2020 College Baseball Top 25 Chat (3/2/20)
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week's college baseball chat. I'm coming to you this week from Houston, where we had another great Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic. The baseball was great, as always, but seeing how the kids interact with the players and how much the weekend means to them and all the great work Shriners does for them is the real highlight. With that thought, let's get to the questions
Commodore Jack (Murfreesboro, TN):
- In your new poll, Tennessee has jumped all the way to 18 after being unranked. I realize they are undefeated, and they have a good win against Texas Tech, but they've feasted on cupcakes otherwise. We go through the same song and dance with them every year. They do well in the non-conference only to flounder when conference season rolls around. I don't see this season being any different. When will you guys learn?
Teddy Cahill: Well, I mean, sure if you just wipe away all the good things on Tennessee's resume it suddenly feels pretty light, I guess. Vols fans, you can direct your ire this week at Jack.
- Should Texas Tech not move beyond Florida after winning more games this past week with two of those wins coming against a ranked opponent? Or, is their 1 loss still holding them to 2nd place?
Teddy Cahill: Florida's three wins at top-10 Miami didn't suddenly go away either. The Gators are the clear No. 1 here
- Does Arkansas need to hit the panic button?
Teddy Cahill: I don't, but remember I've consistently been lower on the Hogs than most this season. It was not a great weekend by any means. Saturday was a bad look. Sunday wasn't what you want. But I didn't think Friday was cause for concern. I don't know, the starting pitching still isn't all that exciting and the offense isn't locked in - but you knew that going in. It's something that's got to get fixed. I think the offense will, still uncertain about the starting pitching though.
- Thoughts on the Dawgs after this weekend? Lineup seems to be better than expected and the young arms in the bullpen seem legit. Loved having the Tech series on the weekend.
Teddy Cahill: How could you not be thrilled? To sweep a GT team that came in looking pretty good, especially offensively, was a loud statement from Georgia. I'd gotten a little skittish about how hard it had worked to beat Richmond and Santa Clara, but there was none of that this weekend. Wilcox was outstanding and the offense looked very good. A lot to like. And having the series on the weekend is a win all around. Love that for this series.
Henry C (Seal Beach):
- How does UCLA look so far this young season? Any concerns about their lineup?
Teddy Cahill: Really good. Like, really good. No concerns about the lineup. Matt McLain is a dude. JT Schwartz has been very good. Garrett Mitchell is doing his thing. Michael Curialle is dinged up but has started very well. They're undefeated and the pitching is suffocating. What's not to like?
Chris (Kansas City):
- Now that we are a few weeks into the season, who do you like for the SEC West?
Teddy Cahill: Ole Miss? Haven't know what to do with that race for months now. The first three weeks have offered no clarity. But I will definitely admit to being overly concerned with what the Rebels lost offensively. With Nikhazy and Hoglund at the front of the rotation, they have dudes on the mound, and the lineup is plenty deep. Now, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State are also super talented and once they get everything clicking, they're going to be formidable as well.
Rick (San Antonio):
- It’s quite baffling how you all still have ASU making it to Omaha? UCLA I totally get. They have been dominant.
Teddy Cahill: They do let teams from the West Coast compete in the NCAA Tournament. And more than one can even advance to the CWS! It's crazy, I know.
Theodora M (Los Alamitos CA):
- How is the Pac12 this year? I don’t see as many top 25 teams as in years past so far.
Teddy Cahill: I don't know, yeah, it's down to just UCLA and Arizona State, but the Pac-12 has been living at about three Top 25 teams for the last few years. The conference is young this year and it's shown early. But I think Arizona State and UCLA are for real. Arizona and Oregon State look solid and I'm intrigued by Washington.
Mitch (Easley, SC):
- I'm feeling pretty down on my gamecocks after the past two weekends (series losses to Northwestern and Clemson). Do you think there is any hope they will compete in the SEC this year? And I'm not talking about competing with the upper echelon, more so about reaching .500 in conference and sneaking into the NCAA tournament. That's my hope at this point.
Teddy Cahill: I think that's a certainly understandable reaction to the last two weeks. It hasn't been great. The Gamecocks have been competitive, which is a positive, and I think it would be fair to hope that they get better as the season goes on. It is a fairly new/young team. Now, does that mean they'd be ready to go .500 in the SEC? I'm not so sure. The East looks rugged this year it doesn't catch any breaks in crossover play with Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The talent is there in Columbia. It's about getting it to mature quickly at this point.
