Baseball Opening Day Arrives

The Wolfpack open the 2010 season today with the first of three games against LaSalle. Many were disappointed with last season, but this year should prove to be better with a more seasoned offense. There are a few bullpen questions, the most intriguing being what role Russell Wilson ultimately plays. It has been suggested the Wilson will close, which I think while not a horrible idea, is not a particularly good one for someone 3+ years removed from competitive pitching. The closer role is the least predictable in terms of innings pitched and I think a more defined role, at least early on, would better suit him (not to mention provide more well-defined roles for the bullpen). The world would be a generally better place if Wilson would just win the starting SS job, rake and the freshmen would emerge to anchor the bullpen. I don’t ask for much.

Anyway, I have mentioned before I expect this season to be better and it is not simply due to what the Pack returns to the field. Of significant importance is what was LOST by other teams in the conference. One of last years surprise teams was Boston College (a surprise based on casual fan expectation anyway). The Eagles lost 4 players including the 4th overall pick in the draft, catcher Tony Sanchez. I mentioned earlier that perhaps catching was a contributing to our poorer pitching last season as the Wolfpack returned 39 total catching starts from the previous season. Well, this year BC goes from having a stud senior catcher to ZERO game experience behind the plate (per the listed roster/profiles). That will certainly take the offense down a notch, and I would expect the pitching to suffer as well.

UNC lost a pair of first rounders in pitcher Alex White and a semi-decent first baseman in Dustin Ackley. By “semi-decent” I mean the 2nd overall pick in the draft who was considered the best college bat available. So, you can expect a little drop in production there I would imagine. GT saw Luke Murton leave (finally) as one of the better all-time hitters in school history, so he will certainly be missed (not by us). Heck, Duke even had a pair of hitters taken in the draft including….. a FOUR year starter at catcher (Matt Williams) and a slugging first baseman (Nate Freiman). There’s that pesky catching position coming up again.

Don’t get me wrong- there is a lot of talent in the ACC but while most teams have major holes to fill, the Wolfpack basically need only to find a starting pitcher to take over Gillheeney’s “ace” role (Jake Buchanan, come on down!). THIS is the the reason I expect the Pack to bounce back this season. We’ll see how it all plays out. Some of the first answers come this afternoon at 3. Feel free to use this thread for any game comments should you have the free time.

A nice statistical recap of the ACC last year can be found here. Note the complete lack of NC State players on the offensive leaderboard. (Apologies to Kyle Wilson, who was second in stolen bases). Also note, which has been mentioned before, the atrocious defense (see… I don’t just pull this stuff out of my backside).

Anyway, the season commences at 3:00 today. GO WOLFPACK!

About Dr. BadgerPack

NCSU Class of 99 and PhD University of Wisconsin, 2006... Which should adequately explain the screen name I chose at 2am one Saturday...


21 Responses to Baseball Opening Day Arrives

  1. section2chuck 02/19/2010 at 12:46 PM #

    Does anybody know, why in the world are we not playing ECU in Raleigh? We are playing them once in Greenville, and that’s it. Why would we not schedule the one game that actually sells out every time they play?

  2. tulsapack 02/19/2010 at 12:48 PM #

    Been looking forward to this for weeks, though we could be much improved this year and still miss out on the ACC Tournament with how stacked the league is. Plus the team we miss is VT, definitely not the one I would’ve picked.

    Next weekend will be a really good measure of where the team is pre-conference; if we can beat either Irvine or Coastal (and of course James Madison) we’ll be in good shape.

    Sort of surprised we only have a single game scheduled against ECU this year, being that it’s the one sport they’re actually useful in.

  3. section2chuck 02/19/2010 at 1:11 PM #

    I agree the Baseball at the Beach tourney will tell us alot about this team very early. With UC Irvine and Coastal being there, that is some pretty strong games at the begining of the season. ECU is projected to make it to Omaha, so they will be tough again.

  4. tulsapack 02/19/2010 at 1:14 PM #

    Omaha for ECU? Really? I could see them hosting a regional but I really don’t know that they’re last-eight material.

  5. Dr. BadgerPack 02/19/2010 at 1:23 PM #

    For what it’s worth… the initial projected field of 64 from Baseball America.

    This projection has us in, albeit as a 3 seed in a tough regional with a Carolinas flavor.

  6. section2chuck 02/19/2010 at 1:24 PM #

    I just want to get back to a Regional, and see what happens. Would love to host again, that was awesome two years ago.

  7. section2chuck 02/19/2010 at 1:26 PM #

    Wow, a Regional with Coastal, ECU, NC State, and UNCW..That would be a brutal Regional.

  8. tulsapack 02/19/2010 at 4:20 PM #

    Well this was over in the first. Goodness.

  9. Rochester 02/19/2010 at 7:51 PM #

    32-3 Wolfpack. Maybe Avent should talk with the basketball team about how an offense works.

  10. Andy 02/19/2010 at 9:23 PM #
  11. gcpack 02/19/2010 at 11:30 PM #

    Section2 I spoke with coach Avent bout the ecu 1 & done schedule. He said that he was miffed bout that.ECU renegged on the Raleigh game with the excuse that they had exams that week & the school would not let their players out of school to come to Raleigh?!

