Thursday, February 08, 2007

UGA Baseball Preview - PART 2!

I have never subscribed to the age-old belief that sequels are never as good as the original...what about The Star Wars 2: Empire is Striking Back?! That was a good one with the Yoda and the freezings and the what-nots. I say this only to make clear to you, the loyal readers...strike that, I meant, you, our one reader, that I do not intend to mail it in as it tank Part 2 because I know I have the audience in the bag after the brilliance of Part 1 and they will line up no matter what vomit I author up on this blog because most of you have brains the size of one of Pasqua’s 3/4s chewed and bloodied pinky nails. Wow, this really took a dark turn didn’t it? One thing going for this’s really long and it seems like every movie that comes out these days has to be three hours long or its not considered respectable (see: The Good Sheppard, Flags of Our Fathers, etc). But I digress, on with Part 2!
If I can approach the greatness of this classic I will be fulfilled.

Position Players:

2006 witnessed a marked offensive improvement after a somewhat, sort of, kind of, totally, absolute, utterly abysmal 2005. Yes, we all marveled at the offensive-stylings of such powerhouses as Josh Morris, Bobby Felmy and the incomparable Joey Side...just one problem...they’re all gone. Ouch. So where do we go from here? Do we throw in the towel like sissy little nancy (is that capitalized?) Boys (man I got this capitalizing thing aLl f-ed uP? NO! We ante up and kick in like men...LIKE MEN! So without further adieu meet your soon to be record setting squad of hitting people...

LF – Jonathan Wyatt – senior – LH (throws right) – (.360, 4 HRs, 40 RBI) – fan favorite Jonathan Wyatt is back and yes he still spells his first name like a normal human being, unlike other Jonathan’s I know. Wyatt was the catalyst of the offense last year, especially after moving to the leadoff spot. He also impressed in the postseason batting .370 with 2 dinger dongers and 10 ribbieques. The guy is a beast and also uses what quite possibly is the largest glove to ever be utilized in organized baseball. I don’t know if it just looks oversized or is in fact, as many claim, so large that it blots out the sun.
Picture this but the size of the tarp used to cover the Yankee Stadium infield
SS – Gordon Beckham – sophomore – RH – (.280, 12 HRs, 54 RBI) – our Freshman All-American shortstop returns and after posting the 2nd highest team total in HRs, and 3rd in RBI, the entire Bulldog nation has but one thing on their collective minds....what obscure 1980s synth-rock hit will Gordo come out to in his at bats this year. Of course Gordon won his way into the hearts of the masses last year by choosing The Outfield’s mid-80s gem “Your Love” as his “at the bat” intro music. No words can describe the magic that I, as not just a Georgia fan, but a fan of life, felt when I would see young G-B knock his cleats with his aluminum bat, approach the plate and all of sudden, blaring from every loud speaker in Foley Field would come...”Josie’s on a vacation far away...come around and talk it many things that I want to say...” Needless to say the crowd would be whipped into frothing frenzy and opposing pitchers had little chance of overcoming the tidal wave of love and emotion that was curling overhead about to break. Oh, and he’s a goood hitter.

1B – Ryan Peisel
– junior – RH – (.310, 2 HRs, 45 RBI) – I can’t decide what I like more about Peisel, the fact that his last name reminds of me of my favorite dessert – sweet, delicious pie, that he stepped in and started all 70 games last year after transferring from East Carolina, or that he was coached by my favorite lug this side of Gwinnet – Steven Craft. Anyway you slice it this guy is a winner in my book. Peisel will be moving to first base this year leaving his spot at third where he started 67 of 70 games last year. It will be tough to fill the shoes of prodigious power hitter Josh Morris and I don’t think two homers out of first base this year, on a team that isn’t sure where its power will come from, will cut it in 2007.

OF/DH – Matt Olson – junior – LH (throws right) – (.326, 1 HR, 19 RBI) - so begins our army of OF/DHs...just who will see the most starts out of the next few cats is out of my realm of knowledge, which is saying quite a bit. Olson played in just over half the Dawgs games last year and responded competently. Started both the Dawgs games in Omaha last year so one would think in a lineup full of question marks Matty boy will see significantly more action this year. One worry...Matt has all of one career homerun, granted he has only appeared in 38 games but still...we need some power is what I’m saying.

