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LSU picks up 7th commitment for 2017 and he’s a great one! QB Lowell Narcisse (6-3, 224, St. James, No. 5 on our list of Top LA Prospects) is a Tiger!
5/2/16 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Yesterday I solicited your comments and questions for today’s Mail Call, and man did you respond! As expected, I received a ton of messages about baseball, so what I did was select eight of them that cover a wide range of common topics. I also threw in a couple of football questions for good measure. Once again, I sincerely thank all of you who responded. Here we go…
DandyDon.com’s Mail Call - May 2 Edition
Reader Comments: Outside of Alex Lange’s two outstanding outings the last two weeks, pitching has been subpar for the most part this season, and has really been a major disappointment. Despite the continuing injury to Latz, and the injury to Cartwright, the pitching was supposed to be the strength of this team, and was the main reason why this team was ranked in the preseason polls. The last time that I saw the SEC ERA rankings, prior to the Mississippi series, the LSU staff ranked 10th. Unless something can be done to reverse the trend of the pitching, I think it would be wise to temper the expectations for the remainder of this season.
My Response: Keith, I think you’re right on all accounts. This team’s pitching has not met preseason expectations and simply has to improve for the Tigers to be successful in postseason play. I am encouraged by Lange’s last two outings, but we’ll need to see Poché pitch better and John Valek III return to earlier season form, and obviously a few bullpen pitchers will need to step up. With the way Game 3 pitching has gone downhill in the last two weeks, Cartwright’s injury is really looming large.
Reader Comments: In comparison to the rest of the SEC, how young is this team? I'm not making excuses for the guys but it makes a huge difference in all other leagues from little league all the way up to high school. Do you have the data to compare? Thanks.
My Response: I do not have the data to compare, but after reading your message I went back and compared LSU’s starting roster to Ole Miss’. Of LSU’s starting nine, two are freshmen, four are sophomores and three are juniors. By comparison, Ole Miss’ starting nine had one true freshman, one redshirt freshman, two sophomores, four juniors and one senior. If you compare this LSU team to last year’s Tigers, the difference is even more apparent. Last year, every member of LSU’s starting lineup was an upperclassman (JR or SR) except for Jake Fraley who was a sophomore.
Reader Comments: Scott, enough with the “this is a young team” excuse. We're almost through the regular season and most of these guys were on travel and select teams as kids, so this stage isn't that new to them. The problem is coaching, plain and simple. Alan Dunn is the baseball version of Cam Cameron, all hype with no results. Sure we've had a starter or 2 a year that have been dominant but beyond that he hasn't developed any solid third or fourth starter or a reliable closer and setup man that can be counted on whenever called upon. Baseball is becoming like football, top 10 classes every year but underperforming on the field and in player development.
My Response: I’ll give you that pitching has not lived up to expectations this year, and it’s reasonable to be critical of Alan Dunn’s job performance this season. But Dunn has had tremendous success in his previous four years. He was Pitching Coach of the Year in 2015, his staff led the nation in shutouts in 2014, and he was instrumental in developing elite pitchers like Nola, Gausman, etc. And if you think LSU baseball has been underperforming on the field, I sure hope you’re talking only about this year. You do know that LSU has been an NCAA Tournament National Seed for the last four years and has reached the CWS in four of its last 8 seasons, right? The only other teams who can stake the latter claim are Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
Reader Comments: Scott, I understand being aggressive on the base paths. Teams with great team speed typically do that. But I don't understand making the stupid base running mistakes that LSU is making over and over. Getting picked off 1st or 2nd three of four times in the last couple of weeks is unacceptable. Getting doubled off on a line drive twice in the same game is unacceptable. (C'mon man. We learned in little league to make the line drive go through) And I can't even explain what Diechmann was doing when he failed to run to 3rd on a ground ball in a force situation. Add to that having three men thrown out at the plate, all by the same guy, and it is plain that LSU isn't a very good base running team despite their great speed. Their biggest problem this past weekend was not pitching or even hitting with runners on base, it was not being fundamentally sound running the bases. I know this, if my high school team had made this many mental mistakes on the bases, we would still be running foul pole to foul pole in the outfield, and I graduated 45 years ago. There just simply is no excuse for this many outs on the base path by a college baseball team. Talk about rally killers!!
My Response: You’re right that LSU has made far too many mistakes on the bases this season, and this weekend was a perfect example of how base running gaffs can kill rallies. LSU recognizes that they have more youth and less power than in a typical year, and they are trying to compensate for that by being very aggressive on the base paths. In some aspects this has worked well, as evident by the fact that LSU leads the league in stolen bases, though I still think they would be better served by dialing back the aggression a bit. As for getting thrown out three times at the plate by Woodman, I agree that the runner shouldn’t have been sent on at least two of those occasions, and I suspect those will prove to be learning experiences for new third base coach Nolan Cain. As for Deichmann not running to third on the force, it appeared to me that he was running with his eyes down (fundamental mistake) and mistook the ball as a line drive, not seeing that it took a big hop right in front of the plate.
Reader Comments: I realize that umpiring "mistakes" are part of baseball. However, what really aggravates me is the total lack of consistency from crew to crew. How is it that in Thursday's game Ole Miss is allowed to score on a very similar play that Romero was not only called out on but was ejected? Had the Thursday call been ruled the same as the Romero call the Tigers could have actually swept the Rebels. Is there any accountability to these umpires? Thanks.
My Response: I’ve already expressed my displeasure with those two calls and the lack of consistency shown by the umpiring crew. The thing to understand is that those were both “judgement” calls, and as such LSU really doesn’t have a leg to stand on in terms of an appeal. The thing is, if those two calls had of gone the other way, in LSU’s favor, there’s a pretty decent chance that we’d all be sitting here today pleased with the fact that LSU won the series. The thing that bothered me most about the second call was that it resulted in Romero’s suspension. As announcer Kyle Peterson stated during the broadcast, it just doesn’t seem right that the determination to eject a player should be made in the heat of the moment without an opportunity to review the play.
