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December 12, 2006 – The John Brandt Q&A December 12, 2006

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Klebe In, Herr Out: With Tom Herr leaving to accept a position in the Washington Nationals organization, the Lancaster Barnstormers were left without a manager.

That problem has now been solved.

Frank Klebe, who served as the team’s third base coach, was named the team’s manager today, just the second in their three year history.

Herr will manage the Nationals Single-A affiliate in Hagerstown for 2007.

Newark Bears manager Wayne Krenchicki (Picture courtesy of the Newark Bears)

Krenchicki Newark Manager; John Brandt Q&A: It’s been a good week here at atlanticleaguebaseball.com – I won a playoff game in my fantasy football league for the first time in three years, I’ll turn 24 tomorrow, and there’s news popping up left and right in the Atlantic League.

And some of that news unfolded today, as the Newark Bears named their new manager, Wayne Krenchicki, earlier in the afternoon.

Bears GM John Brandt will be here today to answer your questions, and will be live on the site at 4PM to answer the questions you’ve already submitted.

Be sure to check the site around 4 o’clock and head on over to the comments section to follow the chat. – Mike Ashmore

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1. Barnstorming - December 12, 2006

Well who is on the Barnstormers coaching staff???

its after 10:00

2. Amy - December 12, 2006

Tom Herr to Hagerstown MD as coach and our new manager is Frank Klebe. Awesome opportunity for Frank…I had speculated on his chances on this blog a few months back…I believe he will be a great manager for us! On tv news…Tom Herr sounded a bit whiney….he wants to get into affiliated ball and he has now…single a however. From his comments it almost seems like he felt out of the loop here. I am surpirised Herr didn’t try and get a position wherever his son Aaron is playing. Oh well, Tom has his “foot in the door” now for an affiliated team…let’s see what happens now. Yes, I am surprised that he took that job over the Stormers position but as i said earlier…its not a really big loss for us, as i think Frank will at least pop his head out of the dugout to argue some calls!!!! Herr never connected with the fans on that account!

3. Amy - December 12, 2006

Oops…I meant to say Herr to Potomac.

4. SouthernALFan - December 12, 2006

Please, Potomac is a BIG step-up from the Atlantic League. The minor leagues is about player development and the AL isn’t.

5. Amy - December 12, 2006

Hey southernalfan I am not downing Tom Herr or the league or the affilation or anything connected with his decision. I also know the Atlantic League is NOT about player development. A manager or coach here certainly doesn’t have the same responsibilities as in affiliated ball. I realize that. Basically what I am really saying is that Tom didn’t connect with the fans here…and he never has. ZI wish him nothing but the best and I hope he gets what he is looking for. That’s all.

6. Amy - December 12, 2006

To clarify…that is Tom Herr to manage the Potomac Nationals. good luck Tom!

7. Amy - December 12, 2006

Still wrong…its Tom Herr to manage Hagerstown…sorry about that folks.

8. Sumosid - December 12, 2006

No surprise here….

The Newark Bears Professional Baseball Club announced they have named former major league infielder Wayne Krenchicki as the club’s new Field Manager for the 2007 season. Krenchicki becomes the fifth manager in the history of the Bears franchise.

“Wayne Krenchicki brings knowledge of the game and a successful managerial background to the Bears,” said Bears General Manager John Brandt. “We are pleased to announce his hiring and look forward to a victorious 2007 season.”

Krenchicki has managed every season in the Atlantic League since it’s inception in 1998, including the past six seasons with the Camden Riversharks. During his time in the Atlantic League, the former Ewing, New Jersey high school standout, has become the second winningest manager in the league history with 560 victories. He led the Riversharks to the Atlantic League’s best record each season from 2002 through 2005, and was voted as the league’s Manager of the Year in 2002.

While with Camden, the University of Miami graduate won 70 or more games four times and brought the Riversharks to the playoffs three times, including a trip to the finals in 2004. Krenchicki (899-881) is one win shy from his 900th as a manager, which in addition to the Atlantic League, includes stints in the Arizona, Midwest, Texas-Louisiana, and Northern Leagues.

Originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round, seventh overall, of the 1976 draft, Krenchicki enjoyed an eight year major league career with the Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, and Montreal Expos. He appeared in 90 games or more five times including a career high 110 in 1983. A career .266 hitter, Krenchicki had 283 hits with 44 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs, and 124 RBI.

While with the University of Miami, Krenchicki led the Hurricanes in 1975 with a .355 batting average, 32 stolen bases, and 47 RBI. He is currently tied for eighth place in the all-time Hurricanes record book with 11 triples. Krenchicki was elected to the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to manage the Newark Bears,” said Krenchicki. “I look forward to the challenge of taking a group of guys and guide them to work together as a team and bring a winning tradition back to Newark. Also, being from New Jersey, it’s always exciting to coach in front of my friends and family.”

9. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

We’re expecting Newark Bears GM John Brandt in the house in around 10 minutes.

Real quick, here’s how this is going to go.

I will post your previously submitted questions for Mr. Brandt to answer, and he will hopefully answer them the best he can.

It’s a busy and exciting day in Newark, so if he has time at the end to answer any questions from those of you following the chat live, he might be able to stick around.

10. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

John’s just returning from a meeting and will be here shortly. Stay tuned!

11. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

Mike:

I’m here – sorry for the delay!

John

12. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

No problem, I know things are very busy in Newark today.

Congratulations on the hiring of your new manager, Wayne Krenchicki. I think my first thought would be that a lot of people might think that because of your previous relationship with Wayne, that there really wasn’t much of an interview process here and that he had the job locked up. Just to squash those thoughts, can you take me into the interview process and talk about how lengthy it was and how many candidates were interviewed?

13. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

Mike:

You are correct in that it was a process. There were many beliefs that Wayne has the job on October 15, 2005 (my first day here!). That was not the case. We reached out to many people around the baseball world to see who was available – we received many names. There were a number of people that didn’t fit what we were looking for. We wanted someone that had previously managed, managed with success and had independent/player personnel experience. We ended up with a “final list” of around 4. The process took a little longer than we expected but we feel very good with our selection. Obviously, I have a previous relationship with Wayne, and that helped, but there was a process we needed to go through to make sure he was the right guy.

14. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

Had to get that one out of the way. Time for some questions from the fans…

JL says: Thank you for several great years in Camden.

Please explain how you are able to come up with the talent you do in building a team. What kinds of limits are you under in trying to find the best players, sometimes just released from affiliated ball, in getting them to join your club. How many hours do you put in, burning up the phone lines, searching for good talent?

15. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

JL:

Thanks for the kind thoughts. I hope to bring great years up to Newark as well. Finding talent is a process; unfortunately it doesn’t happen in one year. We have a core of players in Newark now that I feel we can build around. In Camden, we had a great core that also happened to live in the local area – that worked real well. In finding a team, you start with a budget. Within any budget, you can build a team. It is my belief, you start with pitching and defense. We had that in Camden and will get there in Newark. You want players that want to play – that may seem dumb/easy but many times players that are just released don’t feel like playing to their potential. It happens a lot in this league because this is a quality level of play and when a player gets released and end up in “independent ball,” they feel it is too easy. It’s not – they need to be dedicated.

Hours – we all work a lot of hours – I usually do a lot of the players stuff at night, after business hours. Wayne and Jim Cerny will do a lot of this for this season as well – you have to find a solid pitching staff – we will do that.

But, the process never stops – you always have to open to seeing what is out there. We will continue to do this.

John

16. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

JL asks: Maybe you can also explain to us how you were able to land Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver in your last year in Camden?

17. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

JL:

Well, I had a connection to Scott Boras that got us to Stephen Drew. We were able to make him comfortable and allow him a great opportunity to show off his great abilities. When they were looking to showcase Weaver, to them, it was a no-brainer. They were both pleasures to have around.

