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Monday, June 29, 2009

Basketball in the summer

OK, so it's almost July and no one wants to think about college basketball. But the SEC had its annual summer basketball teleconference today. (And in case you're wondering why, it's to help with previews for the fall).

Anyway, Trent Johnson was shooting pretty straight about the prospects for the upcoming season.

"With the exception of Bo (Spencer) and Tasmin (Mitchell), we've got a lot of guys that are coming back that have a lot of work to do and are unproven,'' Johnson said.

"The main thing for us is to focus on this upcoming year and understanding what happened last year is over. There are some challenges in front of us but I think we're all looking forward to it.''

Johnson also said Mitchell will play the three position this year but will move "inside out''.

So it looks like the LSU team will not be as good as last year, but better than what could have been a really bad team if Mitchell hadn't returned.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Zeigler to leave

Freshman pitcher Randy Zeigler said today he plans to transfer to Bossier Parish Community College. Zeigler has already been given his release by LSU coach Paul Mainieri.

Zeigler blew out his elbow prior to what would have been his first career start against Grambling. He needed Tommy John surgery and wouldn't be able to pitch off a mound until January or February at the earliest.

He said he's transferring to do his rehab closer to his Shreveport-Bossier City home.

How this affects LSU next year is anyone's guess. Because of the surgery, he wasn't going to be counted on -- particularly early in the year. But left-handed relief fell to Chad Jones this year after Zeigler's injury. There's no guarantee Jones or a Jones-like pitcher will be there next year.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tigers on TV

I know Fresno State was a Cinderella story in last year's College World Series. Ditto for Oregon State's two titles.But here's what you get when you put two traditionally strong programs, Texas (long tradition) and LSU (recent tradition), in the finals of the CWS -- great TV ratings.

ESPN's ratings for the CWS finals got a 2.1 rating nationally, the highest since going to the best-of-3 format in 2003. That rating was 24 percent higher than last year (1.7).

The CWS as a whole did a 1.5 rating -- up 36 percent from last year's 1.1.In Austin, the decisive game 3 did a 14.9 rating -- making it the highest-rated CWS game to air on ESPN in Austin. And in New Orleans, the game drew a whopping 21.0 rating. That made it the highest-rated cable program in New Orleans this year.

Makes you wonder if some enterprising soul will try to put those two together again some time?

Friday, June 26, 2009

On national championships

Surfing through the Internet last night I stumbled upon a comment from a fan of a college (not LSU) lamenting about what it must feel like to win a national championship every now and then.

Which got me to thinking about LSU.

In 1958, LSU won the national football championship. From 1958 until 1991, LSU won zero national championships in the Big Three sports -- football, men's basketball and baseball. Zero.

Then, when Skip Bertman won LSU's first national title in baseball in 1991, national championships came with a remarkable frequency.

Bertman produced titles in 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 2000. Nick Saban produced a football national championship in 2003. Les Miles added another football title in 2007. And now Paul Mainieri has a baseball title in 2009.

That's eight national titles starting in 1991 after having just one from 1958-1990.

While the national titles have been coming, they should be appreciated by LSU fans. Some people remember those days from 1959-1990.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wrapping up a title

LSU indeed have its best game -- when it needed it most -- on Wednesday.

So looking back at the best-of -hree series, LSU was dominant on Wednesday. Texas was dominant on Tuesday. And the difference was Monday, when LSU, down to its last out, rallied to force extra innings and then won.

While the hitters are getting a lot of accolades for tonight's performance, don't overlook the job the bullpen did again. In fact, save for a little trouble early on Tuesday, the bullpen was outstanding -- probably better than the starters.

But in a championship season, that's what it takes -- contributions up and down the line.

Back to the drama

OMAHA, Neb. - Greetings from Day 13 at the College World Series.

Four steaks have been consumed, two restaurants from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives have been visited and one waffle iron at the Fairfield free breakfast was mysteriously broken.

Is it just me, or did last night's game seem like NBA sixth game that is fixed so there will be a do-or-die seventh game for maximum television and gate money?

