On June 18th, just over a month ago, the Kansas City Royals sat 1.5 games up on the Detroit Tigers, leading the American League Central. having just won their tenth consecutive game. Images of meaningful games at the end of the season, and playoff baseball, danced through the dreams of Royals fans everywhere. Then, the dream came crashing down, as the Royals have gone just 9-18 since that point in time, falling to third in the Central, and 4.5 games out of the Wild Card.
Having gone on such a losing streak, and having lost seven of their last eight games while scoring a mere 17 runs in that time frame, changes appear to be necessary. However, according to Dayton Moore, there is one change that will not happen. Ned Yost, who has frequently been the subject of ire amongst Royals fans, is still safe, according to Moore.
“When teams struggle, it’s not a time to point fingers,” Moore said. “It’s a time to come together and figure it out.”
It is certainly understandable that Dayton Moore does not want to blame Yost. The fortunes of both the manager and the general manager are tied together, as Moore seems to truly believe that Ned Yost is the right man to lead the Royals back to the playoffs. However, it may be fair to wonder what, exactly, has given Moore the confidence that Yost is the right manager for the Royals.
At this point, Yost’s weaknesses are glaring. While he put together a shift against David Ortiz that put all four infielders on the right side of the diamond, he is not an innovative manager. Yost struggles with the bullpen, and seems reluctant to make changes in the lineup. He sticks with players, perhaps out of a misguided loyalty, despite all the statistical evidence stating that they should not be in the lineup. Players such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, just have not developed into the hitters they were expected to be under his watch. How much longer can Yost realistically get in Kansas City?
With David Glass expecting that the Royals not only make the playoffs this season, but be even better next year, both Dayton Moore and Ned Yost have been given notice. Coming close is not good enough. While Moore may likely get another season to prove that he is not the problem should the Royals not make the playoffs this year, Yost may well be managing for his job. Even if Moore refuses to say so, and has given Yost a vote of confidence, it is hard to imagine a way that he can convince Glass to keep Yost on board, especially if the Royals continue their tailspin.
Ned Yost’s job appears to be safe – for now. However, if the Royals do not right the ship, and soon, the hot seat may continue to get hotter until Yost gets burned.