College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

 Q:  David from Tallahassee asks:
Vandy love is getting a little out of hand, don’t you think? Florida
State sweeps an away series with Maryland, while Vandy drops one to
Georgia, and you give the nod to Vandy because they took 2 of 3 on the
road to a team that’s not much better than the team that Florida State
just swept? 3 convincing road wins should have moved FSU ahead of a
team that only took two of three, and got shut out.

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone — let’s chat! We had a spirited debate about this in
our rankings meeting this morning, and you can hear a little about that
process on the college podcast. When the No. 1 team goes on the road
and wins a conference series, it usually doesn’t get dropped, unless
somebody behind it made a particularly compelling case, say by beating
a ranked team. Sweeping Maryland–albeit an improved Maryland team from
years past–just isn’t enough, especially where Vandy has played a
considerably more challenging schedule, as reflected in the RPI (Vandy
is No. 1, FSU is No. 12). Had the situation been reversed and Florida
State was No. 1, and Florida State had won two of three at Maryland,
and Vandy had swept Georgia, we would have left the Seminoles at No. 1.
We aren’t afraid to bump teams out of the top spot, but it’s hard to do
that after the team won a conference road series.

 Q:  Chad from San Diego asks:
Any word on USD hosting at SDSU? What will Florida need to do over the next 3 weeks to get a bid?

Aaron Fitt:
Last week I wasn’t very optimistic… this week I am slightly moreso.
Let’s leave it at that for now. As for Florida, the RPI is good enough
that I think the Gators only need to go 3-3 in their last six games to
make it. With games against LSU and Tennessee remaining, that’s doable,
though not easy, as both of those clubs are playing better of late. The
SEC picture is really wide open right now once you get past those top
five teams. The way I see it, there are five teams (Florida, LSU,
Tennessee, LSU, Alabam) vying for two or three more regional slots.

 Q:  Alex from Pinehurst, NC asks:
the sweep of Houston, and a possible strong finish against a week
schedule, do you see or is it possible for ECU to host a regional this
Thanks, you guys do a great job!

Aaron Fitt:
I think sweeping Houston solidified ECU as a 2 seed, but I really don’t
think CUSA will get a second host site. After Rice, it’s just too
topsy-turvy. That series loss to Southern Miss pretty much killed ECU’s
hosting chances, in my mind–barring a run through the CUSA tournament.

 Q:  david from VA asks:
do you think about the big south conference and are there any teams
that may make a run to defeat coastal or winthrop in the conference

Aaron Fitt:
It’s really become a two-horse race, and Winthrop actually has a good
chance to win the regular-season title. The Eagles currently have a
one-game lead over the Chanticleers in the loss column, and they will
host Coastal in the regular-season finale. Finishing in first place
should secure Winthrop as a regional team even if it flames out in the
Big South tournament, and I think it’s a regional team even if it
finishes second, though it’s more of a bubble team in that case. It’s
hard to see someone other than Coastal or Winthrop winning that
conference tourney, though VMI might have enough arms to do it if the
Keydets can get hot again.

 Q:  John from NY asks:
Aaron, thanks for the chat. Over the weekend I got to see the
LouisvilleSt. Johns game in Queens. I was just wondering, is Louisville
senior shortstop Chris Cates, listed at 5’3″ and the shortest player in
division one, going to be drafted?

Aaron Fitt:
I believe he will get popped late–he’s a nice little hard-nosed
ballplayer with a little bit of speed and the ability to get on base.
By the way, great weekend for St. John’s, which really put itself in
the Big East driver’s seat. Rutgers is tied with the Red Storm atop the
conference standings, but the Scarlet Knights finish with six road
games, while St. John’s has three home games against Cincinnati and
three at South Florida. The Johnnies also won the head-to-head series
against Rutgers. Louisville, meanwhile, all of a sudden finds itself on
the outside looking in.

 Q:  Tom Flemming from Memphis, Tenn. asks:
more cowbell? How is it is possible to have a team from the SEC that is
in 3rd place overall in league play and No. 7 nationally in the RPI not
ranked in the Top 25? Will Mississippi State be the first ever NCAA 1st
round hosts to not be ranked?

Aaron Fitt:
We would certainly have brought the Bulldogs (and Missouri) in this
week if we had space, but every team in the 20-25 range won its weekend
series. We’re not going to knock you out of the rankings if you win
your series, it’s as simple as that. Mississippi State fell out of the
rankings–and rightly so–when it lost back-to-back conference series
against LSU and Ole Miss. You can certainly make a case that the
Bulldogs deserve to be ranked over the Rebels, but we stuck with the
team that won the head-to-head weekend series (though MSU won a midweek
game between the two teams… the weekend games mean more). If MSU
takes care of business at Georgia next week, I have a strong feeling it
will be back in the rankings. If it does not take care of business, it
doesn’t deserve to be ranked.

