February 12, 2013

2013 Wahooze Baseball Preview



Greetings baseball fans. It's that time of year again. Snow is pummeling the northeast, Virginia basketball is marching toward the Tournament, signing day has football optimism at new heights. What better time to start BASEBALL SEASON!!! Believe it or not, we open at ECU on Friday. The Hoos return a significant portion of their roster this season, and excitement is starting to build at Davenport Field. This season the we will boast a mix of fresh faces and returning vets from a season that left all Hoofans wanting more. Expectations are high this season, as the Hoos have proven over the Brian O'Connor (BOC) years to be a consistent threat in the ACC. UVA starts the season ranked 25th, but that could change as questions get answered.

The Lineup:
The Hoos strength this season will be at the plate. This lineup is loaded and packs quite a bit of pop. It also represents what could be a drastic change in the way UVA scores, and that all stems from the departure of Keith Werman. For all his shortcomings in the power department, Werman provided a valuable piece of the puzzle for BOC. Werman was able to do most anything BOC asked (with the exception of a home run). Not having that bridge in the 9 hole will make this team much more predicated on hitting the ball into the gaps, and running. Luckily for the Hoos, they have the sticks and legs to do that. Here's a quick look:

C-Nate Irving
1B-Jared King
2B-Reed Gragnani
SS-Brandon Cogswell
3B-Nick Howard
LF-Derek Fisher
CF-Brandon Downes
RF-Colin Harrington

To say the least: That lineup oozes potential. It also doesn't include contributors in Mike Papi and Kenny Towns, in addition to talented newcomers Joe McCarthy and George Ragsdale. The Hoos are going to mash. It won't really even be funny at some point. Screw gap to gap, some of these guys can hit lightpole to lightpole. If competition breeds success, we should be in for an offensive treat.

The Rotation:
This is going to be a huge question mark. UVA brought in a ton of arms in the freshman class, some of which will be forced into instant action. Pitching is going to be the key to this season, and you should fully expect a ton of guys to get shots on the hill. If I had to guess now, I think our rotation will eventually shake out like this:

Friday-Kyle Crockett
Saturday-Whit Mayberry
Sunday-Nate Kirby
Weekday- Brett Lisle

Artie Lewicki is the huge wildcard here. BOC has stated that he expects Lewicki, who emerged last season as a force on the bump, to return to the mound this season. If he can return to form, it really changes the landscape of this team. A fully healthy Artie Lewicki would bump everyone back a spot as he would become our Friday night starter. The other player that could open some eyes is Nate Kirby. This kid is a stud, and has the stuff to start on Fridays, and he has that stuff right now. I think if he has a good start, he will be the Friday night guy by the end of the season. Brett Lisle is another player I am excited to see. I am very bullish on the 6-9 lefty and think, if anything, he will intimidate our midweek opponents, which I think is a real advantage you can exploit. I think Lisle has a huge ceiling though and would not be surprised to see him challenge for the weekend. Other young arms to challenge include Josh Sborz and Brandon Waddell, who put in very solid fall seasons.

The Bullpen:
The beauty of having a huge competition for starting spots is that we are going to have a ton of solid arms in the bullpen. It will be a knockdown, dragout fight for innings out of the pen. I think Silverstein has a lock on the long relief role, considering he is limited in what he can do. Returning guys like Nate Abel, Austin Young, Barret O'Neill, and Nick Howard will be pushed by quality newcomers Josh Sborz and Brandon Wadell. I would think that Nick Howard will get the first shot at closing, especially since we can slide John LaPrise in at short and slide Cogswell or Grags to third. I think Josh Sborz has the stuff to be a dominant force in the closer role if given the chance, one that I hope comes.

Key Player:
Nate Irving is the key to this season. Last season we discussed the need for a veteran presence at catcher, and the trust that pitchers and catchers must have to succeed. Irving is ready to be that guy this season. With such potential fluidity on the mound, it will be important to have an experienced catcher behind the plate to keep everyone on the same page.