Pirate (Greenville, NC):
- It's always interesting to watch NC State start out hot. Last year they were 19-0, the year before they started out super strong as well, and both years faded down the stretch. I will say however that Nick Swiney seems to be the real deal. I know it's early, but it's hard to discern if this NC State team is for real or if it's a start like the last two years..what says BA?
Teddy Cahill: My feeling right now is that this is a good, solid NC State team. Probably a bit better than last year. But I think we'll know a lot more after this weekend when the Pack visits Virginia. Looking forward to seeing how those teams shake out this weekend.
- Texas at 10-2, is just 2 plays away from 12-0, and against GREAT opposition in The Shriners Classic, and Yet YallY don't Rank them Top 25!! WHAT GIVES?? And Please Explain why aall the 8-4, 7-3, etc. Teams ranked??
Teddy Cahill: Texas had a losing weekend. Not going to move a team into the rankings after one of those.
Russell (Austin, TX):
- Hey Teddy, Man..the college classic this weekend for awesome! By far and away the best baseball this weekend. Super, Super competitive. I was really impressed by the Big 12 this weekend. I think we are going to be a loaded conference this year. I still think Texas is a work in progress, even though we beat Arkansas. They could have won against LSU and Missouri. That Mizzou game they had 5 errors. How do you see the Big 12 this year, and how do you see Texas?
Teddy Cahill: I think Texas Tech has shown why it was the preseason favorite. Oklahoma looks like it's going to be firmly in the mix at the top of the league. TCU is off to a really good start, will be very interested to see how it handles this weekend in the LA Tournament. Oklahoma State is off to a sluggish start, but I figure it gets turned around. Baylor has been a nice surprise. Texas has the talent to compete. It has some maturing to do - you saw that Sunday - but if those young players just keep growing throughout the spring, I think the Horns can be a pretty good team come May. It's a strong league again.
Jeramey (Locust Grove):
- Long Beach has come out with 3 pretty impressive weekends thus far, wins vs Cal, Wake, and Miss St. Is this the best resume to date and if not, who has the best resume thus far?
Teddy Cahill: Really hard for me to call it the best resume when the Dirtbags have yet to play a road game and have taken three losses. I'd take Florida and Ole Miss over it for sure. Texas Tech and UCLA too.
Jeff (Little Elm, TX):
- Is the Baylor team we saw this weekend what we should expect as the season progresses? Any hope in a loaded Big 12?
Teddy Cahill: Man, I don't know what to make of Baylor. A week ago, it lost a home series to Oral Roberts - which split a home series against Merrimack on Opening Weekend and then this weekend got swept at home by Incarnate Word. Now, Baylor wins three games against SEC competition. I don't know what to do with that information. In general, I think Baylor can compete in the Big 12. Steve Rodriguez gets the most out of his players. He has an All-American in Nick Loftin. They'll pitch well enough to stay in games and they have some solid pieces around Loftin in the lineup. I don't see the Bears competing for first place or to host like they did a year ago, but they can be a solid regional team again.
- Curious about your thoughts on the depth and quality of Texas Tech’s pitching staff? I know it’s early, but it looks to be the best collection of arms Tadlock has had.
Teddy Cahill: Wrote a lot about Texas Tech, especially it's pitching staff today in the Off the Bat. Would encourage you to check that out. The cliff notes version is that the Red Raiders are really, really good on the mound. https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/oklahoma-texas-tech-highlight-college-baseballs-weekend-standouts-off-the-bat/
Dirtbag Rocky Mountain (Utah):
- Can the Dirtbags really be this good? They have a few new freshmen and JC transfers; but, by and large, this is the same guys that were absolutely pitiful last year.
Teddy Cahill: Well, a couple Big West coaches picked the Dirtbags to win the conference in the preseason. So, yeah, probably. Last year's team wasn't anywhere near as bad as the record indicated. A lot went wrong. Like, a lot. And there's been a significant infusion of talent, including Eric Valenzuela who is really good at this coaching thing. Do they keep this up all season? We'll see. They haven't played a road game yet. How deep is the pitching staff? What happens to this year's team when it faces some adversity? We'll see, but generally I do think the Dirtbags are vastly improved from last year and that it is sustainable.
Jim (New Orleans):
- Was there any consideration of Tulane for inclusion in the poll?
Teddy Cahill: The Green Wave were thought about, yes. They're a tricky case. Done really well this season but at this point it's hard to know how good the resume is. Are Louisiana and Fullerton good? If they are, it's a really nice resume. If they're not, it feels a little light. But I like what Tulane has been able to do to this point.
