February 1, 2006 - by
COUNTDOWN TO FIRST PITCH: 2006 FSU Baseball Season Outlook

Feb. 1, 2006


Tallahassee, FL– With just two days left before the Seminoles take the diamond, legendary head coach Mike Martin sat down with Seminoles.com to discuss the upcoming season. Hear what he had to say about his eighth-ranked Seminoles.


GENERAL OUTLOOK


  • Florida State returns two All-Americans (Shane Robinson and Tyler Chambliss) for just the second time since 1999.
  • The Seminoles will go after their 23rd 50+ win season in the last 27 years.
  • Mike Martin is just nine wins away from becoming just the eighth coach in college baseball history with 1,400 wins.

ACCORDING TO 11: I think we are cautiously optimistic about this club. We have a lot of returning players, excellent depth on the pitching staff and behind the plate. We have some question marks with depth at other positions but that’s not anything unusual in this day and age of college baseball. You just don’t replace great players. Aaron Cheesman is one of those players that will be very difficult to replace and was a big part of our success last year.

EXPECTATIONS IN 2006


  • FSU enters 2006 ranked 8th (Collegiate Baseball), 9th (NCBWA), 10th (Rosenblatt Report) and 15th (Baseball America).
  • FSU has advanced to every Super Regional since the format was instituted. The Seminoles are one of just two schools to accomplish that feat.
  • Florida State has been to 28 consecutive NCAA Regionals, the second-longest streak in the nation. Only two teams have been to more College World Series than FSU since 1990.

ACCORDING TO 11: I would rather our guys expect to go to Omaha every season rather than have expectations of winning 35 games. I want every single Seminole baseball player to aspire to end their season at the College World Series. The day that is not the case, we haven’t done a good job recruiting nor have we done a good job of coaching. As long as I am here our goal will be to get to Omaha every single season. That is what we begin our practice with in late August, to get to Omaha.

YOUNG BUT EXPERIENCED


  • Of the 37 players on the 2005 roster, only five are seniors.
  • Florida State’s 13 juniors have appeared in 534 games in their FSU careers.
  • FSU returns four starters in the field that are sophomores or juniors.

ACCORDING TO 11: With Ryne Malone, Shane Robinson, Jack Rye and Tony Thomas we do have a good young nucleus but we have to have everybody on the same page. We have to be a little more consistent defensively than we were last year. We made mistakes last year and allowed clubs extra outs and part of that was due to our youth. That cost us ballgames. Pitching can only be so good. You can’t give the opponent extra outs. I like this baseball team but we haven’t played a game yet. We have a long way to go but I like the approach this team takes everyday thus far.

THE SCHEDULE


  • FSU will face seven teams that played in the NCAA Tournament in 2005 including four teams that played in Super Regionals and CWS runner-up Florida.
  • This season FSU will face Boston College and North Florida for the first time in program history. They will also face Brown for the first time since 1971 and Savannah State for the first time since 1948.

ACCORDING TO 11: This year presents many challenges in that the majority of the teams on our schedule are very competitive. The big name schools like Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami and Florida return a large majority of last year’s teams which were very successful. This is the trend in college baseball. One year we are all starting over and the next year we are all returning players. I think that is what we see happening this year. You see that in the preseason rankings. We play some very talented teams.

Names like Auburn and Florida jump out at you in our non-conference schedule. Some other clubs fans may not know that much about but are going to be tough teams. Charleston Southern beat some good clubs last year. Minnesota finished second in their conference tournament and just missed out on an NCAA Tournament berth. They are a solid club. We play a couple of teams like Brown and Savannah State that FSU baseball hasn’t faced in quite a number of years. Winthrop called me to play so you know they are a hungry team. They are trying to get their RPI up and are playing a tough schedule after making NCAA Regionals last season. UNF, I know Dusty Rhodes very well and he is playing everyone who will play him. I think he has everyone in the state is on his schedule. Dusty Rhodes will bring in a very competitive club.

With BC, Virginia Tech and Miami now making us a 12-team league coupled with the fact only eight will make the conference tournament, creates more excitement in the ACC race. We play both BC and Virginia Tech on the road this year so we have adjustments to make for the weather. They are hoping its 40 degrees and we are obviously hoping for 55. It is something we will have to be prepared for. It will be a challenging year in the conference with 30 intense games.

