On Monday afternoon, Florida State’s first new baseball coach in 40 years made his debut and unveiled plans for the future. During his first press conference as manager, Mike Martin, Jr. was very explicit in how he plans to differentiate himself from his father.
As it was brought up in the presser and several readers have asked, he explained where his nickname Meat came from. Since he was in kindergarten he has always been called Meat and even wrote it on his papers as he went through school, this was because he had always been thin and needed to put meat on his bones.
Martin discussed a multitude of changes he wants to make to the program, some of more consequence than others. In an effort to put his name on the program Meat announced that players names would be removed from their jerseys, he mentioned it builds “culture” and “character” but gave no other specifics. Bucking with tradition the Seminoles will move from the first base dugout to the third base dugout. Martin, Jr. states that the dugout is larger and nicer, want the “Animals” to be able to see the players and that the walk down the hall to the clubhouse shouldn’t be an issue. There are plans to build a players facility and possibly a visitors’ dugout, if this does happen the new dugout could easily be made to suit the home team.
More than two years ago, we diagnosed some of the main issues that were present in the Florida State baseball program and how they could be addressed. Flash forward to present day, and we can get a little bit of insight on FSU’s new head coach’s plan to attack those problems.
Without explicitly saying it, Meat made it sound like the only current paid coach on staff, pitching coach Clyde Keller, will not be retained. Everything Mike Martin, Jr. described in the characteristics for new assistants is exactly what you need to build a title contending program. He first mentioned he is looking for coaches with “energy and positivity” and that the berating of players will not be tolerated, he is not looking for a “Bobby Knight” as he put it.
The new manager reiterated the importance that one of his two new hires has a background as a MLB scout. This is an attribute that Tomahawk Nation has been begging for several years. This strategy has worked out tremendously for the Florida Gators who up until the end of this season had two former scouts on staff. Couple that hire with a competent pitching coach and this staff could easily be one of the best in the country.
For the past decade, FSU as a program, has fallen behind other elite teams. During five of those ten seasons (Bell’s tenure) they had just two qualified coaches fulfilling ALL of their responsibilities. At best they were recruiting at 70% capacity, at worst it was Meat carrying the entire load.
Martin, Jr. was emphatic that all three coaches on staff will have recruiting responsibilities, including travel, a massive change from the past decade that will pay real dividends on the field. He also mentioned that he wants to identify kids faster, which ideally would be the responsibility of the former scout and wants to get on kids earlier. Having three coaches recruiting full time will assist to develop relationships at an earlier age instead of their junior or senior year which has been the norm recently. Martin, Jr. said that he will start his coaching search on Tuesday with phone interviews and proceed from there, he emphasized that its prime recruiting time and he wants to take full advantage of that, a full staff would only help.
With regards to players, the new skipper was adamant about he importance of player’s mental health. Players can come to school with issues that can prevent them from not only being healthy but prevent them from being the best player they can be. Martin, Jr. feels this is a vital part to player performance and suggested mandatory appointments with psychiatrist for all players.
As far as on the field play goes, Meat was emphatic about “We will never take another fastball middle or inner part of the plate ever again.” Later on he was asked about why the aggressive approach of the plate was currently in place since he was the hitting coach and he tried his best to not throw his father under the bus. Martin, Jr. explained that he was only an assistant and his job was to make recommendations, Martin, Sr. was the head coach, had an offensive background and in the end it was his decision.
There is probably some hyperbole to the original statement made by Martin, as a patient approach at the plate has worked for the Seminoles and it should not be completely disregarded with an over-aggressive mindset. Hopefully, Florida State can combine the two approaches to to strengthen what has always been a potent lineup.
During the last ten years the ’Noles have won 40 games each season, were #1 seed in a regional nine times, won a regional eight times and made four CWS appearances (although they were never really a threat to win it). This was all accomplished while Florida State failed to make any significant changes to the program regarding facilities, training or recruiting. It also occurred while their rival to the south had one of the best runs ever over a ten year period.
Mike Martin, Jr. has a plan to update the program so that it can compete with teams that are consistently in the hunt. If implemented well, with the support of administration and a full time, competent staff committed to doing their job, there is reason to think this team can be legitimately competing for a title in the next couple of years.