Rob Armstrong (Austin, TX):
- As long as you're on the West Coast, what are your thoughts on the Big West? Could they be a multiple bid league this year?
Teddy Cahill: I think it can, yes. Got into this a bit on the podcast, which should be in your phones soon if you subscribe. But the short version is that Big West teams are actually winning nonconference games this year. UCSB, Beach, Northridge especially have been good and the Big West's nonconference record as a whole is sitting above .500. That's going to pay off all season long for the RPI. As much hand wringing as there was in the past about the Big West's decline - and I did plenty of it myself - winning nonconference games goes a long way to helping things.
- Which big 12 team had the most impressive weekend. Baylor, OU or Texas Tech.
Teddy Cahill: Probably Texas Tech. Maybe I'm being harsh on Baylor because I'm confused by the Bears. And Oklahoma did have a no-hitter to go with a couple big wins in Houston. You can't really go wrong there. But I'll take the team that played true road games against a top-15 team.
James B (Rossmoor CA):
- Looking forward to the upcoming Dodgers College Baseball Classic. Thoughts? Are you going to attend? Any match ups you are particularly lookiing forward to?
Teddy Cahill: It should be a fun one. Bummed the final day won't be in Dodger Stadium because of the renovations. Love that Sunday game between USC and UCLA. I won't be out there this year, but Joe will be. From afar, I'm going to be very interested in that Friday game between UCLA and Vanderbilt. That should be a really great game.
- Who are some of the non power 5 schools on the cusp of the Top 25 that isn’t quite their yet that you have an eye on as the season progresses?
Teddy Cahill: Pepperdine, Tulane and UCSB are three that right now are pretty close. You can probably throw Southern Miss into that mix. UConn and Cal Poly are going to be good as the season progresses. And I'm interested to see how Coastal and Troy develop. Could see them pushing into that range in time.
- How close are the Waves to breaking in? Great record so far. Do you need to see them against Michigan first? They just swept a previously unbeaten team on the road.
Teddy Cahill: Yeah, pretty much. We'll find out this weekend. I liked what I saw of Pepperdine during Opening Weekend in Arizona. I have no idea what to make of that sweep at FIU. Obviously it's really good to go across the country and win three games, but I'm not sure what to make of the Panthers at this point. The Waves are going to get a good shot at impressing this weekend with the Wolverines coming to Malibu. Should be a fun series.
Jeramey (Locust Grove Ga):
- Thier have been quiet of few early season tournaments, which have been alot of fun. Which one has been yoru favorite and why?
Teddy Cahill: It's got to be the Shriners College Classic. The atmosphere is excellent, the venue is great, the teams are great and it produced some great baseball. And then you mix in the human element and getting to see the kids interact with these teams and enjoy the weekend. No one else has all of that. The MLB4 is probably No. 2 for me. Opening Weekend, great teams, great baseball, really good venue. I don't know that they'll ever get the atmosphere you can get in Houston though. The fans, especially from Arkansas, LSU and Texas, showed out in a big way this weekend.
Nick M. (Orlando, FL):
- Is UCF the favorite in the AAC this year, from what you've seen so far this season?
Teddy Cahill: Through three weeks the Knights have played better than anyone else in the conference. But I think it'll be a fun race for first place again this year. Tulane's going good, ECU will bounce back from a tough weekend and UConn is talented. I don't think anyone is running away with it the way ECU did a year ago.
Dale (Omaha, NE):
- Who are the biggest surprises so far this year? Good or bad.
Teddy Cahill: Well, Ole Miss is now a top-10 team. So probably have to start with the Rebels. Beach, obviously. On the flip side, Ohio State is now 3-6.
Mr. Fister (Arlington):
- Is New Mexico St. ever going to play against a good team? Hard to gauge the talent level of Nick Gonzales when he's playing against William and Mary School for the Blind.
Teddy Cahill: Objectively, the competition has been awful and it's all been at home in altitude with some serious wind. But - and I feel like I say this every week now - if you're still wondering how good Nick Gonzales is, you haven't been paying attention. He went to the Cape Cod League and RAKED. He was named MVP. MLB scouting directors unanimously voted him a first-team Preseason All-American. We have him ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the 2020 draft. I don't know what more evidence you're looking for that he's good.
Teddy Cahill: And with that, let's wrap up for the day. I have a flight to catch. We'll be back here for more questions next week after what should be another fun week of college baseball.