After leading the Peninsula Oilers to the National Baseball Congress World Series and a third-place finish in the Alaska Baseball League in his first season, Dennis Machado has made his expectations clear heading into his second year as coach.
"It's an opportunity for us to come back and try to accomplish the goals we have set forth," Machado said. "That's to win the NBC (World Series). As the head coach my job is going to be to steer the entire ship."
Machado, 35, will return for a second season at the helm, the club recently announced, meaning he will get a chance to accomplish what the club couldn't do in 2010 -- win a championship.
The Oilers finished 3-2 at the World Series, falling shy of the finals after they finished 33-17-1 during the regular season. Peninsula engaged in a thrilling race with the Mat-Su Miners and the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks for the ABL crown. Mat-Su won with a 31-14 record, while the Panners were second at 30-15 and the Oilers were third at 29-15.
The Oilers also announced that Stefan McGovern, the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at Metro State, will join Machado's staff.
McGovern had been contacted by the Oilers last season, but instead became the head coach of the Denver Cougars. Machado said the duo talked again at last season's World Series, which helped McGovern decide to join the Oilers.
Rounding out the Oilers' 2011 staff are pitching coach Mike Goedde, who spent two years as a coach with the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball, and Kyle Richardson, a former California State University, Bakersfield shortstop.
Machado is anxious to begin work with the new coaches.
"We've got some unfinished business the way I see it," Machado said. "We didn't show well at the World Series, which was very frustrating. The motivation for me is to be the last team standing."
Also the pitching coach for CSUB, an independent program in its third year of existence, Machado has long-standing ties to the Kenai Peninsula.
He played four seasons with the Oilers and was a member of the 1994 NBC championship squad and also was the club's pitching coach for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Machado also was a standout at Kenai Central High School.
"He's got a fiery attitude and wants to win," General Manager Shawn Maltby said. "And that's important."
Machado said four members of the CSUB are set to join the Oilers this summer, although he didn't name them because it's common for rosters to turn over before opening day.
The Oilers have 27 players signed to the squad for the season, but Machado expects between five and 10 to end up elsewhere -- either because they will be drafted or because they will have college commitments.
Although the majority of the Oilers' players won't be drafted, Machado said there is a good chance some of them will go pro before the season.
The risk of losing players to the draft is something Machado keeps in mind when he assembles the roster. The coach said he tries to sign a blend of players, from freshman and sophomores who won't be drafted to talented juniors who have the talent to go pro.
"It's sort of a catch-22," Machado said of putting draft-caliber players on the roster. "We want to bring them to Kenai, but for their careers, they want to be drafted."
Other players might get injured, he said, and it's also possible some pitchers will throw so many innings during the college season that they won't be able to play summer ball.
Machado, who was a left-handed pitcher during his playing days, said fans can expect a blue-collar team no matter what.
"For us it's not always about getting the best athletes. It's about getting the right athletes," he said. "We're looking for a special type of individual who is hardworking, a scrappy yard rat who is going to fight back. He might not be the most talented guy, but he will be the best on the field nine times out of 10. That's ultimately who we are looking for."
The Oilers will play 32 of their 46 games at Coral Seymour Memorial Park, their home field, which could give them an advantage over league opponents. The Oilers did not lose a home game in July last season.
Machado said the Goldpanners won't play a complete league schedule, meaning the Oilers also will avoid trips north. The Athletes in Action Fire, a league opponent based in Fairbanks, will play its "away" games against the Oilers at Seymour Park this year.
The coaching staff arrives June 4 and the season begins June 9.
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