A short background on the Aggie program under Rob Childress ...
RC took over the helm of the 2006 Aggies after Mark Johnson’s 2005 Aggies failed to make the NCAA tournament. That made four of MJ’s final six season that we didn’t reach the tournament.
RC had been the pitching coach at Nebraska under Dave Van Horn. When DVH went to Arkansas for the 2003 season, Mike Anderson was named head coach. The word was that Anderson and RC were essentially co-head coaches with Anderson running the offense and RC the pitching. Someone had to be HC, and that was Anderson, but by all accounts, the pitching staff was 100% RC’s.
That’s the same situation that we hired Childress under. He has always been his own pitching coach and had *nothing* to do with the offense. From 2006 to 2010 that was Matt Deggs’ job. After a rough first season in 2006, this situation largely worked, although Deggs’ aggressive baserunning, part of an overall small ball offense, was too aggressive for many of us. This “problem” was eliminated the month before the 2011 season when Deggs abruptly resigned for “personal reasons” and was replaced by Andy Sawyers, a.k.a. “Saw Dog.” 2013, Last Season …
Always streaky under Rob Childress, the 2013 Aggies began the season being shut out at home by the University of Illinois Chicago (They play baseball?!?). After dismal offensive production in the 2nd half of the 2012 season, this start was brutal to watch. Dismal and brutal are both pretty accurate words to use when describing the Aggies offense in 2013. After years of watching Matt Deggs’, then Andy Sawyers' small ball offenses, this was something different. Like those offenses of the past, this team didn’t hit for much power, just 26 home runs in 63 games. It slugged at an anemic .370. It also didn’t hit for much average (.270) and it struck out a lot, 418Ks in 63 games. This wasn’t small ball. This was garbage.
At the end of last season, I wrote a “post-mortem” for the team on TexAgs.com. I had planned on using it as a beginning for this post, but it’s apparently been deleted. I am usually accused of being a sunshine pumper on there, but I called for the firing of Andy Sawyers (thus, the deletion). We’ve now had a year and a half of terrible offense, and of no apparent offensive scheme. From last year’s team, the returning productive offense is Cole Lankford (slow), Troy Stein (slow), Hunter Melton (slower
), Krey Bratsen (very fast), and Mengden (average). This lineup will never succeed with small ball. This left me wondering WTF was in Sawyer’s head all last season. I even emailed him (never heard back). Only RC does interviews, and RC doesn’t discuss pitching, which leads to Image: http://aggiehardball.com/forum/Smileys/default/banghead.gif
. Looking to 2014 ...
Pitching was young but pretty solid last year. It wasn’t RC’s typically dominant staff, but it should be improved this season. Look for Parker Ray and Daniel Mengden to return as starters, and I suspect Mengden will be one of the aces of the SEC by the end of the season. It’s just a hunch after eight years of watching RC develop pitchers. I don’t think that Childress gets the credit that he deserves for the pitchers that he has developed over the years. I suspect that RC would like to make Mengden a pitcher-only this season, but we desperately need his bat.
Jason Jester, who is still on my shite list for blowing up our bullpen by not making his grades for the 2012 season, should be dominant again in whatever roll he is given. Grayson Long should also be improved. We have a large group of younger arms who had poor seasons in 2013. If we’re going to be successful, a couple of then will need to step up. Matt Kent and Corey Ray are a couple of guys who might fit that roll. RC will find guys who throw strikes and stick with them, at least for a few weeks. Guys who can’t throw strikes will be buried deep in the pen. RC has coached this way since he came to A&M, and I respect him for it.
In my old age, I don’t know any current players. However, over the last two summers, I’ve talked to a couple of former players and to another player’s father. At this point, I don’t have any faith in the offensive instruction that our players are receiving. I saw one of our more successful former starting pitchers out West at a minor league game in 2012 and talked to him for 30 or 40 minutes. He was upset about the lack of run support then (before 2013).
I know that RC “went the juco route” this off-season, which is a bit unusual for him. Maybe these guys will produce some runs despite our staff?!?
Despite my offensive concerns, hope still does spring eternal. There are few things in life as nice as a spring afternoon in the fresh air looking down at Leo’s beautiful field and the simple but elegant game taking place on it. I made almost every game as a student (1991-95) and then as a season ticket holder from 1997-2013 (lived in Ohio for the 1996 season). I’ll be here at my computer for the 2014 season following Dave and praying for good camerawork by 12th Man TV.
Beat the hell outta Northeastern!
This post was edited on 2/7 at 11:40 am