Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The Cotuit Kettleers in the 2009 Cape Cod League baseball season stole 109 bases in 44 games which led the league. This was the KEY ELEMENT for our team playing in the league championship game for the 2nd consecutive year. The team applied pressure at all times to the opposing defense.
The New York Yankees were led to the 2009 World Series Championship by a team of sluggers who used the Stolen Base to place more pressure on opposing teams. Derek Jeter, 35 years old, stole 30 bases for the fourth time in his career. Johnny Damon, 36 years old, stole 2 bases on one pitch in game four of the World Series that turned out to be the “Key Play” in the 2009 World Series. Sportswriters are still discussing whether or not they had ever heard of much less seen with their own eyes a stolen base play such as this.
Coastal Carolina University Baseball stole 121 bases in 2009 which led them to a 47-16 record. Head Coach Gary Gilmore has a philosophy similar to mine that the stolen base is a catalyst to WINNING BASEBALL.
Coaches and players are always searching for more and better ways to WINNING BASEBALL. As you prepare for the 2010 baseball season during this Christmas and Holiday Season I hope you will read my new book written with my son Brian Roberts who led the American League in stolen bases in 2007, and let us help you improve your base stealing game.

Monday, October 12, 2009

College, High School, and Youth Fall Baseball: Base Stealing Practice

Since returning from coaching in the Cape Cod Collegiate Summer League, many baseball professionals have called me from head to assistant coaches affiliated with college baseball wanting  to discuss ways to teach base stealing effectively in their fall practices. Most of the coaches have read my new book “You Can’t Steal Second Base and Keep Your Foot on First!” or seen the presentation that my son Brian Roberts (Baltimore Orioles) and I gave at the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention in San Diego in January, 2009.
In the sport of baseball the fall months should be used to teach and teach and teach players how to improve their individual game and how to improve the collective team game. This is also true in all youth baseball leagues, high school fall leagues, and college programs.  Fall baseball is not a time for teams to concentrate on “winning a game” but a time for each player to “improve their game!”
Two coaches I have had extensive discussions with on base stealing are Rob Ramseyer, assistant coach at Mid-America Nazarene University in Kansas City, Missouri, who also coaches in the Alaska Summer Baseball League and Tim Corbin the head coach at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.  Rob is coaching at an NAIA program and Tim at an elite NCAA Division I program competing in the Southeastern Conference.
The schools are certainly different in number of students on campus, the size of the facility and the amount of money in their operating budget.  However; baseball is baseball, all players put their pants on one leg at a time, and similarly strive to improve their game.  Each program has a goal to play for a national championship in their division at the conclusion of the season.  As such, it is important that they equally focus on the same skills.
One of the best ways for a team to be more successful from game to game is to improve their base stealing. The base stealing game is always available to generate offense as long as someone gets to first base.  For example, at the conclusion of the opening game of the 2009 Cape League season,  the team I coach the Cotuit Kettleers only had 3 hits but we stole 7 bases and scored 4 runs. The base stealing game generated our offense and gave us a better chance of winning.
I encourage coaches to teach base stealing every practice in the fall.  The drills I use still to this day are all outlined in “You can’t Steal Second Base and Keep Your Foot on First!”   If you need more information please contact me via my website or email. I would be happy to discuss this passion of mine and want to support your coaching efforts.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ellsbury Breaking the Record

Coaching in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Cotuit Kettleers all summer provides me great Red Sox Fan insight and a pulse on what the team is going through at the current moment. With the Sox maintaining a slight lead in the Wild Card Race things seem to be heating up.
A Cotuit Kettleers Camper sent me a txt the other day informing me that Jacoby Ellsbury had broken the stolen base record for the Boston Red Sox. Historically, the Sox have not been traditionally know for their base stealing prowess but the current ownership and management have an good understanding of the value that base stealing can add to the game, so I was not surprised. I also have the privilege of watching Jacoby train at Athletes Performance in Phoenix, Arizona during the off-season where I am the Director of Baseball Development.
While each base stealer’s approach is unique, I thought the recent graphic in the Boston Globe on Ellsbury’s Record Speed, certainly outlined the excitement that stealing a base can add to the game. Because the outcome of a baseball game can be changed by a pivotal play in a game, base stealing always provides one more tool in a team’s arsenal. While a great baseball stealer has to have certain natural ability and instincts, those can be developed and fine tuned over time. Without the work and practice, the full potential of a natural athlete like Jacoby will not reach maximum potential.
As you may have noticed, base stealing in a passion of mine. I try and make sure that I teach base stealing extensively in every team I build. I began teaching it when I was a college coach, used it when I played and encouraged it with my son Brian Roberts who is the leading base stealer for the Baltimore Orioles. I was lucky enough to co write a book with Brian on base stealing titled, “You Can’t Steal Second Base and Keep Your Foot on First”.
I continue to urge all young baseball players to work on their base stealing in practice and in games. As I hear the wonderful news of Jacoby Ellsbury’s accomplishment, I congratulate him and also wish him good luck on many more stolen bases this season!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

“Play-off Season to Remember!”

