The Continued Inability of Ned Yost to Adjust his Thoughts
By David Hill
This was going to be the year that everything changed. This was going to be the year that the Royals were going to make the playoffs and the past 28 years of misery, atrocious baseball and the memory of Mark Redman as an All-Star. This was going to be the year that the playoffs were going to return back to Kansas City, where the Royals could take their rightful place back among baseball’s best teams.
Instead, the Royals have been in free fall over the past week. They managed to win one of their three games against the Detroit Tigers before losing three of four to the Boston Red Sox, falling out of first. The bats have been silent. The bullpen, aside from the top three of Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland, has struggled. And through it all, Ned Yost has sat there without offering up anything resembling an answer for the doldrums that the Royals find themselves in.
There is a lot that can be frustrating with Yost. He has a tendency to leave pitchers in for far too long, like Jeremy Guthrie, when it is apparent that they have nothing that night. While getting as many innings as possible out of the starter is valuable, it becomes less so in September with the expanded bullpens. There are enough relievers to cover a bullpen game without wearing everyone out. Instead, Yost insists on managing as though these games are being played in April or May.
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Speaking of relievers, Ned Yost is not exactly the king of bullpen management either. Herrera, Davis and Holland make the last three innings easy enough where even the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz can manage the bullpen, but anything beyond that seems troublesome for Yost. All to often, he brings in a reliever, and if that reliever is unable to get anyone out, does not have a backup plan. Aside from when Yost comes out to the mound after the sixth, it seems like one needs to take a leap of faith to hope that his moves will work.
Then there is the Ned Yost School of Lineup Management. Lesson one: starters start, unless they are Billy Butler and anyone else is available during the month of September. There are no further lessons. Salvador Perez may catch over 140 games this season. Eric Hosmer will be in the lineup virtually every day, despite hitting only eight home runs all season. Omar Infante will hit second seemingly because second basement must hit second in the lineup. Alex Gordon is the best hitter in the lineup? Put him in the fifth spot for the vast majority of the season (89 games thus far).
Yes, Yost has a flawed team. Dayton Moore could have found a way to give him more to work with. However, the hallmark of a good manager is to be able to get more out of a team than what they normally would be able to produce. In this case, teh Royals are definitely not greater than the sum of their parts. In fact, given the expectations for players such as Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, who have not developed as hoped, they may well be producing less than anticipated.
As David Schoenfield on ESPN.com said yesterday, Ned Yost is hurting the Kansas City Royals with his decisions, or lack thereof. Yost has yet to make the postseason as a manager, and unless his approach dramatically changes and the Royals go on another hot stretch, he will not manage in one this season. Yes, the Royals still hold down a playoff spot, but their grip is tenuous at best. With Yost at the helm, it feels as though the Royals are trying to hold onto the edge of a cliff while wearing oven mitts.
In the Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow got a brain from the Wizard at the end of the movie. Maybe Ned Yost will suddenly figure out how to manage during a playoff hunt. Otherwise, it is going to be a long offseason, and one that the Royals will need to make some hard decisions in.