LSU appeared to be scrimmaging. The Tigers had not looked so bad offensively since a 3-1 loss to Nicholls State back on April 15. LSU's approach in a 5-1 loss Tuesday night seemed to be resemble a mid-week game against an in-state opponent. They didn't want to over exert themselves what with an SEC weekend coming up.

Tonight, weather permitting, is the biggest SEC Friday Night of all. And LSU's lackadaisical effort Tuesday could end up helping it tonight.

Pitcher Anthony Ranaudo should be at his optimum level of performance. Closer Matty Ott threw three innings Monday night and got the 7-6 victory in 11 innings, so he did not need to move a muscle Tuesday night and didn't. It was good not to throw bridge relievers Chad Jones and Paul Bertuccini either.

Mainieri even gave clutch hitting Sean Ochinko the night off. Leon Landry looked very good, though. I would start him again. Texas is throwing a so-so right-hander in Cole Green (5-3, 3.07 ERA). Landry makes the outfield better and he is nearly as fast as Jared Mitchell on the bases. When those two bat back-to-back, it is a dangerous weapon.

I would also like to see Tyler Hanover back at third base. He has a double and a home run in just a substitution role. Derek Helenihi is batting .052 with one hit in 19 at-bats and that lone hit was way back on June 13 when I remembered what my house looked like.

Helenihi has also only walked once. He's struck out five times. He has made some great plays at third base, but keeping him in the lineup now is sacrificing way too much offense. And Texas is not even playing small ball any more than LSU is now. You have to hit to win in Omaha. And momentum has nothing to do with anything. That's a football mindset, coach Miles.

The biggest wave of momentum cannot stop a good pitcher, and that's what Texas threw Tuesday and that's what LSU will throw tonight.

Even if Ranaudo would have pitched Tuesday night, LSU would have lost. What if Ranaudo had pitched Tuesday and lost? Where would LSU be tonight? LSU's second line of pitchers actually threw well enough to win Tuesday, but the hitters were resting themselves for the real game.

That's tonight. The Tigers will need Ranaudo at least seven and then get to Ott as quickly as possible.

LSU 5, Texas 3. The Tigers have been winning two out of three all year. And that's how it will end tonight.

Now, if I could just figure how to get a waffle iron on my expense account.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Uh ....

I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but if something doesn't change this may not turn out so well for LSU fans.

Here's my point, LSU has led in this series a grand total of two times -- 1-0 in the first game and 7-6 at the end of the first game.

The rest of the time, Texas has been pretty dominant -- both on the mound and at the plate.

And let's face it, Texas was 39-0 when leading after eight innings going into Monday's game. So you can't count on the Longhorns' bullpen blowing it again.

I know the hope of LSU fans is Anthony Ranaudo shuts down Texas on Wednesday night. He very well may. Or he may struggle the way he did against Virginia and all bets are off.

The problem for LSU right now is Texas' starting pitching. LSU did nothing with Taylor Jungmann. And the Tigers struggled with Chase Ruffin on Monday night.

Now, all is not lost. It's a one-game championship. But LSU hasn't played its best game -- or really even a good game -- yet against Texas.

Worth Repeating

OMAHA, Neb. - As many of you have reminded me, I did predict that LSU would win the national championship this season back during the regular season.

You could look it up.

In an April 27 column, I said, "LSU has another great baseball coach, and he will win LSU's first baseball national championship since Skip Bertman this June."

In an April 13 column, I said, "Book your trip to Omaha. LSU will be there."

Now, I did also once say that Aaron Brooks would be a great quarterback with the Saints. Didn't happen.

LSU is one win away from winning it all after beating Texas 7-6 Monday night.

People have called me bold, but really I began thinking LSU could win it all last year. LSU also entered the season No. 1 and ended the season No. 1. So how bold is that? Fans just need to remember not to get so upset over losses to Tulane and Nicholls State and ULL during the week.

Those games do not matter. They are pitching scrimmages to get your team ready for the SEC and later - like now.

When you return most of your team from Omaha, you will always have a great chance. Rare is the team that returns as much as LSU did this season.

