Wednesday - June 13, 2007
Augie Garrido on the radio
I listened to Coach Garrido on KVET 1300 this morning. Actually, I wasn't able to hear much this morning, what with being at work and all, but I recorded the interview and spent some time this evening, going back over it. Here are some of the things he talked about (these comments are mostly paraphrased...if anything is my opinion or addition to his comments, I'll make that clear):
- He agrees that Texas should be the best college baseball team in America and that, at times, this team was that this year. We did have a very good team that did a very good job. He's not offering excuses. Accepting not getting to the CWS is very difficult. He was bitterly surprised at the role that fate played in the Regionals.
- The team GPA was 2.9 in the Fall and over 3.0 (the highest ever) in the Spring.
- You can't forget the brilliant way that UC Irvine played. He said UT had things set up for the miracle to happen with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th but the miracle didn't happen. UCI hasn't lost a championship game yet and he won't be surprised to see them do well at the CWS because they are fundamentally extremely sound.
- Every player who was eligible to be drafted or sign a pro contract as a senior is doing that. Brett Lewis and Chais Fuller were not drafted but both have been offered contracts by MLB teams (he did not specify which teams made the offers).
- Winning championships is about doing the right thing at the right time. An example: how can OSU lose 8 games in a row and then go the farthest of all the Big 12 teams?
- When asked about his exit interviews with the team, he said the three comments he got most about what impacted the team going into the Regional were:
- The players really felt the impact of losing Preston Clark behind the plate before the Regional tourney...more than Coach Garrido would've imagined. Brett Lewis is very capable and the players had confidence in his ability. But, Preston's leadership and interactions with the team all year provided more of the glue that held the team's spirit together than Coach Garrido had imagined.
- Losing Nick Peoples was also huge.
- He was surprised to hear that the players were disappointed that they didn't play at Disch-Falk and that they felt they would've won if they'd been playing at home. He thought that since they'd played 11 games at Dell Diamond early in the year, it wouldn't have as much of an affect as it seemed to have. He thought they were past all that so that was surprising to him.
- He said parity is apparent in baseball more than any other college sport. He said it's because of the way the MLB drafts players from high school and junior college...and that they draft our best players as soon as they can. They're taking all of the resources and you never know for sure who you're going to have on the field. He thinks Coach Harmon is doing a remarkable job in recruiting and is glad that Skip Johnson is able to help out now. He expects to see more power arms on the mound from now with Coach Johnson taking the lead on that.
- In response to email from a fan who said this was one of the best (if not the best) teams he'd seen at Texas: One of the problems with a team that hits well is that the bats can go cold. Some of the pressure that was put on Kyle Russell (finalist for Howser Trophy, leading the nation in home runs, being the Big 12 player of the year) created a lot of expectations. And, Kyle started off hitting a home run in the tourney and put down a great bunt in a crucial situation. But he did not have the kind of series he would have like to have had. And, with him struggling a bit at the plate, and Preston Clark (hottest hitter going into the tourney) out, the offense was affected. He agrees with the fan's assessment and that's why he was so shocked at the outcome.
- He stressed again that the team was ready...they'd played well up at Oklahoma State and then again against the Aggies. They lost a game at the Big 12 tourney but played the last game well and were ready. But, fate stepped in when Preston Clark stepped in a pot-hole and blew out his knee. He doesn't mean to say that cost them everything but, in hindsight, it was a bigger thing than he imagined it could be to the players. It doesn't take much when you're walking such a thin line with these teams.
- Regarding the draft:
- The plan they use with the players leading up to the draft: sit down with players, parents, and advisors and decide on a minimum amount of money they'll take to sign. They issue that figure to the teams interested in signing the players.
- Then you look at where they're drafted. The Commissioner of Baseball has asked that the MLB teams stay "slotted" with their offers...the #1 draftee gets the highest bonus and it all goes down from there. Teams can disregard that request if they choose.
- A couple of things can surprise the coaches: a player can get drafted at a lower point than expected but go ahead an sign for less money or a team can draft at a lower point but go ahead an offer more money.
- Kyle Russell is asking for 1st round money but was drafted in the 4th round so it would appear that he's coming back. Coach Garrido said Kyle could benefit from spending another year on campus.
- Adrian Alaniz has another year of eligibility but has little to gain. He only needs 12 units to graduate and he can do that easily in the fall. He's already 22 years old, has contributed a lot to the University, and so it's not surprising he'd sign.
