This week the Defensive Specialist would like to welcome Adam Courcha to the Deep in the Hole guest blogging stage. Adam currently plays for the University of New Mexico. Unfortunately he isn’t the most famous Aussie to step foot on campus since it’s the alma mater of Luc Longley. Adam definitely had big shoes to fill (pun intended) representing his native land after Luc and has done everything he can, even being named one of the team captains in his senior year. Last week, Adam’s squad opened their season against the number 1 team in the nation – The Texas Longhorns.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The Defensive Specialist is back with another blog from an overseas Aussie. Max Wheeler is a Western Australian playing at Southeastern Community College in Burlington, Iowa. Max decided to write about his experience at a hitting camp that he recently attended, run by the Boise Hawks in Boise, Idaho. The camp was invite only and was limited to 75 players. Over to Max:
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The Defensive Specialist is back to finish the end of season clean up. A number of emails have filtered into the Deep in the Hole inbox asking specific questions about certain clubs / franchises. The Defensive Specialist’s new goal is to rally a couple of General Managers and pick their brains over some of these issues. If you have any questions you’d like to have answered by your franchises big cheese, fire them into firstname.lastname@example.org and the Defensive Specialist will see what he can do in terms of getting some first hand insight.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
The Defensive Specialist’s series analysis got so long winded and in-depth that it had to be broken into 2 parts. For those who missed it, Part 1:
Onto Part 2
As mentioned in the semi final preview, South Australia’s designated hitter situation is dire and really warrants no mention. Angus Roeger and Scott Gladstone filled the void and went a combined 0 for 9 (which in hindsight isn’t really filling the void, more like creating one)
The Aces have an embarrassment of riches on their bench. Two way threat, Elliot Biddle went 3-0 on the season but also hit .333 with 14 RBI’s and 6 stolen bases. Hayden Dingle scored 8 runs, drove in 14 and posted a .284 average. On top of that, one time big leaguer, Brad Harman is on the roster and will surely see action in some form or another.
Edge – Victoria. By a significant margin
South Australia beat their starting pitching like a rented mule in their semi final series, riding their starters for 23.1 of a possible 27 innings. The staff is led by lefty Paul Mildren and his 5-1 record. Mildren put up an ERA of 2.96 in 45 innings with 42 strikeouts and only 13 walks and will be called upon to take the ball in game 1.Against NSW he went 71/3rd innings in a losing effort yielding only 1 earned run. Richard Bartlett took the ball in game 2 and gave South Australia 7 innings of 1 run baseball. Whether it was because veteran Darren Fidge was used in relief or because the South Australian coaching staff had lost faith, but Ryan Murphy was given the ball in the deciding game 3. And what call that was! Murphy tossed a complete game shut out after seeing 1.1/3rd innings all season. The Defensive Specialist has to believe that the South Australian’s will toss him the ball again if they can get it to game 3
The Aces roll out a decent trio themselves. In the final series of the year, Donovan Hendriks got the game 1 start. He went 3-2 with a 5.48 ERA and provides a cool head on the mound. Adam Blackley has the better stuff and is probably considered the ace of the staff. He went 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA over 24 innings while punching out 25. Rounding out the starters is Matthew Blackmore who went 6-1 with an awesome ERA of 1.95 while striking out 37 in 37 innings of work.
Edge – South Australia. Mildren and Bartlett are an impressive 1-2 punch and if Murphy can recreate his last outing they’ll be tough.
While the South Australian starters were dealing, there was very little use for the bullpen, however Fidge coming into relief tells you that the coaching staff were a little concerned about what their arms had to offer. Chris Lawson and Hayden Beard were the only SA relievers to sniff the field in the semi finals. During the regular season, Beard was the standout with 1 earned run in 9 innings of work and 10 strikeouts. Lawson posted a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings with 11 K’s. Dushan Ruzic got up to get loose in game 3 but was not needed. He provides a arm that can shut down a lineup.
The Aces bullpen is another strong point for them with Manager Phil Dale unafraid to dip into it. Lefty Adam Bright has assumed the role of closer, posting a 0-1 record with 2 saves and an ERA of 1.35. Russell Spear has appeared in 10.2 innings and punched out a remarkable 19 hitters while posting a 1.69 ERA. Ross Hipke and Shane Lindsay are the two other feature arms. Hipke posted a 6.23 ERA while Lindsay had some rough early outings and put up a 8.31 ERA
Edge – Victoria. The Aces seem more inclined to use their pen and have some quality veterans that they trust in big situations
The South Australian bench is shallower than Josef Fritzel’s gene pool. They struggle to find a suitable bat to DH let alone provide any sort of late in the game offense. Victoria on the other hand has a number of live bats that are available during the series. Biddle, Harman, and Dingle are all quality bats who may find themselves on the pine at one stage or another during the series.
Edge – Victoria. Anytime you are compared to Josef Fritzel you cannot have an edge!
Both teams have veteran warhorses that have been around the game in Australia since Jesus was a lad. It would seem that Harris has a bit more experience being the head guy although Dale has been involved with more winners. Harris has to manage a super thin bench and limited offense while Dale has to juggle a talented squad who could all contribute
Edge – South Australia. Harris has the momentum and has been pushing all the right buttons so the Defensive Specialist has to stay with the hot hand.
South Australia is rolling at the moment on a wave of emotion. They are rank underdogs with a shock the world mentality. However, they now move away from the friendly confines of Norwood Oval and have to deal with a crowd significantly less supportive. For what it’s worth (and recent evidence would suggest it’s not), the Defensive Specialist is predicting tight sphincters.
Victoria has been a prolific winner of the Claxton Shield and enters the final series with a ton of confidence. Playing at home in a place of higher learning (LaTrobe University) should stimulate their grey matter and confidence enough to relax them and allow a free flowing style of baseball. The team is deep and talented.
Edge – Victoria. At home and rested, too much depth, too much experience
By the Defensive Specialist’s count, that’s a 10-3 white wash to Victoria in the category stakes. On paper and in the Defensive Specialist’s head, the Aces are the superior club and should take down the South Australian’s on home turf. The pitching staffs are fairly equally matched but Victoria simply monstered teams on offense and South Australia cannot compete. The best case for SA is what happened against NSW. The South Australian starters pitch out of their back passages and suppress the Vic offense while hoping their boys can notch a run or two. That’s a hell of a lot to ask from a pitching staff.
The Defensive Specialist is told by his advanced scouting unit that the LaTrobe field plays tough in the twilight as the sun plays havoc with the hitters (nothing like hitting blind) which means that offense will be at a premium early or someone may take a fastball off their cornea.
So how is the Defensive Specialist going to call it? Victoria 2-0 (as South Australian fans race to book Monday off so that they can celebrate their teams first Claxton Shield win in eons)