Yost, Royals Extend Their Relationship

Division Series - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Kansas City Royals - Game ThreeThe inevitable became reality on Tuesday when Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost(Neddy if you’re nasty!) received a on year contract extension, which makes him the Royals head honcho through the 2016 season. This wasn’t even close to being a shock, as it was expected Yost would receive more years after guiding the Royals to their first playoff and World Series appearance since 1985 while compiling an 11-4 record in the postseason.

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It was been well chronicled my dislike for Yost(seriously, just read anything from 2013 on this blog), and the Royals run in October didn’t change my opinion on Neddaniel. I do give him credit for this; during that run in the postseason Yost was smart enough to let his players just go out and play. He didn’t over-manage, he didn’t over-think anything; he let them just go out there and play the game that needed to be played. He was also smart enough to change the way he handled his bullpen most of the season and didn’t define them to set roles in the playoffs. This allowed someone like Kelvin Herrera to not just be the “7th inning pitcher” but come in earlier if he was needed:

There is hope that the postseason helped Neddeth when it comes to managerial decisions and that he has learned and grown from this experience. For the Royals sake I hope that is true.

kc3While this news wasn’t a shock to the system, the one curious part of the extension was the length of it. You would think after Yost guided the team to the World Series that management would roll out the red carpet for him and offer him at the least a 3 year extension(or a lifetime contract, one of the two). Well, there is a reason why it was only one year:

“Dayton’s got this year and next year, and that’s all I wanted,” Yost told The Kansas City Star in a telephone conversation. He added, “One extra year, I’m happy with that. And we’ll just play it out, and see what happens after that.”

There has also been talk that Yost might only want to manage another season or two as well:

If that is the case he could be setting up the team for his future replacement, which as of this time would appear to be Vance Wilson, the manager of the Royals AA club in Northwest Arkansas. The Royals still have a decent chance to get to the playoffs again in 2015(VegasInsider.com has their odds at 25/1 to win the World Series this year) and it appears that Yost still feels as if the team has some unfinished business:

“I think we’re in great shape headed into this year,” Yost said Tuesday, “We came as close as you can to winning a world championship last year and when you don’t do it, it leaves a taste in your mouth. It’s something you strive to do, and I think everyone in that locker room will tell you they want to finish this thing off.”

kc4I made the comment before the start of the 2014 season that as much as I disliked Yosty he was the devil we know ,knowing full well that he wasn’t going anywhere. I’ll never be a big fan of Yost’s work, especially if this past October didn’t sway me. Yost is what he is, which is a manager very stuck in his ways and the style of baseball he feels can win ballgames. That thinking paid off in 2014, but the real story will be whether he can keep the team in the hunt over the next two seasons. Quite often I make the comment “things could always be worse” and most the time it could be. As much as I would like Yost to wander off to that deer stand in Georgia and never come back, I also realize we know what we can expect from him as manager. The question in 2015 is whether or not Yost will be as flexible in his thinking as he was in late September and October of 2014 or will his stubbornness rear it’s ugly head? Yost has earned his extension but it doesn’t mean his work is done.

What the Royals Managerial Candidates List Should Look Like

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It is a well known fact I dislike Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost. I’ve been saying for years that the Royals will never reach the promised land as long as he is in charge, and so far he has proven me right. This isn’t an(other) article explaining why Yost should be vanquished. Ken Rosenthal appears to be doing that for me. And Craig Calcaterra. No, his time is getting closer every day. With the Royals continuing to struggle during a season where many feel they should be sniffing the playoffs, and no help in sight in the minors or in a trade, there is an outside chance(albeit it a very outside chance) that Yost could find himself in the unemployment line soon. So if that happens, here are five managerial candidates that the Royals should be considered, at least in my eyes.

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Mike Maddux

Sure, Maddux has the pedigree to help any team with their pitching. Being the older brother of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux helps, but Mike has done a great job on his own with Texas’ pitching staff and Milwaukee’s staff before that. Maddux has been mentioned in the past as a managerial candidate for the Red Sox, Cubs and Tigers, and it’s conceivable that in the right situation he would be a perfect fit. Mike is a smart baseball man who is hard working, dependable, well liked and respected by his players. He also seems to be a calming influence on the clubhouse, which could go either way for a team like the Royals. Some might say the Royals would be better off with a guy who has a bit more fire, but my gut tells me the Royals should go with the best candidate. Maddux appears to be in that upper echelon and should be at the top of most lists for managerial openings.

