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Inside the Clubhouse with Andy McCauley

10/26/2007 4:04 PM -

In our first “Inside the Clubhouse” you ask T-Bones skipper Andy McCauley what keeps him busy in the offseason, as well as what we should expect next year.

How much of our team from last year do you think will be back?  Particularly core personnel like Gord, Watson, Brown, Delgado, Arlis, Eggleston and Schweitzer?

I think, hopefully, a lot of those guys will be back.  Off-seasons are tough because a lot of them move on, whether it’s finding a different job or just retiring from baseball due to the wear and tear on their bodies.  In conversations I had with those guys at the end of the season I think I have a pretty good feel that a lot of our core guys will be back including Neb Brown and Nick Jaros so a lot of our position players for the most part are planning on returning to Kansas City.

Are you planning on having any new faces this season?

Oh sure there’s always going to be turnover.  People retire and move on with their careers.  I like to leave that up to the players before I make my decisions on who I’m bringing back.  But you can count on there being about 10-12 guys returning and 10-12 new faces.

With Schlichting off to the majors (for now) and having struggled with some lingering "injuries" during the season, do you have any changes or shifts planned within the pitching core?

I think that’s the area obviously we need to address the most.  We were top two in the league in hitting and runs scored and just couldn’t shut anybody down.  It was kind of a strange roller coaster season with the pitching, with Boughner and Krysa hurt in the first half, Durost carried us through that, then Durost got hurt in the second half then Boughner carried us.  If we could’ve had all three of those guys healthy all season I think it would’ve been a different season, but you know I think the pitching is the one area we have to look at and find a way to upgrade in that department.

What was your motivational message to the team at the end of what could be described as a surprising and disappointing second half of the season?

It really wasn’t motivational.  More than anything I thanked them for their hard work and efforts.  And even though the record didn’t show how hard we worked, the work was still done.  We never gave up and I was proud of them.  None of us were happy not making the playoffs especially the situation we were in.  It’s kind of like the Colorado Rockies, where Gary was just the hot team down the stretch and we had five games with them instead of five games with somebody else.  They stayed hot throughout the playoffs and ended up winning the championship.  It’s just unfortunate how we finished up but by the same token a lot of these guys were playing together for the first time and for a lot of them it was their first time playing in Kansas City and there’s a lot of things to get used to; the atmosphere the town, the surface, there’s just a lot of things to get used to including playing together.  Last year McCallum and Watson only played half a year together and they only played half a year together this year so hopefully we have them both back next year and we’ll be a little tighter up the middle. 
I just really thanked them for their hard work and efforts and asking them to come back next year, because I think the more guys we have back from last year the better off we’ll be.

How do you plan to reduce our number of errors from last season?  That seemed uncharacteristic of your type of ball.  Were they fundamental issues or due to lack of concentration and nerves?

I don’t think it was anything like a lack of concentration or a lack of ability.  It was just one of those weird years.  We, just as a team, made to many uncharacteristic errors early and we had some guys playing out of position or getting used to a new position like with Watson playing second, third, and short and Neb flip flopped back and forth between second and short, not really getting their legs under them at that position.  Towards the end of the season, the last two or three weeks, you certainly didn’t see the errors that took place throughout the year.  I think it was getting people into their natural positions with the people around them on a regular basis.  It was certainly uncharacteristic and it was definitely one of two things I think we need to address; one being the pitching and two being the defense.  I trust all three of those guys if they come back their going to have stronger years defensively now that their more comfortable with the park, the surface, and the position they’re at with the people around them.  It certainly was disappointing but it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort or a lack of concentration it was just due to a lack of execution and I really think them putting a little to much pressure on themselves.

Now that you have your first season under your belt, what is your favorite thing about CommunityAmerica Ballpark?

Obviously the crowds, the fan support, the turnout it was just remarkable, coming from Schaumburg who draws well but there’s not the electricity in the crowd like we have at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.  I saw it as a visitor but it was nice to see it as the home team with that kind of fan support behind you.  The whole organization top to bottom should share in that credit from the front office down.  Rick Muntean does a great job with John and Adam Ehlert and all the way down through, it’s just a top notch front office.

