College Top 25 Chat

Aaron Fitt talked about bubble teams this week




Donnell from New Orleans LA asks:
Aaron, Why did LSU have a tough time with Tennessee this weekend and do you think this was just a wake up call or things to come in the next couple of weeks?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Hi everyone, let's get right to it. Defense was the problem in Saturday's loss — five errors is bad news, but Schimpf and LeMahieu are normally much more sound than that. I don't think there's any real cause for long-term concern out of that game. LSU is going to be up and down on Sundays, because sometimes Austin Ross is real good, and sometimes he's not. In that respect, LSU's staff is built quite similarly to Arizona State's: two dominant guys starting Friday and Saturday, followed by an up-and-down Sunday guy. Both Ross and Seth Blair are capable of being very good or struggling, and for those two teams to get to Omaha, they both need to hope to get the good versions of Ross and Blair.

 Q:  Wes Porter from San Jose, CA asks:
Aaron, Is the only team in the WAC with a chance at an at large bid still Hawaii? San Jose State, Nevada-(league)and New Mexico State have impressive records. Is there a chance any of those teams could pull something off? Not to mention Fresno State hasnt even started making their second half run as they usually do. Give me some good news.....
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I think San Jose State is still in contention for an at-large bid after winning a huge series against UCSB this weekend. Nevada and New Mexico State are nowhere near at-large range in the RPI, and forget about Fresno's chances at an at-large. Remember, the Bulldogs wouldn't have even earned an at-large last year if they hadn't won the WAC tournament. I don't care if they win all the rest of their games, they're still not getting an at-large bid. 229th in the RPI for a defending national champion? That's atrocious. The RPI is not the end-all, be-all (the only reason we reference it at all is because we know it is one of the tools the committee uses the most, so it's a good predictive tool, even if it's not necessarily a good tool to assess who's a good team or even who's a deserving team of an at-large bid), but there's really no way to spin this positive. Fresno has been a massive disappointment this year. We knew their pitching was suspect, but it's hard to believe it's this bad.

 Q:  Donnell from New Orleans LA asks:
Who is your pick to win the SEC regular season and the Conference tournament this year?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I still like LSU to win the regular season thanks to its talent and its favorable remaining schedule. I don't know if the Tigers are built to make a run through the SEC tournament, though. I'd probably go with Georgia in Hoover thanks to superior pitching depth.

 Q:  alex kovaler from moscow, russia asks:
Aaron: Can Fullerton come back and regain their early season form or are their bullpen problems too much to overcome?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: That bullpen has been shaky for sure, but I have confidence that Dave Serrano will find some answers. Between Morrison, Ackland, Rath, Nick Ramirez and Mertins, there are enough parts there for a quality bullpen. Serrano will still find a way to get the best out of a few of those guys, at least. I've still got the Titans in Omaha.

 Q:  DM from Miami asks:
After dropping 2 games at High Point does Coastal still have a chance to host a regioanl in Conway this year?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Sure, they still have a chance — they've got a gaudy overall record and they rank 12th in the RPI — but I don't think they deserve to host. What's Coastal's best series win this year? Radford? Gardner-Webb? UNC Asheville? They've lost series against the two best teams they've faced (Hawaii and Winthrop), plus a series against a team they are much better than (High Point). There's no way that's a regional hosting resume to me. But I'm not on the committee. The committee loves gaudy overall records and high RPIs, so it's probably a pretty safe bet that the Chanticleers will be hosting again, assuming they can win the Big South regular season and tournament titles.

 Q:  Jeff from Phoenix asks:
Aaron - Who do you see as the 8 national seeds if the regionals were to begin today?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: If the regionals were to begin today (meaning my predictions for how the conferences will shake out over the next four weeks are not factored in): 1. Georgia Tech 2. Rice 3. Texas 4. UC Irvine 5. North Carolina 6. Georgia 7. Arizona State 8. Cal State Fullerton

 Q:  Jeff from Fayetteville AR asks:
I am interested in your feed back on the Hogs this week. With Forrest and Eibiners coming out party. As crazy as it sounds I think the Hogs losses against Georgia looked better than their wins against AZ. If that is any sign of where our staff is headed I would say we are looking much better for an Omaha run. I may be a Homer but those numbers against a sqaud like Georgia don't lie.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I've been clamoring for weeks for Eibner to move into the weekend rotation (he's got the best arm on that whole staff), and it was great to see him turn in that kind of a gem on Sunday. I watched Saturday's game on TV, and Forrest looked very solid. As powerful, athletic and gritty as Arkansas' lineup is, the Hogs will be in Omaha if they can pitch like they did this weekend. I'm with you: I feel a lot better about their chances today, even after losing a series to Georgia, then I did a week ago, when their pitching looked like a humongous question.