Dave Martinez, Joe Maddon

Dave Martinez 

There is something to be said for coaches that have worked for smaller market teams. A lot of times those coaches have had to do more with less to get their team to be contenders. One man who fits that criteria and is heavily underrated is Tampa Bay’s bench coach, Dave Martinez. It’s almost amazing at this point that Martinez has never managed in his career, especially while spending so much time under the tutelage of Joe Maddon. Martinez has an array of positives; he is willing to think out of the box(he is supposedly the mastermind behind the Rays defensive shifts), has worked as a translator before for the Rays young Latin players and has worked with many of the younger talent that has come through Tampa’s system. Add in that he thinks a lot like Maddon and you have a guy that could be very successful if given the chance. Martinez seems like a great fit for the young Royals team and would definitely bring a different vibe to the Royals clubhouse. I would not be surprised to see him get a managerial job sometime within the next year; I can only hope it will be with Kansas City.

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Dale Sveum

Look, the Royals like to hire from within. I like minor league manager Vance Wilson, but he is probably still a few years away from being ready to manage a major league club. From the minute Sveum was hired it was hard not to see that he could be a possible future Royals manager. Hell, he was the guy who took over for Yost when he was fired from Milwaukee! Sveum has the managerial experience the team likes, as he was the Cubs manager the last few years and was well liked by the players and staff. There has been some concerns about his helping player development, or more to the point, the development of Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo for the Cubs. Sure, both regressed last year. But I tend to think part of Castro’s problems were that the team was trying to change his approach at the plate(take more pitches, work the count, not swing at so many pitches outside the zone,etc.), which was more of an edict of upper Chicago management, not Sveum. Castro has gone back to his old ways this year and has been vastly improved, which would seem to back up this point. Either way, he would be a solid candidate if Yost was yanked and would be a new voice in the clubhouse. When it comes to in house candidates, Sveum is a much better option than say, Jason Kendall. That thought frightens me.

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Tim Wallach

Wallach is another former player that has turned baseball into a lifetime career, albeit now coaching. Wallach is currently a coach for the Dodgers but has managed before, in the minors for the Dodgers AAA team. Wallach managed for two seasons in Albuquerque and was named the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year in 2009 as well as Baseball America’s “Best Manager Prospect” .  Wallach has also been interviewed by both the Tigers and Mariners this past year for their managerial openings. When Wallach interviewed for the Tigers job, their GM Dave Dombrowski(who was also Wallach’s GM in Montreal when he was a player) had nothing but positive things to say about him: “Quality person on and off the field, good family man, good work ethic, and a knowledgeable baseball person.” Wallach had been asked how he would describe his managing style and he said “Work at it, interact, communicate, and hopefully guys will take to what I’m saying. That’s pretty much what it comes down to. It’s about the players. You have to put them in the right spots to succeed. That’s probably my biggest job. Have them play hard every day and put them in the right spot so they can be successful.” It seems as if nothing but positives come out when people around baseball talk about Wallach. He has been on countless managerial lists, so it’s only a matter of time until someone gives him a chance. I could easily see him in Royal blue, managing the Royals.

MLB:  Greenville Drive

Gabe Kapler 

Kapler is my dark horse candidate and one that I think will have a successful career managing if he ever decides to do just that. He managed one season in the minors, for the Boston Red Sox as manager of their Single-A affiliate, the Greenville Drive, for one season in 2007. He didn’t have a successful campaign(58-81) but he learned a lot that one season and used that to return to the big leagues in 2008. Since he retired in 2011 he has worked around baseball, whether it be as a television analyst or as a coach for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic in 2013. What intrigues me about Kapler is his solid baseball mind. Kapler penned a column last year where he discussed how many current and former players would be wise to smarten up to advanced metrics. It is that forward thinking that I like and is of a guy who doesn’t seem to be trapped into a box with his way of thinking. Kapler might not have much experience, and might very well need a few more years managing in the minors, but with managers getting hired today with no experience whatsoever, it’s not completely foolish to keep Kapler in the conversation. To add to that, I have to feel that him being retired from the game for only a few years makes him more likely to understand the current player and his plight. If Kapler decides he wants to manage, I’m pretty convinced he will be one of the good ones.

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That is my top five list. You can play at home and add yours as well. I know guys like Joey Cora and Manny Acta came to mind for me as well. If you noticed I picked a few guys with no big league experience and I did that for a reason; I just don’t think it is that important. There is a bunch of former big league managers that get cycled in and out of jobs only for the reason that they have experience, even if it is not a good one. The game is evolving and even the guy in the dugout needs to evolve. Managers like Mike Matheny of St. Louis and Brad Ausmus(who I’ve always liked, even back when he was a player) have shown that you don’t need managerial experience to succeed in the big leagues. In no way am I saying this entire fiasco in Kansas City is Yost’s fault, either. The hitters aren’t hitting and at some point they have to take the blame for it and GM Dayton Moore should shoulder part of the blame. But the Royals appear to be going nowhere fast with Yost in charge and if things don’t get better I can see a change happening. If that happens, I would like to see a fresh young face take over the ballclub. Unfortunately, I have a feeling it will be someone like Yost who doesn’t challenge the status quo. That is unfortunate, because the option is there; you just have go out on a limb and take it.

