Friday, February 22, 2008

PING! Boys of Summer Going Back to Work in DeMarini Invitational

Tempe, Arizona – Vandy baseball begins a new season today at 3 p.m. (EST) when the first pitch is scheduled to be thrown by Mike Stutes of the back-to-back defending National Champion Oregon State Beavers. Gone is David Price and Casey Weathers, taken No. 1 and No. 8 respectively in last year’s MLB draft, but make no mistake, Commodore coach Tim Corbin has his ‘Dores ready to play.

Baseball fans get excited because the ‘Dores return eight position players and four pitchers that includes seven seniors and two juniors. Headlining this list are Pedro Alvarez, the Preseason Player of Year, and Dominic de la Osa, a 2007 first-team All-American and one of three players nationally with 20 or more home runs and stolen bases. De la Osa decided to return to college when he was unable to come to an agreement with the Detroit Tigers organization after being drafted in the 10th round of last years MLB draft. Also included in this list are household names David Macias (OF), Parker Hanks(OF), Alex Feinberg (INF), Shea Robin (C), Ryan Flaherty (a.k.a. “Flash” (INF), Brad French (INF), and Jonathon White (OF).

If there’s one thing that has Coach Corbin excited, it’s balance. "I like the balance of it; we do have some senior leadership out there and that will be key." But make no mistake, this team has the potential to set almost every single collegiate offensive record. De la Osa, Alvarez, and Flaherty that is drawing comparisons to the famed ‘murderer’s row’ as the 3-4-5 hitters. These three combined for 42 home runs, 8 triples (2007 total was 16), 67 doubles, 303 hits, and 187 RBI’s (Vandy had 443 RBI’s in 2007).

Macias will be leading off, a .300 hitter with a .421 OBP with Feinberg in the two spot, who showed some power of his own with four home runs, 17 doubles, and a .317 average. Corbin plans to put White in the six hole, followed by Shea Robin, Parker Hanks, and first baseman Brad French in the nine spot. No regular starter had a slugging percentage under .350 last year.

Despite the team’s potential offensive power, pitching remains a question mark. David Price and Casey Weathers left some big shoes to fill as the ace and closer but Corbin confidence seems unwavering. "Pitching is tough to figure right now just because I don't believe most people have defined roles," said Corbin. "The roles in the middle and at the end are kind of undetermined at this point, but if you look at the pitching for what it is, I feel comfortable with it. We've got some good ability out there. We've got three kids with a lot of experience that can start for anyone. We have SEC type pitchers that haven't pitched yet in the conference. I'd like to think that pitching in March will be a whole lot different than the pitching in April. These kids will get better day-by-day."

Mike Minor (9-1, 3.09 ERA, 90 1/3 innings, 88 K’s, 19 BB), a constant, steps into the lime light as this year’s ace. Opponents only hit .226 against him last year and there is no doubt he’s ready to take over as Corbin’s Friday starter. Nick Christiani (5-3, 4.11 ERA, 70 IP, 57 Ks, 36 BBs) started 11 games for the ‘Dores last season and needs to step up this season as the No. 2 (Saturday) starter. Along with Christiani, Caleb Cotham, who redshirted, must also rise to the occasion and prepared to close out series on Sundays. Southpaw Jason Cunningham who’s stellar performance against Ole Miss in last years SEC tournament put Vanderbilt in the Championship will also get a chance to pitch this season according to Coach Corbin.

The bullpen is anchored by Brett Jacobson who, in 21 appearances in 2007, compiled a 6-3 record with a 3.15 ERA, while striking out 58. Opponents hit a paltry .283 against him last season. The rest of the pen in comprised of primarily new faces. Drew Hayes is a sophomore transfer from Bethel college where he had 86 Ks in 72 IP and a 2.72 ERA as freshman. Steven Schwartz (junior transfer from Penn) red shirted last season, but the coaches believe he could make an impact in middle relief this season.

Russell Brewer, Mark Lamm, Richie Goodenow, and Steven Schwartz (junior transfer from Penn) all red shirted last season. Taylor Hill, Chase Reid, Sean Bierman, Ben Blanton, Kellen St. Luce and Jared Cohen complete the staff and may step into relief roles.

So, how about a few notes on the Commies opponents…

Vanderbilt v. Oregon State – Friday 3 p.m. (EST)

As mentioned above, the Commies will face Mike Stutes of the two-time defending champion, Oregon State at Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark, the home filed of host Arizona State University today at 3 p.m. Oregon State begins the season ranked 7th in the country with Vanderbilt ranked 3rd.

In 2007, Stutes went 12-4 with a 4.07 ERA 129 Ks, 60 BBs, in 132 innings pitched. He started 22 games last season for the Beavers and went undefeated in the College World Series. Oregon State became just the fifth team in NCAA history to repeat as national champions after defeating North Carolina for the second straight season…a big reason why I hope Minor throws a perfect game and we explode for about 30, but that’s just me. The Beavers finished 2007 with a 49-18 record. By the numbers, this shouldn't’t be close. OSU only hit .287 last year, scoring 456 runs, and slugging percentage of .415. In comparison, Vandy scored 491 runs, with a .324 BA, and .484 slugging percentage. The Beavers had a total of 46 homes runs all season.

