Through his first thirty-one games at the helm, Royals’ manager Ned Yost has had a pretty good ride. His offense has scored five runs or more seventeen times, while his pitchers have allowed four runs or less the same number of games. The Trey Hillman led Royals stranded double-digit runners on base on six different occasions, but Ned’s group has done so just three times.
The only real injuries with which Yost has had to deal with have been to Gil Meche and Rick Ankiel. The organization’s long awaited awakening to the fact that Meche was not healthy at least left Yost knowing exactly where he stood with regard to Gil and was softened by the unexpectedly solid contributions by Bruce Chen. With regard to Ankiel, all the lip service aside, the Royals are certainly no worse with Mitch Maier in center and probably better…certainly less annoying, anyway.
Now, however, with the injury to Luke Hochevar, and trade rumors swirling around his hottest hitter, David DeJesus, Ned gets to experience the real sensation of running the Kansas City Royals.
Yost now has a rotation that sends Chen and Anthony Lerew out on back to back days, which might well put a crimp in his neatly ordered bullpen roles. By the way, was it really that simple? Was all it took to cure the bullpen’s woes the callup of one rookie and the identification and actual implementation of a stable set of roles for all the relievers? It sure looks like it, doesn’t it?
One night, Dayton Moore is likely to walk into Ned’s office and announce that DeJesus is gone, maybe Jose Guillen, too. While that would likely signal the return of both Alex Gordon and Kila Kaaihue, it is still a rather sudden and dramatic change for a manager who quite obviously relishes stable lineups. Another ‘by the way': I took in a couple of Omaha Royals games before leaving on vacation last week. While Alex Gordon produced good numbers in both games, I still saw a lot of the same tendencies at that plate that caused Alex to lead the league in ground-outs to second base. For godssake’s Alex, half the field is to your left! Use it.
Now, unlike other past manager’s, Ned is blessed that injuries and trades will not end up with having to write Ruben Mateo and Chip Ambres down on his line-up card and starting Anthony Lerew is way better than trotting out Brett Tomko or John Bale. For all the deserved criticism we have given Dayton Moore, he has improved the organization at least to that extent.
This is, however, the Royals and my guess is that very few readers out there really believer that Hochevar is only going to miss two starts. One more injured starter likely means we get to see Luis Mendoza pitch again, which just made my stomach hurt a little.
Despite the need to play Jason Kendall everyday and bat him second and the curious need to bench Mike Aviles twice a week while Jose Guillen and Yunieksy Betancourt can, must, will play every game, Ned has had a nice first month at the helm. The team has responded to him, players have taken to their roles and things have quite simply, broken Yost’s way.
Now, as he begins his thirty-second game as manager, Yost is going to get the true Royals’ experience. If he can hold it together through the injuries that seem to come in bunches and the trade rumors/trades that are sure to come, then Dayton Moore might well have his ‘man’ to guide the team into contention in the next couple of years.