 

Royals Questions That Need to be Answered

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It sure feels like forever since the Kansas City Royals had their long winning streak and were one of the hottest teams in baseball. Remember when there was all that talk about the Royals making a push for the playoffs? Remember the talk about whether we should order our tickets now or wait until tomorrow? Remember when we started planning the parade? It only takes a few weeks to kill all those hopes, as the Royals seem to be on the downside of the roller coaster we call the 2013 season. Sure, we kind of figured the Royals would lose the series to Detroit a little over a week ago. But none of us saw Kansas City getting swept by Chicago, and just how bad the Royals would look against the Pale Hoes. The offense apparently is on vacation again, and it seems at this point that as it goes, so goes the Royals as a team. So, with just a bit over a month left in the season, there are a few questions to pose.

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1)      Should Dayton Moore and Ned Yost be fired?

The easy answer to this is yes. Dayton has had seven years to put together a winning team in Kansas City, and at this point not even .500 is guaranteed this season. Moore bargained the future to reach the playoffs sometime in the next few years, and with Shields gone after next year, the clock is ticking. That being said, I think Moore will be back, and could possibly gain an extension. I don’t feel like he deserves it, but I’m not the one running the team.

Now, when it comes to Yost it gets even more interesting. With the way the last few weeks have gone, Neddy sounds more and more like a beaten man and someone who isn’t for sure he wants to continue managing. Yost’s contract runs out at the end of the year, and with that in mind I wonder if he won’t get fired. Instead, I can see him going back to his front office job and let the Royals go after their next manager. That way, he doesn’t get fired, he can stay in the organization and not have to deal with the headaches of managing that obviously seem to bother him. If this is the case, I imagine guys like Vance Wilson and Pedro Grifol will be heralded as his replacement, or they could go after a proven manager, such as a Charlie Manuel or a Mike Scioscia(if he is available; yes, he is my dream manager!)Either way, I don’t picture Neddaniel being around next year.

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2) What do the Royals need to go after in the off season?

In a very un-ironic way, they need the same things they needed last off season; starting pitching, a second baseman and a right fielder. The difference between this year and last year is that Dayton didn’t see a need for two of those things, and how did that turn out? More than likely they will have to find someone to replace Ervin Santana’s rotation spot, as I have to believe someone will offer him more money and years. It would actually be wise to maybe stock up on two arms, which can be done even if financially they try to be frugal. Chris Getz has never been the answer at second, which has been extra evident this year and as much as I like watching David Lough play, I’m not 100% sure he is the answer in right field. Same goes for Justin Maxwell. Since the Royals need some power in the lineup, right field would be a good spot to look for some pop. I know the Royals only have so much money to use, but with a number of players coming off the books (Chen, Francoeur, etc.) and the money they will get from the new MLB TV deal, they should be able to fill these holes and do it within budget.

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3) Has the 2013 season been a success?

This is totally open to interpretation and what your expectations were this season. Some Royals fans will be happy with .500. Some like myself see it more as failure on Moore’s part, as the promise was to contend for the playoffs. The whole point of the Shields trade was to get the team over the hump. Shields will be a free agent after next year, which seems to be how long the window is open. So two years of James Shields was worth more than six controlled years of Wil Myers, the slugging bat the Royals really need? Yes, I know the Royals needed starting pitching, but it could have been done without mortgaging the future. Hey, if you are happy with .500 and MAYBE contending next year, while then having to start all over, then you are easier to please than me. For me, we have been told for years that we needed to trust the process, that once the prospects were up that the Royals would start winning. Yet here we sit, wondering if the team can even hold onto their .500 record with a little over a month to go. I know we have seen losing baseball for a long, LONG time in Kansas City, but that doesn’t mean our expectations should be lowered. We deserve better, and after seven years, it appears Dayton Moore might not be the General Manager to make that happen. This season has been a roller coaster season for the Royals, and at times you can see that glimmer of hope, the team that can contend for a playoff spot some day. But we equally see the team that struggles to put it together offensively and relies on their pitching and defense too much. What we deserve is someone who can see this vision and put the proper pieces in place for success. Sorry Dayton, I don’t think that man is you. Too bad for us, as I believe he will be back. Take that however you want, Royals fans…

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