Today's firing of Chad Kreuter by new USC athletic director Pat Haden means a great deal for the future of the Trojans' baseball program. Let's dissect it a bit:
For one, it quickly proves that Haden's emphasis on baseball that was present in his letter to the Trojan Family was not just for show. He immediately set out to change what he was not happy with.
Second, it means that this year's recruiting class will likely suffer. A number of Trojan signees were drafted in June's MLB draft -- they have until next Monday, Aug. 16, to decide whether to sign with the organizations that drafted them or enroll at USC for the fall semester. Even though the season doesn't start until February, it's essentially the same situation as firing a football or basketball coach at this time of the year, because all recruits have to start school two weeks from today. "It's frustrating," outfielder Joc Pederson said Monday evening. "Coach Kreuter was a great guy and I was really looking forward to playing for him. He has so much baseball knowledge -- he could have taught me a lot." Pederson, an 11th-round selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was often touted by Kreuter as an immediate starter in the Trojans' outfield. He said all he received from Kreuter was a text message earlier today saying he had been let go. The other prize prospect of the 2010 class -- right-hander Austin Wood, a fourth-round selection of the Tampa Bay Rays -- lit up the Cape Cod Baseball League over the summer to the tune of a sub-1.00 ERA. It will be tough to lure in a player of his magnitude with no guarantee of who will be coaching him past this season.
Despite Kreuter's public persona as a bit of a fiery character, he tended to take on a calm tone with his team, often leaving the flair and dramatics to assistant Frank Cruz over the last two years. With Cruz now the interim coach, Haden has essentially chosen a risk-reward type to be his next coach -- albeit while not making any sort of long-term commitment to him. But Cruz, who spent 12 seasons as the head man at Loyola Marymount, hasn't had much success either. His career winning percentage checks in at .480; Kreuter's was .487 with the Trojans.
And, lastly, it has a sizable effect on the Trojans' cleanup hitter for much of last season. That hitter? 19-year-old Cade Kreuter, a sophomore-to-be. The younger Kreuter hit .283 with eight homers and 24 RBI in 2009. He underwent shoulder surgery this offseason to fix a torn labrum that forced him to play designated hitter throughout the season. It will be interesting to see if he stays at USC.