Baseball America

College World Series Chat With Aaron Fitt

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will chat about the College World Series at 2 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Vince from Juneau, AK asks:

Do
you think Fresno St. has enough pitching to survive Bracket 2 and make
it into the championship series? They’re sure playing with nothing to
lose and freewheeling style to this point and are very fun to watch!

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, thanks for stopping by. Vince, the new, more spaced-out
schedule really works to Fresno’s advantage. The Bulldogs will be able
to bring Justin Wilson back on almost full rest on Friday, and that’s
the guy they’d want against UNC or LSU, which both rely heavily upon
lefthanded hitters. I think Fresno has a real good chance to wrap up
that bracket on Friday. If things get pushed to Saturday, that’s when
Fresno’s lack of pitching depth could be a factor. But then, Clayton
Allison could be fully healthy and ready to go by Saturday, so maybe
the Bulldogs are in good shape either way. One thing’s for sure —
they’re playing very loose, like you said, and they are indeed very fun
to watch.

 Q:  David from Huntington Beach asks:

It
seems to me while the east coast teams have lately come into the CWS
with inflated numbers, gaudier stats, and therefore higher rankings and
seeds, the western schools which are regarded as underdogs regularly
win. Do you think that the fewer amount of cupcake D1 programs in the
west leading to tougher western school schedules accounts largely for
this trend? #s 1 and 2 bowed out quite easily!

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think that certainly plays a role — West Coast teams are always very
battle-tested by the time they get to Omaha. Of course, there were
plenty of highly ranked and highly seeded West teams that got bounced
before they even reached Omaha (Arizona State and Fullerton, for
example, were both national seeds that failed to win super-regionals at
home). Traditionally, the West Coast has produced the most national
champions, but remember, this decade was largely dominated by non-West
teams (Miami, Texas, Rice) until Oregon State came along (and yes,
Fullerton had a title in there as well). And the West hasn’t wrapped
anything up yet in 2008, either.

 Q:  Lee from Athens, Ga… recently back from Omaha asks:

Georgia seems to be in the driver’s seat in their bracket. How do you like their chances of winning it all?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
They certainly are in the driver’s seat in that bracket, and any team
that starts out 2-0 in the CWS obviously has a very good chance to win
it all. Of course, we’ve seen teams start out 2-0 and fail to reach the
finals each of the last two years (it was Rice in both instances), so
nothing’s certain. Stanford’s playing very well right now, and the
strong outings from Sandbrink and Davis yesterday spared the rest of
that pitching staff. I still don’t know that Stanford has enough arms
to win two more in a row against Georgia, but the Cardinal are set up
fairly well in the first game with Bleich starting and Storen still
pretty rested. Georgia, of course, is in perfect shape on the mound and
will be able to mix and match power arms to its heart’s delight in
order to wrap up that bracket Friday. I worry just a bit about the
three-day layoff stunting Georgia’s momentum, but certainly you still
have to favor the Bulldogs.

 Q:  West vs. The Rest from ACC Trophy Room asks:

Does
the Pac-10, Big West, WAC, and WCC finally get more respect next year
with the way Stanford and Fresno State have played in Omaha?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t know what Fresno State and Stanford have to do with the Big
West and WCC, which combined to win just two regionals and failed to
get a team to Omaha despite heavily hyped contenders like San Diego,
Long Beach, Fullerton and Irvine. That’s like saying Georgia’s success
should result in more respect for the SoCon, Sun Belt and ACC. Really,
this West against the Rest mentality is getting old.

 Q:  Andrew from Athens, GA asks:

Aaron, how good are sophomores Alex McRee, Rich Poythress, and Matt Cerione?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Oh, they’re good. McRee has got a big-time power arm from the left
side; he’s either going to be a boffo Friday night guy next year or a
lights-out closer. Poythress has a lot of power and has done it with
wood bats too, in the Coastal Plain League last year. Cerione is a
nice, scrappy player who has come up big offensively down the stretch
and plays a solid center field. That’s a pretty nice core for next
year’s team.

 Q:  Adam from Louisiana asks:

give me you 8 for Omaha in 09.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: You’ll have to wait until after the CWS!