- Next up: Bradley Suttle. He was drafted by the Yankees who are notorious for ignoring the Commissioner's office so they might come up with the 1st round money Bradley is looking for even though he was drafted in the 4th round. So, no telling.
- He thinks Preston Clark will be back, saying he has everything to gain and nothing to lose by coming back.
- It appears that James Russell will be coming back to school as well.
- If those four players come back next year, that will really enrich the team, giving them maturity and quality players, and a balance of left-handed hitting.
- Asked why he thought Kyle and Bradley slid to the 4th round: he said they all thought they'd go in the first or sandwich round. He says there's no explanation he can provide. MLB has their own way of viewing things and it's unfortunate that the players were led to believe they'd go higher but it's a business and there are lots of points of view regarding what a team is going to spend, who they'll spend it on, etc.
- He thinks the fans will really enjoy seeing a resurgence of the power arms of the past...the 80s with the likes of Clemens. Schiraldi, and the boys. [The "the boys" thing made me laugh.]
- Asked about Coach Johnson's contribution in his first year and as they look forward: he thinks he's absolutely the right man at the right time for this job. He knows Texas baseball at every level inside and out. He's a baseball guy that loves to be at every game.
- He thinks we'll have a real good team next year. He says he hesitates and stutters a little bit making that statement because he was so surprised to lose the Regional.
- Was the rain delay in the final UCI game a good thing or a bad thing? He thought it was good for Texas because they'd been out in the heat all day. If anything, the team tried too hard and that surprised him a bit.
- Regarding the construction:
- He visited the site yesterday with the job site manager.
- They've got all the steel work done for the suites and press box.
- They've got the outside walls done.
- They've cut out the backstop.
- They've got the foundation work in for all the new buildings on the 1b side.
- They're not on schedule but they're not behind, either. [That confused me!] He explained that the team doesn't need to be back out on the field until September and they should be able to do that. Prior to the first game on February 22nd, everything's supposed to be completely finished. So, they're behind schedule due to the recent rains but the delay won't cause problems because things will still be completed before the team and fans actually need access. [I get it, now.]
- The facility will be awesome.
- He made a comment about ESPN being the only entity that has the power to force the changes that would bring a higher level of consistency and quality to each of the colleges that have baseball programs around the country. Those changes would include an effort to increase scholarships to reflect the level of commitment of a school to its baseball program. That would help prevent kids from signing right out of high school because they would be taken care of financially by going to college. He added that UT's most recent CWS championship game outdrew the Detroit/St. Louis World Series game. Everyone (the media included) likes to see UT at the CWS because they bring fans to the games and the NCAA has confidence in those fans. He thanked the fans for being such great supporters of the team.
- He thanked the folks at Dell Diamond for the great job they did hosting the tournament.
- Asked about the new start date: the Big 10 is the conference that pushed the legislation through...and it took them about 3 years to do it. The first spring practice cannot happen before Feb. 1 and the first game will take place the weekend of Feb. 22. Georgia will be coming to Austin for opening weekend next year and it should be an exciting weekend. The change in start date does move everything back and makes player development a bit more complicated: they'll end up doing more individual things, less team stuff. But, that's all part of the fun of the time management that goes along with the process. [That last bit was said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.]
- Going back to ESPN and the ratings. What will happen with no big teams in the field this year? Coach Garrido things the parity is so clear now: when a 5th place team in a conference can go to the CWS, that goes beyond being a miracle. That means everyone's the same and anything can happen on any given day. With the parity the way it is, anything can happen and it is going to hurt the TV ratings. Again he stresses that ESPN is the only one with enough clout to push the NCAA into making some changes that will benefit College Baseball. He says that the 11.7 scholarship limit really hurts teams. Texas had two injuries to pitchers (Boening and Kasparek) that really set the team back all season long. Because of the scholarship situation, you don't have the depth to absorb that kind of thing.
- He said that it isn't that we (Texas) want more than everyone else but all the schools should be able to flex their financial muscles a little bit better. The expectation level at UT is a couple of hundred miles different that the expectation level at UCI. Our players play under a lot more stress and scrutiny. It's good for them in the long run, teaching them responsibility, accountability, life's lessons, and how to perform consistently at a high level. [They ran out of time before Coach Garrido could really finish his thought on this one but it sounded like he was going to say that despite those "life lesson" benefits, UT should still be able to decide if it wants to spend more money on baseball and not be hindered by the 11.7 rule.]
And, that's about it. Whew.
Posted by Joanna at 9:40 PM