache is hitting .417 on the year with a HR and just 2 KOs. So, I say, let's give the kid a shot.

-Finally, pitching. Jay Tate made a point of this:

BASEBALL LOSES TWO AT USC: Auburn (25-15, 8-10) played well at times, but again struggled on Sunday because of pitching problems. The bottom line is that a third weekend starter doesn't exist. Grant Dayton is consistently good and Jon Luke Jacobs oscillates between good and below average. Without a third guy, though, the Tigers will struggle to finish .500 in the league.

2 things. 1st .500 in the league would be a blessing at this point.

-Second. We have that third guy. I think the time has come to move Dexter Price to the starting rotation. He's been solid, sometimes dazzling in midweek games, it's time to give the kid a shot.

My perfect rotation for the remainder of the year would look like this:

Starters:

Dayton/Jacobs/Price

Middle Relievers:

Thompson/Burnside/Ty Kelley

Set Up:

Bradley Hendrix

Closer:

Austin Hubbard

The Rest of the 'pen would just be matchup duty. Single out kind of guys.

I guess we'll see what happens when the Tigers face LSU this weekend.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Cycle

 

Apologies for the delayed absence. Real world and computer problems converged.

QUICK RECAPS:

So the Florida Series didn't go as hoped. Tornado warnings paused Game One. Florida was up 4-1 in the fifth when play was suspended.

Luckily, the Tigers were able to use the layoff to their advantage; using a walk off homer by Justin Hargett to win the series opener 8-7. Rallying from a 7-1 deficit in yet another comeback win.

Later on Saturday, well, a tornado did hit, somewhat. An offensive barrage and an ugly loss left the Tigers stinging. AU falls 24-2.

In the rubber game, the Auburn staff issued 11 walks (is Blane Boyer on the staff now?) and Florida took the series 5-1.

Tuesday, in a makeup game, Auburn took on South Alabama down in Mobile. Personally, I hate playing South Alabama, they are one of the better teams historically, in College Baseball, and every loss to them stings. Auburn could only muster six hits and fell 5-2. The loss snapped a streak of 14 games over non-conference foes. It was Dexter Price's first loss of the year.

Finally, the bats woke up and on Wednesday night, led by Brian Fletchers 3 HRs (in his first 3 ABs) and Paul Burnside (who picked up his first win in almost 2 years). Auburn snapped a 3 game losing streak and won 12-7.

 

STANDINGS

Auburn is still in the middle of the pack in the SEC standings:

 

TEAM SEC RECORD
Georgia 11-4
Arkansas 10-4
LSU 10-5
Florida 9-6
Ole Miss 9-6
Vanderbilt 7-7
Auburn 7-8
Alabama 7-8
South Carolina 7-8
Mississippi State 5-10
Kentucky 4-11
Tennessee 3-12
   

 

Only 8 teams will make it to Birmingham and right now Vandy, Auburn, Alabama, and South Carolina are all competing for those final 3 spots.

It doesn't look like it will affect Auburn's chances to get to the NCAA Tourney.

Rivals has us a 3 seed in the Chapel Hill Regional (Along with UNC, Oregon State, and Manhattan)

College Baseball Blog has a few better expectations. Ranking us as a #2 seed in the Atlanta Regional (along with Georgia Tech, Western Kentucky, and Binghamton)

OTHER NEWS

Paul Nix passed away. The man pretty much responsible for making Auburn the program what it is today. It really is a sad day for Auburn (and capped off a pretty sad start of the week for baseball in general with the deaths of  Mark "The Bird" Fidrych and Harry Kalas.

THE BIG SHOW

Auburn has a couple of players sprinkled around the Minor Leagues. I'll have a complete Big Show recap later in the night. But until then here's the Auburn release.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Polls, Projections, Particulars 4/9

 

Here's a quick look at some of the stats, projections, and polls for the Tigers.

