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.
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.