North Adams SteepleCats welcome back manager Mike Dailey for 2nd year
Mike Dailey believes that there is some work to do in North Adams. That's why Dailey will be returning to manage the North Adams SteepleCats next summer.
"I think we have some unfinished business in 2020," Dailey said. "So, coming back was not a difficult decision at all."
Dailey, who guided the SteepleCats to a 24-20 record in 2019, said that he spent a lot of time during the season talking with general manager Matt Torra about the team and how things can improve on the field.
"Pretty much the entire year," he said. "Matt and I worked together really well. We had talked about it as the season went, about things we'd like to do and see for next year.
"It just seems like a natural fit. I like the community up there and I like the way the people are."
North Adams' 24-20 record marked only the third time in the last 10 years that the SteepleCats had finished above .500. North Adams will still be looking for its first-ever NECBL championship, and its first division title since the SteepleCats won the Western Division crown back in 2010.
Dailey, who came to North Adams as the director of baseball operations at Division I Radford, has more than 30 years in coaching in college and summer league baseball. He spent 2018 as the pitching coach of the SteepleCats, before taking over as the manager.
In addition to his work for the SteepleCats, Dailey now has a new job. He was hired in September as an assistant coach at Division II Davis & Elkins University in West Virginia.
"I think you don't really wrap your head around how deep the [NECBL] is and just how not too far down the chain it is from the Cape League," Dailey said, when asked what he learned last summer that he might not have known.
"It's got a lot of really good players in the league, and you're always going to have a really good No. 1 or No. 2 [pitcher] on a team. It's when you see a team's fourth and fifth pitcher and you realize how good they are," he said, "that tells you where the league has gone in the last few years. I didn't entirely anticipate such good arms being out there in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. A lot of those guys, those are guys who are good enough to start for a lot of D-I teams as well."
The SteepleCats started off in a good place, and with about two weeks remaining seemed to be in a pretty good place. North Adams had won 3 of five games and had seven left. Unfortunately for the SteepleCats, they lost six of those seven games — including a last-night-of-the-season twinight doubleheader at the Valley Blue Sox, to drop out of the playoff hunt.
"I think, hopefully, what we want to do and accomplish is be a little more patient this year, when it comes to assembling our roster," Dailey said. "We had the lion's share of our roster [for 2019] done by September, if not October. This time, we're being a little more patient and kind of sitting back and seeing what all is out there."
Seven of the 13 teams in the NECBL have listed rosters with a minimum of 12 players on it. Martha's Vineyard and Ocean State list 27 players each.
"I'm not so concerned about the number right now as I am the quality of that number," Dailey said. "The ones that we have officially, we're very, very happy with."
North Adams, according to the list on NECBL.com, has only six players listed on the 2020 roster. Three of them are pitchers, two are infielders and one is an outfielder. Four of the six, pitchers Dan Batcher and Dan Ouderkirk, infielder Ryan Archibald and outfielder Chris Klein, all come from West Virginia University.
Dailey did say that some players might be coming back. He said that there have been conversations with several eligible players and their coaches about returning. It was a little too early to determine who might be back.
"From speaking to a lot of college coaches already, some college teams have a fair amount of players placed, and that's okay," Dailey said. "We want to sit back a little more this year and let college teams, college coaching staffs, see their freshmen in fall ball and their fall intersquads, and see what kind of players they have. Then make a determination based upon what they see of that player's skill level, as to which league they would fit best in.
"It's starting to really pay off for us, because we're seeing some overall numbers come to us that we didn't necessarily see last year."
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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