 Q:  sam from oxford, ms asks:
Who wins the big weekend in oxford this week, ole miss or georgia?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: The Rebels. Pomeranz will finally string together two consecutive strong outings, Bittle will be Bittle, and Ole Miss will hit enough against UGa's outstanding pitching. I'm sticking with the home team there.

 Q:  David from San Diego asks:
Do you think USD can hang on and make it to the WCC Championship Series and earn a regional bid? Can you give me an update on some of their injuries to Muno, McCoy, Sanchez and Solis are they out for the rest of the year? Also, I noticed Blair didn't pitch this weekend any news on him? Great Job by the coaching staff and players filling in with all the injuries.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: They don't get a lot of wet weather in San Diego, but when it rains, it pours, apparently. Muno, Sanchez and Solis are all out for the year, and Blair missed this weekend with a biceps strain. It's unbelievable how that team has hung in there despite losing so many of its best players to injury. That coaching staff is doing a great job out there, and after seeing most of the other WCC contenders waste golden opportunities this weekend, I like San Diego's chances to hang in there and make it to the WCC championship series and to a regional. They've been there before, and I think they're just a little tougher than the rest of those teams. But watch out for Pepperdine — all of a sudden, here come the Waves...

 Q:  JJ from SLO asks:
What is your take on Cal Poly? I've seen a few games now, and just how far do you think a team with an unbelievable offensive attack can go into the post season with very little pitching?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: It is an awfully good offense, and they've been able to slug their way through so far this year. But against quality pitching, I think the Mustangs will be in trouble (remember that UC Irvine series? The Anteaters swept, holding Poly to 11 runs in three games). I see Poly as a strong regional team, maybe even a No. 2 seed, but I don't see the Mustangs winning a regional.

 Q:  Jason from New Orleans asks:
Hey, How are the green wave looking after there series win against a very good East Carolina team with the wind blowing. See them making any noise towards a post season at large birth if they keep it up or is winning the tournment the only way for them to get in?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: They've got to win the tournament. Not a good enough overall record and an RPI in the 80s makes an at-large bid out of the question.

 Q:  Chris from Pasadena, CA asks:
Ive noticed Mike Ford has been moved to the pen. Looks like he has taken to it. How does this affect UCSB's long term outlook for the rest of the season?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: He's gone through some mechanical issues this year (somebody I talked with compared his arm action at one point to Charles Barkley's golf swing), but he's got plenty of arm strength and could blossom into a shut-down closer, which UCSB could certainly use. If Samuels can pitch like he did this weekend, they won't need Ford in the rotation.

 Q:  Pat Murphy from Tempe asks:
Why dont I use any pitchers other than Leake, Spence, Blair and Lambson? Will this hurt me come June when I dont have enough pitching depth....yet again?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: The difference from years past is the front-line guys are better than they've ever been before. But I still think Newman, Franzblau, Swagerty and Calhoun will have to play key roles if Arizona State is going to win the national title this year.

 Q:  Mike from Boston asks:
The UK Wildcats are two games out of the 8th place spot in the standings. With 'bama, Florida, Tenn, and Auburn remaining on the docket and a young team starting to mature, do you think the Cats cn snag that last spot?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: No. Vandy's remaining schedule is more favorable, and I just think the Commodores are better. I would have felt much better about Kentucky's chances if it had found a way to win that 10-inning game Saturday.

 Q:  Colt David from Baton Rouge, Louisiana asks:
How close is George Mason to the top 25? I know they are all bat, light pitching but one arm that sticks out is their closer, Jr.(RS) Jordan Flasher. What does his draft stock look like one year removed from TJ surgery? I once told him I don't sign arms.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: They're on the top 25 radar, but your assessment of them is dead on. Other than UNC Wilmington, there aren't enough quality wins on that resume to merit a spot in the top 25 (Kent State's resume is similar, but the Flashes have more talent, so they get the edge). Flasher is a solid one-inning guy with a fastball and a curve, and he's been up to 91 this year. Good college closer, but undersized for pro ball — probably a 12th-15th rounder, I'll say.

 Q:  Wes from California asks:
What was the biggest upset this weekend?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Gotta be Pacific over Fullerton. I know Pacific is improved this year, but that was was a shocker. The Titans were 72-8 all-time against Pacific heading into this weekend, and they lost that series at home! Just didn't see that one coming.

 Q:  Todd from Tallahassee asks:
Taking everything into account (RPI, remaining schedule, current record, etc.), who has a better chance of hosting a regional; FSU or Miami?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I'm still going with Miami, but it's close.

 Q:  Marc from Austin asks:
The Horns are starting to hit their stride. Pitching and defense have been consistently great, hitting has come around. Now that they have control of their destiny in the Big XII, do we have a firm hold of a Nat'l Seed?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Absolutely.

