There are no words… Take it away, Kaegel:
The Royals are unveiling a new weapon in Spring Training: Billy Butler, base-stealer.
Yost wants to upgrade the Royals’ baserunning this year, taking an extra base on hits and getting more steals — even from an unlikely source like Butler.
Yost figures that Butler could get up to 10 steals a season by picking his spots.
As a long suffering Royals fan, I’ve seen a lot of crazy. The idea of giving Billy Butler a green light running the bases ranks among the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. Picking his spots? If the pitcher accidentally chucked the ball to the left field foul pole… That would be a good spot. Or if the catcher blacked out. That’s another one. How about if the entire defense took a bathroom break? Yeah, that too… Although it would be close.
I know this is spring, and there are all sorts of crazy stories that come out of camps, but still… This is the early leader on the insanity scale.
What would we say if Ned Yost talked about how Chris Getz could hit 10 home runs if he swung more on 3-0 counts? Yeah, we’d think he was Trey Hillman Crazy.
I’m still undecided on Yost as a manager. He seems to be a solid no-nonsense type of guy in the Buddy Bell mold. I’m fine with that, but then he goes and says some really crazy stuff.
In his career Butler has had 830 stolen base opportunities. (An opportunity defined as being on base with the base ahead open.) He’s run exactly twice. Caught once, successful once. His stolen base came in a game against the Indians in September of 2009. He was on first with two outs after singling in a run and another runner was on third. Mike Jacobs was up with a 2-2 count and Butler took off. The count and situation make me wonder if Butler lost track of the count and thought it was full, so he ran. Odds are strong that catcher Chris Gimenez was surprised.
While this isn’t a huge story (yet) the response from the Royals is completely incorrect. The right thing to say would have been something like, “Billy can run all he wants while we’re in Arizona. Once the season starts, he better not try anything like that.” Yost’s response seriously confuses me. It’s totally something out of the SABR Trey playbook (make the other teams think that Butler will run!) that it’s just completely bizarre that this would even surface. I thought the days of Hillman Crazy were long gone. Maybe not.
Plus, we all know that while Butler’s base running IQ has improved, he still has a ways to go. I don’t think I would trust him to properly “pick his spots.”
Basically this serves as a reminder that while the minors are flush with talent, there are still some questionable philosophies at the big league level.