Apr 25, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost (3) during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

In Ned Yost, the Royals Should Not Trust

Ned Yost is an utterly befuddling manager. He plays his favorites, gifting starting rotation spots to players who may not have actually earned such a nod such as Bruce Chen. He continues to trot out players such as Mike Moustakas, who really have not proven that they are a viable major league caliber player. He refuses to bring his closer into the ninth inning during a tie game on the road, presumably saving him for a save situation that will never actually come. He has a love affair with the bunt that is borderline creepy. Yost even hit Alcides Escobar leadoff numerous times last year. Referring to Yost’s managerial decisions as confusing would be a bit of an understatement at times.

Apr 22, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost (3) sits in the dugout before a game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

This is not just a sentiment shared amongst Royals fans. Yost and his puzzling decisions were the subject of an article by David Schoenfield of ESPN.com’s Sweet Spot network, who took a look at Yost’s decisions during Thursday’s matchup against the Seattle Mariners. The verdict? That Yost cost the Royals this game. In fact, Schoenfield goes so far as to wonder what, exactly, Yost brings to the Royals.

This is a question that a lot of us may be asking. With his puzzling decisions and stubbornness, Ned Yost may well be capable of taking a team out of the playoffs. There are times when Yost seems far more concerned with loyalty, such as skipping Yordano Ventura entirely to make sure that Jeremy Guthrie got the first start at Kauffman Stadium because Yost promised it to him. As a whole, Yost may be more concerned with being liked by his players instead of putting out the best team possible. As Ed Connealy discussed a few days back, that mollycoddling nature could be one of the biggest reasons why the Royals just do not seem to progress.

In addition to all the negatives, there are a few positives with Yost. He seems to be capable of getting more out of a pitcher than expected. Just look at how Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie have improved, as well as the excellent performance thus far of Jason Vargas. Yost may be one of those managers who can help get a young team to the verge of playoff contention, using that pressure free atmosphere to get players acclimated to the major leagues. Yet, even those young players have not actually developed into the stars they were expected to be. It seems hard to imagine that this is a systematic issue in the minor leagues, given that none of the Royals young stars are the players expected.

The question is whether or not Ned Yost is a good enough manager to take a team to the postseason. This question was seemingly answered by the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2008, when he was fired with twelve games left in the season. Such moves happen in the NHL, but it was virtually unprecedented in major league baseball. Perhaps not coincidentally, the person who replaced him in Milwaukee, Dale Sveum, happens to be the Royals third base coach.

At times, trying to staple Jell-O to the ceiling makes more sense than some of the moves that Ned Yost makes on the diamond. It is fair to wonder exactly how much these decisions, and Yost, are holding the Royals back. In a season where it is ‘Playoffs of Bust,’ Ned Yost may be the weakest link.

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  • Ed Connealy

    Bravo Mr. Dave! Ned’s a fine baseball guy and a good skipper for teams starting a re-build. This team and it’s expectations have passed him by and a new manager would make a very positive impact.

  • jimfetterolf

    All due respect, but that’s just silly, looks like something from Romper Room. But I’ll play along, who would you replace Yost with tomorrow? Questionable love affairs usually arise because you can’t do better.

    • Dave Hill

      Svuem in the interim, and I’d try to lure Ozzie Guillen to KC. I like a manager who is not afraid to try to light a fire in his team and will hold his players accountable. Not sure that Ned does that.

    • kibo

      I would attest that during a season each manager may by his decision cost the team a game or two, but equally he earns them a game or two by knowing how to do that right thing at the right time. Yost unfortunately appears to be tipping the scales in the wrong direction by making far more poor decisions than good ones. Selecting pitchers in the 7,8, and 9th innings is not genius.

      Its not our job as fans to find a replacement for Yost, but managements. There is also nothing wrong with the media calling out deficiencies and holding teams accountable, they have been doing it for decades.

      To your point, are there better managers than Yost out there? Without a doubt. Are you saying the Royals can’t do better than Yost? Just look at how many managers are more competent than Yost currently in the majors. Many were available when Yost was hired. Who would you rather have Yost or Showalter? Showalter was actually interviewed when Yost got the job, should that make a fan trust management can make the right decision.

      • jimfetterolf

        Nothing wrong with endlessly repeating the same gripes, even when the examples are garbage showing a serious misunderstanding of baseball.

        As for Showalter, would he accept the job and for how much? If you don’t know those answers you probably shouldn’t be blaming management. Or even bringing up Showalter. Why not bash Dayton Moore for not hiring Tony LaRussa? KC has never been an attractive FA destination, for players or managers.

        As for your judgment of Yost, I disagree. Managers don’t make much difference in games, they look like geniuses when the kids execute, they look like idiots when they don’t.

  • moretrouble

    Bruce Chen starting was a condition of him signing with KC. The contract negotiations with Chen had nothing to do with Yost. Ned merely defended the team’s position once Chen signed.

    Keeping Moustakas on the roster … and playing him … is an organizational decision and does not rest solely with Yost. Once again, Yost is being a loyal company man by defending Moustakas.

    Holding out your closer on the road in a tie game in the 9th is correct strategy — because the visiting team must get 6 outs to win the game, while the home team only must retire 3 outs. For example, if the visitor does not score in the top of the 9th, they must retire the home team in the bottom of the 9th AND the bottom of the 10th to win.

    Yost passed over Ventura rather than setting his entire rotation back a day. Why disrupt all 5 starters? Once again, that’s correct strategy on the part of Yost.

    Using the bunt frequently is not creepy, it’s a legitimate strategy. Beside the obvious goal of moving runners into position, the threat of the bunt misaligns the defense, which is of nearly equal value to the bunt itself. The KC team has played an NL style game the last couple of years that puts maximum pressure on defenses.

    Neither bloggers nor fans have any idea what Yost and his coaches say to players behind closed doors. In public, Yost makes positive, supportive statements about his players … much to the dismay of bloggers who feed on controversy. Employees of any organization need support and a positive environment to do their jobs well. Baseball is no exception.

    This “blood and guts” style of coaching is more appropriate to football — and Kansas City is something of a football town. So is the idea that baseball managers actually have as much an effect on team performance as a head football coach. They don’t.

    Bloggers and fans often accuse Ned Yost of character issues, trying to start controversy. It’s common for them to bring up Yost’s past — while they utterly ignore past issues of other managers, such as Buck Showalter’s numerous past problems, for instance. No fan or blogger agrees with every decision a manager makes, but it’s unfair to make character assassination part of their argument.

    • Geogman

      I lost track of you once the KC Star got rid of Disqus. I was hungry for more analysis of the Royals so happened on to this site. Now I know that you’re here I am looking forward to arguing with you again.