Reader Comments: Scott, plain and simple, this team can’t hit. It’s pathetic. Who is the hitting coach?
My Response: Look, I understand you’re frustrated, but this team is far from pathetic and has shown that it CAN hit. Facing Vanderbilt’s All-American pitching staff, they pounded out 23 runs. Against Mississippi State’s Dakota Hudson, they mustered 12 hits. As a team, the Tigers are hitting .303, which is second best in the SEC. That’s not bad for a team that replaced eight of nine starters from last season. The problem offensively is one of consistency and that’s something that I think will improve with experience and maturity. The hitting coach is Andy Cannizaro.
Reader Comments: First, thank you for your site as I enjoy reading it usually first thing each morning (ole man habit?). As for the LSU baseball team, well again as an old timer it seems that they are a group a young players that are inconsistent in all phases (hitting, pitching, and defense) with no dominant, consistent phase of the game to hang their hat. A mediocre season (by LSU baseball standards) is likely, but baseball being the game it is, there is talent and getting hot in a couple phases of the game...well, they could make a run of sorts. As a fan, it's always nice to win but, these youngsters are still playing good quality baseball along with grit and determination! As a fan, I'll take that and enjoy their efforts rooting for them all throughout this season.
My Comments: Thanks, Rusty, for sharing your mature perspective on the game. These players have indeed shown a lot of grit and determination and deserve the fans’ full support. And yes, there’s still time for this team to get hot and make May and June very interesting. Like you, I’ll be enjoying their efforts till the end.
Reader Comments: I was hoping you could address why it is so difficult to recruit multiple good pitchers. Seems we never have quite enough to get the job done. Really enjoy your site! Thank you and have a blessed Sunday.
My Response: Thanks, Skip. I don’t think LSU has struggled to recruit good pitchers. The problem has been more one of keeping them and keeping them healthy. If Mac Marshall and Jake Godfrey were still on the team (both departed unexpectedly) and if Jake Latz and Alden Cartwright were healthy, this pitching staff would look very different.
Reader Comments: I’m patiently awaiting the 2016 LSU Football Season. With that being said, I have a few questions. I like what I saw in the spring game, but I’m wondering who you think will win the slot receiver (third receiver) job. I like the idea of the 6-5 Jazz Ferguson to complement our two stars on the outside. And do you believe it will be a mistake not to stand Lewis Neal up? I love his motor but I saw him get manhandled in our toughest games last year (Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas) in the run game specifically. Last but not least, how realistic is Travonte Valentine's chances of playing for the Tigers in 2016? I need to know before I get my hopes up for the space-eater we've been missing for years. Thanks for listening. I hope you keep this purple and gold torch burning bright for many years to come.
My Response: Thurman, first, thanks for your message. I can assure you that I intend to keep this purple and gold torch burning bright for long as I’m able. As for your questions, I do think it is likely that you will see Ferguson in the slot this year. We saw him there some in the spring game and I believe he told the media that he has been practicing primarily at that position. I’m excited about his future. As for Lewis Neal, I understand your concern, but I trust that Coaches Aranda and Orgeron will make the proper call there. In Aranda’s multi-front defense, I suspect we’ll see him with his hand in the dirt at times, and standing up at others. As for Valentine’s chances of suiting up for LSU in 2016, it’s really hard to say, as it will depend on several factors like him maintaining his grades, meeting compliance regulations, and earning the full trust of LSU. But if you’re looking for a large space-eater to help anchor LSU’s 3-4 at nose tackle, don’t forget about true freshman Edwin Alexander (6-2, 310) who will be enrolling this fall. I don’t know how realistic it is to see him shine this year, but he could very well be LSU’s nose tackle of the future.
Reader Comments: Hi Scott: For your mail call, I'd like to know if we are finally giving up on dual-threat QBs after Ryan Perrilloux, Jordan Jefferson, Anthony Jennings, and Brandon Harris. Now we brought in Danny Etling, with Myles Brennan and Zakock Dinklemann on the way. I seriously think our philosophy might have shifted, and Etling may be the starter this year.
My Response: I really don’t think the staff pays any attention to the pro-style/dual threat distinctions made by the recruiting services, and I don’t look at LSU’s QB recruitment as a sign of a philosophical change. From what I understand, LSU very much wants to bring in another QB in addition to Brennan this year (by the way, I’m very high on Brennan), and their top target remains four-star Lowell Narcisse of St. James High School, a prototypical dual-threat quarterback. As for this year’s signal callers, the job is clearly Brandon Harris’ right now. Etling gives LSU a very capable backup, but I think the only way he’ll see significant playing time is if Harris falters greatly or is injured.
Once again, I want to thank all of you who sent in your comments or questions. I’ll do my best to answer those whose topics weren’t covered here with a direct reply.
In softball news, No. 12 LSU completed its sweep of Arkansas yesterday with a convincing 9-1 win. The Tigers scored three runs in the first three innings and exploded for six more in the sixth, thereby earning not only the series sweep but also the 1,000th win in program history. After a somewhat disappointing start to the series, the Tigers (40-13, 13-11 SEC) have now won 10 in a row with only one weekend remaining before tournament play begins. “It’s tough to get three wins against anyone in the country, much less the SEC, so it’s nice to see our team come away with three wins this weekend,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We may not be in the spot where we expected to be at this point in the year, but I think we are a team that’s playing good softball with everything this group wants to accomplish still within striking distance.”
That’s it for today, folks. Have a great day and be sure to tune in tomorrow for your daily dose of Tiger News.