Breakout Star:
We all know Derek Fisher is good. But this is the season where Derek Fisher will be GREAT. If King can protect him in the lineup, Fisher will emerge as potentially one of the best players in the entire country. Kid can HIT HIT HIT, and it should get everyone at Davenport very excited.

Wildcard:
What in the world is going on with Mike Papi? He went from freshman sensation to doghouse and out of the lineup last season. The kid has a world of talent, and if he can work his way back onto the field, he could be a great addition.

Expectations:
If we follow the recent patterns, the Hoos should be bound for Omaha this season. That being said, that is a long way away. This team has amazing potential, but until the pitching is worked out, it will not be able to reach it. Once we figure it out though, the sky is the limit. If not being able to pick from all your talent is your problem, you have a great problem. This will get sorted out, and the Hoos will come together and make a late charge to Omaha. That is my expectation, and it should be yours as well.


17 comments:

  1. Great stuff, Mike! Thank you!

    It sounds like Waddell and Silverstein will get a crack at the weekend rotation, maybe even before Kirby. And it sounds like Crockett is slotted for middle relief, so he can pitch multiple games in each series.

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    1. Kyle is the most confusing pitcher we've had. Not sure I agree with how O'Connor has handled him, but in BOC we trust. I like Waddell getting the nod Friday. The amount of young pitching talent we have coming in is very exciting. Competition breeds success!

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    1. THANK YOU PIERCE. I ALSO ENJOYED THE LACROSSE ONE YOU WROTE.

      It's nice to get into the sports we're national powers in. Charlottesville is so beautiful in spring.

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  3. I understand the argument of letting Crockett impact as many games as possible, and with so many young starters, it's good to have a strong "bail out" option from the 'pen. So I don't have any specific beef with the decision, other than I think Crockett could be a really good starting pitcher.

    Meanwhile, this is certainly a "throw him into the deep end of the pool" situation for Waddell, but being that it's the same situation we predicted for Kirby, I guess it's not too big of a leap to have a freshman starting on Friday nights. If Waddell is our best freshman pitcher, he's the guy. Plus, isn't it really a Waddell/Crockett combo platter? See the genius now?

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    1. My guess on the BOC thought process is this:

      Kyle Crockett is a known quantity, but the staff is not confident that he can keep up with the rigors of being a full time starter

      UVA has a ton of young, talented pitchers, but they are young, thus prone to struggle occasionally.

      I think BOC is trying to save innings for Kyle while he works out the young staff. This keeps him in the swing of things, but keeps his innings down. I think once they work it all out, Kyle will slide back into the rotation, fresh and ready to go.

      Thoughts?

      Also if it turns out that the rotation is Waddell, Kirby, Sborz, and Mayberry, I will be thrilled and pumped for the future.

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  4. You wrote off Silverstein in your previous Blog comments....In fact you stated that he would not be a factor in 2013. This is after the kid was an Alfac All-American (top 32 in the US), under gone two surgeries and rehabs, pitched for the first time in five years as a weekend starterlast year, successfully pitched with the most innings pitched per number of games in Cape Cod and pitched three six inning scrimmages this fall with NO runs given up......You also refer to a "creaking arm" -- He has no arm or shoulder issues at all.......Please get your facts straight before you go on the record....The kid deserves better than that.....

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    1. Hey there. I think omitting Scott is not as much an indictment of his abilities as a pitcher, but more of an optimism about the future. We all hope Scott comes out and dominates, as that means the team dominates, but Silverstein to me is a known quantity, and some of the new guys we've brought in have a much higher ceiling than he does, at least in my eyes.

      Like I said, Scott comes in and is great, that's fantastic and we will support him. But the point that I was trying to make is that I think some of these new guys have more potential for success, and I think with BOC and Kuhn, they will turn into the top of the rotation guys.

