So Ned Yost is the new man on the hot seat. Honestly, I’m surprised Dayton Moore pulled the trigger this early in the season. I fell firmly into the camp that Moore was convinced Hillman was his guy and he would give him the full three years.
Surprised, but happy. The change simply had to be made.
A couple of thoughts:
— There are rumblings this firing came from above. I suppose that’s possible. The Glass family has been known to meddle from time to time. However, if this is true and this was a Glass family hit, this is the first time since GMDM assumed his role that they have gotten involved in the day to day operations.
One reason GMDM took this job was because he had assurances that he could run the team his way. What’s going through his mind if he was ordered to fire Hillman, less than 48 hours after declaring he was, “The right man for the job.”
If this is true, this can’t be a good sign for GMDM. As a fan, I hope this was entirely Moore’s call because if the Glass family becomes involved in the day to day operations, this is going to get much worse before it will ever get better.
Whatever happened, GMDM was visibly upset… Taking a few moments to compose himself at the start of the press conference. That was kind of bizarre. You can listen to his comments here:[audio:http://royals.server310.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Dayton-Moore_PressMP3.mp3|titles=GMDM Press Conference]
— Trey Hillman is an odd guy… The unicycle, the long walks alone in the outfield, However, there’s no denying he handled his firing with class. Told the night before there was basically no way he could survive, he went out and managed (a win!) and faced the music following the game.
His press conference was strange – as you would expect. He opened by discussing the game and then addressed his firing. It was part Academy Award acceptance speech (he thanked the grounds crew) and part exercise in humility.
I’m glad he didn’t use the opportunity to drive the team bus over Billy Butler one more time.
I kid… It was a surreal, yet classy final exit. Listen here:[audio:http://royals.server310.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Hillman_Press.mp3|titles=Hillman Press Conference]
— How about Ned Yost? What do we know about the new manager of the Royals apart from the press release details?
Yost is remembered for the 2007 Brewers. And not too fondly in Milwaukee.
That team charged to an eight game lead in late June, only to cough it all up with a dreadful July. By August 1, they were tied with Cubs for first. The two teams traded spots in the division for most of August and into September. However, by the middle of the month, the Cubs had put some space between themselves and the Brewers.
With the Brewers fighting for their post season lives, trailing the Cubs by three games with seven left to play, the St. Louis Cardinals rolled into Milwaukee. That’s when all hell broke loose. Yost, who had been ejected in the Brewers game the Sunday prior and then blamed the umpires for his teams loss, was tossed while arguing a call at the plate involving current Royal Rick Ankiel. The next evening, Cardinal manager Tony LaRussa thought the Brewers were throwing at Albert Pujols and Yost and LaRussa yelled at each other from their respective dugouts.
Since this was LaRussa, and LaRussa is a jerk, he needed retribution. So he called on current Royal Brad Thompson to throw at Prince Fielder the following night. Warnings were issued, but Yost wasn’t happy and he wasn’t finished. He decided to get his pound of flesh and had Seth McClung plunk Pujols in the back later in the game.
This is where you have to question Yost’s thought process. He’s going to engage in a beanball war? His team had just taken the first two games of the series and was just two games back of the Cubs. The score was 3-2 in favor of the Cardinals, so while the Brewers were losing, they were still very much part of the game. Of course, after McClung hit Pujols (and was ejected – along with Yost. His third ejection in four games.) the bullpen couldn’t work around the base runner. The Cardinals broke the game open with four runs. Had the Brewers and Yost controlled their emotions, they could have pulled to within a game of the Cubs, who lost that night.
The Brewers would go on to drop three in a row and eliminate themselves from contention.
Why in the world would Yost fall to LaRussa’s level? And to the point where it possibly cost them games they absolutely had to win? It was a foolish move.
There were plenty of fans who wanted Yost out following the collapse of ’07. Not only did the Brewers bring him back, they exercised his option for 2009.
In 2008, the Brewers were once again in contention – this time for the Wild Card. And once again, they were fading.
They entered September with a six and a half game lead, but after winning only three of 14 games – including a four game sweep at the hands of the Phillies who pulled even with Milwaukee in the wild card race, Yost got the axe. It was an unbelievable move… No one could recall a team in a pennant race firing their manager with two weeks left in the season.
That the Brewers felt this firing was necessary now scares the hell out of me. Basically, they thought he was choking away another post season. Wow.
Yost frequently came under fire in Milwaukee for the way he used his bullpen. Great. Early in his 2007 season, he came up with a bullpen rotation that was initially successful. That success faded in the second half as he leaned on his relief corps too heavily and they ultimately became ineffective. Once the relievers started breaking down, Yost couldn’t come up with a way to patch together a successful bullpen and stuck to his plan for far too long. Despite evidence that the bullpen was broken, Yost did little to shake up his reliever rotation. This was a key reason the Brewers sputtered down the stretch.
See if this sounds familiar. From 2008:
Ned Yost had used reliever Guillermo Mota 15 times this season in the eighth inning. So, when that frame rolled around Friday night with the Brewers holding a three-run lead, Yost made the call for Mota once again.
In the process, he removed the hottest pitcher in his bullpen, Carlos Villanueva, who cruised through a 10-pitch seventh inning with two strikeouts. The results were nothing short of disastrous.
I swear, change the names and you could be talking about the Royals. This kind of reflexive bullpen management screams SABR Trey. (I had to drop that in there one final time.)
I don’t think Yost is the right guy for this job. While I like the fact he comes with major league managerial experience, it’s not like he’s won. Yost inherited a team with veterans (Royce Clayton, Eric Young) and young players who never fulfilled expectations (Richie Sexson, Geoff Jenkins) with a rotation that had only one quality arm in Ben Sheets. Sound familiar? He didn’t approach .500 until his farm system started reaping the benefits of some quality drafts with Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.
But when he was twice on the verge of winning, his teams literally melted down.
However, when you are looking for a manager in the middle of May, there’s not a ton of available candidates. And make no mistake. Yost was hired back in January for this very reason. He was GMDM’s safety.
While I’m not thrilled with this hire, this is more than the proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs. Hillman’s time played out. He was finished. Through a series of increasingly bizarre moves, he lost the fans and I’m certain he lost the players. He had to go.
It’s possible Yost will have learned from his mistakes in Milwaukee and will be an improved manager. Time will tell.
Right now, this just feels kind of like a lateral move. He’s going to have trouble with the bullpen, he’ll struggle to find time for guys like Kila and he’ll move his players around with no rhyme or reason.
Still, it was a move that had to be made.