 Q:  JOSH from COLUMBUS, OH asks:
DOES OHIO STATE HAVE A CHNCE AT HOSTING A REGIONAL THIS YEAR? IF SO WHAT DO THEY NEED TODO HERE ON OUT TO HOST?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: They really do have a chance to host — that RPI (17) is shockingly high, considering they've got exactly zero series wins against teams that will be in regionals (and their best wins all season are against fringe regional contenders Notre Dame, George Mason and Indiana, plus one against Miami). The Buckeyes just have to finish strong — they've got two tough series remaining, at home against Michigan and at Illinois. If they can keep their RPI in the top 30-35 or so, I see them hosting as a No. 2 seed, just as Michigan did last year with a similar RPI.

 Q:  Scott from Phoenix asks:
Looks like a topsy-turvey year with teams migrating in and out of the rankings. Given the number of decent to strong teams in the west, do you think the future super regional matchups will esentially pit great teams in the west knocking off each other, or do you see western teams playing southern/eastern schools in superregional matchups? In your opinion, do you think there should be a re-seeding after the super regionals are determined?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: How many "great" teams do you see in the West? I see three: Arizona State, UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton. At least two of those teams (and maybe all three) will be national seeds and so will not have to face each other in super regionals. There is no other team out west that is even remotely close to "great". I think Cal Poly, Hawaii, Oregon State and San Diego State are pretty solid clubs, but all four are significantly flawed. I'm not sure there's another team on the entire West Coast that looks like a sure-fire regional team. I think it's a pretty bad year for the West, on the whole. Last year was a great year out West; this year, I think the Texas region and the Southeast (especially Georgia and the Carolinas) are much stronger.

 Q:  Seth from Minneapolis asks:
Minnesota had a tough weekend at illinois. However i still feel they have what it takes to win the big ten and make possibly make a super regional. What do you think about this Minnesota team?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I agree that Minnesota still may win the Big Ten, but I do not see it as a super regional team.

 Q:  Jim from Houston, TX asks:
Aaron, Does Baylor's Aaron Miller have more pro potential as a pitcher or outfielder? Will he be drafted higher because he can play both positions?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Pitcher. The ability to play both only helps his draft stock insofar as scouts like pitchers with some athleticism, and he clearly has it. He's got electric stuff from the left side, and somebody's going to take him pretty high as a pitcher (like top three rounds, I suspect).

 Q:  CD from Naples, Fla. asks:
Still waiting for you all to give Ohio St. some credit. They have some very talented players like Wimmers, Hale, Hurley, and Burkhart. I counted two teams in the top 25 that were not from the south or west.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Ohio State might well have gotten in this week if it hadn't lost the head-to-head meeting against Kent State, which I still say is the more talented club, and it's not even close. That's not to say Ohio State is devoid of talent (Wimmers, Hale and Hurley, in particular, are all interesting prospects), but the Buckeyes do not have enough talent to get into the rankings on talent alone. I want to see quality wins, and I just don't see very many on that resume. Also, there are more South and West teams in the top 25 because that's where the vast majority of the best teams come from. Check the teams that have gotten to Omaha and won the CWS for the last 25 years. That said, we've had a lot more cold-weather teams in the rankings lately (Kansas State, Kent State, Oregon State, Gonzaga, Kansas and Minnesota just in the last two weeks). So it's not like we're ignoring deserving teams from other parts of the country. But all of those teams had better cases to be ranked than Ohio State.

 Q:  willy from pitt asks:
How close is South Carolina? What else do they need to do?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Give South Carolina for rallying to win three of their last four conference series, but before that the Gamecocks lost back-to-back conference series, so they're just back to even now. Another solid week (vs. Clemson and at Florida) will land the Gamecocks in the rankings for sure.

 Q:  Jim Hamad from Los Angeles asks:
Hey Aaron, long time reader, first time writer. I'm a huge fan, love the weekly chats. My question to you refers to the rather shaky West Coast Conference. With LMU and San Diego tied for first and Gonzaga, Pepperdine, and San Francisco all in the mix, it seems to be anyone's game. Who is your pick to take the conference?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: I said earlier that I still like San Diego's chances to get back to the WCC title series, and watch out for Pepperdine, but the team I'm going with is actually Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have already beaten USD and Pepperdine and gets to host LMU the final week in a potentially huge series. I think Gonzaga might be the most balanced (and healthiest) of the contenders, with the possible exception of Pepperdine, but the Waves might have just dug themselves too big of a hole.

 Q:  Frederick from New Orleans asks:
How does LSU only fall one spot after losing 2 of 3 at home to TN, the worst team in the conference and dropping a midweek game too? How do you see Ole Miss finishing and do you see them hosting a regional and super regional?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: LSU fell from No. 1 to No. 6 — that's five spots. As for Ole Miss, they would be the No. 4 team in the SEC pecking order right now, and I don't see LSU, Georgia or Arkansas relinquishing their hosting sites. I don't think the SEC gets four this year, so Ole Miss gets squeezed out.

Aaron Fitt: We've got plenty more questions in the queue, but I'm out of time, I'm afraid. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. See you next week.