      Think of it as Danny taking over as the ace for Andrew Carraway. Andrew was a good pitcher, but Danny was just more talented and eventually won the Friday night job.

      Also it's a speculative piece. This is just my guess as to what is going to happen. We're all entitled to our opinions!

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  5. This is a fan blog, not a newspaper. We go by what we we see, and admittedly, we do not see everything.

    We sincerely hope Silverstein ends up being the best pitcher in the history of the world, but he wasn't that last season. 2-5 record, 4.48 ERA, lost to Georgia Tech in our second game in the ACC Tournament and then didn't pitch again in the postseason. Looking at it objectively, maybe you can understand us wanting to minimize our expectations for Scott for this season?

    It's clear you have some sort of connection to Silverstein and that you have some sort of bias. That's fine, we appreciate that. We have our own bias -- wanting to see the best pitchers on the mound and wanting to see UVA win. If Scott Silverstein gives us that, great, we'll gladly eat our crow and root hard for the young man to succeed. We don't have any personal axe to grind, far from it.

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  6. Great! Then keep your baseless comments to yourself including the claim of a "creaking arm."

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  7. Ha ha, it's a fan blog. We're writing for fun. Don't read it if you don't like it.

    GO HOOS!

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  8. By the way, it's not baseless. 2-5 record, 4.48 ERA, did not pitch in the regional we hosted. He did not pitch well last season, especially later in the season. There's the base.

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  9. What is your evidence regarding a "creaking arm?" Don't print it if it is not true.....be accountable for your baseless claims especially when they impact the reputation of a player like Silverstein.

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  10. 2-5 record, 4.48 ERA, didn't get off the bench in the regional. Creaking arm was our guess as to why, since he had all of those procedures to repair it. He clearly wasn't the pitcher he was before the injuries. So we connected the dots.

    Again, we're just writing for fun. It's a fan blog. We're not a reputable news source, nor do we pretend to be. We make guesses and we speculate. If you don't like what we post (not print), then don't visit the site.

    Thanks!

    GO HOOS!

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  11. My point is DO NOT SPECULATE regarding a UVA player's physical condition when he has worked his tail off through two rehabs (4 hours a day for 18 months). Do not "guess" because you are wrong and do not print it in a blog -- especially representing the University....

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  12. Look, injured or not, there is no doubt that Scott fell out of favor with BOC towards the end of last season as he became less effective. Given his injury history it isn't unreasonable to think that he may have run out of gas health wise. Is it speculative? Sure it is, but to say that people shouldn't speculate about injuries in a blog is just wrong. Look at all the people speculating about Derrick Rose right now. That's what we're supposed to do. It's an overview of the season, and we don't think Silverstein will be a huge factor on the staff by the end of the year, whether that's due to health or performance. The kid has had two big procedures on his arm in his time here. Health will ALWAYS be a concern with him, just like it will be with Malcolm Brogdon. It's not saying he's bad and hurt all the time, but you can't just ignore his injury history. THAT would be poor journalism.

    Again, we would all be very happy to see Scott do well, especially considering what he has been through and how hard he worked to get back. But looking at the team and the talent coming through, I don't think it's out of line to think that he could be passed by the younger players.

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  13. We don't want to come across as anti-Silverstein, because we're not that at all. We are very PRO-Silverstein. We understand that this is his senior season, and that he's worked very hard to return from the procedures. We also understand that he had a very good offseason. We are pulling for him, and it sounds like he's going to pitch this weekend. So hopefully he can improve on his performance from last season and we can post good things about him, as opposed to surmising about reasons why he might not be pitching well.

    Again, this is a fan blog. You can call us hacks, and that would be appropriate because WE ARE HACKS. We go by what we see and hear, and that's it. We don't have any affiliation with the University, other than being fans. We don't get paid to run this site. We do it for fun, and for our friends to read. That's it. If you don't like it, don't read it.

    Thank you.

    GO HOOS!

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