My coaching staff on the Cotuit Kettleers just completed our final meeting for the season after the 2009 Cape League Play-offs. Even though we had lost to the Bourne Braves in the Championship series the team had accomplished a great deal and many players improved their skills during the season. The team finished 2nd during the regular season in the Western Division then won a 1 game play-off vs. Wareham that was necessary due to the expanded league play-offs. The Kettleers then defeated the Y-D Red Sox (who had the best overall record in the league during the regular season) 18-4 in the final game of a 3 game series to move onto the finals vs. Bourne Braves where we lost the 1st two games in a three game series. Congratulations to Coach Harvey Shapiro and the Bourne Braves in winning the 2009 Cape League Championship!!
Our main goals are always to Lead the league in pitching as a team, steal the most bases, and play excellent defense. We struggled defensively but were very good in the other categories.
Base Stealing: 1st in Team stolen bases with 109 in 44 games. (All time Cape League record is 134 set by a team I coached at Wareham in 2000)
Base Stealing by Individuals: Chris Bisson led the league with 36.
Pitching: Jake Buchanan led the league with 0.84 era in 43 innings and only 6 walks
Play-offs: Finals for 2nd year in a row
Finally: The Kettleers only had 9 position players for the 6 play-off games. Those young men, along with a very competitive pitching staff, held the team together, competed every inning like it was their last of the season, and carried the coaches on their backs to the Championship series. The coaching staff is so appreciative of the effort put forth by these student/athletes from around the country. The “Cotuit 9” will go down in history as a team that loved the game, played the game with respect, and gave the Kettleer fans a “Play-off Season to Remember!”

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cape Cod League All-Star Game and Recognition at Historic Fenway Park –

Home of the Boston Red Sox!
The Cape League All-Stars were recognized today at Fenway Park in Boston before the Red Sox and Oakland A’s game. The Cape Cod League All-Star game was played on Thursday July 22nd in Fenway Park as well. I was privileged to be the head coach of the West Squad which won the game 3-0 (Game was shortened to 4 ½ innings due to rain). Zach Cox, from the University of Arkansas and my starting 3B on the Cotuit Kettleers was the Most Valuable Player for the West Squad and Chris Sale – LHPitcher from Gulf Coast University in Florida and plays for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox was the MVP for the Eastern Division team.
As I spoke with the players during batting practice, the home run hitting contest, and the game it was very obvious how much they enjoyed the opportunity to play in a historic major league stadium. Many of these All-Stars will play professional baseball but few will actually have the opportunity to play in the major leagues. The memory of pitching or hitting at Fenway Park will always be a day in their baseball career they will remember.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

“The Double Steal”

The Cotuit Kettleers pulled of 3 sets of “The Double Steal” in last night’s game (July 14th) vs. the Orleans Firebirds. The Double Steal is a fun play to see executed. However, the runners must understand how the timing works from 2nd and 1st base, what the runner at 2nd base must do to have an excellent jump, and the runner at 1st base must key in on what to look for to make sure the lead runner is definitely making the break for 3rd and does not pull up when they do not have a good jump.
First, both runners must get the signal. Next, the lead runner should shorten their lead, decoy the pitcher by leaning on their left leg as if returning to 2nd base, and then explode onto their right leg so their legs are fired and at full speed within three steps. The runner at 1st base must have a good lead so when the runner at 2nd does decide to run they do not get throw out on the back side of the double steal.
The last double steal had Kevin Keyes, Univ. of Texas outfielder on 2nd, and Cameron Rupp, University of Texas catcher on 1st, of which neither has outstanding speed. But, Kevin has very quick feet and had a great jump toward 3rd base and Cameron read Kevin’s jump very well and both slid in safely without a throw. The steal of 3rd does not require great speed but does require “Excellent Baseball Instincts.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chad Bell pitches a NO HITTER!!!