OF/DH/C – Matt Robbins – senior – RH – (.301, 2 HRs, 24 RBI) – started a heap of games last year (36) but all at DH...which leads this intrepid reporter to believe that maybe Matty aint so hotty in the field. Not many gold gloves heading his way. Regardless, because of his substantial experience last year (appeared in 49 of 70 games) it looks like Perno will be counting on him for some “O”.

OF/DHs – Matt Cerione
– freshman – LH/Rich Poythress – freshman - Cerione hails from Chattahoochee for all you Alpharetta natives out there, Poythress from Greenbrier for you loyal readers in the greater Augusta metropolitan area. I think that Poythress might actually be a corner infielder but inside sources tell me that coaches may be looking at him as more of an OF/DH. Of course I may have just made that entire thing up and/or just pulled it from a press release but would you know – nope. Anyway, looking at their bios didn’t give me much info – they weren’t ranked on any Top 100 list of incoming freshmen but what does Baseball America know? They both had ridiculously gaudy high school numbers (i.e. .550, 20 HRs, etc).

C – Joey Lewis
– freshman – RH – From Starr’s Mill High School in Fayetteville, which sounds like a made-up high school so I prefer to think that he was genetically engineered in a lab out of the parts of lesser baseball players to form SUPER-CATCHER. Anyway, he batted .506 as a senior, won Fayette/Coweta player of the year by the AJC and was named a Louisville Slugger High School All-American. Plus, in a picture on that Pasqua sent me he looks a lot like Matt he’s got to be good.
Sort of like what Joey Lewis is like except he's not drawn by Japanese animators.

2B – Mike Freeman – freshman – LH (throws right) – tragically this kid hails from Florida, happily he has the same name of my next door neighbor growing up who was he’s got that going for him. Freeman was drafted by the Friars of San Dee-ah-go in the 41st round last year but chose to come to UGA. Wise choice Mr. Freeman (sorry, that’s what I used to call my neighbor, this will take some getting used to). Also was among the Baseball America Top 300 class of 2006.

3B – Luke Stewart – freshman – LH (throws right) – PASQUA ALERT – this guy is from ILLINOIS kid! Normal, IL which sounds like a very nice, middle of the road, not out of the ordinary in any way whatsoever place to grow up. Luke was also drafted by the San Diego Padres, alas he was drafted in the 42nd round – rivalry with Mr. Freeman anyone?! And just to make everyone feel really old...Luke was born in 1988. Wow. I bet he doesn’t even remember the Orioles starting out the season 0-21 that year.


Pre-season rankings generally have us in the same place – Baseball America slapped us in the face and called us Sally by ranking us 27th. Other publications (I believe the Collegiate Baseball Writers of America or some such) have us as high as 19th. Obviously we have a lot of talent to replace. You don’t lose practically your entire lineup, plug in true freshman in as many as five positions and expect instant success. To make matters worse UGA just so happens to play in the best conference in America which has four, count ‘em, four teams in the Top 11 (6th – South Cack, 7th – Arkansas, 8th – Vandy, 11th – Tennessee). Throw on top the fact that UGA is not playing any sissies out of conference including matchups against USC (the REAL one, not South Cack), Clemson, Georgia Tech, and a season opening series against the defending national champs, Oregon State.
This will probably not be us this year....but next year...ah next year...we win in Omaha and Richt grabs his first national championship - 2008-2009 what a time it will be.

So what’s going to happen? Obviously the sports writers don’t give us much of a chance seeing as they predicted we would finish 5th in the SEC East. I refuse to believe that. Everyone’s darling the Tennessee Volunteers showed they weren’t as mighty as they believe opening up their season last weekend getting BLASTED by a lower ranked (18th) Florida State, getting outscored 32-9 in the three game set. So there is hope. There will be significant growing pains, especially amongst the position players but I think our pitching will become a big strength by season’s end (assuming we find some middle relievers to get to Fields). Look for a sturdy third or fourth place finish in the SEC East, a better than expected performance in the SEC tournament and another trip to the NCAA tournament. I don’t think we will be strong enough to host a regional but I could see us getting in and making some noise. Realistically I think an exit in the opening regional is more likely than another super-regional and/or trip to Omaha. So sit back and enjoy the show...first pitch is TOMORROW!!!! HALLELUJAH!!!!!

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