LSU got its feet wet last season with a ninth-inning win over Rice here. It returned most of that team and added extremely high end talent and developed pitchers. Another reason is Paul Mainieri, who is an excellent coach and could go down as good as any.

It's all happening.

Mainieri named Austin Ross the starter for tonight's game minutes ago. So, if LSU doesn't take it tonight. It will take it Wednesday night with Anthony Ranaudo on the hill.

Was that another prediction?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kudos to the bullpen

Yes, there were a lot of hitting stars for LSU in the late innings on Monday night.

But I think you've got to give a lot of credit to the Tigers' bullpen for giving LSU a chance to win. The job Chad Jones, Paul Bertuccini and Matty Ott did was phenomenal.

The party line from the Texas camp tonight is this: Georgia won the first game last year and Fresno State came back and won the next two.

There's only one problem with that scenario. LSU has a pretty good pitching staff. And Paul Mainieri can choose between going with Anthony Ranaudo or Austin Ross as a starter and still feel pretty good about a possible Game 3. The negative in the win? Ott had to pitch three innings so he doesn't figure to be available.

Still, baseball is about pitching. And LSU had the pitching when it counted.

Pitching Plausibilities

OMAHA, Neb. - Just as in a Major League Baseball World Series, the two aces will go against one another in tonight's opening game of the College World Series. It's senior right-hander Louis Coleman (14-2, 2.68 ERA) of LSU against sophomore right-hander Chance Ruffin (10-2, 3.27 ERA) of Texas at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

The one-game championship on Saturday's in the past was pure drama and had a football feel to it, but this is true baseball. The three-game series is baseball. Just please don't make it a best-of-seven series. As one sportswriter said as his stay turned into its second week, "I don't have much of a life, but I want it back."

LSU and Texas both have a three-man pitching rotation it has used most of the season, but how the rest of that staff is used in Tuesday's 6 p.m. game and the, if necessary, game at 6 p.m. Wednesday, will be interesting.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri will likely start Anthony Ranaudo (11-3, 2.87 ERA) on Tuesday if the Tigers lose tonight. Ranaudo would be going on just three full days rest (Saturday, Sunday Monday), but Mainieri does not want to lose the national championship with ace 1A waiting for a game that will never happen. Besides this is the national championship, and sometimes pitching rest gets overrated. Ranaudo only three 76 pitches Friday. He should be fine Tuesday.

What will be interesting is if LSU wins tonight. Mainieri may still be tempted to throw Ranaudo Tuesday night to win it Tuesday night. Again, he only threw 76 pitches and that was a Friday day game. So by Tuesday night, he would have actually been off from late Friday afternoon up until late Tuesday afternoon. That's actually four days rest.

Conservatively, Mainieri could start Austin Ross (6-7, 5.09 ERA), who has pitched well in his last two starts, on Tuesday and then have a very rested Ranaudo for Wednesday. But Mainieri has said that he never wants to go into a game thinking he can lose it and still win another day. He wants to win that game.

If Ranaudo starts on Tuesday after a win, though, one could say Mainieri has gone for broke. He's done that before. Also if Ross starts on Wednesday, it will be against probably a lesser Texas pitcher than he would face on Tuesday.

Oh, the possibilities.

Mainieri has kept his post-Coleman pitching plans to himself.

Texas coach Augie Garrido would like to start right-hander Taylor Jungmann (10-3, 2.10 ERA) Tuesday unless he needs Jungmann to finish Monday night's game. If Jungmann has to pitch tonight, then right-hander Cole Green (5-3, 3.07 ERA) could start Tuesday. Green threw six innings Friday night, though, so Garrido may want to save him until Wednesday. If he does that, he will throw his version of Ross on Tuesday. That would be right-hander Brandon Workman (3-3, 3.45 ERA). There is also right-hander Austin Dicharry (8-2, 2.34 ERA), who has started five games this season.

"I'd like to have Roger Clemens available," Garrido said of the former Texas pitcher, "but I don't know if he'd pass the drug test."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A marriage that works

LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri is getting a lot of accolades these days -- and deservedly so. In just three years, he has the Tigers playing for a national championship.