    Avent went on to say that the agreement with ecu also included a stipulation that ecu play unc every year just as they do State. He said ecu is not playing unc but every other year & that if they don’t start once a yr vs unc the ecu annual schedule with State will not last.

    Typical ECU talk the talk but don’t walk the walk about playing anybody anywhere anytime then backing out with a lame exam excuse. This was after they agreed on the date with Avent . Seems unbelievable that they don’t even know when their exams are.

  12. Dr. BadgerPack 02/20/2010 at 5:37 AM #

    Well… I did say expect an improved offense. 🙂

    Wasn’t exactly calling a school record for runs scored in game 1 though. Sheesh.

  13. PackerInRussia 02/20/2010 at 8:47 AM #

    Nice article on Brackman. I hope he gets it together and is able to be very successful…and that the Yanks trade him away before that happens 🙂

  14. Dr. BadgerPack 02/20/2010 at 10:43 AM #

    For comparison’s sake, last season’s top scoring outputs were 19 (against VT), 16 (against NC A&T) and 15 accomplished 4 times.

    Now lets hope they don’t pull a “Cubs” and score 32 for the whole bleeping series…

    As for Brackman, I’d like to see him make strides in the K/BB department… He needs to get that in the 2:1 neighborhood. It was around 1.4:1 last go-round.

  15. brodywolf 02/20/2010 at 11:49 AM #

    Agree with section2chuck…that NCAA regional would be brutal if it came true. I went to undergrad at State and grew up a hardcore Pack fan—and I am lucky enough to know Coach Avent personally. He is a great guy and a very good coach so I am glad to see that we might have a little more offense for the pitching staff this year. I am now in medical school down in Greenville, so I have watched this ECU team the past couple years as well (including the game yesterday against UVA)- Godwin has these guys playing well and the pitching staff they return from a good team last year is very solid. It would be nice to see us be able to beat this ECU team both in the regular season and in a regional. I am pulling for Coach Avent and the boys the whole way!!! On a side note- the UVA ace is legit…I saw him cruise after a rough first inning yesterday against the Pirates. They are the class of the ACC to begin the year without doubt.

  16. tulsapack 02/20/2010 at 3:28 PM #

    Double digits again today, just LaSalle but still always nice to bulldoze teams you’re supposed to beat.

  17. Dr. BadgerPack 02/21/2010 at 10:12 PM #

    I will be very interested in how La Salle does against Florida next weekend. I’ll be in attendance…

  18. D_Medlin 02/22/2010 at 1:15 AM #

    Did you go to any games this weekend Badger?

    If so, how’d they look aside from the whole run scoring thing? Is this a better team than the 2009 edition?

  19. Classof89 02/22/2010 at 10:01 AM #

    This weekend’s series is really nothing to get all that excited about…LaSalle is picked 13th out of 14 teams in the Atlantic 10, per the preseason poll:

    Why schedule a series like this against a team so weak that the wins tell you NOTHING about what your team can do? Kudos to Virginia for scheduling a ROAD 3-game series against ECU, then going into Greenville and winning it. Apparently, our staff and athletics administration doesn’t have the cajones to schedule like that…

  20. Dr. BadgerPack 02/22/2010 at 10:43 AM #

    D_Medlin- Nope. I live in Gainesville, so it’s a heck of a road trip to get to Raleigh.

    This years edition is clearly better than last year’s edition, although we do have some questions at the back end of the rotation.

    Classof89… Yeah, we are clearly chickens in scheduling- it sure would be nice if we, say, went to a neutral site to play in a tourney with two top 20 teams. Oh, wait a minute… we did. The fact of the matter is we set a team record for runs in a single game, and for runs in a 3 game series. That is difficult to do, no matter the competition. As for baseball scheduling, it is common for northern teams to venture south early in the year due to weather. We hosted a Pennsylvania team, Virginia came to play ECU. La Salle plays three in Gainesville next week- and Florida is a top 10 freaking team. I suppose the Gators schedule weak as well. When exactly should we play 3 against ECU? In the middle of the week to completely screw up a weekend conference series? We DO travel to play one against ECU. They backed out of the home game.

    Sweeping a series in baseball is difficult. We accomplished this. Half the ACC has at least one loss after opening weekend. So, to say we learned nothing about the team is an ill-informed statement at best, and, well, I won’t say what it is at worst. We scored double digit runs in every game… heck, we scored 15+ in every game. Our past editions with future MLB draftees on offense failed to do that, and they had every opportunity to do so against similar competition.

    Our schedule compares favorably with every other ACC squad’s. If I seem overly agitated, it’s because I am. My baseball threads will not turn into what basketball/football have become, which is basically an athletic department bitch-fest.

    However, at the end of the day we are all NC State folks, so I won’t take it personally. Let’s just try to keep the focus on the actual accomplishments of the team, and not on the perceptions of what the schedule should be.

  21. tulsapack 02/23/2010 at 8:44 PM #

    Tried our best to blow it against Campbell today but pulled it out in the 11th. Bullpen needs sorting out and fast, can’t really bear another season of sweating the final innings no matter how many we’re up.

    On the plus side Buchanan was very good and I assume he’ll be going again Sunday vs. Coastal.

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