POLLS

Auburn is still on the outside looking in on most polls:

NCBWA Poll: "Receiving Votes"

Other ranks of interest (ORofI): UGA (1), LSU (5), Arky (14), Ole Miss (17), FSU (19), Florida (20), South Carolina (28), Alabama (rv)

Collegiate Baseball Poll: Unranked

ORofI: Arkansas (2), LSU (5), UGA (6), Ole Miss (15), Florida (22), GA Southern (26)

Baseball America Poll: Unranked

ORofI: LSU (2), UGA (6), Arkansas (13), Ole Miss (15), Florida (20)

USA TODAY/ESPN Poll: Unranked

ORofI: UGA (3), LSU (4), Arkansas (9), Ole Miss (18), FSU (25), Alabama (rv), South Carolina (rv)

Rivals Top 25: Unranked

ORofI: LSU (2), UGA (6), Arkansas (7), Ole Miss (14), FSU (19), Florida (rv)

 

PROJECTIONS:

Even though the Tigers are getting little to no love in the polls, the seem to be getting a little respect from the two organizations that put out NCAA Projections: Rivals and the College Baseball Blog

College Baseball Blog:

April 2 Projection:

Chapel Hill Regional (3rd Seed)

Teams in Regional: UNC (1), Coastal Carolina (2), Binghamton (4)

April 9 Projection:

Charlottesville Regional (3rd Seed)

Teams in Regional: UVA (1), Coastal Carolina (2), West Virginia (4)

Rivals:

April 1 Projection:

Columbus (OH) Regional (3rd Seed)

Teams in Regional: Ohio State (1), Coastal Carolina (2), Ohio (4)

April 8 Projection:

Coral Gables Regional (2nd Seed):

Other Teams in Regional: Miami FL (1), Bethune Cookman (4), Florida International (3)

All of these projection are super early and just serve a good talking point. It's good the see that Auburn is in the discussion, but all this really means at this point is that Auburn 1) has a solid RPI 2) has a solid record.

PARTICULARS:

Auburn does have some numbers to boast about on a national level. Out of the 288 D-1 Teams, Auburn ranks 30th in Runs Scored; 36th in Doubles, 3rd in Home Runs, 3rd in Home Runs/game, and 11th in Slugging %.

And before you think Auburn's team ERA was bad, it's only 170th nationally. The worst? That would be 0-17 Coppin State with an 17.71 ERA.

Trent Mummy is 4th nationally in Runs, and Runs per game. Joseph Sanders is 8th in Home Runs and 4th in RBIs.

Read more...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Big Show Update Part 1: Close to the Show

It's the day after Opening Day and now that the Major League Rosters are filled, the Minor Leagues are coming into focus. For some former Auburn players it's a tough go, as they are struggling to find a team. Others are fitting in nicely and trying to secure roster spots.

THE MAJORS

Only three players will start their season in the bigs. However, there are a couple who are just on the cusp of getting called up.

 

GABE GROSS

POSITION: RF
AT AUBURN: 99-01
PREVIOUSLY: Tampa Bay Rays
CURRENTLY: Tampa Bay Rays


NOTES: Nothing much to report. War Damn Gabe is currently platooning and seeing the most action as Tampa Bay's everyday rightfielder. However, the better Gabe Kapler gets the less and less we'll see of Gabe Gross. He's filling a void right now in the absence of BJ Upton and faces challenges from Kapler, as well as Matt Joyce for the Rays 3rd OF spot.

 

 

 TIM HUDSON

ph_218596

POSITION: RHP
AT AUBURN: 96-97
PREVIOUSLY: Atlanta Braves
CURRENTLY: Atlanta Braves

NOTES: Huddy is hurt. 60 Day DL. Currently recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Once he gets healthy, be might see some bullpen work to build back his arm. Other than that 2009 is pretty much a wash for the Phenix City native.

 

DAVID ROSS

POSITION: C
AT AUBURN: 96-97
PREVIOUSLY: Cincinnati Reds
CURRENTLY: Atlanta Braves

NOTES: Ross was signed to a 2 year, 3 Mil deal for the Braves after bouncing around from the Reds and Red Sox last year. ATL had hoped the Ross would solve their back up catcher problem, and alleviate them from using the two-headed monster system they used last year. He’ll start the 09 season on the 15 Day DL and the Braves will use Clint Sammons as his replacement. To be honest, it’s not an ideal situation for D-Ross. He’ll only have a limited role for the Braves and play when Brian McCann is hurt or needs a breather and in some limited pinch hitting roles. However, if Sammons steps up then Ross could be sent down to AAA Gwinett.