You can read a good piece in the Omaha World-Herald on Mainieri.

But let's not forget a couple of things.

First, LSU wouldn't be here without Paul Mainieri. If the Smoke Laval Error told us anything, then it was this: Not just anybody could push the buttons and LSU would win in Omaha.

Second, though, Mainieri wouldn't be here without LSU. Yes, Mainieri was a very good coach at Notre Dame.Even got to the CWS. But let's be real here, you're not going to be playing for a national title when it's June before it gets over 70 degrees in your home stadium

So this is a marriage that works for both parties.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Who do you believe?

I am a big believer in a simple fact regarding most sports events -- the best team usually wins.

I know it's simple, it may even sound stupid to some, but rare is the upset when you get to the biggest stage.

So now my question is this: Who is the best team when it comes to LSU and Texas?

The polls say LSU is the best team. The tournament selection committee says Texas.

LSU has been the most dominant team in the CWS. Texas has played in a tougher bracket with two games against a national seed in Arizona State.

LSU has been challenged -- briefly by Virginia -- just once in Omaha. Texas has been behind twice against Arizona State and once against Southern Miss and won all three games.

So who do you believe?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rain delay

OMAHA, Neb. - LSU, winners of 12 straight games, finally found something that could stop it Friday. Hard rain.

The start of Tigers' 1 p.m. game with Arkansas in the College World Series today has been delayed by rain for an undetermined amount of time.

It has been hazy all day, and then the rain hit at about 12:40 p.m.

The new game time will be announced here as soon as game officials decide after the rain stops, and there is plenty of rain throughout the Omaha area.

Beware the Hogs

OMAHA, Neb. - Do not automatically think LSU will win today's 1 p.m. game against Arkansas because it looks like the Tigers are overwhelming favorites with rested pitchers and a 9-1 win over the Razorbacks last Monday along with four of five wins over the Hogs on the season.

This is baseball, not football. Anything can happen in baseball because pitchers constantly change the game. Arkansas will be throwing its closer, Steven Richards, today either as the starter or second behind reliever Zack Cox. Richards is 6-1 with a 1.82 ERA and nine saves. Cox is 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, who is very good, wants to get off to a good start and be in the game as it gets late. That's why he's going with Richards and Cox early even though neither has ever started this season. Closers enter with a sense of urgency and can often last longer than you think. Van Horn may use three or four other pitchers, too.

LSU is going with one of the best pitchers in the country in Anthony Ranaudo (10-3, 3.03 ERA), but he struggled the last time he pitched against Arkansas.

The Hogs are also on an adrenaline-charged, emotional high after facing certain defeat a half dozen times against Virginia Wednesday night but pulled it out in 12, 4-3. That can do wonders for a team in Omaha. Arkansas won in similar fashion throughout the postseason.

Arkansas does not think it can die now. The same thing happened with Fresno State last season and Oregon State in 2006. Each fought through the losers' bracket to win the national title over teams with more pitching and more rest.

Beware. I do not think Arkansas could beat LSU twice in a row, but it could win today.

And remember, no national top seed has won this national championship since 2003. Anything can happen in baseball, particularly at the College World Series. By the way, where is No. 2 seed Cal State Fullerton? Do not bet on baseball. It's not football. Odds are for losers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Finally baseball

I'm sure from a pitching standpoint, LSU coach Paul Mainieri is glad to have the three days off since last playing on Monday in a 9-1 win over Arkansas.

The question, though, will be this: Will the three days away from game competition take any edge away from an offense that has rolled up nine runs in each of the first two games?

You would think not. I mean, there was a bigger gap between the SEC Tournament and the regionals and the regionals and super regionals.

But when you're going good, you want to keep playing.

Still, an LSU win on Friday will mean two more days off, but again, you can get your pitching determined in that time.

As it is, that's about the only concern Paul Mainieri should have at this time. It's no guarantee, and it could change, but right now LSU looks like the best team in Omaha.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More of Les

Here is some more from Les Miles' appearance up north on Monday.