 Q:  Tim from Los Gatos asks:
bounced back with a good win over Cal State Fullerton and Enright is
back on track. Where do you see the Waves going this year? Do you think
they have a shot for Omaha with all their talent?

Aaron Fitt:
I certainly think Pepperdine has a chance to make a deep postseason run
because of its pitching. I really like Adam Olbyrchowski as a fourth
starter in a deep regional, and Enright is a rock. A lot will depend on
two players: Brett Hunter, who has an electric arm but has struggled
with consistency since moving to the rotation, and Chase D’Arnaud, the
injured third baseman who provides some punch in the middle of the
Waves lineup. His status is very much up in the air, and this is not
the same team without him. Can they still make a run without him?
Maybe, but it will be harder. If he can return to action, it will be a
major boost.

 Q:  mark from seattle, wa asks:
#6! that is great to see! do you see this team as a legit regional
team, and can they actually make a run to omaha? please give us your
thoughts on this team, thanks for the great work!

Aaron Fitt:
Yes and yes. As I wrote in last Monday’s blog post from San Diego, the
pitching staff will be set up if the Toreros can earn a No. 1 seed
(which looks very likely right now), because they’ll be able to go with
Couch in game one, then Matusz-Romanski in games 2 and 3. Then in a
super regional, Matusz and Romanski are a formidable one-two punch. But
here’s the underrated part of USD: the offense has really come on
strong lately, led by Jordan Abruzzo, Shane Buschini and Justin Snyder,
the three veterans who were supposed to carry the lineup. I don’t
really see any glaring weaknesses in this team.

 Q:  Jeramey Jones from Statesboro Ga asks:
Kyle Russell having another big series, and if you had one position
player to buld a team around this year, is Russell your guy? Or do you
pick a guy like Tony Thomas Jr, Matt Weiters, Stephen Hill, who would
you pick and why?

Aaron Fitt:
More ammo for Florida State fans: I would probably take Vandy’s Pedro
Alvarez–not because he’s having the best year (he’s not) but because
he’s the best player, in my opinion, and he’s having a very good year.
I don’t know if there’s any player who means more to his team than
Alvarez does to Vanderbilt, and that includes David Price. Alvarez
elevates the Commodores from a mediocre offense to a good one.

 Q:  Dave from Austin,Texas asks:
Miss has been so up and down this year. Do you think with the talent
they have they can make a run at Omaha. Or do you think Rebel fans will
have to wait another year to make the trip?

Aaron Fitt:
I think the talent is Omaha-worthy, particularly on the mound.
Consistency is the question mark — Ole Miss just needs to get hot at
the right time. We’ve seen what the Rebels are capable of when they’re
playing well. The question is, which Mississippi team will show up come
tournament time?

 Q:  Chris Carrero from San Francisco asks:
and Matusz was an amazing matchup, I can’t believe you guys didnt have
that on the marquee matchups for the weekend! Anyway, I was curious as
to which of those two is the higher prospect for the draft, Poreda has
the sizevelocity, but Matusz obviously the strikeouts. What do you

Aaron Fitt:
Matusz is the better prospect, without a doubt. He is just much more
polished at this point–he’s a top-five-picks talent for next year’s
draft if he stays healthy. Poreda has good stuff and size but has been
inconsistent. He’ll probably go in the supplemental round this year.

 Q:  Mark from Tucson asks:
you still think that Oregon State will host a regional?
They are below .500 in conference right now and still have to play 3
against ASU and 3 at UCLA. I can see both Arizona and ASU hosting
regionals, and maybe even UCLA if they keep playing the way they have
been, but I’m not sold on OSU.

Aaron Fitt:
I thought Oregon State was a fringy host heading into the weekend, but
they still had a decent chance. That chance was basically destroyed
this weekend, I think. That was a must-win weekend for the Beavers, and
they didn’t do it… 7-8 in the conference is pretty loud. Right now, I
think UCLA is the favorite to secure a second host site from the
Pac-10, with Arizona certainly in the picture as well.

 Q:  Mark Miller from Queens New York asks:
the SEC and the PAC10 having subpar seasons,is there a chance that the
Big East could receive three bids to the NCAA Regionals?ST
Johns,Louisville and Rutgers are all worthy and have good wins outside
the conference.

Aaron Fitt:
I do think there’s a chance, particularly if the Big 12 only gets five.
With Oklahoma in a freefall and Nebraska struggling, that’s a
possibility. I tend to think the Pac-10’s extra bid will go to a fourth
Big West team, and the Missouri Valley Conference is likely to get the
SEC’s extra bid. But St. John’s, Louisville and Rutgers are all
worthy–they could elbow their way into the conversation for three bids.

