Top 25 Chat (March 20)

Teddy Cahill: Sorry for my tardiness today. Traveling back from Auburn, so I am coming to you live from my favorite restaurant in Atlanta. Let’s get to those questions.

Logan (Luxembourg): Is Louisville better than last year?
Teddy Cahill: This is an interesting thought exercise. And it’s hard to say that they are, given that guys like Corey Ray, Will Smith, Burdi, Funkhouser, etc. are gone. But Brendan McKay is a year older and better and the younger players that have stepped into larger roles this season have been outstanding. I’m not ready to make any decision after five weeks, but I have been very impressed.

Brad (Raleigh): ECU swept by Mercer. Based on the drop from #8 to #25 for ECU, seems you are not giving much respect to the Mercer team. Thoughts?
Teddy Cahill: I would not say that at all. We considered bringing Mercer into the rankings. East Carolina’s fall is more about the fact it has now been swept twice this season, once at home. Mercer is a good team and, at 16-4, is rolling this season. But getting swept at home is not a good look for any team, particularly a veteran club with Omaha aspirations.

Burke Lyle (Athens Georgia): How is Auburn not in the top 25 and who will be more likely regional host between Vanderbilt and Missouri come May?
Teddy Cahill: Auburn (and several other teams this week) were victims of there just not being enough spots for all the teams we wanted to rank. But, specifically, Auburn not having played a road game yet held it back. I’d put Kentucky ahead of Auburn right now on the pecking order of SEC teams just outside the rankings because the Wildcats have been out on the road and played a tougher slate. But Auburn was very impressive this weekend. A great turnaround this season, which you can read about today in Off the Bat. As for regional host between Vandy and Mizzou, that’s a tough one. I’d lean neither. But if I’m made to pick, I’ll say Vanderbilt. For all their struggles this season, the Commodores still have a pretty good RPI and have more talent on the roster.

Cliff Hagan (Lexington, KY): What's the reasoning behind Kentucky not being in the top 25? A sweep of then ranked UC-Santa Barbara + a sweep of Texas A&M at College Station + being in the top 3 in most offensive & pitching statistics in the SEC seems to warrant a top 25 ranking. Am I wrong?
Teddy Cahill: So, like Auburn, Kentucky was definitely considered. We just ran out of room. The biggest reason the Wildcats aren’t in is that they got swept. Now, that sweep at UNC was on the road, against a really good team and the games were close. But with so many teams that are in consideration at the back of the rankings, we have to split hairs. But I was very impressed with Kentucky’s sweep this weekend and how the Wildcats did it — scoring a bunch of runs on the road against a strong Texas A&M pitching staff.

Marco (Greenville): Obviously ECU did not do what it needed to do to win this weekend. There are some key injuries but the freshman are playing well right now. Can you elaborate on what the Pirates are currently missing?
Teddy Cahill: I think it largely just comes down to missing their ace and their best position player. Not many teams can overcome that, especially not teams that aren’t overflowing with draft talent. Beyond that, ECU’s bullpen has been beat a few times this season. It’s still a solid club, but it’s hard to overcome the injuries they’ve had.

Robert (LSU country): How does LSU stack up vs. Arizona and Oregon State? Seems like an even matchup.
Teddy Cahill: Some of this depends on whether Alex Lange is able to back on track. If LSU has Lange and Poche’ at their best to go with a deep lineup, I think it’s probably a more complete team than Arizona, which is mixing and matching a bit more on the mound. Oregon State is probably deeper on the mound, but a little less veteran in the lineup. The Beavers have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, where LSU has a lot of juniors and seniors.

Riley (Dallas): How real are Alex Faedo's control issues? Was it just a bad start, or is this something that can tank his draft stock?
Teddy Cahill: One bad start. Faedo had averaged 2.4 walks per nine in his first four starts of the year. He’ll be fine.

GatorForLife (Tallahassee, Florida): Alex Faedo got roughed up in his latest start with some concerns about his velocity. Is that a bad sign for him and his team being the staff ace? I'm starting to push the panic button for him right now.
Teddy Cahill: Related to the last question, and, no, Faedo will be fine. Not sure why you would feel the need to panic. He had been outstanding this season before Friday night. Even first rounders are allowed off nights.

Ryan (San Diego): If Faedo's velocity doesn't comeback will he still go top 5?
Teddy Cahill: Probably not. But given his track record, he’s going to be given every opportunity to show he can throw in the mid 90s this spring.