On Alabama's NCAA sanctions: "Alabama's a great school and certainly they want to do it right. There is a great throng of Alabama supporters and administrators that insist it's done correctly. The NCAA's following up and doing the right thing. I'm glad that they're there. I'm glad they're working. Certainly, we don't want to make those mistakes. It's a great lesson to all of us. The NCAA so many times comes up with rules when it comes to recruiting that is not necessarily on point. This is a no-brainer. This is something Alabama was doing that was different from the rest of the NCAA membership. It's a right decision. Thank goodness.''

On Tennessee coach Lane Kiffen: "Everybody manages their business their own way. I certainly would not want to do that here, only because I see LSU different than that. I wish him the very best. I certainly understand his want to get Tennessee out (pause). How you get it out is the key?

On an early signing period for college football: "It makes sense. I've been a proponent of it for some time. They had a survey where they surveyed all of the prospects who signed in a signing year and 40 percent said they were for an early signing date. Everybody's complaint is we change the calendar. Every school of note has a pretty good signing class right now. Theyv'e committed, why not let them sign. Do they need any more further visits? They've made the commitment. We've made the commitment to them. Whatever schoool, certainly LSU, we're bound by our word. Might as well sign.''

Breaking down the bracket

OMAHA, Neb. - In case you are wondering, this is how the College World Series brackets break down at the midpoint of eight-team tournament.

For LSU to win the national championship, it has to:

- Win its 1 p.m. game Friday against the winner of the Arkansas-Virginia elimination game that is at 6 tonight, but if LSU loses it gets another chance.

- If LSU loses that Friday game, it would then play the same opponent in an elimination game at 1 p.m. Saturday in what will be the Bracket One championship game.

- If LSU wins that game, it advances to the best-of-three national championship series. Those games will be at 6 p.m. Monday and 6 p.m. Tuesday. If the series is tied 1-1 after that, a third game will be played at 6 p.m. Wednesday for the title.

Texas is in the same situation as LSU over in Bracket Two. The Longhorns won their first two games just like the Tigers did. Texas will play at 6 p.m. Friday against the winner of the North Carolina-Arizona State elimination game that will be at 6 p.m. Thursday. Texas is also one win away from reaching the best-of-three championship series.

LSU has never played in the best-of-three championship series, which started in 2003. Coaches felt a best-of-three series was a better way to decide a champion than the one-game Super Bowl, if you will, that used to be held on the second Saturday. LSU won that game five times.

NOTES: No. 3 national seed LSU and No. 1 national seed Texas are bidding to become the first nationally seeded team to win the national championship since Rice in 2003. Cal State Fullerton in 2004, Texas in 2005, Oregon State in 2006 and 2007 and Fresno State last season were all not among the top eight national seeds when NCAA postseason play began. Miami in 1999 is the the last No. 1 seed to win it all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

World according to Les

Les Miles was in town on Monday.

Here is a sampling of what Les had to say:

On his trip to Shreveport: "I like to stay in touch and keep folks informed about what's going on in Baton Rouge, We're very loyal to this group. Certainly like to remember Jacob Hester every time I come into this town. We're going to recruit in this city and there's great prospects. I enjoy being here.''

On lower expectations this season with the Tigers picked third in the SEC West in some polls:
"I don’t mind where we’re picked. "It doesn’t make any difference. It’s all about an opportunity to earn where we finish."I think our guys understand what we’re capable of, we play to what we’re capable of. One thing about it, if they pick you first, it may be too high. If they pick you last, it’s too low. You earn where you finish. We like it that way.’’

On Chad Jones and Jared Mitchell playing in the College World Series: "Did you see Chad Jones pitch that out? I would hate to go into the batter’s box with that big man throwing balls at me.
"I look forward to an opportunity these guys have. At some point in time they come off the field with a national championship football ring and a national championship baseball opportunity. I’m so happy for Paul Mainieri and that group.’’

On Trindon Holliday's NCAA track title in the 100 meters: "That’s another national title that he puts with his national football ring,I would have to say that if you would look at our players who run track and play baseball, they’ve had the great fortune to have success in both.’’