Any messages you'd like to share with the fans?

I’d like to thank them for their support this season and, hopefully give us a chance next year, you’re going to see a lot of familiar faces back and hopefully we see you all out their again supporting us because I think it’s going to be a different story as far as competitiveness on the field.  I think there are a lot of guys that got a taste of what it’s like playing for me and what it’s like playing in Kansas City and they want to come back and try to prove that it wasn’t the team it was just a down year.  So I think a lot of those guys want to come back and hopefully you all will want to come back and support us like you did last year.

What do you do in the off-season?

Keeping tabs on the team is really a 12-month a year job.  I do take a couple of weeks off, but right now there’s release lists everyday, right after the World Series is over there will be a big free agent list come out so you really have to keep tabs year-round on players that are getting released.  I just talked to a kid last week that I’ll probably send a contract to next week.  You keep your eyes open for players that are getting released at the end of the organizational season and right up until the Rule Five draft.   I try to get some golf in before the weather changes, and also some baseball lessons here and there and I also do some construction with a buddy of mine that owns a construction business.  That keeps me in shape without having to go to the gym.

What plans do you have for the recruiting next year or have you already started?  Have any of this season's team been traded within our league?  How can we show our support for our team in the off-season? 

The recruiting part of it starts almost immediately after the season, probably within two or three weeks after our season.  I kind of put it together starting with who I definitely want back and who might be better served moving on or moving in a different direction.  I’ll probably exercise my option on all players and make that decision as it comes down and let the player make the first decision if they do want to come back and then I’ll follow through with whether I want to bring them back or not.  But right now nobody’s been traded nor have I entertained any offers for any of our guys except for a few going to organizations.  I’m pretty confident that anybody that played for me last year in Kansas City is very willing and if they’re going to play anywhere independently it’s going to be in Kansas City.  There are some inquiries about some players about playing over seas in foreign leagues and there has been some interest in players getting into Spring Training with an organization.  As far as the fan support I think just staying tuned into our website.  This is a great way for our fans to get involved and touch base with some of the players in the off-season.  A lot of these guys work fulltime jobs in the off-season to be able to afford to play baseball in the summer so it’s going to be neat to see how they’re doing and what they’re up to.

What is your favorite thing about traveling around the Northern League?

I’ve been in the Northern League long enough now that I’ve seen all the cities.  Originally traveling around and seeing all the different cities and site-seeing a little bit and seeing what each place has to offer.  Fargo is obviously a much different city than Kansas City, which is a lot different than any of the Chicago cities, or even Winnipeg.  That originally was the neat part but now at this point it’s going back and revisiting some of my favorite restaurants or sites that I saw and refresh from there.  It is nice to travel but it gets kind of tough towards the end of the year you get worn down.  The travel during the summer definitely takes it’s toll with the long bus rides.  You don’t really look forward to the bus trips that’s for sure but you definitely like going back and seeing familiar faces and fans that you’ve met throughout the year managing and playing in the Northern League.

What was the biggest difference (if any) between managing in Schaumburg and Managing in Kansas City?

I really appreciate John and Adam Ehlert giving me the opportunity to manage in Kansas City and run the team the way I see fit from a baseball operations standpoint.  Managing is really still the same, the game doesn’t change but you try to build your team around the dimensions of the ballpark which we tried to do, but it just didn’t really pan out with the injuries we had to the pitching staff and the uncharacteristic errors.  I just really think you have to build a team around pitching and defense in this ballpark.  The ballparks are quite different Schaumburg’s got a beautiful ballpark, it’s a great facility there but going to work at CommunityAmerica Ballpark is great too with the surrounding area.  It’s nice being able to walk over to the mall and helps make it a fantastic place to work.  The facilities make it great to come to work everyday, whether it’s raining with the covered tunnels and the front office right there.  From a facilities standpoint it was really great managing in Kansas City. 

Submit your questions now to T-Bones director of media relations and broadcaster Tommy Thrall at tthrall@tbonesbaseball.com for next week when we will hear from T-Bones All-Star centerfielder Aharon Eggleston.