Thursday, August 28, 2008

rokchalkbaby Interview

rokchalkbaby is halfway through his 2nd season as manager of the San Diego Surfers. Throughout its history, the Surfers franchise has been the definition of mediocrity, with only one winning season and two playoff appearances (both with a losing record). The Surfers appear to be stuck in limbo - due to their weak division, they seem unwilling to enter full-scale rebuild mode, and due to that unwillingness, they are left without a deep minor league system capable of propelling the Surfers to winning ways.

Q: How are you feeling about the season so far, and your team's performance? Were you expecting it to be better or worse?

A: Well we thought with the acquisitions that we made over the off season and the couple of pickups we had at the beginning that we might make an even better run at it this year then last. It seems that some of the guys got it in their head at the beginning that we were a shoo-in to the playoffs because of the weak division, and just didn't do much. Plus I made some bad decisions with playing a couple of guys maybe before they were ready, hoping to play them into their future role. We all made some mistakes this season but, you know, you learn as you go, right? I am hoping right now that we can just play like we should for the rest of the season and try to build on that for next year.

Q: Who on your team is underperforming, and who is overperforming?

Right now I think Craig Strong is really doing a lot more then we expected out of him. He is hitting a lot more homers then we thought we would get. Especially after last year when half way through we kind of sat him down to give some others a chance to show what they could do. At this point Craig has definitely earn his way back into the lineup full time. We really expected a lot more out of Joaquin Espada and Max Johnson. They are young and probably the pressure in the field has gotten to Johnson. At this point we are just hoping that he can learn out there and thus haven't moved him to third. As far as Espada, well, we have the hitting coach working with him day and night to try and get him out of this slump, we don't expect him to be a for-average guy but we did expect a lot more run production. Hopefully we will start to see him turn it around soon.

As far as pitching is concerned we are really happy with how Frank Rivera is pitching this year. He has showed us some really good stuff and we like where he is heading. We are definitely looking to him to be the ace for at least a couple more years. He says that he is feeling fine and we expect that he will help our younger guys as we bring them up. Unfortunately our bullpen is just not where we thought it was at the beginning of the year. It seems at this point that with the way that our middle infield is playing that we are taxing them too much. We expect the pen to be the type of guys who didn't strike you out but were good at putting the ball in play where we could let the defense work. Bad move on my part to not have the guys that could get that job done out there. We will correct that as we move into next year.

Q: What are your team's main strengths and weaknesses? Do you plan on making any moves to alleviate those weaknesses and try to make another playoff run this year?

It seems right now that we are going to have to make a fair amount of moves. We have a hole in the middle infield that we will have to fix. We like where our pitching staff is, but it could always be better. I think that we have all decided in this organization that we are rebuilding. It is something that every team hates to admit but at this point I think that you just have to face the facts. We are going to get very aggressive in the way of scouting and IFAs we are going to look to make the team younger as we do this. We still have a lot of dead weight in the organization from some bad moves by previous management. We are looking to drop that weight and start moving in the right direction. We think that our fans will understand that we need to make these moves for the future, and that they will continue to support us while we make these changes. We also need to focus on scoring more runs. Due to where we play we are looking for the type of guys that are straight bombers. We need guys who know how to place the ball were its needed. We are the type of organization that needs to move to the small ball. And I think that is where you will see the organization start moving to as soon as next year.

Q: What is your view for the long term future of this team? Are they built to be a dynasty or are you in a win-now-at-all-costs mode? What is your long term plan?

Well that was the issue last year. We didn't quite know what we had when the staff came in. We learned a little bit last season, made the playoffs and thought that maybe we just needed to retool a couple of things and that would be alright. This season showed us that maybe that was a incorrect assumption. So we went back to the drawing board early. Unfortunately you can't go back to the budget and say "sorry we need more in scouting". You have to move on from where you are and plan from there. I think that you will see a long term plan starting now, but definitely next year. We hope that we can still compete during the rebuild but we aren't looking for anything major til at least three years down the line. Hopefully you will then start talking about San Diego as a possible Series contender.

Q: Who do you pick to win it all this year, and why?

Well that is a tough one as there is still a lot of baseball to be played. I think you always have to look at Rochester as a possibility; they have great guys and somehow their GM is still able to keep the team young even though they are winning. I think we all could learn a thing or two from watching ns220. I think that Indy has a good shot at it, and that Montgomery could do it, maybe even Pawtucket. But if baseball allowed us to bet I would have to put my money on Rochester just because of the history, ya know.

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