It is my hope that if the Boras Group has another opportunity, that we will be able to do the same in Newark.

18. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

Mr. Brandt;

I would like to preface this question by saying I am
Bears fan and attend about 8-12 games a year. I
always enjoy myself at the Den and staff is always
friendly and accommodating. I feel very comfortable
watching a game at the Den to say the least. I let
others know the good times I have at Newark Bears
games and encourage them to come along.

Thanks & Good luck!

Regards,
Jeff B.
Garwood, NJ

My questions:

1. How does a GM keep a positive outlook when a team
is struggling at the box office?

19. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

Jeff B.

Thanks and I hope you continue to promote our team and venue.

I am able to keep a positive outlook because there is business out there for us. We will continue to work to get people to come into Newark and enjoy the Bears Experience. It is frustrating because the staff works just as hard for a large crowd as it does for a smaller one. The more people, the better the experience and we hope to continue to increase our attendance in 2007.

20. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

As a follow up to the previous JL question, having a full time staff person and player like Brad Strauss around was also very helpful to me. Just a shout out to a real good guy and hard worker!

21. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

JB also asks: 2. What are other revenue streams for a independent
Baseball league? It is possible for a team to struggle
at the gate and still be profitable via these
alternative revenue streams?

22. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

Brad will also be making an appearance on the site for a Q&A in the very near future, but I’ll make an official announcement on that shortly.

23. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

JB:

There are other revenue streams. Reaching profitability is different for each team, based upon their lease (and other factors). By hosting outside events (concerts, company meetings, field use, etc.), it can help in generating additional revenues as well as new fans of the venue. It all helps!

24. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

JB’s last question: 3. Player salaries: Is there a chance for an increase
in the future? Do you think they are competitive with
other independent leagues?

25. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

Ah, the salary question…

Every team has a budget; every league has different guidelines to stick within. We are competitive for many reasons – even though players can make more elsewhere. We start earlier so a player just out of camp can stay fresh and hopefully get out of here more quickly.

Here is my overall philosophy and hope for players. I hope each player wants to play hard with the hope that they are out of the league by the end of June. It is also my belief that a big name player doesn’t need the money – why does a Rickey Henderson or Juan Gonzalez need $2k, $3k, $4k, $5k?? It only pays their electric bill. Those are the guys that should play for a minumum – for the chance to get back!

26. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

Speaking of Rickey…

RC asks: Any thought to asking Rickey Henderson to come back for 2007? He’s someone who could bring the fans back to Newark…

27. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

OK, here we go…

Rickey is coaching with the Mets on a part-time/spring training basis.

Newark has never gotten to the attendance levels that everyone expected since 1999. It is my belief that having a name player will bring in a small number of added fans. It will typically get the team media attention which does help but not to the levels that one would expect. If our target market is families, most people at a game will not know Rickey, or our shortstop – but will hopefully like Ruppert our mascot.

28. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

John, just to follow up on that…

With that said, does that make it easier to resist the temptation to bring in a big name just for the sake of doing so? For example, John Rocker got the Ducks a lot of publicity, but didn’t really do much on the field for them. You could almost say the same about the aforementioned Juan Gonzalez.

I guess my question is: Knowing the market you’re in, and the proximity to NYC, is there ever any temptations to bring in a “big name” that might create some media buzz but might not necessarily help you between the lines?

29. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

temptation, temptations…close enough

One’s the word I was looking for, and the other was a group from the 60’s or 70’s.

30. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

Mike:

There always is as long as they can “play” within the team guidelines. If there is a player -say Jeff Bagwell. I know he just announces his retirement (or is expected to shortly) but if he wanted to prove that he could still play, I would love to have him here. If Mike Piazza couldn’t catch on (I know he did), it would be great to have him – my hope would be that he would play for $1,000 so we can build around him and let him show the other players that he is here for the team. That is when it works. Not to compare these guys, but in Camden, we had Chris Widger – he came in and played very well, was a great teammate, and played for less than the average money. He showed that it can be done – the next season, he was with the White Sox and got a ring.

31. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

*cough* Sammy Sosa *cough*

Anyway, two more for you, John…

The unnamed fan asks: What can you do to increase attendance next season? I like going to Newark to watch games but wonder how much longer things can survive with the low crowds. Fireworks always seem to draw. Maybe with a new manager and a winning team things will also pickup.

32. KenD - December 12, 2006

John, we see very little marketing in the Morris and Essex line corridor; ie, Summit Chatham and Madison. Do you plan to do some target marketing in those areas?

33. PCD_Man - December 12, 2006

I hear there is a south jersey city guy named albert barbari …you gonna sign him? I hear he has contacts with some good food vendors!

34. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

Well, I guess you can tackle that one if you want as well…

One more after that, and then any live questions can be asked if John has time. Worst case, you can submit some questions and I can send them along and get them answered for you.

35. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

We will continue to “brand” ourselves as a fun, family environment. We have Fireworks Fridays which did very well for us in 2006 – this was the first time that the team had fireworks the same day each week. We will also continue to do promotions that make sense and hopefully get us more publicity (Britney Spears Baby Safety Night, Scientology Night, Troy Murphy Night, Bird Flu Awareness Night, etc.). But, we need to get groups out to Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium! It is a great venue and is easy to get to (parking garage attached to the stadium, Light Rail stops directly in front of stadium).

It is my hope that Wayne will put a competitive team on the field which will make the overall experience more enjoyable.

36. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

I’ll let you tackle those two fan questions/comments if you want, then I’ll fire away with the last one…

37. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

Kend:

We are trying to expand our NJ Transit marketing program for 2007 for that area. So, in a nutshell, yes. I would love to be able to offer and market route specific programs – through station signage, seat drops, ticket offers for riders who attend our game (show your stub and receive…). We will get there! We have good relationships with each of those towns (Summit, Chatham and Madison) but we need those towns to consider a Bears game as an option for their entertaiment dollar. We have created great school, children, Little League and fundraising programs that each town can benefit from – we just need to get the word out!

38. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

PCD Man – brought a smile to my face – Barbieri is out in LA playing cards!!!

39. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

The last question is actually mine: What kind of disadvantages are there, if any, of working in what’s considered to be one of the less glamourous markets? Are there advantages, different ways of marketing? Using major cities (Philly for Camden, NYC for Newark) to your advantage?

I ask because I know you have experience in Bridgeport, Camden and Newark, and I think those could all fall into the “less glamourous market” category…

40. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

Mike – what are you talking about!!! I am not sure that I ever expected to work in New Haven and Bridgeport, Camden and Newark as part of my professional life!!!

This is a tough one to answer though. For New Haven, Bridgeport and Camden, I was part of the start-up and all the excitement. Each team generated a lot of media attention and the attendance in each was pretty good. Newark has been around since 1999, so that was new to me (coming to an already established facility). It is tough to market in many ways for a couple of reasons – cost of advertising is extremely high, we get lost in a long list of attractions in the area, as well as the proximity of 2 major league teams. We need to be able to get a group to come out once and show them that you can come to Newark and have a very good time. Hopefully, the group will leave here and speak well of us so that word of mouth creates a buzz. My staff and I always try to create a buzz within our target markets (within the city and in the surrounding towns).

If we are able to generate fan interest from the surrounding towns, as well as within the city, we can be successful. It is not an easy thing to do – it is a process.

I love the challenge and that is why I am here!

41. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 12, 2006

Well John, I just wanted to again congratulate you on the culmination of what I know was a very lengthy and exhausting process. Also, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions from fans and a few from myself as well. You’ve always been good to both Scott and myself, and on behalf of Scott, I wish you and the Bears the best of luck for 2007.

If there’s anything else you need to say, feel free to fire away.