AAA 

 

 CLETE THOMAS

POSITION: CF
AT AUBURN: 03-05
PREVIOUSLY: Toledo (AAA)/Detroit (MLB)
CURRENTLY: Toledo (AAA)

Notes: Clete made his debut with Detroit last year and managed to see action in 40 games in his first call-up. He managed to steal 31 bases and definitely put on an impressive showing. How much time he’ll see in the Majors this year is up for debate. The Tigers have some depth in the outfield and already have a young guy who can fill most holes (Josh Anderson); so Clete’s best bet is for the Tigers to unload some of their big money guys (Like Granderson or Mag. Ordonez) and hope for a call up. He might be better served with a full year on the farm where he can try to improve his power (what little he has) or his all around hitting skills.

 

 

 JUSTIN CHRISTIAN

POSITION: LF
AT AUBURN: 2001
PREVIOUSLY: New York Yankees
CURRENTLY: Norfolk Tides (AAA)

NOTES:  Christian had an interesting off season. After being released by the Yankees (his contract was non-tenured) he was looking around a place to call home. Luckily, The Orioles came calling and brought him on as a Non-Roster Invitee. He made the team and got into a battle for the Left Field, which he ultimately lost to Felix Pie. However, one O’s blogger doesn’t think we’ve seen the last of him:

Justin Christian—Christian may be the most intriguing on the five.

After being non-tendered by the New York Yankees, the O’s decided to give the 28-year-old outfielder a shot.

Just some quick stats on him from last season: In 40 at-bats for the “Bronx Bombers” he hit for a .250 average and was seven for eight in stolen base attempts.

The average fan would say that Christian will start off at Triple-A Norfolk, but from the way he’s playing this spring, it looks like he has other plans.

According to MASN.com's Roch Kubatko, Christian is "hitting everything hard."

In an interview after the game against St. Louis, O's Manager Dave Trembley had this to say about Justin:

"I know what kind of person he is. His pedigree is very good. Great makeup," Trembley said. "He told me he was going to be my sleeper. I went to him the other day because Pie wasn't here and I said, 'Hey, if I extend you to play the whole game, would that be asking too much of you?' And he said no, he played in Mexico this winter. He told me the more at-bats I can get him, the better. And he can play second base as well. He was originally an infielder. But he's a very good defensive outfielder." (quote courtesy of MASN.com)

For now, it looks like he will begin the year at Triple-A; however, he is making a case to play on the pro squad.  He might end up becoming the "sleeper" that he says he could be.

So the battles on for Christian, who faces both age and young depth from his parent club. However he’s at least turning some heads.

 

  TUG HULETT

POSITION: 2B
AT AUBURN: 02-04
PREVIOUSLY: Seattle Mariners
CURRENTLY: Omaha Royals (AAA)

NOTES: Tug made his debut with the Mariner’s last year and they were expecting big things. However, a collapse by the club down the stretch had them looking elsewhere. He was released by the team and later claimed on waivers by the Royals.

He does have some competition at 2B, but Hulett can play any infield position and would be looked on as a power addition if the Royals start to compete. The good news is that he still is on the KC Royals 40 Man Roster, so a call up can be quick and easy.

 

 

 

 

STEVEN REGISTER

POSITION: RHP
AT AUBURN: 02-04
PREVIOUSLY: Colorado Sky Sox (AAA)
CURRENTLY: Colorado Sky Sox (AAA)

NOTES: Although Register will start the season with AAA Colorado, he’s listed on the Rockies 40 Man roster so, barring a few injuries or flameouts, he could be in the bullpen for the Rockies. He came close to becoming a Met after the Rockies put him on Waivers, but the boys from Queen’s couldn’t find a spot for him and sent the former Rule 5 Pick back to Colorado. Though, some writers think he will be a part of this year’s bullpen, he has been officially reassigned so he’ll need a call up to get a shot. He should start the season as the Sky Sox Closer, and if he catches fire (like he did last year when he went 16-19 in Save Chances), he could be called up sooner than later, seeing how Colorado’s current closer, Huston Street, is shaky at best.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Weekend Recap: Mark of the Beast

 

I’ve said before, baseball is a game of numbers, and this weekend one number popped up more and more: 6.

On Friday Auburn scored 6 runs in the top of the ninth to beat Mississippi State 9-8. Then, on Saturday, MSU topped Auburn 8-3 to give the Tigers 6 SEC losses on the year. Finally, on Sunday, AU erased a 6 run deficit to win 12-10. Giving Auburn it’s 6th SEC wins and evening the SEC record to 6-6. Creepy huh?

