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Texas Baseball Looks Toward the Future

Below is a lightly edited version of our conversation regarding the Texas baseball team's past, present, and future, with footnotes below. This was written ahead of Texas' midweek double-header against Alabama A&M (RPI #292). We're assuming Texas will improve to 27-7 against "bad" teams*, but this weekend the Horns play a "good" team in the biggest series of the year. Your thoughts?

Jeff:  We are 4-12 this season against "good" teams and 25-7 against "okay to not good teams". That, my friend, is the mark of either:

a) a mediocre squad or

b) an inexperienced squad.

I'm doing graduation stuff this weekend, can you take preview/wrap up of the aggy series? Thanks... WOOO!**

Abram: I'll try, and I should be able to churn something out, but I have orientation, sr staff prep time, Dream Street  prep, trip planning, cabin inspections...lots of "May" stuff. So a review on Monday shouldn't be an issue, and I can probably write a preview based on the interesting (disheartening?) stat you just quoted me.

By the way I'm writing this from my phone in the hemorrhoid*** doctor's office waiting room. Ain't technology great?

Jeff: Love technology. Did some stat checking. Against "good" teams our batting average is like .264 (.317 against the rest and .299 overall), and team ERA is like 7.04 (a pretty good 3.48 against the rest and respectable 4.67 overall). Team ERA against "good" teams is still 5.69 if the game against Mizzou where they put up 27 earned runs is taken out.

I think the two possible conclusions still stand:

This team is talented but inexperienced, possibly leading more experienced/better teams to take advantage of the fact that there isn't a lot of practice time to improve.
This team is not very good but is good enough to beat okay competition with regularity
I'll take the former. If the former is true one would think they would improve with time (but the lack of practice time may be hampering that). If the latter is true then one would expect more let downs against the "bad to okay" teams but the Horns haven't lost a series to a team below it in the standings.
Abram: Still in the effing waiting room. Maybe this conversation can be copied and modified and in itself could be the post?

Anyway, I tend to agree with your conclusion if given only those two options, although it's an interesting question. I think it may be too late in the season to blame the lack of practice at this point, but it also seems to me that you're right about there being more letdowns if they were truly bad. However, that same stat you pointed out leads me to a third conclusion: they're not bad, they're not "just young," but in fact they are right where they belong. They're average. Texas hasn't lost a series to a team below it in the standings but has fared poorly against teams above it. Ergo, where they are is where they belong.

This suggests a simple prediction to me: in a regional, we'll perform exactly as the seedings predict. If we're a 2 seed, for instance, we'll win, lose, win, lose and that will be that.
Jeff: Agree totally that they are average, but why are they average? I think it's because they lack experience and confidence in critical spots, both of which can be gained over time. They could also just not be very talented, which is harder to fix.
Abram: Yeah. I choose to believe it's the youth thing too since there's no way to actually know at this moment.
Jeff: Nope...And if I choose to be a blind optimist, that's my right.
Abram: Basically, our recurring theme from all season: youth or lack of talent? We find out for sure in '09.
Jeff: Yup...And with the exception of the Okie State sweep (where all three games could have gone either way), we have gone remarkably to form taking one of three against "good" teams and two of three from "not good" teams.
Anyhow, Texas has a chance to break the "good" team losing streak and tie up the Lone Star Showdown all at the same time. No probable starters up yet, but game times/locations and who we'd expect to see on the mound form the Horns are as follows:
May 16, 2008 -- Austin, TX       6:00 PM CT
Starter: RHP Chance Ruffin

May 17, 2008 -- College Station, TX     6:30 PM CT
Starter: RHP Kenn Kasparek

May 18, 2008 -- College Station, TX      1:00 PM CT
Starter: LHP Austin Wood or RHP Cole Green

* As of this writing, Texas is up 18-0 in game one

** A reference to the New Orleans Hornets victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semi-finals

*** Hemorrhoid added for dramatic effect. Abram does not (to the best of either of our knowledge) have hemorrhoids