Ned Yost spoke with the media on Tuesday afternoon regarding his retirement as manager of the Kansas City Royals and he feels like the “worst is over”.
While Ned Yost‘s retirement press conference in front of the Kansas City Royals media mostly discussed fond memories of the last 10 seasons and what’s next, there were several statements he made that caught my attention. After the Sunday season finale, Yost will officially go down as the winningest manager in Royals history. He took over as the lead man in the early stages of the 2010 season and indicated on Tuesday that the state of the team was in way worse shape than it is now.
Yost was at the center of the team as Kansas City built a winner during the 2015 season after making an appearance in the 2014 Fall Classic. The first championship since 1985, the 2015 roster was built on timely hitting, speed on the base paths, and a shutdown bullpen from the 6th inning on. However, it was not too long after that season that the Royals saw key guys from that team leave via free agency or in trades for prospects.
Just like that, the rebuild was back on. Last year, the Royals finished with a lousy 58-104 record and they’re on pace to match that again with just 4 games remaining in the season. But this time it feels different. Highlighted by breakout seasons from several pitching prospects and several pieces already in place at the big league level, one could make a very good argument that with some help, this Royals team is not too far off from being competitive again.
Certainly, their own division is getting better every year with the Minnesota Twins high-powered offense and the Chicago White Sox not being far off as well. The Cleveland Indians made it to the World Series in 2016 but have consistently been right there every year since. The team will be under new ownership and a new manager for the first time since 2000 and 2010, respectively. It feels like it’s coming at the perfect time as John Sherman has an opportunity to build the coaching staff from scratch and spend however he pleases.
Ned Yost returned to the team on a one-year deal last offseason and it looked like he was just waiting on signs from the big league club that they had turned the corner from the dark depths. It’s definitely hard to see a positive light on another 100-loss season but Yost stated that he feels “like this team is in a position now where the worst is over.”
“It” being the re-building process and lack of results in the number of wins. I have to give Yost a lot of credit for coming back this year despite much criticism surrounding him last year with much of the fanbase clamoring for his firing. With exciting players like Adalberto Mondesi, Hunter Dozier, Jorge Soler, and Whit Merrifield combined with the fab-five pitching prospects and several other budding players, I understand why Yost would say something like that.
Now it’s truly up to John Sherman, who will walk into the door with more questions than answers as he adjusts to life as a Major League Baseball owner. I get that the Royals began to open up the pocketbooks later during the Glass family era, but Sherman needs to rely on the prospects within the farm system while also seeking help from the outside. It’s nearly impossible to build a winner without the help of key free agents unless everything goes perfectly.
Sherman has the chance to make a big statement with a free agent signing that can completely change the direction of where this franchise is headed. We’ll see what he chooses to do once a managerial staff is in place, but with a few high-salaried players coming off the books in the next couple years, there is definitely some financial flexibility available.