THE GAMES

FRIDAY

I listened to the game at work and honestly had given up hope when we entered the ninth. MSU had a solid closer and AU had just looked lost for the majority of the night. I wasn’t the only one. As anyone who has listened the Rod Bramblett called game, you tell within seconds how Auburn is doing, and he sounded like he was teetering on the ledge. That ninth inning was the story of the night and honestly was the story of the weekend. But how did it happen?

Before, like I said, Auburn looked lost. They did jump out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to some timely hitting from Tony Caldwell and Joe Sanders, but MSU would take a 6-3 lead into the ninth and looked to put the Tigers away for good.

In that ninth: TC lined out. 1 away. Then Ben Jones singled, Fletcher doubled, and Casey McElroy was up. A C-Mac ground out platted a run, but also got MSU closer to shutting the door. 6-4 Bulldogs. 2 Outs. Then, to me, came the crucial part of the ball game. Kevin Patterson was up to bat. Yes, one swing of the bat could have tied it (and normally that’s KP weakness) but to his credit and patience, KP held in there, looking for something he could hit.

Let’s take your through that sequence of pitches to KP. Ball. Then Strike looking, followed by Strike swinging. The count moved to 2-1. Again, KP is a power guy and this was a terrible count to be in. One chase pitch and the ball game is over. Two straight balls and the count was full 3-2. Then KP rattled off 4 straight fouls before finally wearing out the MSU pitcher and drawing a 2 out walk. Fabulous at bat.

Justin Hargett then came up and delivered a solid knock. Scoring Brian Fletcher and Chezz McCann (the other C-Mac, pinch running for KP). Game tied 6-6. (there’s that number again). However, Auburn wasn’t done. After a Trent Mummey walk, Joe Sanders sent a no doubter out of the park. Auburn’s comeback was complete and the lead now was 9-6. 6 runs in the top of the ninth. 5 of those coming with two outs.

After the normal case of the “yips” from the Bullpen, the Tigers would hold on and win 9-8.

SATURDAY

Did we play on Saturday? Could have fooled me. Tigers lose 8-3 after an off day from Jon Luke Jacobs spots MSU a 4-0 lead after the 1st inning. Leaving the AU bullpen to carry the rest of the load (never a good thing).

SUNDAY

I know the AU recap talks about the Tigers overcoming a six run deficit and how the Tigers blasted 4 home runs (C-Mac, Mummey, Caldwell, Sanders) in the top of the fifth to cut it to 8-7. It also mentions Tony Caldwell’s second HR of the game, which tied it a 9-9.

However, the real story is the fact that Auburn just walked away with the game. Literally.

In the top of the 8th, MSU and AU were tied 9-9 and Auburn already had two men gone. Sanders singled, then later advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch.

Then, well, the wheels fell off for the Dogs. Hunter Morris walked. Pitching change for MSU. Caldwell walked and the bases were loaded. Ben Jones walked. 1 RBI. Bases still loaded, AU up 10-9. Pitching change for MSU. Brad Ray walked. Another RBI. Bases still loaded. AU up 11-9. Kevin Patterson walked. a 3rd RBI. AU up 12-9. Bases still loaded. C-Mac hit into a FC to end the inning but the damage was done.

All told? 5 Straight walks. 3 different pitchers. 3 RBIs for Auburn without having to take swing and AU holds on for the game and ultimately, the series.

Sometimes its better to be lucky than good. Auburn was lucky.

JOBUS?

2. Barely. Yes a wins a win and Auburn is now .500 in the SEC. However, without 2 late innings collapses from MSU on Sunday and Friday, we’d be looking at a cool 4-8 league mark.

NOTES:

-Auburn now has 10 come from behind wins on the season

-This Auburn team now has 64 home runs. Best for 4th all time for a Tiger team (and we are barely 1/2 through the season)

-Interestingly, even though Auburn has an even SEC record, The Tigers have been outscored 90-70 in those games. Auburn has given up 7 runs or more 8 different times. Yet, have only scored 7 or  more runs 4 times.  Like I said, better to be lucky than good.

-Tony Caldwell finally broke MSU CF Grant Hogue’s streak of stolen bases. Hogue was 19 of 19 coming into the year. TC got him twice in the series. His first 2 Caught Stealings of the year.

-Auburn plays Georgia State and Bethune Cookman in midweek games. Auburn has won 12 straight non-conference games this season.

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