 Q:  Mitchell from NJ asks:

Aaron,
Has Yankee draft pick Jeremy Bleich of Stanford impressed you with his W.S. appearances?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Well, he’s only made one appearance so far, but yes, it was impressive.
He’s a legitimate three-pitch lefty with good command and firm stuff.
The supplemental first round was probably the perfect spot for him to
go — not a reach, not a steal.

 Q:  Eric from Huntington Beach asks:

I
saw fresno State play in the Long Beach regional and was impressed by
them losing to SD 15-1 and then coming back to win on Monday 5-1. More
impressed by their upset of ASU and down 1-0 where ASU had only lost 4
all year. Now taking care of Rice and UNC without their top 2 pitchers
and timely hitting (again) I just see them as a team of destiny. Team
ball at its finest! Do you see them taking this thing?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
They do have some of that “team of destiny” feel about them. They kind
of remind me of last year’s Oregon State team, which opened the season
in about the same spot in the rankings as Fresno (the Beavers were
16th, if I recall, and Fresno was 18th this year), then disappointed
for about three-quarters of the year, then something just clicked. Pat
Casey remembers telling his team going into a must-win series at UCLA
the final weekend, it’s now or never. They won that series and momentum
just kept building and building, and they were a steamroller by the
time they got to Omaha. For Fresno, something just clicked about six
weeks ago, and like with the Beavers a year earlier, everybody just
bought in and started doing whatever it took to win. The momentum has
just kept building, and now they’re a confident juggernaut. And like
you said, team ball is the biggest single reason for this surge, as it
was with Oregon State last year.

 Q:  BL from Bozeman, MT asks:

Given
the showing of Stanford (could have easily been a national seed) and
Fresno State (pretty easily could have been at least a three, and came
out of a historically-strong regional), are there any grumblings around
Rosenblatt that the West was not treated fairly by Larry Templeton and
his committee?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Well, there’s no way Stanford should have been a national seed. As good
as the Cardinal were on weekends, they lost far too many midweek games,
and those losses still count. I didn’t believe Georgia should have been
a national seed, but I would have gone with Oklahoma State, not
Stanford or another West team. And Fresno, don’t forget, lost 27 games
in the regular season. They’ve got more losses than any team that’s
ever reached the CWS. They might have been more talented and dangerous
than a typical No. 4 team, but their resume was that of a No. 4. They
just got hot at the right time — that doesn’t mean they were seeded
improperly.

 Q:  Zohan from Israel asks:

Who has the best hair on Georgia’s team? That team has some big hair.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Yeah, that’s a hairy bunch. I think I’ll go with Coach Perno… big hair’s just not my style!

 Q:  BL from Bozeman, MT asks:

Who is the most impressive frosh/soph you’re seeing live for the first time in Omaha?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think I’ll go with Drew Storen, who has terrific stuff at the back of
Stanford’s bullpen. Very impressive the way he got three straight outs
to strand runners at second and third in the ninth yesterday.

 Q:  Jeff from Washington D.C. asks:

What can you tell us about Matt Harvey?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
He’s got the second-best stuff out here among starting pitchers, after
Alex White. He’ll run that fastball up to 95-96 and pitch in the 92-94
range with heavy sink. He’ll show you a 65 or 70 curveball, just a
hammer, and he’ll flash an above-average changeup too, though he tends
to be inconsistent with his command of both secondary pitches. He had
his best start of the year in his last real start, a 13-strikeout
masterpiece in a 2-0 win over Wake Forest in the ACC tournament. If
he’s on, nobody will beat him, but he struggled with walks for much of
the year.

 Q:  David E. from Athens, Ga. asks:

Is
Georgia finally the favorite, being able to bring back their staff
rested and at the top of the rotation to face Stanford Friday to
advance to the finals?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I would say so, yes. Not that being “the favorite” has done any good for any of the other favorites out here this year…

 Q:  Darren from Virginia asks:

Of the teams left:
Best power hitting team: LSU
Best contact hitting team: UNC
Best starting pitching: UNC
Best relief pitching: Georgia
Best defense: Stanford
Most momentum: Fresno St
Agree or disagree?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I would agree with all of it, except I would throw Stanford right into the mix with LSU for best power-hitting team.