Chad Bell pitches a NO HITTER for the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League: Sunday night July 12th in the Cape League the Cotuit Kettleers players and coaches had a unique opportunity to play in and witness one of our pitchers, Chad Bell who just completed junior college at Walters State CC in Morristown, Tenn. And is headed to the University of Tennessee this fall, throw a NO HITTER vs. the eastern division leader Chatham Anglers. I have not been on the field to witness a NO Hitter since Greg Norris pitched one when I was coaching the University of North Carolina in 1978 vs. East Tennessee State University at J. Fred Johnson Stadium in Kingsport, Tn. Chad threw 116 pitches with only 11 curve balls in the mix. On our Cotuit team, we utilize the old fashion pitching philosophy of “Push and Pull” and Chad did this with his fastball and change-up extremely well. Most young pitchers of all ages should develop this philosophy. Hitters have a lot of struggles making solid contact against pitchers who keep them off balance with fastballs and change-ups.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Getten Cranked Up!!

Cape Cod Baseball is really cranking up now!

The fans are beginning to fill all the ballparks, the scouts and agents are arriving with USA baseball try-outs over and the College World Series completed. The remainder of the best players in college baseball are now headed to the cape and the really great competition begins between the 10 franchises. The final rosters will be set on Wed. July 1st and players will begin the battle to see who makes the Cape League All-Star game in Fenway Park in late July broadcast live by NESN (The Red Sox Network). What a thrill for the college guys to play in such an historic ballpark. If you love the sound of wood bats, like to watch great pitching prospects, and see exciting close games you can watch it almost every night on all five fields. From the new “Field of Dreams” in Cotuit to the picturesque remodeled ballpark in Chatham, tremendous entertainment for “grass roots” baseball lovers. The Kettleers are still 2 points up in the western division and Chatham is leading the east. Check capecodbaseball.org for all the standings or kettleers.org for the team I coach.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Presentation on Base Stealing to the ABCA Convention

Head coach Kelly Nicholson and an assistant coach from the Orleans Firebirds team in the Cape League and I had an enjoyable discussion before our game this past Friday night about the presentation on base stealing Brian and I gave at the ABCA convention in front of 3000 coaches in San Diego on Jan. 3, 2009.
The coaches stated how much they enjoyed and learned from the presentation through the details we gave.” I know their coaching staff took from the presentation the challenge of holding our runners closer and they did a good job.  We only stole 3 bases that evening which was below our game average of 5.  
The Cotuit Kettleers now have a total of 42 steals in 51 attempts in 8 games.   The ABCA presentation can be seen on coachmikeroberts.com

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cape Code Times Article about this season by Russ Charpentier

I am very excited about my team and this article by Russ Charpentier reciently published in the Cape Code Times….
Coach Roberts~
Looking for a reason to get excited about the first week of Cape League action? Take a peek at what’s going on in Cotuit. Kettleers infielder Chris Bisson has 11 stolen bases in five games through last night and been caught just once.
The league record is 48, set by Roy Marsh in 1993. Everyone knows Cotuit manager Mike Roberts loves a running game, but Bisson’s early efforts take that to the extreme.
“Coach Roberts is really aggressive,” said the Ottawa, Ontario, native, who had just 13 steals in 15 attempts at Kentucky. “At school, we had a lot of good hitters and we were a little more passive on the basepaths. We didn’t want to run ourselves out of an inning.”
Not the Kettleers under Roberts, who have 29 team steals and are threatening the record of 134, set by Wareham in 1988 and again in 2000. Bisson, who has stolen second and third on several occasions, had six steals before he had his first hit.
Bisson was headed for the Northwoods League going into the college season, but as he picked up his game (he hit .373), the plan changed.
“Coach told me he’d work hard to get me a shot here. It took forever. I had a temporary contract, and coach Roberts decided to give me a shot.”
Getting a shot is a big thing for a baseball player from Ottawa. “A lot of good players are starting to come out of Canada right now,” Bisson said. “I’m really excited about that. If I wasn’t at the University of Kentucky, I wouldn’t be here. I’d be home studying at Ottawa University.”
In 2005, Emmanuel Burriss, now of the Giants but then an Orleans Cardinal from Kent State, was ahead of Marsh’s pace deep in the season but finished with 37 thefts as pitchers started paying much more attention.
“We’re only a few games in,” Bisson said after stealing six bases in the first two games. “Pitchers will start holding on. First time through, nobody knows who anybody is. They’re going to figure out who can run and who can’t run. I imagine pitchers will start holding on pretty good.”
NAME GAME: Chatham manager John Schiffner rolled up his pants leg before Tuesday night’s game against Cotuit at Veterans Field and said, “Look at this.”
Schiffner was sporting a colorful tattoo of the old Chatham A’s logo on his right calf. Chatham changed its name from the Athletics (A’s) to the Anglers this season rather than pay Major League Baseball and buy from MLB’s suppliers.
“They can take my name, but not my leg,” Schiffner joked.
It was good to see the longtime Chatham coach laughing. Schiffner, in his 25th year in Chatham and 17th as head man, was hospitalized twice for a medical condition he wouldn’t specify between Memorial Day weekend and a few of days before the opener. He missed the first game of the season at Chatham last Saturday.
“They are narrowing down what the problem is. I’ve got some new medications and I’m fine.”
The tattoo was the result of a bet he made more than a decade ago.
“I told the ’98 team if they made the playoffs I’d get a tattoo. Some of them were still asking me if I’d gotten it yet. So I got it in March. “My wife (Martha) loves it,” he said.
AROUND THE DIAMOND: It’s not uncommon for a player to change teams if he plays a second summer on the Cape. Relief pitcher Russell Brewer set a Hyannis record last year with 12 saves and was named the league’s Outstanding Relief Pitcher, but this year is coming out of the Anglers’ bullpen. The Vanderbilt right-hander was draft eligible this year as a redshirt sophomore, but wasn’t selected. He went 1-2, 2.96 at Vandy with four saves and 39 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings … Cotuit general manager Bruce Murphy believes the Yankees’ unsigned No. 1 pick from 2008, Gerrit Cole, now at UCLA, will pitch for Team USA and not wear a Kettleers jersey.