THE OFFENSE


  • Florida State returns three of its top four hitters from the 2005 season. The Seminoles top three doubles hitters are all back as are four of the team’s five leaders for total bases last season.
  • Ryne Malone, Shane Robinson and Jack Rye combined to drive in 135 runs in 2005.
  • Shane Robinson will become the first reigning national player of the year to ever return to the FSU line-up.

ACCORDING TO 11: We know that we are not going to be a power-laden club but that does not mean that we can’t score enough runs to be successful. We could start a team that runs pretty well. We could start another line-up that has more power. Some parts of the line-up should be good contact spots. We will try to put runners in motion and hit and run. I do feel guys like Robinson, Jack Rye and Tony Thomas have to make the infield respect their ability to bunt. If they are back, we want to exploit that. We have spent a lot of time on bunting. If we can get runners on first and third with one out and certain people at the plate, we will go for the big inning. But if the situation is the same with another part of the line-up, we are going to ask the guy to hit the ball to the right side to stay out of the double play and score a run. Don’t miss an opportunity to score a run. You can’t go for a big inning with an eight hitter at the plate who does not have homerun power. You better be careful about that gamble. You better get the run and turn it over to the pitching staff.

THE PITCHING STAFF


  • Four of the five pitchers that started double digit games for FSU last season are back in 2006.
  • Four of Florida State’s five leaders for ERA in 2005 are back this season.
  • The Seminoles’ returning starters combined to go 27-11 (.701) last season.

ACCORDING TO 11: Overall it starts and ends with your starting pitching. The experience of our starters like Bryan Henry, Barret Browning, Mark Sauls, Michael Hyde and Ryan Strauss plays a big factor in college baseball. It is exciting. Our starters are going to be counted on for the bulk of our innings but we are also pleased with our freshmen. That group is the future of Seminole baseball and they are going to be used as well.

Last year Tyler Chambliss was a huge part of our team’s success and we have to replace him this year. He moves to another role. This year’s Tyler Chambliss in the beginning will be Luck Tucker. Whether its Tucker or Brent Marsh or Brian Chambers, those three guys figure heavily in the end of the game. Closers make a lot of money for a reason in the Major Leagues. Matt DiBlasi is another guy that has pitched very well for us the last couple of years. We need a lot of success out of his role, which is coming in to the game in the seventh inning and maybe facing a left-hander or two. Travis Burge is also going to used in that regard. We need to understand that our starters are not going to complete games. We want them to go out there and give us six good innings and then we’d like to turn it over to the bullpen.

Kevin Lynch did something last year that I had never seen in my years at Florida State. He came into games and dominated for anywhere from one to four innings. To win 12 games and not lose is incredible. We do not have anybody nor we will have anybody probably for the rest of my time coaching here at FSU that will accomplish what Kevin Lynch did last year. We are going to see if Chambers and Marsh can duplicate some of that success. If we can get certain guys to command their pitches a little bit better we do have a chance to get to Omaha.

THE DEFENSE


  • Last season’s .967 fielding percentage was the fourth-best ever recorded by an FSU team.
  • Shane Robinson and Jack Rye, starters in center field and right field, combined to commit just two errors in 248 chances.

ACCORDING TO 11: Being a perfectionist, I want our guys to make routine plays. Sometimes I think errors or mistakes don’t show up in the box and we made some mental mistakes last year that did not show up in the box score. It was a surprise that with such a young team our fielding percentage was one of the best in program history last year. I look at plays we didn’t make and would like to see us more consistent defensively this season.

WHO WILL LEAD?


ACCORDING TO 11: The leadership will come from people like Shane Robinson. I am seeing some from Danny Diaz as well. People forget that Danny has been here three years and he knows what it takes to be successful. Ryne Malone leads in his own quiet way and I have been very pleased with his approach this spring. He is in total control and shown a desire to get a lot better in his overall game. It will be interesting to see as we go through the year and experience adversity at how these guys will pick-up their teammates. Baseball is a marathon and not a sprint. We have to understand we will go through some tough times but how we handle those difficult times will decide what kind of club we become.

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