 Q:  Jeramey from Locust Grove GA asks:
How does Minor’s last 2 shakey starts effect Vandy’s shot at making it Omaha?

Aaron Fitt:
It doesn’t sound like Vanderbilt is too worried about Minor, but if he
does continue to struggle, there are plenty of options to replace him
in the rotation. Right now, Crowell will remain as the Sunday guy,
perhaps alternating with Ty Davis depending on the matchup, but
Christiani and Jacobson are both capable of succeeding as starters.
Christiani is struggling to throw strikes right now, and Jacobson has
thrown more strikes lately but has gotten hit a little bit. Still,
those aren’t bad fallback options. That’s a deep pitching staff.

 Q:  Bob from St. Louis asks:
week John said Missouri need to prove itself against top competition to
get into the BA Top 25. With them taking 2 of 3 from Texas in Austin
this weekend, now how do you justify Missouri not making the rankings?
I think they deserve more respect.

Aaron Fitt:
Since this is the most cordial question from Missouri fans today, I’ll
answer this one. I really don’t think this is very complicated–the
Tigers had a wonderful weekend, taking two of three at Texas, but there
was no room for them in the top 25, because teams 20-25 all won their
weekend series. For the last time, the rankings do not exist in a
vacuum; the performance of the teams around you must be considered.
Just because you had a great weekend, that doesn’t automatically mean
you’ll rise in the rankings, if all the teams above you took care of
business. As a rule, we do not bump teams that take care of business…
once you’re in the rankings, you can only win the games that are in
front of you. If you do so, you get to keep your spot, even if teams
behind you had more impressive weekends. Is Missouri worthy of a top 25
spot right now? Hell yes. Were we going to bump UC Riverside, which
earned its spot in the Top 25 last week? No.

 Q:  Eric from Huntington Beach asks:
something to me. I am trying to understand your rankings comparing 2
teams I have in mind.
Long Beach State and San Diego University.
VS. Ranked teams.
Long Beach Record: Rice 1-2 Texas 2-1 Wichita State 1-2, ASU 2-1,
Irvine 1-2 Pepperdine 2-0, and Ucla 2-0. 11-8
San Diego Texas 2-1, Micigan 1-0, Riverside 0-2, Irvine 1-0, Pepperdine
2-0. 6-3
Records SD 38-14 16-2 RPI 13 LB State 30-14 10-2. RPI 9
Baseball america 6 to 22 SD, SD moved up 4 playing SF
LB moves up 2 beating SLO. Long Beach has lost against more quality
opponents and beaten who they should have. SD has beaten much less
quality opponents and lost 2 out of three to USC, Fresno State, and
Gonzaga (all Non Ranked teams. Please explain.

Aaron Fitt:
I’m getting ornery. This is also pretty simple: Long Beach State lost
THREE STRAIGHT weekend series a few weeks ago. If you lose three
straight weekend series–I don’t care how good the opposition is–you
probably do not belong in the top 25. You’ve got to win the games in
front of you, whether they’re cupcakes or national title contenders.
Since losing three straight series, the Dirtbags recovered by beating
up on the one soft part of their schedule–series against Oral Roberts,
Cal State Northridge, UC Davis, and Pacific. To LBSU’s credit, it did
what it needed to do and won all those series, and then came up with a
big sweep over Cal Poly, so we began to bring Long Beach back up in the
rankings. There just wasn’t very much room to climb this week. The
point is, you can’t just look at the raw numbers without considering

 Q:  Jimmy from Tampa, Fl asks:
back, Aaron! Since you missed last week, I just wanted to harrass you
about FSU taking 2 from those worthless hurricanes. Danny Rosen has now
started the last 2 Sundays since Luke Tucker has come back from injury
and reclaimed his closer role. How do you see this working out for the
Noles? Keep up the good work!

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t care to tabulate my record in those Upset City picks this
year… oof. Rosen has been nigh unhittable this season, and he was
brilliant yesterday, striking out 12. That move looks awfully smart
right now.

 Q:  Emil from King of Prussia, PA asks:

What’s your thoughts on where Jess Todd might be drafted ?


Aaron Fitt:
I think he’ll wind up in the supplemental round — I love the lightning
quick arm and power fastball-slider repertoire. Proving he can thrive
in the bullpen or in the rotation is a big plus in his favor.

Aaron Fitt:
That’s it for today. If you’re still not satisfied (I’m looking at you,
Missouri-Mississippi State-Florida State fans), feel free to listen to
the podcast, which elaborates further on the top 25 deliberations.
Until next time…