Hank (Texas): The sec as a conference is 14-18 in non conference games on the road this year including five playing 1 or less games. Do you see this as a possible problem? Teams hardly play on the road and get easy wins at home bringing there win total up and almost certaintly securing a host if they have a decent SEC campaign.
Teddy Cahill: The committee looks at a lot of factors, including road record. So, if by problem, you mean unfair to teams that can’t sit at home for the first month of the season, in theory it shouldn’t. If, however, you mean a problem for SEC teams in terms of growing and developing as a team for when they inevitably have to go on the road in conference play or the NCAA Tournament, those are the tradeoffs coaches have to consider when they make schedules.

Jim (Charlotte): How come Charlotte isn't getting more top-25 consideration? Too many C-USA teams to where it's limited?
Teddy Cahill: Who’s to say it isn’t? But the 13-7 record is hardly gaudy and while it has some nice weekend series wins, it also lacks a marquee weekend. It’s hard for the Niners to differentiate themselves from other CUSA teams such as Southern Miss, ODU and La Tech like that.

Ricardo (York,PA): Could you possibly see St.Johns hosting a regional this year as a 1 seed and not like UCONN years back as a 2? If so do they have a chance to crack the top 10 with the schedule they have going forward?
Teddy Cahill: I don’t think so. The unfortunate reality for St. John’s is that its RPI is going to dip when it gets into its Big East schedule and plays a bunch of midweeks against some lesser competition than its faced to this point. Right now, St. John’s has just six games left against Top 100 RPI teams — three each against Xavier and Seton Hall. Just last year, Coastal was left out of the hosts despite having a top 16 RPI. So St. John’s would really have to dominate the rest of its schedule, run away with the Big East and hope the committee has new thoughts on the hosting question following Coastal’s run. As for them moving into our top 10, maybe. But, again, the schedule is very light going forward.

Riley (Dallas): If you were a major league GM and had to decide McKay's future today, is he a pitcher or a first baseman?
Teddy Cahill: I think I take him as a pitcher. He’s such a polished lefthander with good stuff and a lot of poise. But I certainly understand why teams like him as a hitter. I think it’ll end up being a philosophical decision for the team drafting him. He can do either one, it’s just what the team values more. I’ll take the pitcher.

Ron (Los Angeles): We know Oregon State can pitch, as that staff is fantastic. Can they hit enough to get back to Omaha?
Teddy Cahill: I think the Beavers have enough offense for sure. Nick Madrigal is raking right now and they have other really strong pieces around him. And, frankly, with the way they’re pitching, it’s not like they need to score seven runs a game. Oregon State is going to be a really hard team to beat this season.

Jordan (Hattiesburg): Really thought Southern Miss would be in. Where are they in your book? How good do you think Southern Miss is?
Teddy Cahill: I like Southern Miss a lot. As I’ve said today, there were a lot of teams we liked and were considering ranking. Southern Miss was definitely one of them. Nitpicking a little bit here, but the series loss at Louisiana-Lafayette is what’s keeping the Golden Eagles out. But I wrote about them today in Off the Bat, and I think they might be the CUSA favorite right now.

Nate (Winston-Salem, NC): Where's Wake? We won series against Coastal Carolina and NC State while both were still ranked, we just won another series against Duke to improve to 4-2 in the ACC, and we're top 10 nationally in a bunch of offensive categories. Where's the disconnect?
Teddy Cahill: Wake Forest is another team that has gotten heavily discussed. Basically, it’s that losing weekend on opening weekend keeping the Deacs out. The two losses to Houston are especially tough when you stack up Wake and UH, which is also trying to break into the Top 25. Also, Coastal and NC State falling out of the rankings isn’t helping Wake. Those are still quality wins, but maybe not as good as they appeared to be at the time. Wake’s a solid team though. Looking forward to seeing how they do against Georgia Tech this weekend.

Stu (Orleans, MA): Some nice stories and transformations happening in the SEC under 1st and 2nd year head coaches. Among Missouri, Auburn and Kentucky, which team has best chance to make noise in '17 and which program most likely set up for sustained success?
Teddy Cahill: Very solid starts for Steve Bieser, Butch Thompson and Nick Mingione. I’ll probably take Auburn both for this year and the long term. Although Kentucky has been very impressive as well, and Mizzou is already making a lot of noise. They’re all really good. I think I like Auburn the most due to its rotation. But, again, all those teams are rolling so far this season and any of them could be the one that really takes off.

Teddy Cahill: That’ll do it for today. Sorry again for being late. If I didn’t get to your questions, leave it in the comments and I’ll come back and answer there.