If any of the fans have any questions for John, feel free to leave them and I’m sure he’ll answer them if he can/has time.

42. John Brandt - December 12, 2006

Mike:

My best to you and Scott as well. Your site is great to visit and read with interest!

Thank you for this opportunity to answer some very good questions. I hope I was helpful.

My best to everyone for a Healthy, Happy and Safe Holiday Season. May the Bears attendance continue to grow and may we win the Atlantic League Championship in 2007!!

Thanks again,

John

43. b-fish fan - December 13, 2006

i dont understand how you give wayne krenchicki the job? the guy is a very good mgr.dont get me wrong.but this is his 3rd team in the atl.and if the blogs by mike & scott were correct{which they mostly are}how dont you bring in jeff ball from the surf.

44. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 13, 2006

Well, if you count Newburgh and LV separately, this is technically his fourth team.

But that’s not at all to discredit his accomplishments. There are many successful managers around baseball who’ve led multiple teams.

Am I surprised that Ball hasn’t landed somewhere in the Atlantic League?

ABSOLUTELY.

But I don’t really think you can argue the choice either way. Had they picked Ball, great. Had they picked Krenchicki, great.

They picked Krenchicki, and that’s the way that particular cookie crumbled (thank you, Bruce Almighty)

I plan on contacting Wayne today (12/13) and will attempt to contact Jeff next week.

-M-

45. Amy - December 13, 2006

Anything more on the Revolution manager and coaching staff? Do they plan to announce their staff soon?

46. John Brandt - December 13, 2006

Jeff was obviously one of our finalists. He has done a great job and will hopefully catch on with another team. It was not an easy decision but when you have been with a person/manager for a period of time (in this case 5 years), that pushed Wayne over the top. We had the best overall record in Camden from 2002-2005. It is my hope to bring success that up here. One thing that we didn’t do in Camden was win the whole thing – that is the baseball goal for Wayne and his staff, including players. Newark has struggled for a number of years and hopefully we can turn that around. With new surroundings and a desire to prove that he can still manage, Wayne will get it done.
John

47. SharkGirl - December 13, 2006

You tell ’em, John! I always liked Wayne-I just thought we needed a change in Camden and he needed a change as well. And may we both be better teams for it. I can’t wait to hear who our new coach will be. (You can always e-mail me if you already know who it is…lol) Go Sharks! (Sorry J.B.) Hi & Happy Holidays to you & the family!

48. John Brandt - December 13, 2006

I wasn’t going at B-Fish Fan, just trying to explain our decision.

Camden will be in good hands as well.

John

49. Amy - December 13, 2006

I just saw that former Barnstormers pitcher Cliff Smith is returning to the Lancaster area as pitching coach for the Elizabethtown College baseball team. Nice to see Cliff back in this area. This makes 2 former Barnstormers now working as pitching coaches…Troy Mattes at Bluefield Orioles is the other.

50. Amy - December 13, 2006

Wow…I meant Smith was named head coach!

51. SharkGirl - December 13, 2006

John,
I knew you weren’t going after B-Fish Fan. That’s why I said “you tell ’em (them)” meaning all the fans instead of “you tell him”. We go after him enough & I know that’s not your style! So whose good hands will we be in? C’Mon-I’ll never tell! 😉

52. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 13, 2006

Y’all will know who Camden has hired tomorrow.

As for York, I did say that two teams (other than Newark) were set to announce their coaching staffs this week…

53. number1surffan John - December 14, 2006

okay, tomorrow came and went. who is it?

54. KenD - December 14, 2006

Camden, NJ- After a lengthy search, former Major League catcher and long-time minor league coach Joe Ferguson, was introduced as the new manager of the Camden Riversharks during a press conference at Campbell’s Field on Thursday afternoon.

55. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - December 14, 2006

Can’t post news if I don’t get the press release…

56. number1surffan John - December 15, 2006

okay, gotcha. nothing personal intended. Just hungerin for more info. Even if it’s to follow another league. sigh.


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