On the advantages in recruiting by allowing two-sport athletes: "There’s no way that a track guy considers coming to LSU and does not recall the Bennie Brazells and Trindon Holliday and those guys who have participated in both. It’s just that simple.’’

More to come from Les.

Monday, June 15, 2009

SEC Tournament in Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. - LSU's College World Series game tonight at 6 against Arkansas will mark the 10th time the Tigers play a fellow Southeastern Conference team here in the SEC Tournament North.

LSU is 7-2 over the previous nine games as former coach Skip Bertman was 7-0 against the SEC from 1986-1998 and former coach Smoke Laval was 0-2.
Here's a look at the games.

1987 - The Tigers met Arkansas in a loser's bracket game and won 5-2. This put them in the infamous game against Stanford that the Tigers led 5-2 going into the bottom of the 10th inning. Paul Carey then hit a grand slam, walk-off home run off Ben McDonald for a 6-5 win. Stanford went on to win the national title.

1991 - LSU beat Florida 8-1 in an opening game and beat the Gators again, 19-8, in game three to reach the national championship game. LSU beat Wichita State 6-3 for its first national title.

1996 - The Tigers met the Gators twice in a row in game two and three, winning 9-4 and 2-1 to reach their third and most memorable title game. LSU beat Miami 9-8 on a walk-off, two-run home run by Warren Morris in the bottom of the ninth.

1997 - LSU and Alabama met in the national championship game with Bertman going against former pupil Jim Wells. After losing two of three at Alabama in the regular season, including a 28-2 setback, and falling again to the Tide in the SEC Tournament by 12-2, LSU won the big one 13-6.

1998 - The Tigers met their fourth SEC opponent in CWS play in Mississippi State in a winners' bracket final. The Tigers won 10-8, but they lost twice in a row to USC and did not reach the national title game for the only time after going 2-0.

2003 - A losers' bracket game matched LSU with its fifth SEC foe in the CWS. South Carolina eliminated the Tigers 11-10 with three runs in the bottom of the eighth. The Gamecocks made it all the way to the national title game but fell to Texas 12-6.

2004 - It was LSU and South Carolina again in a losers' bracket game a year later. The Gamecocks dismissed the Tigers 15-4.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How big is big?

A certain former football coach at LSU didn't talk about big games. To him, it was just another game on the schedule.

Of course, I don't think he may have ever been in a situation like the one Paul Mainieri will be in on Monday.

Just how big is LSU's game with Arkansas on Monday? Consider this, if LSU wins the Tigers don't play again until Friday -- which would mean a fully rested pitching staff -- when they can earn a spot in the best-of-three series for the national championship with a win.

If LSU loses,the Tigers would need to win on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to reach the best-of-three championship series. Even if the Tigers were to accomplish such a feat, their pitching would be stretched thin by next Monday.

So even though Monday's game is televised by ESPN2, it will be a huge one for both the Tigers and the Razorbacks.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It wasn't pretty but ...

If you're an LSU fan (and if you're reading this blog, chances are you're an LSU fan) you have to like the fact that LSU is winning games when it's not playing all that great.

The Tigers have won 11 consecutive games. For the most part, LSU has shown good pitching all season.

But starter Anthony Ranaudo struggled tonight against Virginia and Paul Mainieri did his best Tony La Russa imitiation by running out to the mound just about everybody he has some confidence in this season.

It worked. LSU won 9-5.

And before people start worrying about Louis Coleman, it was one inning. He probably would've had a bullpen session anyway before Monday's start.

Mainieri's greatest faith may have been bringing in Chad Jones to face a left-hander and leaving him in against a right-hander. Jones rewarded Mainieri by getting out of the inning.

Friday, June 12, 2009

World Series time

So we're just hours from the start of the College World Series.

Paul Mainieri plans to start Anthony Ranaudo on the mound for the Tigers. Brian O'Connor is countering with freshman left-hander Danny Hultzen.

Two things are intriguing about this matchup.

One, I'll be interested to see how Hultzen, a freshman, handles the hype of pitching in Omaha for the first time.

