Arrested Development


What’s a manager to do?  Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

For all the talk of Ned Yost tinkering with lineups, and yeah…when you score 11 runs one night, you might want to just go ahead and stick with that…some of the blame has to be placed squarely on the shoulders of Dayton Moore. When will we have a player hit the big leagues and become an instant star? So far, under the Moore regime, it’s yet to happen, and we could be waiting a while.

Somewhere along the way – either in the scouting and draft day decisions, or in post-draft development, there is some kind of breakdown happening. At first, it looked like it was just the pitching. When that started falling apart, we still had the bats to look forward to: Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, Johnny Giavotella, and so on. The future looked bright. Well…the future is now, and it’s very possibly not as bright as we’d hoped.

Myers is gone of course, as part of the big James Shields trade. That’s fine. I’m on board with that move. While we won’t reap the benefits of Myers’ bat here in KC, he may never pan out at all, and in the meantime, we’ve got at least two seasons of an ace pitcher. I’m okay with that. My philosophy with prospects is simple: you need them to help your big league club improve. Whether that means they physically do so, or they bring back other players via trade that help…I’m okay with either. Myers developed enough to fetch us a legit ace and a guy in Wade Davis with the potential to be a pretty solid starter himself.

But Moose, Hosmer, and Giavotella…well…they aren’t helping much. At all. And prize homegrown draft pick Bubba Starling is hitting .213 through 35 games in Low A ball. And Christian Colon, the first round pick, who was thought to be a safe bet, is batting .226 through 30 games in Omaha this year. And…well…you get the point.

So where’s the problem? Scouting? Draft strategy? Player development? It’s hard to pin down, and honestly is probably a combination of all three, but there’s definitely something going very wrong between draft day and what happens on the way to the big leagues. If they even make it to the big leagues.

So…you can see where Yost might struggle with the lineup, given that a good chunk of the core players are not living up to their hype. What about Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. Absolutely…they are great players. Drafted by Allard Baird. Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar? Sure. I’ll give the Royals a little credit here. They came over in the Zack Greinke trade, so technically the Milwaukee Brewers mostly developed them, but the Royals did stick with Escobar through some ups and downs in 2011, and he blossomed last season as an all-around player. I guess he was kind of developed by the Royals.

We love George, but fans are getting tired of having to “remember when”…Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

All that said, I was watching a replay of George Brett’s Hall of Fame induction speech earlier – happy birthday George – and he said something that struck a chord with me. He was talking about Whitey Herzog coming over to manage the Royals, and how Herzog told Brett “You’re going to play third and hit third every day” and what a boost of confidence that gave. So…while the batters are scuffling in the here and now, and running so hot and cold you never know what to expect, maybe it’s time to try the Herzog route. Tell these guys that no matter what, here’s the lineup. No more shuffling Cain from leadoff to second to fifth to sixth. No more “where should Gordon hit?” Just pick a spot. First? Great. Third? Fine.

Some will argue that Yost and the organization have been too patient with some of these guys. But this is the team we’ve got, for better or worse. And hey…don’t get me wrong, I think Moose and Hosmer will probably still be really good ballplayers. It might be later rather than sooner (remember how long it took Gordon to hit his stride), and if that’s the case, this year likely won’t turn out the way team officials and fans envisioned. But remember, when you’re criticizing Yost, he’s not been given the ideal roster to work with here. Ned’s the easy target, of course…but we’ve got to look past the day-to-day management of the big league roster and figure out what’s going wrong with player development, or this fan base will continue facing year after year of frustration.

And yes, I titled this article in anticipation of the new season of Arrested Development, about to air on Netflix, so go waste 10 minutes. Enjoy.