Managers are ultimately responsible. Should the KC Royals make a change?
Managers are easy to blame, easy to fire, and easy to replace. Just ask anyone who was around the Yankees when George Steinbrenner made firing and rehiring Billy Martin a Bronx custom.
Firing (but probably not rehiring) Kansas City manager Mike Matheny, a sentiment currently making some Internet and social media rounds, isn’t the answer to his club’s current woes.
Matheny may do things in ways some find difficult to understand or adapt to, such as his penchant for basing decisions on which relievers to use not so much on set roles, but instead on the best matchups for each critical moment. Traditionalists prefer established jobs for each pitcher, a belief rooted in pitchers’ individual comforts and expectations.
But Matheny seems flexible, open to change, and more accepting of analytics and their benefit since coming to work in the Royals’ front office after St. Louis fired him in 2018, and succeeding Ned Yost as KC’s skipper following the 2019 season. He’s undergone somewhat of a transformation since his Cardinal days. (That isn’t to say he wasn’t a good manager in St. Louis—he was, as the National League pennant, three division titles, and Wild Card he led the Cardinals to, and the fact he didn’t have a losing season there, attest).
Matheny brought a breath of fresh air to the club last season (no knock intended on Yost, whose style differed so much from his successor) and, under tremendously unique and difficult circumstances, brought it home just eight games under .500. His dedication to mission and players is unquestioned, and he deftly guided the Royals to, and kept them in, first place for almost a month this season. Their current skid notwithstanding, they’re still close with 127 games to play.
No, this isn’t the time to axe Mike Matheny. He hasn’t even managed the Royals for a full season yet. He’ll guide this club out of these bad times.
The KC Royals are in the midst of an awful losing streak. But they need to avoid overreacting.