And two, we'll see how LSU does with a left-hander.

One key to this game, just like any baseball game is to get into the opponent's bullpen. The best way to do that is to run up the pitch count.

Like I said, those are two things to watch there.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Draft Day II thoughts

If LSU had to have a major league baseball team select Zack Von Rosenberg in the draft, then the Tigers got the perfect team (at least for them) to do the picking.

Von Rosenberg went to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the sixth round. That's the same Pirates team that traded its best player, Nate McLouth, to Atlanta recently for prospects in a deal widely panned by Pirates players as being about the money.

So you can't really expect the Pirates to make Von Rosenberg an overwhelming offer. You can read what the Pirates have to say about Von Rosenberg here.

As for Brody Colvin, he went in the seventh round to the Phillies. The Phillies have more money than the Pirates. But if you're Colvin, you can be a first-round pick if you go back to school. Still, it will depend on what the offer is. Sometimes the MLB clubs pay more than you think.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Draft thoughts

OK, so everyone figured Jared Mitchell and DJ LeMahieu to be early round picks and they were. Both, coincidentally, were selected by Chicago teams. The White Sox took Mitchell in the first round and the Cubs took LeMahieu in the second.

But what about the incoming recruits?

I think most observers figured Texarkana's Slade Heathcott to be a high-round pick. Baseball America had him begged for the second round. Then, lo and behold, the New York Yankees use their first-round pick, 29th overall, on Heathcott.

I can't imagine the New York Yankees not signing their No. 1 pick. I mean, this isn't the Washington Nationals we're talking about here. You can read more on Heathcott here.

So then comes the next question: What about Zack Von Rosenberg and Brody Colvin?

Neither Von Rosenberg nor Colvin were taken in today's first three rounds -- which is good news for LSU. It remains to be seen what will happen -- but I'm guessing if they go in the first 10 rounds then it could be trouble for LSU. After that, then the Tigers could have themselves a heck of a pitching staff for three years.

Monday, June 08, 2009

We interrupt baseball season ...

Tasmin Mitchell is coming back to LSU for his senior season in a move that most people expected.

Mitchell had a great junior season, but he probably just made himself a first-round pick next year -- if he doesn't get hurt.

LSU coach Trent Johnson plans to play Mitchell on the wing and that should help his stock, if he plays well.

As for the team, LSU desperately needed Mitchell back. The Tigers have a legitimate go-to player now.

I know some think Mitchell's return puts LSU back at the top of the West. I don't know if I'd go that far just yet because Mississippi State has a pretty tought inside combination with Jarvis Varnado and Renardo Sidney.

Still, LSU's basketball team is much better than it was 24 hours ago.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Yes, Virginia, there is a CWS

So LSU will open the College World Series with Virginia.

The Cavaliers lost the first game of their series with Ole Miss 4-3 and then rallied with a 4-3 win on Saturday and a 5-1 win on Sunday.

What does this mean for LSU besides Paul Mainieri coaching against a former assistant from his Notre Dame days in Brian O'Conner?

Virginia was an unseeded team. All the Cavaliers have done is go on the road and win a regional at UC Irvine, ranked No. 1 at the time, and then go on the road to win the super regional at Ole Miss.

Winning the Irvine regional was probably more imperssive than winning at Ole Miss. The reason I say that is Ole Miss has such a mental block in the super regionals that it makes the Rebels vulnerable.

Anyway, this is a Virginia team that many thought should have been a No. 1 seed in the regional process. The Cavaliers have pitched well with opponents hitting only .234. Heck, Ole Miss scored just eight runs in the three games.

Much like the Rice super regional series, it appears to be a challenging matchup for LSU.

Meanwhile, Southern Miss reminds me of last year's Fresno State team when it comes to getting hot at the right time.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

On to Omaha

Just a year or so ago, Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said the goal was to get into the playoffs and after that it was a crapshoot. Twice, Epstein has been on the winning end (2004 and 2007). Three times he has come up short (2003, 2005, 2008).

