The start of a new baseball season is right around the corner. With it, comes a lot of hope, a lot of questions and a ton of anticipation. To kick off the season, I Twitter-sourced some questions to gauge fan feeling going in to the 2014 campaign.
@AUPPL How much impact do you see Sonny Golloway having in his first season on the Plains?— Alex Vanderheyden (@VanderVander24) January 15, 2014
I think you already see an impact on and off the field. Golloway has already worked hard selling the program to fans and drumming up support. He's reached out to former alumni and pushed season ticket sales hard on social media. There is also a singular focus and drive for the team: Omaha.
On the field? That will play out during the season. I expect a positive difference in pitching and development. Errors should decrease by a significant clip, and there should -- hopefully -- be a marked improvement in plate discipline.
Judging by the fall, which featured a ton of new faces/freshmen battling for playing time, I think Keegan Thompson and Anfernee Grier should have big roles. Thompson is a two-way player and saw significant action at first base while hitting at a solid .317. Grier is just dynamic and could be Auburn's best threat on the bases. It's way too early to pencil a position in for Grier, but that's mainly due to the crowded outfield.
On the mound, I really like JUCO transfer Jacob Milliman. Originally from Stanhope-Elmore (then Pensacola State), Milliman is experienced and should be able to rack up a lot of strikeouts.
I hope not. I sat in snow early last season and it was miserable. Hopefully starting the year on the road will help. Still, we are in for a cold and rainy February, and the later part of the year will be Auburn's best chance for snow. At least, according to the Farmer's Almanac.
Not yet. Hopefully this season is a memorable one and will lead to some memorable stories. The optimism and honeymoon period is always the most exciting.
They are definitely tempered expectations. I can see the holes in the lineup and the uncertainty, so I'm not looking for a world beater in his first season. It will take time. I know Golloway doesn't think it will take long, but Jay Jacobs does see some deficiencies and is giving some leeway. Best case? Make a regional. Worst Case? Just the SEC Tournament. With the field expanded and some teams -- like Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, etc. -- still in major rebuild/establishing modes, Auburn should easily be one of the 12 best teams in the league.
@AUPPL What aspect of the team do you expect the biggest initial improvement?— D. Miller (@dmiller1856) January 15, 2014
It will have to be the pitching. Auburn has enough arms to find roles early and establish a rotation, middle relief and closer. There should be less tinkering with the rotation, and it will allow Auburn to actually have guys develop.
Other than that, I think you'll see more plate discipline and fewer strikeouts.
I think Tella should improve. As long as his plate discipline can continue, you'll have a guy who is coming back with a lot to prove and his future in the professional baseball hinges on him having a good season.
If Damek Tomshca can develop a little bit more power and where he'll be potentially slotted in the lineup, it could mean a big year for him, RBI-wise.
@AUPPL Who do you think steps up and becomes the staff ace?— D. Miller (@dmiller1856) January 15, 2014
I don't think you'll see a staff ace. If anyone can fit that role, or is in line to fit that role, it would be Daniel Koger. However, I really think that Dillon Ortman is going to surprise some guys. I know he's bounced around from closer to set up to starter, but after his summer and fall performances, there's no denying that there is something different about Ortman. He had a fantastic fall (1.71 ERA in five appearances with 17 Ks) and seems poised for a big year.
@AUPPL breakout player this year?— Beau Richardson (@beauskey) January 15, 2014
If he can actually see the field, it could be Rock Rucker. However, I want to actually see him utilized full time. I think there will be improvements across the board, but Ortman, Tella, Jackson Burgreen, and even a little bit Terrance Dedrick as a hitter should all be pleasant surprises.
Besides the salesman aspect, which Coach G is excelling at tremendously, Golloway is very, very detail oriented. His focus and preach is on "the next pitch," and he emphasizes short memory and waiting for the right opportunities. Whether that's at the plate and keying the hitter on a specific pitch or delivery and battling until that time comes; or on the mound, where the pitcher should have a game plan for each hitter. From the practices I've seen, Golloway doesn't tolerate mistakes and uses practices to breed repetition and comfort with situations. He definitely seems more hands on in that regard. We'll see it on the field, but Golloway has a reputation for being a bulldog in the dugout and will constantly chirp and bark at the umpire. The schools of thought differ, but I have no problem with a coach keeping a continuous dialog with the umpire and possibly getting thrown out during a game. It was rare for Coach P to get thrown out. Coach G's approach may be more Bobby Cox-ian.
@AUPPL weekend rotation? Thompson, O'Neil, and... Camp? Or Camp as the setup man for teedee?— John Clifton (@jrclifton) January 15, 2014
@AUPPL also Wingenter as an option? How was his fall? Pitching depth seems good.— John Clifton (@jrclifton) January 15, 2014
The pitching depth is going to be a plus going into the season. I think you can easily pencil in Micheal O'Neal and Daniel Koger into rotation spots right now, leaving the third spot up for grabs. O'Neal is going to be the closest thing Auburn will have to an ace and should be the Friday night guy. He's probably the only definite guy in the rotation at this point.
After O'Neal it gets a little dicey. Koger has the experience and is a LHP. That's why I'm giving him the nod as the second guy.
After that? I'm going with Dillon Ortman. He had a decent summer, but and even better fall.
Still, Auburn will have six guys trying to break into the rotation. O'Neal, Koger, Ortman, plus Trey Wingenter, Justin Camp and Rocky McCord. Camp came on strong last year and had an even better summer. He's probably fourth on the list right now. I'm only giving Ortman the edge because Ortman is more of a high K guy. After Camp, I'd go with Wingenter. Trey is interesting. He has the frame, he has the talent, he can get Ks, but he's still wild at times and will walk a few more than he needs to. I'm putting McCord sixth on the list, and he may be used primarily in long relief. McCord still is a bit raw and was pretty wild at times in the Fall.
The only reason I'm not including Keegan Thompson in is because I'm hesitant to pencil a freshman in until I see it on paper. Thompson does have the stuff and is good enough to start, but I'm just being cautious at this point. Him, Cole Lipscomb and Kevin Davis are three darkhorse guys to watch.
'82 White Sox. Easy. Love the set with the broad lettering across the front and the "stick-man" logo.
Originally? Very much nay. However, toward the end, Skylar was the only person looking out for her family. Yes, she was mentally unstable. Yes, she was an intimidating force when pressured. Yet she remained by Walt even as he dragged her deeper and deeper into his world. While Walt said he was doing everything for his family. He really was just looking out for Walt. Greed and power motivated Walt. Family and survival motivated Sklar.