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Baseball America Writer John Manual’s Chat Transcript

Baseball America Writer John Manual’s Chat Transcript

 John Manuel, Baseball America

Chat Transcript from Wednesday’s Chat with Baseball America Writer John Manuel

John Manuel, a senior writer for Baseball America magazine and Baseball, stopped by the moderated chat room on Wednesday. The college baseball expert discussed a variety of topics, including Baseball America’s rankings, the upcoming ACC baseball tournament, Clemson’s NCAA positioning and potential Tiger draftees.

A North Carolina graduate, John has worked for BA since 1996 and has been the main college baseball writer since 1998, when he attended his first regional ever–at Clemson. He still ranks the Tigers’ 16-inning, 2-1 loss that year to South Alabama as one of the best college games he has ever seen. John also recently celebrated his third wedding anniversary with his wife Becky Kirkland.

Moderator: John is here and ready to take your questions…
Ben (Columbia, SC): What are Clemson’s chances right now of hosting a Regional and, if chances are slim, what will they have to do the rest of the way to get to host one?
Manuel: Clemson does have a chance, but a couple of things have to happen. First, they have to win the series at Wake Forest. I don’t think 13 conference wins will be enough, even if they win the ACC Tournament. They have to finish in the top four of the league. That’s easier to justify than being the number five team. You can’t go two and out in the ACC Tournament. Clemson has the ballpark, the fan support, and the finances to put on a good regional. Clemson regionals have traditionally done well financially.
Chris Whitehurst (Raleigh): What has happened to the Tigers and how do you fix it?
Manuel: The fact that the team has been as competitive as it has is impressive. I don’t remember the last time a college team lost 65 home runs off its roster. What should really be a transitional year has been impressive. I think you have to credit Clemson. It has gotten the most out of its talent. Its not very deep on the mound and is a lot different offensively. Most programs would fall a lot further missing players of the caliber Khalil Greene, Jeff Baker and Jarrod Schmidt. Plus the Tigers lost their two leading winners in Steve Reba and Matt Henrie.
Avery (Simpsonville): How much does this Clemson team miss Tim Corbin?
Manuel: I think its more a matter of an adjustment period for everybody. For a lot of current players, Tim might have been the first Clemson face the ever saw. Tom Riginos is an excellent coach, but its just a different chemistry in the dugout and on the basepaths. I think the team is performing very well. It has been a good year, not a great year.
Jay (Aiken,SC): John, I saw in the latest BA poll, South Carolina was ranked 19th while Clemson had fallen out. These two share the same record (35-17) and the Tigers beat the Gamecocks 3 games to 1 this year.
Manuel: The difference is that USC is second in its league. At the time of the poll, Clemson was 5th in the conference and lost four of its last six games. South Carolina had just gone on the road and swept Alabama. We like to reward teams that sweep road series, especially in the league. The head-to-head games matter, but to a point. South Carolina has won 16 of its 27 league games and Clemson’s winning percentage was a great deal less.
Rob (Easley, SC): With the addition of Miami, don’t you think the ACC will be the nation’s top conference in baseball?

Manuel: Miami will definitely add to the ACC in baseball. However, the bottom line of the ACC is it will never be considered the top conference in baseball until it gets it done in Omaha. That’s no offense to anyone in particular. Miami has won four titles, but none while in the ACC. Until someone finally breaks through and wins the CWS for the first time in 50 years, the ACC can’t be considered the best conference.

I have a question for the chatters. Who is the only ACC team to win a College World Series?

Frank (Winston-Salem): Who would have thought that Wake Forest and Clemson would have been unranked when this series rolled around… in your estimation, do both teams have to win the ACC Tournament to make the field of 64?
Manuel: I don’t think Clemson has to. Finishing over .500 in the conference is good enough. I think Wake Forest does have to win the ACC Tournament. You could make the case that either Wake Forest or Southern Cal is the most disappointing team in the nation. Maybe we underestimated Dave Bush. He may have been the most important player in the ACC the last four years. He shortened every game to 6 or 7 innings. They have been very inconsistent outside of Kyle Sleeth.
Bob (Saluda): John, does the ACC Tournament really mean anything? Can Clemson or any team help its NCAA seeding by advancing deep and/or winning it? Seems like it could only hurt a team in the position FSU was last year.
Manuel: I think it can help your positioning. What it affects the most is those automatic bids. It affects seeding, sometimes it can be the difference between a number one or number two. I think it can hurt you more than it helps. When the committee looks at the RPI, one of the factors is last ten games and the ACC Tournament is obviously included in that. That can be the tiebreaker if you’re on the bubble. An example would be in 2001 when Tennessee went 0-2 in the SEC tournament to conserve their pitching and it hurt their chances to host a Super Regional. They had to travel to East Carolina, although they won anyway.
Gene, Charleston: Project Steven Jackson and Michael Johnson as draft picks this year.

Manuel: They’re both going to go pretty good. We’ve got Johnson right in that same 2nd-3rd round range that we had him last year. Steven Jackson has definitely helped himself a lot with his last two starts. I heard his Duke start may have been the best of his career. I think he’ll definitely be in the first 10 rounds and probably the first five.

I don’t think Johnson hurt himself by coming back. He’s been pitched around a lot. I don’t think he could have really enhanced his positioned by coming back, but I don’t think he hurt his draft position either.

Josh (Pittsburgh): John, big ACC fan up here even though in Big East country…what are the odds the ACC gets 5-6 in the NCAA field???
Manuel: I think there is almost a 100% chance the ACC gets five in, but a very slim chance it gets six. Virginia, Wake Forest or Maryland would have to win the league tournament to get in.
Scott Steiner, Conway SC: Do you think that Clemson can make it to the College World Series again this year?
Manuel: Clemson could do it. I think it would be an upset, but any team that has pitching can do it. Tyler Lumsden has struggled lately, but he’s proven he can beat anybody in the country. Steven Jackson and Jeff Hahn have proven they can be big pitchers. To me there is also the factor of what Jeff Baker called the “White Shoes Aura.” Clemson believes it is going to win every game. I think you saw that last weekend in the North Carolina series. Clemson knows what its like to win a regional and win in the ACC. When everything else is pretty even, that confidence can be the difference.
Manuel: This has been fun but I have to go now. I’ll see Tiger and Demon Deacon fans tomorrow when they open their three-game set in Winston-Salem. Thanks for your questions.
Moderator: Thank you for visiting the moderated chat room. You can follow the Tigers on the web this weekend through our Gametracker and by listening to the game in our Audio/Video section.