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Monday Morning Manager: Wrecked in Waco

The things that have plagued the Frogs all season came to a head in Waco over the weekend.

TCU Baseball at UTA (April 18, 2018).
TCU Baseball at UTA (April 18, 2018).
Melissa Triebwasser

Well, that ought to do it.

For 11 of the last 12 seasons under Jim Schlossnagle, postseason baseball has been an expectation, not a luxury, and Omaha has become something given, not earned (among the fanbase at least).

Outside of 2013, the Frogs have played in the postseason every year of Jim Schlossnagle’s tenure, hosting seven regionals, three super regionals, and made the College World Series five times, including the last four consecutive seasons. But, sitting at 6-8 in the Big 12 with just three series remaining (including a now horrifying home one against Texas Tech) and 19-17 overall, TCU is clearly on the outside looking in when it comes to the Field of 64. TCU has not looked this vulnerable, this... bad (?)... than they have in years. To put it bluntly: this sucks.

There are plenty of reasons for the Frogs’ struggle, but one that hasn’t gotten enough play was mentioned by my colleague Parker just a few weeks ago: TCU has recruited too well over the last several seasons, and the parade of talent committing to the Frogs before dipping when shown dollar signs by the MLB has hurt the depth and talent of the team on the field. For every Luken Baker and Nick Lodolo there is a trove of talents that have chosen the paycheck and the chance to pursue their dreams - and who can blame them? In 2017 alone, TCU lost Shane Baz, Jacob Gonzalez, and Tyler Freeman to the draft. In 2018, Alek Thomas is a candidate to go in the early rounds, but the two sport star (he is also committed to TCU for football) may choose to matriculate to Fort Worth for a chance to continue his football dreams. Pitcher Adam Kloffenstein and RHP/SS Mateo Gil are projected to go in the early rounds - with Gil in top 20 picks - and are highly unlikely to find their way to Fort Worth.

When you swing for the fences in college baseball, you strike out as much as you make contact. And if the Frogs continue to pursue the best of the best in baseball, they are going to get passed by sometimes. This year, it meant Plan B at nearly every infield position. And that has meant lowered expectations. And those lower expectations are looking like a .500 record.

The Good:

Well, Josh Watson went 4-4 Saturday. That’s about all I can muster here.

The Bad:

All of it?

Friday night might be the worst effort I have ever seen from a Jim Schlossnagle team, as TCU managed just two base runners all night, on one hit and one walk, struck out ten times, and committed an error. It was troubling all the way around.

The Ugly:

The two things that we have been able to count on the last 13 years were pitching and defense. Well, both let the Frogs down over the weekend. The starters combined to throw just 12.1 innings, allowed ten earned runs on 19 hits (more than TCU’s entire lineup had in totality), struck out just seven times, walking four, and hitting a pair of Bears.

The defense, meanwhile, committed seven errors - two each at second, short, and third - and looked out of sync all weekend. It was sloppy to the extreme.

But the ugliest of uglies came Tuesday and Wednesday night, when TCU lost Luken Baker and Jared Janczak, one out for the season and another possibly so. It sapped much of the Frogs’ emotional strength and energy.

So, where do we go from here?

Spoiled by success, it’s time to embrace the rebuild. After years of reloading, the Frogs are starting from scratch, full of young talent but needing to find a leader and a commonality. If the pitching can continue to develop, the bats come around after a season of experience, and the defense either improve - or face competition to replace - there is plenty of hope for the future. And we know that Schloss and co won’t sit on their laurels, but continue to seek out the best talent they can find from the high school and junior college ranks.

Until then... stay supporting the Frogs. They need it now more than ever.