 Q:  Kristin from Naperville, IL asks:

How
have the crowds been, both size wise and in general? Watching the
Sunday afternoon game, the stands looked extremely empty compared to
normal. Usually record crowds are at each game.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The crowds are down quite a bit from last year’s record pace. After Day
Four, I believe, the gate was about 6,000 fans behind last year’s pace.
And there seems to be a bit more malaise among many of the fans who do
show up. A lot of the locals have whined about the event’s Saturday
start date — they liked getting off work Friday and making a four-day
weekend out of the first set of games. And people around here don’t
much care for change. I’ll be interested to see if the fans start to
rally around Fresno State the way they rallied around Irvine and Oregon
State in years past.

 Q:  Bill from Baton Rouge asks:

Do you think LSU is using up their allotment of luck with all these late inning heroics.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Paul Mainieri wondered the same thing in th eighth inning against Rice,
and the Tigers rallied for four in the ninth. I know this much: If I
were UNC and I had a decent lead in the late innings today, I wouldn’t
feel too safe.

 Q:  Josh G from Sacto,CA asks:

Does
the performance in the CWS have any impact on the signing bonuses ie;
will Buster Posey’s Seminoles being the first team eliminated knock
down his asking price to sign?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Do you work for the Giants, Josh?

Aaron Fitt:
No, if anything, Posey helped himself in Omaha with a fine four-hit
game against Miami. But by this point, CWS performance has very little
impact on bonuses, unless a guy gets hurt. Clubs have already seen
their top draft picks over and over again, they know what they’re
getting. A good week or a bad week here won’t change anything.

 Q:  woody from macon, ga asks:

What’s
your assessment of why Miami failed to make the CWS finals being that
they were the # 1 seed, and, supposedly, the most balanced team in CWS?
Also, Go Dawgs!

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
They peaked too early; their usually reliable closer let them down
against Georgia; they pressed against Stanford. But let’s also give the
teams they played credit. Georgia and Stanford were simply the hotter
teams when it mattered most. Both teams showed an awful lot of
toughness and character in those two wins against Miami. The Hurricanes
kept battling over the final three innings against Stanford, but I
certainly wasn’t impressed by their toughness, on the whole.

 Q:  Bret from Tulare, CA asks:

After
picking Fresno State to lose every game they have played since their
opening regional game at Long Beach State facing Andrew Liebel, can you
please continue to pick against them? Thanks.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I can’t make any promises, Bret. I’m starting to feel awfully good about Fresno’s chances!

 Q:  Bill from Arkansas asks:

Who do you like in tonight’s game? LSU or N.C.?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I really think it could go either way. You’ll have to check the blog
later this afternoon to get my official pick and John’s. Of course,
this year more than ever, the picks are an exercise in futility — what
a fun, unpredictable CWS.

 Q:  Tray from Louisiana asks:

In
tonight’s game, how do the starting pitching and available relief from
each team look? Are there any strengths of either to look out for in
your mind? Any specific pitchers you think will make a big difference?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Barring a late surprise, it’ll be Blake Martin against Matt Harvey.
Louis Coleman and Rob Wooten will of course be central figures in the
late innings, as usual, but the team that does a better job building a
bridge from its starter to its closer will be in the best shape. The
teams that have won here this week have gotten outstanding middle
relief, almost across the board. On paper, I’d give UNC an edge here,
but Brian Moran and Colin Bates have been shaky down the stretch after
dominating for three-quarters of the season. Tyler Trice and Rob
Catapano might be the key guys for UNC. For LSU, Paul Bertuccini has
been outstanding this year, and they’ve got other decent options with
Daniel Bradshaw, Nolan Cain and Anthony Ranaudo. I actually feel a
little more confident in that group than I do in UNC’s group…

Aaron Fitt:
That really should be an outstanding game today — I just love that
matchup. Enjoy it, everyone. We’ll have another chat from Omaha next
week to discuss the CWS finals. Until then, so long, everybody.

College | #2008 #College World Series #Postseason

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