Nine Questions #8: Do We Have Answers?
Granted, there are going to be more than 9 questions that will determine the future of Auburn baseball in 2011 and making one of the questions essentially a call-back to questions 1-7 is a bit of cheating. Just Consider this more of a rambling, this-will-stay-up-for-the-weekend-while-I-watch-the-Super-Bowl, post.
What Questions Have Been Answered?
We started with the 7 previous questions (and the 1 remaining question that will come Monday) and after Coach John Pawlowski addressed the media last night (transcripts can be found here and a pretty nice breakdown here) and he gave insight into a few of these questions.
Answer: I guess we won't know until the season starts. The only definitives CJP gave is that he's confident in Slade Smith and Corey Luckie. Pawlowski only mentioned Morris when it he was discussing guys to fill that 3rd slot. Even then, Morris was lumped in with Bradley Hendrix, Will Irvin, and Dillon Ortman.
In a perfect world you want 5 starting pitchers and 1 "safety" guy. 3 untouched weekend guys, 2 midweek monsters, and spot starter just in case. If I had to rank the guys that CJP mentioned it would still be Slade, Luckie, Morris as the weekend guys. Ortman and Irvin as the midweek men and Bradley Hendrix as the spot-starter.
Answer: No Clue. CJP didn't really address the bullpen at all. He mentioned Ethan Wallen as a guy who's done a solid job out of the bullpen and kind of left it there. I'm guessing we will have a closer by committee for the time being.
Answer: Pawlowski summed didn't really answer but gave some key insight into all 3 of these questions with one response:
On possible starters in the infield and outfield...
"In the outfield we feel Creede Simpson has played some center field and right field. He'll probably be our guy in right field. Justin Fradejas is doing some really positive things out there, and will be in center field. Left field is still wide open. We have Justin Bryant who has played every position on the field. If we need him to pitch, he will go out and pitch. He is such a valuable player. Him and Brooks Beisner. Jay Gonzalez, another freshman, an outfielder who is a good runner, an exciting player. Third base can be Dan Gamache. You're looking at Casey McElroy at short stop, or freshman Zach Alvord. Justin Hargett over there at second base, Kevin Patterson at first base and also Patrick Savage working some in there, too, and Tony Caldwell behind the plate. I feel good about our position players. I think we have some experience and have some guys who have been through the league before."
On the designated hitter...
"That's going to be kind of a revolving door thing. I think we have enough depth where we can go left-handed or right-handed depending on who's on the mound. We'll see how that goes."
Now I've listened to this part multiple times. I've watch the videos from XOS and Scout and Rivals. (I don't know why I did, it was the same thing just from different angles, like my own personal Zapruder film). When you watched Pawloski give his answer he just seemed a bit unsure of the middle infield. Still, we have to go with what he said and right now the lineup is looking like this:
- 1B: Kevin Patterson2B: Justin Hargett
- 3B: Dan Gamache
- SS: Casey McElroy
- LF: ?
- CF: Justin Fradejas
- RF: Creede Simpson
- C: Tony Caldwell
- DH: ?
So there you have it. Left Field is wide open and DH is wide open. Sounds like SS is a battle between CMac and Alvord and Gamache is still at 3B. It does however give some room for wiggle room and that's probably good for Auburn. Of the first 14 games, I can only see 2 that are going to be extreme tests (Virginia and College of Charleston). That leaves 12 games to get the legs under the team before the Arizona State series. Hopefully by then Auburn will have developed a bit of rhythm.
ANSWER: Oh, he'll be released all right. He answered the question himself, last night. KP's confidence seems high and he's ready for his revised role as a full time player:
On playing more of a full-time role now and working against left-handed pitchers...
"Last year, I think I really gained a lot of confidence in myself. The team was playing well and I started to really put things together. I'm just looking to continue to lead this team and to carry that forward this year. I've always felt comfortable against left-handed pitchers, and the more success you have kind of as last year went on, the more confidence you gain. It just kind of snowballs, and that's definitely a good thing. I'm looking to lead this team back to Hoover and continue doing what we're doing."
ANSWER: These guys are truly going to be wildcards. CJP didn't mention any of the 3 I picked out specifically, but did give some love to Dillon Ortman, Ethan Wallen, and Brooks Beisner.
There you have it. We've got a few answers but everything else is probably going to remain up in the air until opening day. Until then, take a peek at the new AU Baseball Poster: