Silver Knights already focused on 2014 season
Friday, August 23, 2013
About a half hour after Thursday’s Nashua Silver Knights FCBL title defeat at the hands of Martha’s Vineyard, a stadium worker paused while the Knights were being fed a post-game meal by some very hospitable Sharks volunteers.
“You guys,” he said, “sure know how to put together a team.”
Indeed, the Silver Knights and Vice President of Player Personnel B.J. Neverett do, which is why they have two FCBL titles and three title series appearances in all three years of the league’s existence.
But some feel that it was time for a change that it was good for the league.
“Yes,” Sharks manager Mike Miller said. “Spread the wealth a little bit. I’m ecstatic.”
As well he should be. His Sharks won the title because they hit .292 as a team and often delivered in the clutch. That’s why they topped the Silver Knights in the finals; Game 2 was typical as Nashua had 15 hits but left 13 runners on base.
“They beat us,” Nashua manager J.P. Pyne said, “at our own game.”
Now the Silver Knights will look to their future. Usually they have a lot of players secured for next season already, but Pyne and Neverett decided against that this August because they felt it would be a distraction.
“We didn’t do that this year,” Pyne said. “It became a thing, ‘I didn’t get offered, he did,’ but we’ve certainly had those conversations. There are some guys we’re really excited about having back, some guys we’re hopeful we get back.”
It will be a different team for certain. Eight pitchers were juniors this past year, which will mean they won’t be eligible next year as they’ll be done with college. That would mean pitchers such as mainstays Alek Morency, Cody Rocha, Tom Baroni, Geoff Fisher, etc. wouldn’t be able to return. Jake Mellin and Tom Hudon right now would look like the staff’s aces, but the bullpen would have to be revamped. Pitching and the bullpen have been huge over the years for this team, with this year’s team ERA at 2.79.
UMass Lowell has always provided talent, with outfielder/designated hitter Jimmy Ricoy a perfect example. When healthy he proved to be a fine offensive player. He has another year of eligibility. Same for his fellow River Hawk and hero of Game 1 of the semifinals, Matt Sanchez. Sean and Connor Lyons (both of Northeastern), though, would not, and they were on-base machines.
So there will be some changes. Would Pyne be one of them? Remember, the Silver Knights have had three managers in three years; Mike Chambers had to leave for the college recruiting trail; Neverett wanted to focus more on player procurement and see his daughter play during the summer. Pyne has been highly successful at Daniel Webster College, which ought to lead to career advancement. But as long as he’s around the area, he probably will manage the Silver Knights.
“I think so,” he said, adding he’d have to certainly talk it over with his wife and also make sure the organization wants him back. “There are some conversations that need to be had between my wife and I and what is best for me and for us. If the pieces fit, absolutely no question. If there are some things that don’t fit, then I have a tough decision.”
There’s a difference, Pyne said, between the Knights and some other summer college teams that make managing it an attractive job.
“A lot of summer organizations it’s about individuals getting what they want out of the summer,” he said, referring to players working on certain things that their college coaches want done. “Here, it’s a team thing. They know what it means at this point.
“What Tim Bawmann (team president), Jon Goode (VP) and the rest of the people affiliated have established here is the expectation is to win. And to win a certain way. ... I’m really proud to be a part of that.
“We kind of joke about it, ‘The Silver Knight Way.’ We look for guys that are Silver Knights players. It’s a certain type of person that we want. It may not be the most talented guy or the best professional prospect. It’s the guy who’s going to play hard every night.”
They did, and the only difference this year is they just came up short. Chalk it up to change.