I bring this up because LSU is going back to Omaha for the College World Series. And, much like the playoffs are in the big leagues, Omaha is really one big crapshoot for college baseball.
Yes, LSU has the pitching to match up with anyone in Omaha.

But the College World Series is a different breed of animal. Anyone remember a certain team from California getting hot last year? Fresno State was a No. 4 seed in a regional and won a national championship.

Right now, Fullerton looks awesome. Texas figures to be a tough out as well.

Again, anything can happen. Yes, you have to like LSU's chances. But you also have to remember that the goal is to get there and then hope the chips fall your way.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Rice is dangerous

BATON ROUGE - LSU may have a College World Series team that doesn't get to the College World Series. Rice is very capable of beating the Tigers in the best-of-three Super Regional that begins tonight at 6 at Alex Box Stadium and will be televised on ESPN.

This game or series should not be happening now. It should be happening in Omaha, Neb., at the College World Series. But the NCAA Baseball Selection Committee made a gross mistake by including Oklahoma as a top eight seed. Rice should have been there instead, and LSU would be hosting someone else this weekend. As it turns out, Oklahoma was eliminated last week.

The Tigers did have one of the weaker opening regional fields last weekend, so things even out.

This LSU-Rice match-up will be very even. The Tigers will prevail, but they will lose a game and be in danger of losing two other times. It's going to be that kind of Super Regional. Look for some late-inning heroics by LSU.

Both teams have very strong pitching and good enough offenses to hold their own with anyone.

This pairing is destined to be a classic. It will feel like Omaha. The only bad thing is it won't be in Omaha.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

All or nothing

Back in the day, LSU would be packing its bags for Omaha and the College World Series. All you had to do in the past was win a regional and head to Omaha.

Then came the best-of-three Super Regional series. And all of a sudden, getting to Omaha got a whole lot harder.

Of the eight series played this weekend, LSU is the only top-10 team playing another top-10 team in this week's Baseball America poll. Thus, the Tigers have the toughest opponent (No. 6 Rice) in the Super Regionals.

And, it's all or nothing. Two wins and it's on to Omaha. Two losses and, let's face it, the season would be deemed a failure by most. You might think that's harsh, but this is a team that began the season ranked No. 1 and is currently ranked No. 1 in the Baseball America poll. This is a team -- tough opponent or not -- that expects to be in Omaha.

We'll see how they do with this all-or-nothing test.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Look for a low scoring Super Regional

BATON ROUGE - The Super Regional at Alex Box Stadium this weekend may look more like a classic, pitching-dominated Major League Baseball World Series than any of the other seven Supers going on.

Rice has pitching. LSU has pitching. Neither has overpowering, murderer's row lineups. Look for some 4-3 and 3-2 games. They might as well let everyone use wooden bats, and it could be turn back the clock night for three nights.

"It could be low scoring," said Rice coach Wayne Graham, who has had his share of great pitchers over the years. "But every time I say that, the score ends up being 11-10."

Rice has another typical great staff with right-handers Ryan Berry (7-1, 2.00 ERA) and Mike Ojala (5-0, 1.73 ERA) and, yes, it has a dreaded left-hander in Taylor Wall (7-5, 3.45 ERA). But LSU may have the best 1-2 starters in the nation in Anthony Ranaudo (9-3, 3.09 ERA) and Louis Coleman (12-2, 2.72). Each has very good closers, too. Rice has Jordan Rogers (8-3, 4.42 ERA, 7 saves) and LSU has Matty Ott (3-2, 2.22 ERA, 15 saves).

"This series really should've happened in Omaha," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "Rice should have received a top eight seed."

Could this be Mickey Lolich vs. Bob Gibson times three.

"It should be a lot of fun," Graham said.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Super Regional set to begin Friday

Just got the word from the NCAA. LSU's Super Regional will begin on Friday and could last through Sunday if necessary.

Here is the info:
Rice (43-16) at No. 3 LSU (49-16)
Friday, 6 p.m. (ESPN), Saturday, 4 p.m. (ESPN), Sunday 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

Since Rice had to play on Monday, that makes for a short week -- three days rest -- for the Owls while LSU wrapped up its regional on Sunday.