Managing the AL Central


This offseason I’ll look at how the Royals can compete in the American League Central Division in 2013. The first piece of the puzzle is looking at managers.

Conventional wisdom says the team’s skipper only counts for a handful of wins during a season, but talk with Kansas City fans during a game or on social media and the term “Yosted” gets thrown around, which defined to me is a poor choice made by Ned Yost. To extend the definition it can be a move that isn’t made or one that only Yost could make to cost or help the team, keeping in starters too long, question bullpen move or calling for bunts. So with that’s lets go down the oppositions by 2012 finish.

Can Ned Yost lead the Royals to glory compared to other managers in the AL Central next season? Photo Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers –
Resume: Won 1997 World Series with the Florida Marlins and has led the Detroit Tigers to the 2006 and 2012 World Series. In addition to three trips to the World Series he’s lead the Pirates to the NLCS multiple times before stops with Florida, Colorado and Detroit.
Outlook: Leyland is known as a guy who wins wherever he goes and his success backs this up with multiple League Championship Series appearances plus managing in three World Series.
Effect on the Royals: Kansas City had a tough time with Detroit this season winning just four times in 18 meetings. The signature for the Tigers against KC was winning close games which in my opinion comes down to the manager making the right moves.

Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox –
Resume: As a player Ventura was known as an excellent third baseman with the White Sox and others. Chicago GM plucked him out of near obscurity and all he did was keep the ChiSox competitive all season, nearly winning the division.
Outlook: Sure you can dwell on the negatives but without any experience as a manager the team had success that Royals fans crave.
Effect on the Royals: It could be said that Kansas City kept Chicago from the division crown with their success. Will this continue? Hard to say but one would think that Ventura will remember this next season when the teams play. The biggest example might be to stop issuing intentional walks to Jeff Francoeur in 2013.

Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians –
Resume: After a largely forgettable stint with the Philadelphia Phillies, Francona rebounded with two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007. While forced out after a non-playoff season during his last season it might not of been all him with the Red Sox 2012 failings.
Outlook: Cleveland made this hire feeling that having a quality manager will lift this long suffering franchise to the success they enjoyed in the 90’s.
Effect on the Royals: Will Royals fans pine for the days of Manny Acta with Cleveland upgrading with a World Series manager on the bench? Expect the Tribe to start the process of improving with this hire in the coming years.

Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins –
Resume: Since taking over for Tom Kelly the Twins have been to the ALCS and won multiple central crowns. Gardenhire might lack a World Series appearance and dropped off the past couple years but his teams always compete.
Outlook: Minnesota made some coaching changes this offseason with the hope of changing its luck, also expect on-field moves to help the team.
Effect on the Royals: One of the many complaints of Royals fans is why can’t we be as good as the Twins? Well a good starting point is their manager who continues to have KC’s number whenever the teams face off.

While Kansas City needs to upgrade the pitching, defense and other aspects of the team competing against these guys shouldn’t be undervalued. Upgrading the talent will help even a guy like Ned but know the opposition is looking to do the same.