But, as they say, the game isn’t played on paper.

Vanderbilt v. Arizona State – Saturday 3 p.m. (EST)

The Commodores have won both meetings against Arizona State, including last year’s 7-6 extra inning win at the Houston Classic. Last year, the Sun Devils finished 49-15, capturing it’s seventh Pac-10 title (18th overall conference championship). They swept Vanderbilt SEC rival Ole Miss to advance to the College World Series for the 20th time and finished 5th in Omaha. Depending on what poll you look at, they’re either picked 1st or 9th. Go figure.

While I’m not sure how players they lost to graduation, the draft, transfer (why anyone would is beyond me), ASU brings an extremely potent offense to the field. In 2007, they batted .345, scoring 599 runs, and had a team slugging percentage of .531. Not too shabby.

For Vanderbilt, Nick Christiani will most likely be on the hill while ASU will either counter with Mike Leake or Brian Flores, depending on who tosses for them on Friday. Those tow had ERAs of 3.69 and 389, respectively, 94 and 95 Ks, in 125 and 127 innings. Leake has better control, only walking 29 compared to Flores’s 47.

Hopefully, the Dores will be able to quiet the home town crowd and get their second win of the invitational. As a bonus, anyone care to take a guess at the player in the photo?

Vanderbilt v. Miami (OH) – Sunday 1 p.m. (EST)

Vanderbilt wraps up the invitational against Miami (OH). The Redhawks were picked to finished second MAC East Division behind Kent State and earned some votes as the preseason favorite to take conference championship. They finished 32-24 last season. As a team, they hit .287 on the season, scoring a measly 333 runs on 564 hits (23 of which, were home runs. Pedro did that himself his freshman year).

I’m guessing here, but I would think Miami (OH) will go John Ely on the hill to face the Commodores. Ely went 8-3 last season with a 2.89 ERA and struck 96 in 102 innings of work. Granted, I have no way of knowing if this correct so take it with a grain of salt.

I don’t think Vanderbilt should have an issue with the Redhawks, especially Miami will have already played ASU an OSU prior to Vanderbilt two out of the four ranked teams they’ll play all season, with Vandy be the third and Louisiana-Lafayette (#19) being the fourth. This is a tough stretch for the Redhawks, facing this kind of competition, whereas for Vandy, it’s just another walk in the park.

Check pack for game recaps and further updates as more information (i.e., starters) becomes available. Until then, Go Dores! will provide live stats, radio, and video coverage of the season-opening series. Click Here for more details.

Thanks to,,,, and


J.B., M.D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.B., M.D. said...

Barry Bonds!

Great article Woody. No doubt the time spent researching this article was expensed to IBM, and being a shareholder, I commend your work on the job.

Anonymous said...

after a lackluster week finally some commodore action. hopefully they can come home from arizona 3-0. i'm looking forward to going to memorial @ 3pm tomorrow then heading to a party to watch ut-memphis. and go UT! i really want them to win that game before playing us.

J.B., M.D. said...

I just found this Q&A with Vandy's own Alex Feinberg in Baseball America's weekend preview.

Woody said...

There are several Q&A sessions posted on for those interested. Among others, there are sessions with Alvarez, Hanks, Corbin, French, Macias, and Robin. Here's the link:

Glad I could help improve your financial position, big guy.

Woody said...

And yes, Bonds, or a version of his former self, is correct.

J.B., M.D. said...

And anyone who thinks Barry Bonds did steriods is a big jerk. He looks exactly the same now as he did then.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Anyone catching this free live webcast of the Vandy-OSU game? Minor looks GREAT. Just picked off a runner at first to end the 2nd inning. Early 3-0 lead for the Commodores.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Solo shot by Parker Hanks. Commies up 4-0. Stutes has no control over the curve. Seamus likes what he sees.

Seamus O'Toole said...

It took them to the sixth inning to score one run, and they were only able to do it after a flukey pop flare to right followed by consecutive bunts where Robin and then Minor slipped on the wet grass. With bases juiced, the run came on a double-play ball and was followed by a pop-out to right.

The score may be 5-1, but as far as I'm concerned this is still a shutout.

Anonymous said...

8-1...VU pitching holds the 7th ranked opposition to 1 run on 5 hits. Striking out 9, walking 2.

That's domination. VU gets 8 runs on 11 hits. Various players get muliple hits and rbi's.

And you know what else?
american idol still sucks.

Seamus O'Toole said...

What makes it even more impressive is the fact that three of those five hits and the run they scored were basically flukes that would not have happened without the wet field. Big game today. Need Nick to have a quality outing.

Seamus O'Toole said...

Jacobson got the nod against ASU and opened up by striking out the first two batters. Diving play by Flaherty at short ends the first inning.

Anonymous said...

wow, we got slammed by asu. looks like our pitching wasn't in true form. i was @ the basketball game so not sure how/why we fell apart.

good win for the basketball team. the "trap" game wasn't a disappointment. get ready for UT tuesday!! i'm excited for that. i hope they beat memphis tonight. i wanna play the #1 team in the country. wear white if your goin to the game next week.

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