06/04/2008 9:33 AM
Hyannis Mets 2008 Season Preview
Lights Will Shine on Hyannis Mets in 2008
As New Manager and New GM Eye Playoffs
HYANNIS, Mass. -- The Hyannis Mets will have a new look in 2008 – literally!
A lighted ballpark, new uniforms, new starting times, a new general manager and a new field manager, along with only five returning players, create a blank slate for a team that missed the playoffs by a half point in 2007.
Rick Robinson is the new man at the helm, replacing Greg King, who led the Mets to one playoff appearance in his four seasons as manager. Robinson, who just completed his 10th season as head coach at Young Harris College in Harris, Ga., was a starting outfielder for the 1984 Appalachian State Mountaineers team that made the NCAA Tournament.
“One of the best pickups we have is the manager,” said new GM Bill Bussiere. “He wins the right way and gets the guys motivated.” Bussiere is not a new face around McKeon Park, having served in several capacities with the Mets and the Cape Cod Baseball League over the past 10 years, including the Executive Committee. He is a former president of the Hyannis Athletic Association.
McKeon Park will have a bright, new look as well, with working lights surrounding the field for the first time since 1994 -- part of the organization’s ongoing $400,000 capital improvements project -- and a new 7 p.m. starting time. Another change for the team will be new home and away uniforms. The home whites will be similar to last season’s, but the road uniforms will be royal blue with “Hyannis” in orange over a white background, a look that stands to be much more aesthetically pleasing than last year’s gray.
The athletes wearing those new uniforms and playing under those new lights will determine the Mets’ fate. Aside from the five returnees, Hyannis features a new cast of characters. Bussiere is optimistic, saying, “Hopefully, in their second year players will be better.” The returnees are catcher Dale Cornstubble (Central Michigan), infielder Ryan Jackson (Miami), outfielder Joey Gonzales (California-Riverside) and right-handed pitchers Andrew Doyle (Oklahoma) and Austin Hudson (Central Florida).
Doyle, the 2007 Mets ERA leader (2.83), and Hudson, who tied for the team lead in innings pitched (47.2), will be joined by an impressive group of new hurlers. Jay Jackson (Furman) is a two-way threat, hitting .317 with eight home runs and 25 RBI, while posting a 9-1 record with an ERA of 2.66 on the hill as of April 29. The ace of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers’ staff comes to the Mets, too. Matt Ridings was 8-2 with a 3.90 ERA in 10 starts this spring. Colin Bates (North Carolina) was fantastic out of the bullpen for the Tar Heels, with a 1.41 ERA in 17 appearances.
As for offense, Bussiere is excited about the addition of catcher Curt Casali (Vanderbilt). He has shared the Commodores’ catching duties, but managed to hit .317 with 13 RBI in just 60 at-bats. Jackson, who struggled at the plate last season for Hyannis, was putting up big numbers for one of the nation’s top teams, hitting .369 with 15 doubles for Miami. He was a perfect 7-for-7 in steal attempts.
It figures to be an exciting year for a team that just missed the playoffs in 2007. With new lights, new uniforms and new personnel, Robinson is optimistic he can guide the Mets into post-season play for the first time in four years.
Noteworthy Hyannis alumni include Buck Showalter (1976), Bill Schroeder (1978), Robin Ventura (1987), Doug Mirabelli (1990), Jason Varitek (1991, 1993), Matt Morris (1993), Kris Benson (1994), Pat Burrell (1995) and Ryan Garko (2001, 2002),
Chris Blake, CCBL Intern ([email protected])