A week or so ago a few writers and I had an extended chat about the state of Texas baseball. This chat took place before last weekend's debacle against TCU, but I thought it was an excellent, informed discussion about the hardball team. Though Texas looked awful against TCU, the sense of cautious optimism revolving around the 2014 Horns should still remain.
Our participants were me, BON writers Curry Shoff, Michael Pelech and Abram Orlansky, and guest of BON/Barking Carnival baseball contributor Bitterwhiteguy (BWG). Without further adieu, therefore, I give you the Texas Baseball Writers Round Table and welcome your thoughts on the same topics in the comments.
After two years without sniffing the post season, do you trust this team yet or is this a fluke?
Curry: I don't know if trust is the right word, because Texas athletics has hardly earned my trust in the few years I've been on campus, but this is as promising a season as I would've expected from this Longhorn baseball team. The hitting, while not spectacular, has improved significantly. Mark Payton is playing like an All-American. Pitching has improved with experience.
But the last two years have burned me pretty badly. I understand that all the indicators point to this team having the character and ability the last two have lacked, but I can't use the word "trust" yet. It would be equally inappropriate, though, to call the success thus far a "fluke." So my answer is that there just isn't an answer yet. It's too early to say one way or the other.
I will say that I don't buy that the new AD or head football coach had anything to do with baseball's resurgence. The timing is a nice coincidence, but Texas is playing better because it recruited better players who made it to campus between 2013 and 2014 (Barrera, Gurwitz, Clemens, Cooper -- hopefully McGuire) and developed the raw guys with lots of potential (Shaw, Johnson, Marlow, Carter). These changes all happened before Patterson and crew came on board.
If all of this is a fluke and Texas reverts to 2012/2013 when Thornhill/French/Peters/Payton leave next year then I think Augie will probably be fired within the next few years. If it isn't a fluke and Augie has found his touch again then I think he's here for a long time to come.
This team isn't 2013, 2012 or even 2011. The 2011 CWS squad had four guys that could hit and two guys who could pitch. Sure there's nobody quite like Taylor Jungmann on this squad, but this team has a depth we haven't seen in burnt orange in years. I agree with Abram. If the Horns can get over their nerves and make it out of a regional then I think they'll make it to Omaha. After that? Who knows. Preseason I predicted a super regional loss to LSU, but I'm switching things up to predict a super regional victory over LSU and at least one win in Omaha.
1. Is this a fluke?
2. Non-Payton MVP?
3. Augie tenure?