Off to a great Start! Tied for 1st place after 6 Games! Stolen 31 out of 38 bases!

As my coaches and I watch Cape League players from both teams each game there is admiration for their athletic ability and strength. We discuss different aspects of the game and enjoy seeing which players improve the most during the season. My staff agrees most college offensive players need to improve their defense, base running/base stealing skills and overall baseball instincts.
Polishing all the skills is very important if a player wants to move beyond college and have a chance to be successful. Since we are coaching on Cape Cod and Red Sox Nation is all around us we talk a lot about Sox players. For example, Dustin Pedroia, had never stolen more than 7 bases in a season in professional baseball until 2008 when he stole 20 of 21. Dustin has gotten quicker with his first few steps through his winter work-out program at Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix, Az. and he has learned more about how to steal against certain pitchers and when is the best situation in the game for him to run. Almost all players can learn to steal more bases if they make this an emphasis in their game.
I am enjoying discussing my team in the Cape League, Cotuit Kettleers, with many fans. We are off to a good start (tied for 1st place after 6 games) and have stolen 31 of 38 stolen base attempts.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We have Chris Bisson from U. of Ky, Rico Noel from Coastal Carolina Univ. and Jeff Rowland from Ga. Tech Univ. and all can really run and have excellent baseball instincts.

I was asked after our Cape Cod baseball league game last night vs. Harwich by a fan why my teams always like to steal bases since the team stole 6 bases in the game. I said “the running game is always available in every game if we can just get someone on base. We can apply pressure whether we are ahead or behind in the game.” We had a wonderful conversation about how Brian learned to steal bases as a youth and we talked about my new book “You Can’t Steal Second Base and Keep Your Foot on First.”
My team, Cotuit Kettleers, has stolen 29 bases in 36 attempts in the first 5 games of the season. The players really enjoy the opportunity to run since very few college teams run during the spring season due to the use of metal bats.
We have Chris Bisson from U. of Ky, Rico Noel from Coastal Carolina Univ. and Jeff Rowland from Ga. Tech Univ. and all can really run and have excellent baseball instincts. They have picked up the running game extremely well in the first week of the season.
Another game tonight vs. Orleans. I will keep you updated on how the team is playing and how the running game is progressing for the Cotuit Kettleers in the 2009 season.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Excited Fan comments on my book….

I just received this email from a player at the University of Notre Dame. He played against my team last summer in the Cape. He was nice enough to send this about how he put together what he watched my team do against his team and when reading the book it all then made sense. Obviously, a young man who loves the game, it very intuitive, and wants to learn...
I hope all is well and you are excited about another season in the Cape. I just wanted to let you know that my assistant coach at Notre Dame gave me your book “You Can’t Steal Second with Your Foot on First”. It was very enjoyable to read and I simply could not put it down. The whole summer I was very intrigued by the way your team stole bases and after reading your book it all made sense. I have never gotten much instruction on base stealing. However, this year I did get to work out a little with Chone Figgins where he gave me some pointers. I was going to email you about possibly stopping by the Cape before I have to report for the team that selects me and be a part of your famous first workout with the Cotuit players, but with pre draft workouts I don’t think I can make it.
Ironically, I just got done working out with the Diamondbacks where I got to hang out with Brett Jackson. He was interested in going to the Cape to hang out and possibly working out with you as well (he lives very far away and it may not be likely, but I am only 2 hours away and I plan on visiting the Cape anyways). I wanted to get your thoughts on the possibility of me stopping by Cotuit to get instruction on stealing bases and or speed work. Best of luck during your season!  Sincerely,  AJ Pollock